Source: Never Fight Fair
When it comes to sales leadership and the importance of a strong corporate culture Jack “JJ” Jackintelle dropped the mic at the 2017 10X Growth Conference in Hollywood, FL. Rocco, as his friends like to call him, is the president and COO of the Rick Case Auto group. At this year’s conference, he delivered a powerful message about setting the standard for corporate culture.
Here are some take away nuggets regarding his five primary cultural components that I notated during his presentation:
- Core Values: Establishing behaviors that are deemed non-negotiable and clear is vital to achieving optimal results. Rocco referenced Chick-fil-A and their standard of saying “My pleasure” rather than “You’re welcome”. This is considered a non-negotiable that is expected from everyone on the team 100% of the time. If you do not meet those expectations, you don’t work there. Having clarity with your non-negotiable’s across the board will eliminate the bad eggs and provide the reinforcement needed to build the foundation of a results driven team and the culture to support it.
- Mission: Clarity was a popular theme throughout his presentation. He insisted that there needs to be a clear mission with established mile stones that everyone will believe in. The willingness of your team to take action with a clear mission moves everyone in the same direction towards success.
- Clear Performance Standards: Establishing minimum expectations in regards to performance is key, these expectations are “non-negotiable”. There are no short cuts. These standards are clear, established, and transparent. Having clear performance standards will reinforce the right culture for your team. Out of the five primary components this one is probably the most important. There can be no grey area. Rocco was very clear on this message of standards that are non-negotiable and apply to all.
- Core Competencies: Having characteristics that differentiate you from your competition can mean the difference between success and failure. Identifying these core competencies and being able to articulate them is very important. Everyone has competition and if you are not able to differentiate yourself from the other guy there is no value to your product. When there is no value, the lowest price wins.
- People: Are you surrounding yourself with the right people that share in your values and are they willing and able to carry the flag and believe in the mission? Are they maintaining the clear performance standards you have put in place? Putting people in place that believe in the mission will cement the foundation from which you will build.
We all know there is another downturn on the horizon and it is important that we establish a strong corporate culture. There is no chance of making it through another downturn without a solid foundation. If you build on that foundation TODAY your culture will give you the strength that will carry you through any downturn the economy can dish out. Stick to these basic principles and see your business sore!
In a recent Facebook video post, my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach, Carlos Machado, said something that can truly relate to business as well as martial arts. He said, “Nobody knows it all and nobody knows enough.” For those that know of Carlos Machado, this statement is surprising because he has spent his life training in Jiu Jitsu. He’s a World Champion, eighth degree Black Belt who has opened training academies all over the world. You might think, “if he doesn’t know it all about Jiu Jitsu, who does?” and the answer is just as he said, “nobody.” The reason is, it’s not about how long you’ve studied something, or how long you’ve been around the business because there are always, always ways to improve yourself and help those around you improve themselves as well.
True leaders in business are always learning and developing their skills and adding value to the people they lead. If they do not take the time to develop and grow their own skills, then the person behind them, nipping at their heels, surely would be. Throughout my career, I have run into countless people in the business world who believe they have learned everything they need to learn or have been around the block long enough to know what they think they need to know and they are, therefore, resistant to learning anything new. What they don’t realize is, their competition, (if they are smart), has adopted Carlos Machado’s mentality and realize that standing still in the market place is dangerous.
I am fortunate because I already believe what Carlos believes. I know that, it is impossible to improve at anything if you don’t take the time to work and develop your skills. I have been involved in Martial Arts in some form since I was nine years old. Now, at 43 years old, I find myself back in the Jiu Jitsu ring learning as if I had never learned anything about the art in the first place. Had I foolishly thought that I already knew it all, I would not be open to the many positive, growth-building experiences that I have had throughout my life.
I have been blessed enough to train and be the corner-person for other, younger, fighters and while I know they look up to me, I hope they know that I look up to them as well because we can all learn from one another if we are open-minded enough to do so. Likewise, if you’re a leader in business, you are responsible to be a builder of legacies. You, like Carlos Machado, must help the next generation improve and learn to lead others following behind you. I feel lucky that I will never “know it all or know enough” because I can continuously strive to improve myself and those around me daily.
Imagine the possibilities if everyone had this mentality. And think of all there is to live for!
In today’s world of remote employees and the tsunami of tools available it is easy to get lost in the growing maze of technology and life. Field sales are an important part of any business and developing the right discipline is vital to succeed in what is in most cases a very lonely career path. Why is it lonely, well it can be very lonely because you are in fact alone to face the customer, face your boss and face the necessary decisions needed to develop and grow your business? Whether you’re selling widgets or delivering on a problem solving service there is a road map that is universal, that road map starts with you.
Do you believe in what you are doing?
It is a little cliché to ask that question, however I have always wondered why something so elementary gets overlooked. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re selling a 1 dollar product or a Billion dollar product it’s typically the same outcome for the majority of folks in field sales. As a leader when you are coaching about belief whether it is in person or threw a virtual mean the rolling of the eyes can really pierce the soul. If you are a leader and are reading this you know exactly what that feels like.
So how do we penetrate that mindset of the excuse maker the one who doesn’t seem to have the will to do what it takes to succeed, do we show them the door or do we dig a little deeper?
I have a few thoughts on the subject that may help you get out of the weeds and re-light that fire in the belly. Perhaps help find that surge of enthusiasm for a few that was once their when the field was fresh and unknown. Here are a few areas of adjustment to think about as you recharge your business:
Attitude: Have you ever heard the term “Garbage in, garbage out!” well the reverse is also true. “Greatness in, greatness out” and without the right attitude greatness can never be achieved. A lot of things that happen in life can affect our direction and strategy. How we react to those changes can have a direct relationship with our attitudes. If we can maintain control of our perspective of life’s changes we can maintain the right attitude when executing our daily plans. In the history of selling there has never been a positive outcome of a person who went into a transaction with a bad attitude. So today would be a good day to start with a great attitude.
Environment: Surround yourself with the right people, the heavy hitters, and the game changers that are never satisfied. Being around people that constantly strive to be great is contagious. Jim Rohn was right; “we are the average of the five people we spend the most of our time with“. So surround yourself with the right people because the wrong people have already given up on themselves. As well-meaning as they seem for them seeing a peer giving up on a dream only helps them validate their own bad choices, surround yourself with players and slayers and the world is yours!
Execution: It’s one thing to plan it, say it and write it down for all to see it’s another to actually get out there and do it. You can have an excellent plan of attack but without the right attitude or environment to execute that plan your results will fall short, Peter Drucker famously said that “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work”. Working to your potential will always require doing what others simply refuse to do. This is where the majority seems to fall short and seems to give up trying. Getting out there and staying on course of a well thought out plan leaving you room to learn and continue moving forward will always lead to success.
All of this sounds pretty basic, however it is a stone cold fact. Your plan will only fail if your around the wrong people feeding the wrong attitude and keeping you from doing the right work necessary to achieve greatness. Start today and be GREAT!
There are a lot of stories out there regarding an old bike imbedded in a tree located in the woods on Vashon Island near Seattle, Washington. The basics of the story are that a group of boys from the 1950’s biked into the woods while one of the boys left behind his bike that he had chained to a tree. Later that day he ended up walking home with his friends, never to return and retrieve the bike. As the decades passed by amazingly the tree continued to grow taking the bike with it into the air. The many stories that are out there as to how the bike really got there is irrelevant, it’s the persistence of the tree continuing to grow despite the obstacle the tree faced having that bike chained to itself.
In sales being persistent is the key to success, if you are not persistent with your customers whether they are old or new you will never close the deal. This is where the rubber meets the road with any sales professional. It’s real easy to get discouraged when you’re out there in today’s economy. It’s fight or flight in the real world, regardless of what you were taught in school. You have to have the ability to adapt to your surroundings and do it quickly or you’ll get left behind. There are no breaks in the real world, no reset; that tree never got a break or a reset. The tree had that bike anchored for decades and had no choice but to adapt. The tree had to figure it out and grow because that boy was not coming back. So when you are out in the field or on the phone and you hit a brick wall then another brick wall and another think of this tree and the persistence it took to grow. That tree did not have a choice, it had to adapt. If you stay the course, be positive, adapt and stay persistent you will succeed…
I always make it a point to be out in the field with my sales reps not only because it is my job to make them better but to get my finger on the pulse of our business partners. There is no question about it I love auto sales and everything that comes with it! Every time I am out in the field I find myself missing the days of being in a dealership and engaging customers. Regardless of the stereo types attached to the industry as a whole you can’t help but love it and all that comes with it. However, just like the old 80’s tune “Every rose has its thorn” you occasionally see the unmotivated, uninspired and the poorly presented huddling like a bunch of cattle in front of a showroom for all to see. Management please take note; if this is happening in your showroom put an end to it today!
The economy is brutal and customers want to feel welcome and well served when shopping. Consider the “Huddle” in front of your showroom as the kryptonite to positive first impressions. Nothing productive comes from the sales huddle, NOTHING! If business is slow these individuals should not be huddling in front of your store, they should be busy prospecting. Making sure your sales people are actively keeping a full pipeline and being productive with their time through prospecting activity will keep the phone ringing and the floor humming. If the phone is ringing and customers are not intimidated by the image associated with the huddle everyone wins. If sales people are huddling that means they are not prospecting and if they are not prospecting they are not selling and if they are not selling they are costing YOU. We are the engine that drives this economy so take action today put a stop to the “Huddle” and turn those huddlers into “Hustlers”!
I find too often that new growth initiatives get derailed by the unimportant, at least what appears to be unimportant among my circle of priorities. Regardless of the industry our customers tend to make things urgent for us and sometimes their emergencies become our emergencies and it’s real easy to get caught up in the whirl wind of panic as the end of the world nears in the minds of our customers. The perception is always the same; yet in every circumstance somehow it’s entirely your fault and it needs to be fixed now. Sound familiar??
All too often the causes of these emergencies tend to be self-inflicted and could have easily been avoided with the right communication for both you and your customer. As sales professionals it’s up to us to walk that tight rope and determine what levels of action need to be taken and when. We want to maintain a strong level of customer service; however we also don’t work for free and want to maintain a high level of productivity while delivering great service. A lot of this can be handled in the beginning of the process by level setting the customers’ expectations upfront. You know the old saying “Under Promise and Over Deliver” somehow seems to ring true here.
With that said there are circumstances in every transaction that warrants a little customer responsibility. This needs to be pointed out in the beginning otherwise you may find yourself on the receiving end of some pretty heated e-mails, phone calls and worst of all lost business. If the facts of the deal are not communicated effectively upfront; the customer’s expectation of your services could end up being a lot higher than what you are capable of delivering on. When that happens the happy euphoric world you successfully filled your customers buying experience with really does come to an end.
Here is an example of what I’m talking about:
A customer purchases a used automobile that is no longer covered under the factory warranty. The Business Manager presents different Vehicle Service Contract options that are available for the customer to purchase. The customer is presented with pricing options and chooses the product that best fits their budget. They close the deal and the customer is happily on their way to enjoy a newly purchased vehicle. Six months later in the heat of the summer the air conditioner no longer works and the customer discovers that they are responsible for the entire cost of the repair. Why? It turns out that when the customer purchased the vehicle the only product that fit their budget was the basic power train coverage of which the air conditioner was not part of. Makes perfect sense when you break it down to the bare bones of the situation after all the coverage the customer purchased did not fit the problem. However this is not how the customer perceives the problem, as a matter of fact the customer feels deceived and wants a new air conditioner stat. This of course is not only a problem for the customer but a problem for the entire dealership and presents a huge customer service issue. This particular customer left the dealership with a piece of mind that was not clearly communicated by the business manager. A simple disclosure and explanation of coverage that fit the customers budget at the time could have ramped up the customers awareness of the risk and responsibility involved in the level of coverage they purchased. This added communication could have alleviated a lot of the customer’s anger down the road especially when they get presented with a pricey repair order from the service writer.
Is it possible the customer would never have bought the car to begin with if the Business Manager disclosed what kind of coverage they were really getting for the money? Maybe or maybe not, the real question to ask is how many potential customers now do you think will be affected by the perception problem this Business Manager created overall? I would argue quite a bit, probably more than we could possibly measure.
Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when managing similar situations:
1: Never Short Cut Your Presentation: After a while if not careful a sales person can get caught up in a lot of assumptive traps. If you have been in your role for a while it is easy to assume that the customer is familiar with the lingo, product and process. What happens is the sales person is either in a hurry and wants to move on to the next deal quickly or wants to satisfy the customer’s impatience by getting them on their way quickly. What they really end up doing is skipping very important steps along the way and quickly closing the deal. As redundant as the process may feel on your side of the fence, remember that this may be the first time the customer on the other side may be hearing what you have to say. So take your time and present your product in its entirety.
2: Always Balance Price with Value: People don’t buy unless the value of the product exceeds the amount of money they will need to fork over to buy it. Sometimes you may come across a customer that is so focused on staying within their stated budget that the entire interaction becomes all about price. You may come to an agreement on price, however if what you’re getting is not laid out correctly the product purchased might not be what the customer is expecting when it counts. The situation above may have been avoided if the sales person pointed out the limitations and recommended a product that both fit the customer’s budget and their piece of mind. Sometimes that may require pushing them beyond their budget and if that is the case and the value is there they will buy it.
3: Review the Deal before Closing: It is always wise to recap the conditions of any pending transaction and point out any holes that may affect the customer down the road. This may open up a deeper discussion around the customer’s needs and bring the deal back to the negotiating table for added products and services in case the customers real needs were never addressed. It’s very tempting to finish the close when you’re ready to “sign on the line that is dotted”. Remember, the best and most successful sales people in today’s economy play more of a consulting role with their customers. This will help your customer build trust and faith in your expertise. If they have trust and faith in your expertise they will continue to buy even if problems occur.
Level setting your customers’ expectation will allow you to hold your customers a little more accountable to the purchase decisions they make. Problems that occur after the sale are never fun; however a lot of the pain can be mitigated with a few simple habits.