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23 Tips For Building A Powerful Personal Brand On LinkedIn

December 10th, 2014

Getting the most out of LinkedIn can be a difficult endeavor. To help you succeed in building an informative and powerful profile, we have compiled a list of the 23 most important personal branding tips to use on this social networking website. Follow these helpful rules to stay relevant and create a lasting impression on LinkedIn.

1. Use Important Keywords In Your LinkedIn Profile

 Pack your profile with the right kind of search terms so that your profile is more searchable. Also, your headline should be compelling and interesting. Don’t get passed over as a potential business partner; stand out in the crowd with an attention-grabbing headline , such as “5 Ways I Can Double Your Sales Leads”. Every human resources manager will take the time to read your profile if you can deliver on a riveting headline.

 

2. Complete Your Profile

One of the biggest mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn is not filling out every part of their profile. When completing it fully and correctly only takes a short amount of time and provides a wealth of personal information, why leave parts of your profile blank? Give the people who view your profile the whole picture and don’t leave anything out.

 

3. Join the Right LinkedIn Groups

Become involved in any LinkedIn group that focuses on your job category. The more you read about your field, the more of an expert you will be on the subject matter. As information is constantly growing and evolving, you should be reading up to stay relevant in your workplace. These groups make it easy for you to be part of targeted discussions so you can participate and keep up-to-date with your field of work.

 

4. Join All Related Groups

With LinkedIn, real growth comes from branching out. Don’t constrain your expertise or narrow your field too precisely. For example, if you have a sales position, join groups that relate not only to sales, but to public speaking and marketing, as well. By keeping up with a wider range of groups, you can expand your field of knowledge and open doors to other potential business opportunities.

 

5. Find New Contacts In Your Industry

Use LinkedIn as your professional social media resource and connect with the top professionals in your industry. Often, you can find these new connections by searching your contacts and looking for similar acquaintances. Reaching out with a question can help start a conversation about your field and be beneficial to both you and the potential new contact. Set a goal for yourself for a specific number of conversations per month with new contacts.

 

6. Let Your Distinctive Traits Shine Through

It is not just your accomplishments, but also your unique voice that makes you a one-of-a-kind asset. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is accurately portraying your personality to clients and potential business connections. If you are an energetic individual who is driven and ambitious, make sure your profile doesn’t put people to sleep!

 

7. Showcase All Pertinent Work

Upload all your relevant portfolio pieces to your LinkedIn. If a website shows work you have done in the past that you are proud of, link to it. You can share examples of your work so hiring managers or potential clients get a better feel for your strengths.

 

8. Make LinkedIn Your New Address Book

Use LinkedIn to organize and manage all your professional contacts. The site now allows you add email and phone information to your connections. Another great feature is the ability to tag contacts based on job category.

 

9. Discover Business Leaders

 

Businessman on cell phone connecting with important business contacts through the web.

If you are looking to learn more about a new field or are interested in learning which companies are leaders in their fields, LinkedIn provides expansive information to reference.

 

10. Reach Out Regularly

Stay fresh in people’s minds by periodically reaching out to share current information or to simply say hi and see if their needs or goals have changed. Next time they are thinking about any demands that their company has, your name might be the freshest in their mind.

 

11. Keep Building Your Professional Network

Try to make a monthly goal with your LinkedIn by connecting to more colleagues or business associates. By continuing to grow your social network, you are preventing your online presence from becoming stale.

 

12. Write Recommendations For Coworkers or Colleagues

If you want people to endorse you and give you credit for your work, there is no easier way than writing recommendations for them. Giving credit to others can exponentially increase your chances of these endorsements being reciprocated.  

 

13. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Recommendations

Did you recently help a client reach a goal or complete a project that you are particularly proud of? If your work is truly stellar, the client will show their appreciation by sharing their positive feedback.

 

14. Update Your Profile Image

 

Businessman sits for a professional picture in a board room.

 

Using an unprofessional image is an easy way to lose credibility with your LinkedIn. Make sure your headshot is professional and has a clean background. Either hire a photographer or get someone with basic photography skills to help you out. Having a professional image is an easy way to create a better LinkedIn profile.

 

15. Contribute To Related Blogs

You may not feel like you know everything about your field of work, but sometimes writing your own blog posts can give you more credibility and show you are eager to share your knowledge. By writing about what you know on LinkedIn blogs, you are speaking to a large audience and contributing to an open business conversation.

 

16. Don’t Send Spam Messages

An important aspect of using LinkedIn is talking to a potential customer one-on-one. Once you begin sending spammy stock messages to people, you will lose all your credibility on LinkedIn. People have become attuned to this kind of online white noise and are now trained to tune out any spam content. Personalize your message and make sure you are asking relevant questions and providing information that is exclusive to their business demands.

 

17. Respond Promptly To All Questions and Messages

When someone reaches out to you on LinkedIn, it is important to respond quickly. If you answer questions in a timely manner, you are showing that you can handle business efficiently, which raises your credibility in the professional world.

 

18. Maintain A Professional Demeanor

LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter. Keep your tone and correspondence professional at all times. This is a business social network and your associates will judge how you portray yourself on LinkedIn.

 

19. Don’t Ask For Reciprocal Endorsements

You may have endorsed all of their skills, but asking people to endorse you just because you endorsed them is a rooky mistake. If people think you are great at your job and have a lot to offer, they will endorse you back. Don’t pester someone just because you went to the trouble of endorsing his or her skills.

 

20. Never Send Messages in Response to Views

Six words that scare off potential clients or hiring managers: “I see you viewed my profile…” Just because someone is looking at your profile does not mean that they found anything useful. The purpose of your profile is to show people what you have to offer. Either they are just browsing or they didn’t see anything they liked on your profile, but either way, those six words aren’t making things better.

 

21. Explain How YOU Can Help THEM

Don’t get confused on the purpose of your profile. Most people on LinkedIn are not there to see what you have to say, but instead use the network to resolve business issues. Make sure the information you provide is focused on how your particular set of skills can solve these problems.

 

22. Create A Personal Call To Action

When your page receives visitors that are interested in learning more about how you can help them, there should be a direct and focused call to action. They should have clear steps laid out in how to reach you, including email addresses, phone numbers, and the best times to speak to you. In addition to any contact information, relevant websites or blogs should be linked in this section, too.

 

23. Invest in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator

This premium tool, not to be confused with LinkedIn’s free offerings for salespeople, will take your game to the next level. The subscription-based Sales Navigator application allows you to leverage the LinkedIn connections of others who work for your company, dramatically broadening your personal networking landscape. It also generates tailored lead recommendations based on criteria you set, tracks current opportunities, gives you timely and accurate updates about your active prospects, and lets you create a professional, trusted brand with a premium profile. As if all that weren’t enough, it syncs up with Salesforce.com. Pricing varies based on the size of the sales force, and may even have changed by the time you read this. The pricing plans we’ve seen all look quite reasonable, and make this social selling tool a must-have for most B2B sellers. For more information, read our guide to using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

 


5 Reasons Why Leadership Isn’t Just for Leaders Anymore

December 5th, 2014

The traditional corporate structure in the workplace is ready for a change. With Millennials entering the workforce, there is a resounding call for a structural shakeup. These young professionals have a lot to say and they want to have their voices heard. Successful companies are noticing this. Instead of paying attention to only GPA’s, they are looking for critical thinking and problem-solving skills in new hires. Working as a team and allowing leadership behaviors to naturally develop gives employees the chance to be heard, no matter their level of seniority.

One example of how shaking up the established business hierarchy has helped a company evolve is Zappos, an online retailer. Zappos announced in 2013 that they would be getting rid of all management positions. Instead, they adopted a new style of office organization called “Holacracy”. This innovative organizational structure uses a system of overlapping, self-governing circles. Holacracy arranges a company around the work that needs to be done, instead of by who should do it. This system allows for employees to play to their own strengths and let their individual talents shine through. It also permits natural leaders to emerge, regardless of their level of experience.

Here are five reasons why you should consider a non-traditional leadership system for your organizations.

 

 1. Leadership Encourages Teamwork

By giving even entry-level employees leadership opportunities, a company is working towards a stronger team. If people view their coworkers not just as titles like “Manager” or “Head of ______Department”, but as teammates working towards a common goal, they are much more likely to respect each other. Managers are not always leaders, and leaders are not always managers. Giving employees the chance to reveal their natural leadership tendencies is a great way to build a level playing field in the office.

 

 2. Creates An Even Playing Field

Most people don’t respect managers in the typical “leader” position. Lower level employees often view them as bossy and more of an annoyance than a helpful presence. Giving everyone the ability to make decisions and be their own leaders allows for a more equal workplace. Each employee has something that they can contribute to the team, and allowing them to shine individually will make for a stronger team overall.

 

 3. Leadership at All Levels Promotes Openness

Two women and two men look at a document together at a desk.

 

Allowing leadership at all levels promotes openness and allows everyone to work together, regardless of how many years they have been with the company. Another advantage of allowing leadership to develop at all levels and cutting out unnecessary management is that there is no longer a place for slacking employees to hide. Laziness and a bad work ethic will be noticed and reported by an entire team of people, instead of the previous reporting focal point of a manager. Many times, bad employees slip under the radar, as managers may not notice or simply ignore their lack of dedication. With leadership abilities given to everyone in the workplace, any employee is free to speak up about issues and they can work together as a team to solve the problem at hand.

 

4. Higher Motivation for Younger Employees

Recognizing leadership even at lower levels in the company can give new employees more motivation. If their ideas and suggestions are heard and valued instead of dismissed, they will be more willing to speak up in the future with helpful tips. In contrast, if they are continuously ignored or put down for contributing to a workplace conversation, they will become unmotivated and uninterested. Allowing for the growth of managerial skills in lower-level employees can alleviate workplace boredom and give them decision-making freedom.

 

5. Necessitates Constant Development for Entire Company

Allowing for leadership with every employee promotes growth for the entire company. With everyone from entry-level to senior staff members contributing to company goals, the business will have an abundance of new ideas to pick from. Creative interactions between coworkers will become more commonplace, leading to better work and more consistently positive changes. Even though entry-level employees are regularly viewed as novices in the workplace, these new recruits can often spot internal company mistakes. This outsider’s opinion should be valued, as they have a unique perspective that mid-and upper-level employees may no longer see.

 

For companies to be successful in the ever-changing business climate, they must be adaptable and aggressive. Giving employees at all levels the chance to be leaders will give your company more chances for creative solutions and success. It also keeps employees from being trapped in fixed attitudes or habits.

If the company is promoting growth and leadership, each employee will feel encouraged to produce new ideas. When leadership is fostered on a company-wide level, your entire business, along with every employee, can flourish and grow. Don’t forget that each employee in a company has a unique view. If each one is allowed to share their voice, you can get a more complete picture of your business.

 

 

 

 

 


Why Having A Strong Personal Brand Is No Longer An Option

December 5th, 2014

As a salesperson, here is something you probably already know: people don’t feel a strong connection with companies. So in this day and age, having a personal brand is no longer an option; it is a requirement. If people do not see you as a relatable individual and instead starting viewing you as simply the voice of a corporation, you aren’t going to last long in the fast-paced world of sales.

 In a crowded business environment, you need to establish a unique personal brand that stands out in a crowd. If you start with a strong identity, you will build a reputation as a stellar salesperson.

 

 The Key To Building Trust

When talking about personal branding, your character needs to come through in interactions to be truly effective. Put simply, people trust people, not corporations. Talking to a great salesperson can be the highlight of your day if done correctly. Conversely, if your pitch comes across as stiff and scripted, you are losing your greatest strength in one-on-one interaction: trust.

 If you have a strong personal brand and people feel that they can relate to you, they will believe your word when it comes to the strength of your product or service.

 

 Authenticity & Personal Branding

Personal branding does not mean creating some false identity to put up in front of clients. You are not a two-dimensional cardboard cutout. You need to use your strengths and accentuate what you can bring to the table in business. Authenticity works much better than putting up a false front. People can often tell when you are playing the role of a salesman, and the result is unease and distrust. No one wants to feel like they are being “sold to”.

 When you are genuinely passionate about your product or service, your enthusiasm will always come through in conversation. This kind of energy is contagious, and your passion will likely rub off and make your interaction more memorable for the customer.

 

Become A Leader

Another strength that comes from establishing a solid personal brand is that it gives you a higher perceived value in the workplace. Imagine this scenario: you have an exact twin that works alongside you. However, while you have a charming and unique sales voice, your twin has a flat, boring personality. Who do you think would make the better salesman?

 Your personal brand is what makes you different from every other “average Joe” in the business market. Personal branding helps you become a leader, not a follower. Stand out in the sales market!

 Those who have an easily noticed and popular personal brand will be perceived as an executive presence. This will give your voice more authority and can even help with promotions and advancement in the workplace.

 If you have the reputation as being a take-charge employee, more opportunities for growth will present themselves. Using your personal brand to show your enthusiasm for your work can aid in furthering your sales career.

 

Be Wary of Social Media

 Hands hold up social media keywords like share, like, tweet, and follow.

 

Don’t lose focus on your personal brand. It is a trademark that requires constant upkeep. You need to be reinforcing your brand at all times. One slip in your characteristic identity and people may lose their trust in your “brand”.

One problem that has arisen in the pursuit of a strong personal brand is the growth in social media reliance in business.  It is easy to cause irreconcilable damage to your brand when you are not thinking ahead about the information you present or the responses you give to customers. By having kneejerk reactions to current events or customer complaints on your social media sites, you can destroy all the hard work you have put into building your customized business foundation.

 When it comes to social media, a good tip to follow is to always pause and consider how each experience could affect your personal brand. Sometimes taking a step back and waiting to respond can let you see the situation more clearly, without the excitement of the moment to cloud your judgment.

 

 

 A Two-Way Street

Lastly, personal branding works both ways. If you can get a good feel for a customer’s personality, wants, and needs, you can decide whether they are a solid lead to pursue. When your personal brand clicks with someone else, that is how a good business partnership can be formed.

 Working in sales is a lot like dating. You want to find someone who is a good “match” for you. Don’t waste your time with someone who is probably a cold lead. When the right business client comes along, it just works.

 If you don’t have a solid personal brand built in the sales world, develop yours fast. Without this firm foundation in your business practices, your voice will get lost in the deafening noise of the sales world.


5 New Sales Prospecting Rules to Live By in the Social Selling Era

December 4th, 2014

The explosion of social media has created lots of new opportunities for your company when it comes to sales prospecting. Utilizing the tools available to you can expand your business and be a source of continuous lead generation. Or it can cause a very embarrassing publicity nightmare. Here are five rules you should follow to cash in on social media opportunities and become a successful sales professional:

Rule #1: Never Miss A Chance To Connect and Inform. Social media is not a replacement for active cold calling, but your pages can work in conjunction with this method to reach more people. If you are not reaching out to people on social media and finding out if your product is a good fit for their needs, you are missing key opportunities. While you may want to adjust your pitch to become more of a conversation on social media, you should be using it for the same purpose as cold calling: See if their problems match your solutions. This is the most basic first step in the sales process. If they are not in need of your services, they aren’t going to want to hear a ten-minute pitch on why your product is great. Simply reaching out to potential leads on social media and starting a conversation will give you a better idea of if your product will fit their business needs.

Rule #2: Let The Data Work For You. Use social media for data mining. By using your pages for sales prospecting, you gain valuable insights into customer demographics. Social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are great tools for lead generation. This is the over-sharing era, and sales professionals can use this to their advantage. There are filters available for social media sites that will narrow your audience according to age, gender, and many other categories. This gives you the ability to focus more closely on your clients and target customers more specifically.

Rule #3: Research Competitors to Learn Weaknesses and Gain Insights on How You Can Improve Customer Experiences. Many customers take to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to provide feedback on their user experience. If you are not looking at your competitor’s social media pages on a regular basis, you are missing out on learning their business weaknesses. And by having an understanding of those weaknesses, you are able to highlight your strengths and meet needs that the competitors can’t. This also gives you another way of sales prospecting to an already targeted customer. If they are not happy because of their experience with your competitor, tell them how you can do it better!

Rule #4: Get Involved In The Process! Social media gives your business the ability to have open conversations with customers and address any potential issues. These sites are a two-way informational street, and while many businesses may focus on churning out more and more content, you need to be ready to talk openly with your clients. You need to listen to what your customers have to say about you. Having an open conversation with customers through social media is a great way to humanize your business. Answer their questions and concerns, thank them for their feedback, and let your sites be an active place for informative discussions. By talking to the customers directly, you can learn what sales strategies are working best, and which you should leave behind.

Rule #5: Don’t Leave Out The Call To Action! Prospects need to learn the next steps in the purchase process. Without giving them a call to action, they won’t know what to do with the information you have provided. Make sure you have step-by-step information available that is easy to identify. If potential clients are in any way confused by your social media sites, it will most likely mean they will look in other places for answers. And that could be leading them directly to your competitors.

 

Social media is a great device for sales professionals to utilize, but doing it improperly can be a waste of valuable selling time. It should not be the only platform you use for reaching out to sales leads. Cold calling is still an important and useful tool in the sales industry, and should be used in conjunction with social media, instead of replacing it completely. If you follow these tips to improve your lead generation process, you will discover that social media marketing is an invaluable tool to sales professionals in all fields.


5 Ways Millennials Will Make Great Managers

November 5th, 2014

In the past ten years, Millennials have been entering the workplace more than ever. While some may still view Generation Y as overeager interns, these developing leaders are becoming the future of successful business. And while it is easy to view a younger generation as lacking in knowledge and experience, the truth is Millennials have a lot to offer. Here are five ways this technologically advanced generation has the ability to bring new life and energy to a workplace:

 1. Gen Y Believes In Transparency & Equality

Don’t try to push outdated managerial systems on Millennials. They do not appreciate the traditional manager/employee relationship. Instead, they would rather view every coworker as an equal. They want to discuss ideas openly, regardless of experience or previously gained knowledge. Each business challenge is viewed as a unique problem, to be discussed and solved as a team, rather than assigning it as an individual task to an employee.

Another positive of Generation Y is their desire for complete transparency in the workplace. Full disclosure on salary, company processes, and trade secrets are appreciated by Millennials, and this in turn will lead them to be open with their staff as managers. They want a workplace to be an open environment for ideas that will lead to company growth and success.

2. Millennials Are Comfortable With Evolving Technology

This generation grew up in a digital age. They are used to, and actually require, technology’s constant updates and changing digital landscape. Millennials are the generation that has to have the newest phones and electronics. They expect software updates on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

While many people from the older generations may look at Gen Y as lazy or lacking focus, the opposite is actually true. Millennials analyze the shortest distance between problems and solutions. They are adept at troubleshooting and enjoy tackling problems head-on. These rising professionals are part of a “Google smart” generation. They do not look to libraries for answers, but know that a quick Google search puts all the information they may need at their fingertips.

3. They’re Creative Thinkers

Millennials are much more open-minded to creative solutions than previous generations, such as Baby Boomers or Generation X. Unlike these previous generations that kept their head down and focused on retaining job security, Gen Y is much more comfortable with taking risks and thinking outside the box. These creative trailblazers focus less on their place in a company, and instead look at the “big picture”. Understanding their entire business sphere makes Millennials much more effective at knowing how to make positive and efficient changes. Their creative problem-solving techniques allow them to appreciate the opinions of newer employees, regardless of experience.

4. A Generation Of Natural Leaders

Young business leaders and professionals .

Gen Y possesses HUGE amounts of confidence. This is an entire generation of people that have never been told that they can’t succeed, but rather that anything is possible if they put in the necessary time and effort. Millennials don’t hesitate to examine every inch of a business, and then make suggestions for helpful changes. They will take a role as a leader without waiting to be asked. What they may lack in years of experience, they will make up for with enthusiasm and the desire to make a difference in their workplace. Generation Y will constantly demand that their company challenge them, so in turn they will pass this down in their managerial style. Millennial managers want to see employees become self-starters and team players instead of relying on constant direction from supervisors.

5. Big Believers In A Work/Life Balance

Gen Y is not looking for a 9-5 job that merely pays the bills. They are a generation that believes wholeheartedly in balancing their work lives with their social lives. They know how to make work environments fun while also understanding the importance of getting work done. Rather than living to work, they believe strongly in enjoying their pursuits. It isn’t just a job or career for Millennials, but a way to feel fulfilled in life. They want to feel successful and constantly challenged by their employers, and this leads to them doing the same to their managerial style. Asking the most out of their employees, while also providing a fun and interesting environment for them to learn, is one of the greatest strengths Millennials will bring to positions of management.

Before you know it, Millennials will be leading the world of business. Although many Baby Boomers and older generations still doubt and distrust their skills, embracing what defines their generation will allow businesses to thrive and grow. Make sure your company knows how to harness their unique attributes and turn them into successful leaders. After all, Millennials are the future of your company!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


4 Debunked Myths About Managing Millennials

October 15th, 2014

Take a look at your workforce. Chances are high that it’s generationally diverse, with Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials working at every level. That last cohort – Millennials, Gen Y, Generation Next, etc. – has been the subject of boundless research and discussion in the past 15 years.

Often when older generations discuss younger ones, the context is negative and may include words like entitled, unmotivated, and tough to manage. As a leader, when your young Gen Y employees aren’t meeting your expectations, it’s easy to tag the issue as a “generational defect.”

But Millennials exhibit numerous positive characteristics that make them increasingly valuable in the diverse, fast-paced modern workplace. In the oft-cited Connecting Generations: The Sourcebook for a New Workplace, Claire Raines describes Gen Y as “sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential, and achievement-oriented.” Yet, this latest generation of workers remains a puzzle to older managers.

If you’re unsure how to manage your young workers, or you feel as though they’re causing problems for your business, it’s may be a function of your own misconceptions.

Are you making snap judgments about your under-30 employees, and are these judgments having a negative effect on production and turnover? If so, how true are your assumptions, and are they based on preconceptions from things you may have read or heard about the Millennial workforce? Let’s examine and debunk some of the tall tales about managing Millennials.

Myth 1: Millennials have no work ethic

The Millennial workforce is only slightly smaller than the Baby Boomer generation. Yet, for the most part, they’re entering the workforce in a weaker economy than previous generations. Align those two factors and you’ve got a hyper-competitive job market. Millennials are forced to hustle and work hard to land a paying gig, so you shouldn’t assume that they wouldn’t do the same for your business.

It isn’t that Millennials don’t want to work. Rather, they don’t believe in the value of work for it’s own sake. They want to work efficiently to balance work time and play time. For them, long work hours do not equal hard work.

They’re achievement-oriented. In your business, this translates to higher production in a shorter time period, allowing for more leisure time. It’s a similar concept to Frank Gilbreth’s notion that so-called “lazy” workers are beneficial because they find the most efficient path to task completion.

As workers, they desire to complete a task well, to do so efficiently, and then put that task in the past. You will frustrate your Millennial employees by expecting them to put in face time beyond what’s required to reach their immediate objectives.

Counter the myth: Create flexible work environments

For Millennial workers, money is important, but time is the ultimate currency. Given the choice, they’ll opt to sprint to drive positive results.

Managers can foster this work style by offering flexible work hours. Some progressive companies even offer unlimited paid vacation time.

Do those sound like foreign concepts to you? Consider this: Millennials are excellent at cooperation and teamwork. They want to work with friends and close peers. That means they’re not likely to abuse paid time off at the risk of letting down their team. Cultivate a culture of trust and your Millennial workers will independently balance production and leisure time.

Myth 2: Millennials are unmotivated

Previous generations have largely been motivated by the future. Promises of raises and promotions are the standard carrot-on-a-stick for Boomers and Gen Xers. The expectation for achieving these goals was a demonstration of commitment through “paying their dues” and working overtime.

Often and especially with older Gen Yers, this generation watched their parents’ endless toil result in menial workplace advancement. Millennials seek a different path.

To older managers, they may appear unmotivated because they’re easily bored. This digital generation is constantly over stimulated. They need a variety of tasks and a clear structure to keep them interested.

Counter the myth: Shake things up and offer the right perks

As a manager, you can create systems that reward quality work. Try offering paid time off on the fly for great, tangible results.

Set clear expectations on what needs to be done. Don’t drag your Millennial employees along with nebulous goals, moving targets, and the promise of future rewards for paid dues without delineating the road to victory.

Myth 3: Millennials don’t respect authority

It isn’t that Millennials don’t respect authority. Actually, according to research from the Center for Creative Leadership, they are more likely than previous generations to give respect and loyalty to authority figures.

That being said, managers need to earn Millennial respect. Gen Y follows leaders based on experience, wisdom, and advice. Their helicopter parents fostered environments that encouraged them to seek frequent counsel and dedicated mentorship. Accordingly, doling out orders without communicating purpose often results in backlash. Millennials reject the “because I’m your boss” reasoning behind assignments.

Counter the myth: Be a mentor, not a manager

Millennials (more so than other generations) desire to find and collect mentors. Constant feedback and advice go a long way in earning due respect and loyalty. Lead by example, and your Millennials are much more likely to stick around.

Mentorship is not a one-way street, though. Gen Y feels their opinion is valuable regardless of their limited life experience. Listen to and heed their thoughts.

Myth 4: You have to manage Millennials differently from other generations

At the end of the day, managing personnel solely based on age is biased. Just like other generations, young workers want to make a positive contribution. They don’t need special treatment as much as they need fair opportunities and consideration. Think of each employee as an individual, not just a member of a generational cohort.

Also try to remember yourself at that age. Did your vision always align with your boss’? Probably not. Like your young workers, you likely spent a great deal of work time wondering what was going on outside the office.

Counter the myth: Recognize your biases

Keep in mind much of the research done that resulted in these myths carried socioeconomic bias. For that and many other reasons, effective managers should do their best to consider each employee individually within the context of his or her life.

Of course, it isn’t universally wrong to heed generational characteristics when hiring or managing a team. You often have to wade through an endless sea of people to find your perfect hire, and the larger your office grows, the more individuals you’ll have to manage in the mix. Heuristics let you do so efficiently. Just make sure that, if you’re going to make judgments about your Millennial workforce, your decisions are based on fact, not fiction.


7 Essential Steps to Building a Winning Sales Team

October 6th, 2014

It’s a fact: most organizations need a killer sales force. Business development, marketing, must-have products or services – these are all essential to meaningful revenue growth. But your sales team is the heart of production. Your salespeople are the ones championing your offer and driving precious profit. Your team should be the best it can. Period.

But how do you build a successful sales team? Buckle up, because it’s no easy task. As long as you follow these seven essential steps, however, you’ll have a team of sales all-stars under your belt.

 

1. Evaluate the sales situation

Good doctors don’t write prescriptions without a diagnosis. Following that example, you should treat your sales force as your patient.

Do you have the right resources already? Maybe you’re starting with a team of A-players that only need advanced sales training and a push in the right direction.

Alternatively, your team could be losing to demand. Your team can’t handle the volume of requests, and you need to add a few heads to keep the business growing.

Of course, you could be starting from the ground up. That means you’re working with a clean slate. But knowing how to build a sales team from scratch means knowing what to look for and how to find and attract winners.

2. Know whom you need and what they do

You’ve evaluated your environment. You know what you have. Now you need to understand what you do not have. To realize your next step, determine your sales team’s end goal. Is this a customer care team? Or a pack of aggressive cold callers? What does the team structure look like? Building accurate, functional job titles is critical to building the team itself.

Even if you’re working with existing employees, reexamine each person’s role. They may perform better in a different sales role with different expectations. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what earns wins.

3. Track progress and success

To build a winning sales team, you need to define what it means to win. However, understand that measurements for progress and success are different depending on your starting point.

Sales success is a factor of both Behavior and results. Focusing only on activity won’t encourage closing. Likewise, it can be discouraging to focus only on results, especially during a sales slump.

Examples for sales performance measurement:

  • Ratio of cost of sales to revenue: Pure sales volume isn’t the end all of every industry. Whether you sell small-margin products or not, actual revenue is a true measure of production.
  • Conversion rates: Is your team closing? How many touches does it take to close?
  • Forecasted vs. actual sales: Salespeople who consistently hit forecasted marks know their clients, markets, their own expectations, and how to succeed.

Examples for sales activity measurement:

  • Funnel health: The #1 categorical measurement for sales activity is the health of your sales funnel. It’s future facing and focused on the path to results. Record the status and quality of all prospects and the causes behind each. That way, when your team does or does not produce, you can examine the context and optimize your procedure.
  • Total new accounts contacted: At the top level, new contacts open doors. Measuring the number of new prospects your team collects reveals your team’s overall hunger and tenacity.
  • Number of contacts made in certain segments: Measuring contacts by their market segment allows you to track whether or not your team

4. Have a rock-solid hiring process

We’ve discussed the value of thorough hiring processes before, but it’s worth repeating. Ensure that your vetting procedures identify the right candidates in general, of course, but also gear your interviews carefully. You want to test your potential hires for how they’ll fare in your unique sales force.

Hiring is an incredibly time-consuming process. To find the best and build a great sales team, though, you’ve got to play the numbers game. There is a multitude of ways to prospect for new sales hires:

  • Recruiting events: Recruiting events are beneficial because they put huge numbers of qualified candidates in front of you at a relatively low cost of time and money. Those who attend these events are hungry, too. However, you place yourself in direct competition with every other company building a sales force at the event, so you need to be prepared to differentiate your business.
  • Referrals: Whether they come from current employees, friends, or business contacts, referrals are efficient for digging up pre-qualified candidates. Be sure to incentivize referrals to encourage the hunt.
  • Advertising: Posting ads carries two key advantages: speed and reach.
  • Outsourcing: When using an outside recruiter, it’s best to qualify the recruiting firm as you would a candidate for hire. Firms that aren’t a good fit are more likely to produce candidates that aren’t either.

Of course, there are other approaches. No matter how you choose to pursue candidates, cast a wide net.

The interview is key, as well. Engineer your interview questions carefully to scan for things like adaptability, resiliency, teamwork skills, competitiveness, and great communication. These characteristics all contribute to what makes a great salesperson, and great salespeople are the foundation of a winning sales team.

5. Keep the cash flowing

Money isn’t every person’s key motivator. More often than not, however, dedicated sales professionals have money on their minds. Even if the team you’re building isn’t primarily payday-driven, money is always important for security and comfort to some degree.

For building a sales team that needs a little security, offer base pay.

If that approach doesn’t align with your business objectives, try spicing up your commission scheme. Offer unpredictable incentives – monetary and otherwise – for performance.

6. Induct with care

If you’re building a brand new sales team or hiring new hands, good onboarding is invaluable. Take the time to inform new hires of your goals and vision for the force. Be transparent. Set clear expectations. Encourage your killer sales team to adopt the business or product as his or her own.

If you aren’t hiring, it’s helpful to remind your existing team of each of these points. Refresh their vision. Offer perspective. You need to walk the walk, to lead by example. If you can win, your team will feel that success and pursue it with vigor.

7. Pull out all the stops on training

What caliber training program do you plan on implementing? If you want your sales team to win (and win big), put everyone – that’s new hires, current employees, and even yourself – through rigorous sales training. Training teaches your sales team how to win. When your team knows the path to victory, walking it is simple.

High-quality sales training programs, like Sandler’s, focus on skills-based training. These courses test trainees’ learning in real time with hands-on exercises. Too often training programs focus on theoretical best practices, not real world applications.

Of course, the best sales training bakes reinforcement into every step. To keep your team winning, implement ways to maintain reinforcement training. Keep your team’s skills sharp at all times.

When it comes to building a winning sales team, there’s no silver bullet. It takes time, money, and a careful hand. That being said, the rewards are measured by the success of your company, and there is no greater reward.


10 Management Skills that Make the Best Sales Managers Stand Out

September 30th, 2014

Managing a team of sales reps with various motivations and egos is no easy feat. And if you’re a sales manger, you know that it can be a complicated and sometimes challenging role that requires a number of management skills to be successful. At Sandler Training, we’ve discovered that highly effective sales managers possess a set of skills and characteristics that make them stand out from the rest.

So how do some sales managers continually lead successful and goal-oriented sales teams while others repeatedly hit roadblocks and obstacles?

Here are 10 management skills that set some sales managers above the rest.

They lead by example

Nothing builds and sustains credibility like a sales manager who leads by example. In order to keep a sales team performing, sales managers must lead by example and establish an environment that facilitates cohesion, confidence, and success.

They do more leading and less micro-managing

Too often sales managers rely on deadlines and metrics to drive performance, which can quickly turn into micro managing. Though metrics are important, effective sales managers understand how to work alongside their team members rather than over their shoulders. These sales managers seek to mentor their sales reps and tweak motivation and reward tactics to align with individual preferences.

They know when to coach

The overarching goal of coaching is to make individuals and the team better. For sales managers, mastering the skill of coaching is particularly important. Highly effective sales managers realize that placing priority on coaching will build confidence among team members. Therefore, they seek opportunities to provide feedback that will make their sales reps better and don’t hesitate to drop everything to help sales reps solve problems.

On the other hand, great sales managers also recognize when sales reps don’t need or want to be coached and leave them alone to do their high-priority tasks.

They don’t overcomplicate processes

Every team needs a sales methodology and goals to drive sales team performance. However, because highly regimented, complex sales methodologies can confuse sales reps, the process should only be as complex as it absolutely needs to be. An effective sales manager knows how to enable, explain, and support a sales process to make it easier for sales reps to understand and relate to without making the sales process feel like a strait jacket.

They communicate clear expectations

Sales teams work best when they know exactly what is expected of them and when deliverables are due. Though key performance indicators (KPIs) vary from company to company, sales reps should know exactly what happens when they meet expectations and what to expect when they miss. It is the responsibility of the sales manager to ensure their team fully understands expectations.

They pay attention to negative patterns

Highly effective sales managers think ahead and pay particular attention to team morale. These sales managers can recognize what small trends and negative patterns indicate before they become significant issues. By paying attention to small changes in sales reps’ performance, the sales manager can be proactive with coaching and mentoring before it is too late.

They choose their team carefully

Because sales managers rarely hire on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, developing impeccable hiring skills can be a challenge. However, great sales manager who can find and retain the right sales talent will improve team performance and sales results. Picking the sales team carefully means knowing how to leverage the strengths of high-performing outliers and when to coach up or part ways with under-performers.

Sales Teams

 

They enable their team by protecting their time

Great sales managers practice good time management habits and eliminate demands for sales reps that don’t directly drive revenue. This makes the most of the sales team’s time and shows the team that their sales manager genuinely cares about and respects their time.

They can see the big picture

Sales reps are responsible for their own quotas and accounts, whereas sales managers must organize the whole team’s needs. Successful sales managers have the ability to step back and analyze the big picture before making decisions that will impact the entire team.

They look for ways to make it fun

Sales managers who genuinely care about the happiness of individuals on their team tend to get more from their sales reps. These sales managers understand the importance of showing appreciation and celebrating wins often. Making work fun boosts productivity and helps to alleviate the constant pressures that come with sales.

Even the best sales managers aren’t perfect. But once you understand the management skills that make certain sales managers stand out from the rest, you can begin looking for sales management training that will align with your needs and help you to evolve into a great sales manager.