In this episode, Jeff Bajorek, a proven sales expert, and trainer as well as the author of “The Five Forgotten Fundamentals of Prospecting” shares his perspectives and experiences of the critical functions of sales management that drive business growth.
Some topics we discussed include:
- The meaning and definition of sales management
- The objectives of sales management
- A key skill that sales leaders often overlook in sales managers
- The value that sales management brings to a business
- The backward criteria that organizations often use to promote salespeople
- Roles sales managers need to play
- Characteristics of top sales managers
- What day to day activities should look like
- Why sales managers should view their reps as customers
- Selling is a social science and how it applies to the functions of sales management
- Should numbers drive business growth from a sales management perspective
- How sales managers can find success despite tough times
- and much more …
Jeff Bajorek 0:00
Yeah, look, the reports are there. And if you're spending so much time in front of reports, how many things do you really need to manage? How many things do you really need to measure? Right? I mean, I've got a client in particular, where they've got, of course, dozens of metrics that they keep track of. And for good reason that stuff is easy to keep theirs is necessary to keep track of not always easy to necessarily keep track. But there's always a hierarchy of needs in a hierarchy of metrics. And for this particular client, the metrics that matter are the number of new customers in and their satisfaction scores, you know, they're essentially a version of a net promoter score going on. That's it. That's all that matters. If you have people, new customers coming in and finding your business, if you're going out and finding new customers, as long as you're bringing new customers in, and they leave happy. Everything else is a subsidiary of those two metrics. And I can tell you that there are some healthy locations within that that organization, where the number of new customers coming in is not as strong as it should be. And they don't leave as happy as they should be. But because they know how to manipulate or maximize some of the secondary, tertiary quaternary metrics, they can appear to be in much better standing than they actually are. Right? You can only fake that for so long.
Vinay Koshy 1:19
Hi, and welcome to the predictable b2b success podcast. I'm Vinay Koshy. On this podcast, we interview people behind b2b brands who aren't necessarily famous, but do work in the trenches and share their strategies and secrets as they progress along the journey of expanding their influence, and making their businesses grow predictably. Now, let's dive into the podcast. The function of sales management has evolved over time and includes overseeing what the sales team is doing, making plans and setting targets. It also in my opinion, includes generally ensuring the efficiency of the sales process to get the best results for the business. It helps therefore, to have someone who has traveled down this path in order to be able to advise on the best course of action for the business, as well as for your salespeople. Our guests fits the bill. You see, there's a big difference between knowing how to sell and being able to our guest has spent over a decade in sales as a top performer and knows what it takes to succeed. He is generally known to share his sales strategies and methods to writing speaking sales workshops, training programs, and his mighty networks community. He is also the author of the book, The five forgotten fundamentals of prospecting, which focuses on the five simple common sense fundamentals. Most sales people ignore when he's not writing, speaking or training. He is co hosting his business and life and leadership podcast, the why and the by Jeff Bajorek, welcome to the podcast.
Jeff Bajorek 2:57
Thank you for having me. Pleasure introduction. I appreciate it. Thank you,
Vinay Koshy 3:01
Jeff. I know sales is quite obviously, very strong strength of yours. But if I would ask you about your personal area of strength, what would you say that is?
Jeff Bajorek 3:14
My personal area of strength? i? Someone asked me recently what my superpower is. And I think for me, it's listening in reading between the lines, I think there's a lot that is said that isn't necessarily said. And I believe this is a talent that I've developed over time. But I think I've always been pretty intuitive with understanding what someone's getting at. And it's not as simple as saying, read body language and mirror and say their name and things like that. No, it's just, I think it's really listening and really paying attention for the things that people are saying and also the verbal cues that will or I'm sorry, then the nonverbal cues that will lead you into what they're not saying or what they're not specifically verbalizing. And because there's always more to the story than the words that are on paper. I mean, think about, or, I'm sorry that the words are said think about. Anytime you've written something, have you ever had an email or a text message taken out of context? Right? I've got a friend that says sarcasm should have its own font. And I believe that it should, but there's there are always these. There's this tone that we communicate with whether we speak the words or not really good at picking up that tone.
Vinay Koshy 4:20
And from a business point of view, what would you say is something in that era strength that businesses don't know, but should?
Jeff Bajorek 4:30
Oh, wow, that's a good question. I think. Look, in some cases, me trying to read too far into the lines leads me to overthinking situations and making problems sometimes that where there really aren't any. There's a lot to be said about taking things at face value. I just think as human beings, we don't communicate on face value alone. And so you need to take those things into account. So I think business owners need to always be looking to dig a little deeper I think people, whether you are in sales management or people management or HR, or just you know, I don't care if you're supervising the production lines, you need to be paying attention to more than just the things that are printed in black and white. And you need to dig a little bit deeper, particularly with your customers. Ask those second, third fourth questions sometimes, to try to peel back the motives to peel back the reasons why people do what they do. It's one thing to watch people act, it's another thing to try to understand what's making them act. And when you have an understanding for why people do what they do, you can not necessarily start to predict things, although sometimes you can, you just you get a better feel for how to best present solutions, you get a better feel for what your customer what your market needs. Next, you can anticipate but you also just people don't buy things because you tell them to people don't buy things because they feel they need something people buy things because they have something they're trying to accomplish. And there are motives, to accomplish those things, understand what motivates people to do what they do. And you'll have a much you have a much more successful business, not only from monitoring and paying attention to your employees, but monitoring and paying attention to your customers just being curious being willing to be wrong.
Vinay Koshy 6:27
Would you say that it's a key skill as a sales manager for sales management?
Jeff Bajorek 6:34
Well, 100% 100%, your job as a sales manager is not just to tell people not to put people in their place and tell them what to do. Your job as a sales manager is to be responsible for a revenue number, by extension. Right, and you don't have the direct impact on the number because you're not meeting with the customer, face to face. in many senses, or many situations, there are plenty of companies out there to where the sales manager plays a dual role a player coach, you get involved, you have your own book of business, and you also are responsible for making sure that your reps are doing what they do, it's a very difficult position to put people in. But I believe your job as a manager is to be responsible to own that revenue number that you need help accomplishing you need help bringing in. And that means that you need to be what your reps need you to be. And that is a very different approach than what most what than what most managers take. And I think when you need to be what someone else needs you to be you have to pay closer attention, then you probably are.
Vinay Koshy 7:40
Curious, I'd love to explore this a bit more. Sure, most organization, at least traditionally speaking, have perhaps promoted salespeople into the role of sales managers. And I'm curious as to what how you would define sales management well,
Jeff Bajorek 8:00
defining sales management as to why organizations promote their salespeople into it, or
Vinay Koshy 8:07
what the what the function should be from an order for an organization that's wanting to grow revenue predictably.
Jeff Bajorek 8:13
I think as a sales manager should be overseeing the team. And making sure that the team has what they need, making sure the team has the strategy, that there's someone thinking about where they should be spending their time, not not micromanaging and looking at every minute of every calendar, but saying, hey, look, from where I'm seeing it from, from like a field General, right? Like I am seeing what's going on in our marketplace and seeing what's going on in our in our seeing what's going on in our industry, sorry, to run those words together a little bit. And I see what's happening. Let's make sure team that we address these things. I trust you to go do it the way you want to do it and the way you know, you will be most effective, but we need to be covering these bases, and then to be meeting regularly with those team members to say, Are you doing this in your own territory? Are you getting the results that you're looking for? Do you have the pipeline that you need in order to generate those results consistently? And okay, what are you doing to generate those results? Are there some best practices that we can distill here? Or what are you not doing that is not getting you those results? Do we need to tune up some attitudes, some mindsets, some skill sets here so you know, again, it's it's being what your reps need you to be but also having a higher level not necessarily the highest level but a higher level of oversight and visit Vistage into what is what's going on out there. Because your reps can be strategic to a point. But they're the ones go into work and having the conversations every day. Yep, someone behind them should be given the freedom, the space, the time the resources to make real long term strategic decisions. Because the closer you get to the action to the frontlines, so to speak, the shorter term, those activities end up, you know, being focused on right into us maybe too broad of an analogy. If the frontline salespeople are thinking about what happens day to day, week to week, the managers should be thinking about what's going to happen month to month, quarter to quarter, where as senior level executives should be thinking about quarter to quarter, year to year.
Vinay Koshy 10:29
So would you say that the best salespeople are not necessarily the best sales managers?
Jeff Bajorek 10:36
Yes, and I wouldn't be the first person to say that, it's, you and I both been working in organizations long enough to see that very, very clearly. And I think that comes down to Okay, I'll say it a week, upper level, upper level management, upper level management that seeks to fill a void in the organization, we've got an opening for a manager, who do we need to put it, we got to have someone gotta have someone just up, you know what, she'll be really good, she's been a killer on the front lines for a long time, she's been just slaying her number, and we feel like she may be getting a little bit impatient, maybe she's gonna want to leave the organization. Let's give her some more benefits, a bigger base salary, and let's promote her ego and give her a management title. Now, those are the wrong reasons to put a manager in place is the wrong reasons to hire a manager, because you're afraid your rep is going to go somewhere else? Yeah, that's not that's completely backward criteria. But let me like any hire, you gotta, you got to make sure that you're hiring for the right qualities, you got to make sure that you're putting someone in the right place, and that you're giving them what they need in order to succeed. And too often, you just take a top performer and expect that they can teach others how to be high performers. And not necessarily true. I mean, how many people have you worked with throughout the years, where they are just amazingly successful, but can't tell you why. They can tell you what they're doing. But they can't tell you why it works. And if you can't tell me why it works, what's the underlying reason that that strategy worked for you because, look, you can't sell the way I sell, I can't sell the way you sell. Because we have our own styles, we have our own languages, we, if you picked up my script and tried to say it, it would come out all wrong. And not just because we have different accents, right? Because it just, it doesn't work. So you need someone who can coach, as a manager, you need someone who can be empathetic, and who can understand, I believe a manager needs to treat their team as their customers, because that really frames the relationship, I think the right way. And too many people just feel that, alright, I killed it as a sales rep. Now I'm gonna kill it as a manager, let me just show everybody else what they're doing wrong. And what they should be doing instead, without any substantiative or any any substantiation whatsoever as to why that's going to work for them. And I don't know how often have you seen it blow up in that managers face at 85% of the time? You can't just come in with an iron fist and say, I did it this way. Now, you guys should all do it, too. It doesn't work.
Vinay Koshy 13:10
Yeah, absolutely. You said that sales managers should view their reps as customers. Could you elaborate on that?
Jeff Bajorek 13:19
I think that anytime you ask someone to do something that they wouldn't ordinarily do, you're making a sales call. I think anytime that person that rep, that company, whatever does it because you asked you made a sale. And if you made a sale to someone that makes them your customer. Okay, perhaps that's a warped view of what selling is. But I think that most sales happen without any transaction of money. I one of the best one of my favorite definitions of selling is one that I learned from Brian Tracy very early in my career, I listened to an audio program on the psychology of selling. And Brian Tracy said that sales is a transfer of enthusiasm from one party to another. It's not even from one person to another person. And it almost always, in the grand scheme of things, it almost never is involving money, right? You asked me to come on this podcast, I said, Sure. Glad to be there. You made a sale. I think the when we think about it that way. Now all of a sudden, the discrepancies become much more clear between the manager and the rep. And the way the manager talks to a rep and the way that same manager would talk to a customer. They're very often completely different. And why should they be? Why shouldn't or why? Why should they be different? why shouldn't they be the same? If you're my manager, and you're telling me that you need me to do something for you? What's the best way to have me do it sustainably? It's for me to understand why together we win. And why it's going to be good for me. Yeah. And then the responsibility of course, ever responsibility of the company because, you know, they, they, you know, deposit money into my bank account every two weeks or every month or whatever it is. But that responsibility alone is not enough for me to do that thing. Because, you know, in most cases, mediocrity is acceptable. And I don't need to work any harder to, you know, to still get that check deposited regularly. Or how many times have you seen it, where reps figure out how to work just hard enough to keep management off their back. That stuff, that is literally championing mediocrity, right there. And that is not the best way to motivate people, it's not the best way to encourage people. And I also think that like customers, managers need to treat each rep differently, they need to treat each rep the way that rep needs to be treated. I think there are some, there are a lot of ways to go about doing that. But you need to recognize that you can't motivate everybody the same way and that not everybody on your team is capable of producing the same results. And so you know, management is much more than just someone you can handle, you know that you are someone who can give a title to and say, okay, we just go make sure that these reps continue to hit their numbers. And the beatings will continue until morale improves, like that's, that's not effective.
Vinay Koshy 16:20
You make some great points that with the sales managers, from what you were saying, I take it that it's not just a sales management issue, but it's more of an organizational issue in that not not all organizations are entirely clear as to why their organization is necessarily the better choice and provide their employees enough of a good reason to be part of the organization.
Jeff Bajorek 16:52
Yeah, I mean, one of the things that I start every one of my client engagements with is this exercise I call What is your WHY? Yeah, right. So why do you believe in your company? Why do you believe in the services that you provide? Why do you believe in yourself? Why do you believe your customers are better off for having done business with you? You know, if there is an exercise questions that I've learned and borrowed from my work with Jeffrey Gitomer, back when I first started my business, and you know, it's, you really opened some eyes when asked those questions, because people start to answer them, right. And then they, a lot of common themes become clear. And as a manager, when you have your team go through that exercise, you realize that there may be a gap between what you assume and what your reps are writing down are talking about are sharing with one another. And undeniably, there's a common theme among every rep. And what their Why is. And when that when everybody's in lockstep, you're off to a good start. But when you start getting these disparate answers, where, wow, there's really no discernible pattern here, you're gonna have a hard time getting that team to work together in unison. And the first question, why do you believe in your company? What What is it that makes you want to work here? Well, they were the only people that would hire me and I was looking for sick for a job for six months, right? If that's not a good reason, it's not a good reason. And, you know, looks selling begins and ends with your belief, your belief in yourself, that you can do this, that you can work a sales process and make good things happen for your clients. And at the end belief in the product that it will stand up to all the work that you did and represent you well, right, but the cycle begins and ends with belief. And if your belief is not there, if people don't understand why this is the best place to work, if people don't develop that enthusiasm behind why this is the best product out there to serve this purpose for you the way you're trying to serve this Mr. or Mrs. prospect. How do you convey that enthusiasm? How do you transfer that enthusiasm? really tough.
Vinay Koshy 18:57
And the other point I would take away from what you said previously was back but you really do care for your reps. This isn't just a manager, employee type situation where you you're employed, and here's what you need to do and go perform but a genuine level of care if you're suggesting that people cannot be motivated the same way that would imply that you really got to know each person for who they are, and have enough of a human psychology perspective to be able to speak into the lives of each person, would that be correct?
Jeff Bajorek 19:36
100% is this is a selling is a social science. You know, and there's the debate isn't an art isn't a science. Well, it's part art and part science. Oh, well, we'll leave the debate clearly. There's art to it. Certainly there's science that needs to be applied. But selling is not just about getting someone to do something that they didn't No, they needed to do until you told them. It's about understanding how people work. It's about understanding what drives behavior, it's about appreciating that this person may buy for the same reason that this person wouldn't. And that all politics are local, so to speak, and that, you know, just because you've got what you feel is the best product for this solution. What if the incumbent company is your prospects nephew, you can't have a product features and benefits discussion with that person, because their motive to buy is completely unrelated. You know, a better strategy is to talk with that prospect about how you can hire their nephew to come work for your company, right. And that may not be a conversation you want to have. But for that particular prospect, that's the only thing that's going to move them because they're trying to make sure that Joey stays taken care of and is working for a good company. So this this, this, if it were all science, than we could boil it down to numbers. And quite frankly, if we could boil it down to just numbers, the stats would be a lot better. Instead of, you know, making 100 calls to book 10 meetings and hopefully booking one or two customers, we'd have a lot closer to 90 to 95%. Those those numbers would be flipped if it was pure science. But there's just so many variables that it can't be
Vinay Koshy 21:19
certainly so for companies that have this long standing view that it's all about the numbers, how would you help them transition to a better framework,
Jeff Bajorek 21:32
it is all about the numbers. And if you're settling for numbers that are in the low single digit percentages, you're looking at the wrong numbers. That's what I tell you, it doesn't matter how many calls I make matters, how many meaningful exchanges I can have. It doesn't matter how many meaningful exchanges I can have, if it if all that matters is revenue at the end. And so when you look at things from a results, oriented focus first, and then distill what best practices are, you can do you have a completely different perspective for how to manage what those activities look like. But if you just say, go call. Well call about what call whom, what should I say? What should the conversation look like? And obviously, those are factors that are attempted to be solved for throughout the the process. But there there's what most companies most most managers do wrong in the pipeline meetings and things like that, as they say, Okay, what did you do? How did that work out? When can we expect to see the results? Okay, well, that should go the other way. Mike Weinberg outlines this beautifully in sales management, simplified means like, let's flip that around. What are the results? And when you start looking at the results, first, it changes the tenor of the conversation immediately. Right? Because, look, I've done this, I'm imagining you've done this before, because I think we've all done it at some point. But when you have a pipeline meeting with your manager, and it starts with activity, and you know, the results, aren't there, because you're working every day, how many times in that 30 minute meeting? Do you spend the first two minutes Hey, how you doing? How are the kids you know, things like that, maybe that bleeds into four or five, and then you take the next 28 minutes and talk about all those good things that you're doing. And you stretch that conversation out a little bit. So you don't have to talk about the fact that there's no results. We've all filibustered our own meetings before we know. Okay. And so when you start the other way around, it's Hey, what happened? Well, we know what happened. The number was what it was last month, you missed by 10%. Now, what's in the pipeline? Why do you miss by 10%? Did a deal just not close that up to not get in? Okay, great. If you just got in on the first instead of the 30th of the month, then, okay, we're good. I imagine the delta by what you missed September, for instance, will be made up in October, okay, that's fine. We're good pipeline looks good, fine. Then we can talk about activity. And quite frankly, if you're knocking it out of the park, we don't really need to talk about activity, we all get 20 minutes back in our lives, which we can all use, right. So what is understood need not be discussed. We don't need to carry this out any further than we already have. Unless you have someone who's absolutely knocking out of the park month after month after month, well, then you take a look at that activity because they're clearly doing something that's working. And there are some best practices we can distill from that. And you sit and you spend that extra time and you say, Okay, do you know why this is working? Let's talk about this. Because on a team of 10, you have two people that are probably not going to park you have four people who are just hanging in there, you're consistent. They're not top performers, but they're consistent. There are four people who don't have a clue. So with those other four people in mind, the two reps and the manager so those three people who are really killing it, you go get a coffee, you have a virtual coffee or you have a virtual beer or you have a round of golf that the company pays for on a Saturday afternoon and you say, Alright guys, we're gonna come out We have a nice time, we have a nice dinner after this. But this is the goal of this half day, when you figure out why what you're doing is working. Let's talk about this. And let's talk about this with those other four people in mind, let's try to put it in terms that they can understand and then implement in their own way. Right? That's when those activity discussions actually become fruitful. Now, on the other side of the coin, when you're when you're reviewing the results, aren't there the pipeline? Isn't there for those four reps that are struggling? Why? What are you doing? And more importantly, what are you not doing? And you can really piece together the puzzle there of what your sales process should look like, and how much activity within that process you need. And then you can figure out how many calls you need to make how many meetings you need to book, you know, what, what kinds of calls to action Do you need to use? So it's really understanding what has worked for the people who are successful? Before you just come up with metrics, you can go online and say, What does an SDR need to know how many calls is an SDR need to make that answer is invariably some thinly veiled version of as many as possible. And it turns out to be about 100 a day, because that's about all anybody can bear to be on the phone, even with autodialers and things like that. And it's like, Okay, if you're gonna skew your approach to just the science and Okay, well, I can make 150, then I'll close an extra two deals this week. I just
what nobody's talking about is who wants that job? I don't want that job. Yep. How high? Do you think turnover is going to be in that job? And then what are the costs associated with that, like, it's just this this infatuation with scale, at the expense of recognizing what works in the first place? Is you putting the cart before the horse victim?
Vinay Koshy 26:47
I would say that this, this infatuation with numbers, where even with top performers, at least in certain organizations, they're expected to raise the bar month on month, is almost impossible to achieve at some point. In that, you know, as a human, as a sales manager, I have heard of conversations where you knock it out of the park this month, and they say, well, add another 10% for next month. And it's, it's it's always as though all the hopes, and I would say hopes and the weight of sustainability is placed on the shoulders of a Salesman directly sales leadership. But what you're saying it's a very different approach. And as you were talking, I couldn't help but think of this. Would you say that a sales manager's role is not terribly dissimilar to a customer success managers? job description?
Jeff Bajorek 27:55
I'm sure if I thought about it hard enough, I could probably poke some holes in that theory.
Any theory? I think that's a really good analogy. Actually, when you think about it, and think about the way we've already talked about it to begin with today, it's what's the sales managers role sales management role is to be what their reps need them to be, and to give them what they need in order to succeed. Sounds like Customer Success to me.
Vinay Koshy 28:20
Okay. And again, what you were saying it's more about the process that needs to be followed by each rep in the world to ensure that there is a level of engagement with their prospects and leads, as opposed to revenue figures, figures. A bit of perspective to take.
Jeff Bajorek 28:40
Yeah, look, the reports are there. And if you're spending so much time in front of reports, how many things do you really need to manage? How many things do you really need to measure? Right? I mean, I've got a client in particular, where they've got, of course, dozens of metrics that they keep track of, and for good reason that stuff is easy to keep yours is necessary to keep track of not always easy, necessarily keep track. But there's always a hierarchy of needs in a hierarchy of metrics. And for this particular client, the metrics that matter are the number of new customers in and their satisfaction scores, you know, they're essentially a version of a net promoter score going on. That's it. That's all that matters. If you have people, new customers coming in and finding your business, if you're going out and finding new customers, as long as you bring new customers in, and they leave happy. Everything else is a subsidiary of those two metrics. And I can tell you that there are some healthy locations within that that organization where the number of new customers coming in is not as strong as it should be. And they don't leave as happy as they should be. But because they know how to manipulate or maximize some of the secondary, tertiary quaternary metrics, they can appear to be in much better standing than they actually are. Right? You can only fake that for so long. Yep, but you show me someone who's bringing new business in. And those those customers are leaving happy, and they want to tell their friends, they may not look good right now, because maybe they're new, or maybe they're slumping, or maybe they're trying to pull out of a slump, or or whatever it is. But the long term future of that company, as long as those metrics can stay consistent, long term is tremendous, right? Because they finding a way to promote their services to new people. And the people who come in, enjoy the ride while they're there. That is going to be a snowball that rolls downhill, and gains mass and gains speed, and gains momentum as a result. So there are too many things that are being measured. And I think you get those primary and even some of those secondary metrics down, where those are the really the most important things, if those things are done, right, the rest of the measurements tend to take care of themselves, like priorities, right, you get your priorities straight and good things happen. If you if the rest of those measurements end up being taken care of, then, you know, you don't have to worry about these external extenuating metrics. And you really only need to engage them when you want to polish the results. Right. And I don't mean, make them look good for investors, I mean, when you really want to maximize the the results that you're getting really fine tune your profit making machine. But worrying about that stuff before you take care of the big priorities. That does no good for anybody, it only serves to make it look better than it actually is. And you don't have to kick those tires too hard or too often to figure out that this machine's not running the way it needs
Vinay Koshy 31:39
to, oh, would you recommend that sales managers if they're worth their weight in gold, that they should ensure leadership buy in before they commence any particular role?
Jeff Bajorek 31:55
Explain unpack that for me. What do you what do you mean by so
Vinay Koshy 31:57
let's say you've got someone who's looking at a position within the company as a as a sales manager. It's one thing for the leadership to say, Okay, you've got to drive revenue, of course, with with this role, gives you the freedom to do what you need to do with your team, as as long as you perform, to ensure that there is a culture that supports both his job as well as the reps that you'll be working with. Shouldn't there be a case for the sales manager to ensure that leadership is also accessible for deals for the sales cycle? And whatever that may look like? You're in order to support it both with the with the credit that they bring because of their title and position as well as with the systems and processes as well as the moral support that's required to, to edge the the team and the wider organization on?
Jeff Bajorek 33:02
Yes, the short answer is yes. And I'll be able to elaborate on that. I think that is really a key component of the interview process, too, for a sales manager. Right? Here's our current situation. The last manager left for a better job, or the last manager is me. And I was promoted because the VP left for the job. This is what I'm seeing this is my experience. What would you do in this scenario, right? And here's the thing, when you're when you're interviewing for a sales management position, it's not like you get the job an hour after the interview, and you're ready to start tomorrow. It's Yeah, let's take some time, let's investigate what the plan would be. Let's take a look at what the what's the mindset that that manager is bringing in what ideas do they have to help make this this organization this team perform at a high level. So I would think that the manager would come in make a proposal for how they intend to lead. I think he or she would have some ideas for some things that need to be done differently. They'd have some ideas for things that have worked for them or that they've seen work in the past, because you don't need to have had management experience to get a management job. And they also should have the questions of look, does this What does this strategy look like to you? And as part of this strategy, Mr. VP, Mrs. C, so right. You know, look, I'm going to need support from you. Because we're trying to go out and hunt whales, and sometimes we need executive assistance. I'm sorry, let me say that better because there's a podcast assistance from executives. We don't need we don't need a personal assistant to help we need the executive to be of assistance. And I may need you to make a call to a CEO to help him this alone. Are you available for that? Look, I'm gonna run this organization from here but every once in a while, we got to call the big guns and the, you know, the fancy title with with the business card and the prestige and the cachet that goes along with that. Are you willing to help And one of the things about middle management particularly, and one of the reasons that most middle managers don't do very well, is you need to be able to sell both ways. Yep, your manager, your team, or your customers, we already talked about that, you know, what, so's your boss. That person, yeah, because you need them to go to bat for you, with your executive team, you may need to go that you may need for them to go to bat for you with your prospects, executive team. But again, and maybe this is a warped view of what customers and the selling is. But the way you treat other people is the way you sell. And you need to be able to get someone to do something for you. Whether you report to them or they report to you. As an aside, I think if we all treated each other, like our best customers, I think we'd all get along a lot better, we'd certainly listen better, we'd certainly solve more problems more effectively. That's just take that for what it is and throw it back over there. We can talk about, you know, sales organizations, but what if we knew that if we treated the people above us and below us in the organization the right way that they would be willing to do the things that we needed them to do whether they were above us or below us on the org chart? So the radical concept that I did, I'm over here, just saying it I you know, I don't know if anybody else is nodding their head right now, why can't it be that way?
Vinay Koshy 36:21
Would you, again, as a prospective sales manager, consider taking on the role, only if the executive beat the CEO or someone else was willing to come on a ride along or call? Now initially, that may be difficult, because you may have prospects at different levels, but certainly for winback situation, because there's a lot of focus on acquiring new business in a lot of companies. Yeah. But an easy win, for most companies, in my opinion, is win backs. But even if even if you aren't able to win back the client, the fact that your executive is willing to come on a ride along or on a call to understand what the experience was of a past customer, where they're at, what their needs are, and how it shifted, says a lot about the mindset and the way they think within the organization. Would that be a fair comment? Oh,
Jeff Bajorek 37:27
I totally agree. And, you know, for me to say I'd only take it if they were willing to do a ride along Well, it depends. Everything depends on the position, right? I mean, I think that that's fair to take for granted. But I think it says a lot about the corporate culture for how willing the C level execs are, or even VP level execs are interested in participating. Not saying that they should get over involved yet. But if I've earned your trust, you're my CEO, I've earned your trust. And I say, look, can I get one? Get out of jail free card a year, right, so to speak, it's not the right card. But you know what I'm talking about, right? I get one hall pass a year, where I can tap on your shoulder and say, I need you on this one. I've done everything I can do from here. We're at an impasse. But I think a visit from you would go a long way. And now Okay, here I am, I'm making a sale. I'm saying, look, you know, I don't ask for this often, you know that when I've asked for this in the past, not only have I really needed something like this, but it's been successful. So I think there's a probable win here. And here is the work that I've done all the way up to here. I've done everything I can think of and I think we're close, but you would make the difference. Are you willing to make a call with me? That CEO is not able to do that. And I'm not saying that they can drop everything they're doing and be there 12 hours? But I mean, you know, are they willing to participate in that? I think that says a lot about the sales culture when they are, I think that there are a lot of managers who are afraid to ask for that. And I think there are also a lot of CEOs that are over involved in the process. And they want to know everything about everything. And that is an actual micromanagement. So there's so many cultural things that go wrong in organizations. So when a CEO is willing to answer the bell, when called upon, if infrequently, I think that bodes very, very well for the overall tenor of the team. So
Vinay Koshy 39:19
I can we, in difficult times at the moment with COVID. And there are a lot of companies that are doing it tough. What would you say to sales managers or even sales teams that are finding difficult or signified difficult? In these times?
Jeff Bajorek 39:38
I've wrote a book about this as the as the pandemic started earlier this spring. I called it rethink the way you sell when it goes sideways because it went sideways on all of us this year. Some people for some companies when sideways for the good most it's probably fair to say most of this at least fair to say a lot of companies saw it go sideways in the wrong direction. And I think I outlined a couple of concepts in that book. The first concept is that there are only two ways to sell more one, spend time selling, spend more time selling, which means get rid of a lot of the things that aren't leading to revenue generation. And to make sure that you're moving forward in the sales process at every opportunity, you can't make anybody buy faster than they're ready to. And we've seen sales cycles get extended, because of people's hesitation, and uncertainty and things like that very, very legitimate reasons. But sales cycles are being extended by 20 to 30%. That may be on the low side for some people, but that's what I'm seeing with my clients. But you can avoid slowing things down by not asking for next steps. How many salespeople Have you seen who make their own sales process 20 to 30% longer because they forget to ask for the next step or they have the customer right in front of them. Right? Are all you have to follow up? Now? What if the follow up? Why don't you book the next meeting, while you were with them, your customer was open and in front of you, your calendar should have been to let's do that better next time. Right. So two ways to sell more, spend more time selling, make sure you're advancing the sales process while you're doing it. The other one was this concept that I outlined is an acronym that I created called pair, pause, assess, reflect, execute, and things go sideways, you got to stop the madness, you've got to, you have to find a way to to get yourself out of that tailspin. And give yourself the space to breathe, give yourself the space to think. And that's where the rest of the acronym comes in. So pause, assess your current situation, reassess what you're doing right now assess what you think needs to be done, reflect on those options, and form a plan, then ultimately, execute that plan. So pause, assess, reflect, execute. I'm doing my own this weekend, actually, I'm going to set some time aside, I'm going to set boundaries and shut my phone off probably going to vacate my house because my family's around and they like to distract me, I love being distracted by them, quite frankly. But find a quiet space for a couple of hours. Sit down, identify, get a pen and a paper, a pen and a notebook type right into your laptop, whatever it is, but vacate your current domiciled wherever you are that you spend the most your time, get a change of scenery, it'll free up your mind a little bit. And then write scribble notes, you know, dump your brain, and then make some kind of sense out of it. And I've created a workbook that goes along with that ask some questions to kind of promote that, that kind of thinking. And, you know, I can tell you later where to get that just on my website, but just really consider what needs to be done. Because like I said, when your priorities are straight, good things happen, when your priorities are confused, or when your mind is jumbled. And when everything is just coming after you like out of nowhere, like 2020 hands for so many of us, it's really hard to have that clarity, you need to force it, and you need to give your space, give yourself the space to find it.
Vinay Koshy 42:59
We've looked at various aspects of sales management and the functions associated with that. Is there something that we haven't quite touched upon that you would like to highlight?
Jeff Bajorek 43:12
Oh, that I would like to highlight. I just love my, my brand, my trademark is rethink the way you sell. Right? I think so. I can spend all day with you talking about different things. I've thought about different ways that people I think, get things wrong, right. But I want people to think about what needs to be done. And I want people to think about the best way for them to go about getting it right start with the results will distill best practices and activities out of that, because everybody does it their own way. So think about what needs to be done. There's a thought process behind every sales process. And if you spend more time thinking, you'll spend a lot less time selling, you won't need to spend as much time selling. And I think that's that's a concept that people need to, I think embrace a little bit more. And I've got a podcast that I started recently called deeper thought. And it's it's a premium subscription based podcast. And it's the idea is that there's a thought process behind every sales process. And I talk with top performers and we unpack complex concepts and we put them into real world scenarios and we talk them out right and then the listener gets a lot of benefit out of it. And it's a show unlike anything else you've heard in the business podcasting space.
Vinay Koshy 44:28
Excellent. And if listeners wanted to find out more or to connect with you, where would you recommend they head to for the podcast itself
Jeff Bajorek 44:35
because it's since it's a premium podcast, and it's subscription based, you can't find it on your podcast player, which is a little bit of a hiccup in the process. But we're the technology just isn't always there to show you this right away. It's kind of an emerging field but you go to JeffBajorek.com, that's my website. And you can go to the blog, you can go check out some of the resources that I have there. You can download that workbook and download the book actually when it goes sideways and if you're interested in the podcast itself, In some of the other premium digital offerings, Jeff jorik.com, forward slash deeper thought. And you try that podcast for free for 10 days promo code is tried deeper thought. I'm trying to think of something more clever for that. But that just seems to be the one that sticks. So
Vinay Koshy 45:13
I'll include the links in the show notes. Jeff, thanks so much for this. Oh, thank you.
Jeff Bajorek 45:19
This was fun. We can talk about this stuff anytime.
Vinay Koshy 45:23
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Related links and resources
- Check out Jeff’s site
- Get a copy of Rethink The Way You Sell: When It Goes Sideways
- Get a copy of Rethink The Way You Sell: The Five Forgotten Fundamentals of Prospecting
- Check out my interview with Michael Haynes – How to Drive Growth with a Buyer Driven B2B Sales Approach
- Listen to my interview with James Muir – How to Close a Sale: A Powerful Yet Proven 2 Step Process
- Get insights and advice from Tom Williams – What is B2B Sales and How to Create a Successful Sales Process
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