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Skip  A Step Ahead
with Skip Miller
August, 2010Vol 4, Issue 8
 Jam Shots, Duck Snorts and Seeing-Eye Singles
The Difference between average and a Leader? 
One measly little hit a week.    
It's the middle of August, the "Dog Days" of summer are upon us, and the baseball season, like your sales year, is winding down.  The best teams are still in the hunt for a playoff berth and the best players are contributing to their teams' success and generating some very interesting statistics. 
As you know, Baseball is all about the numbers.  Sometime those stats can mirror facts about our own sales career and what little difference there is between good and great.  Let's look at the race for the National League's batting crown for a perfect example. 
Carlos Gonzales is having a fantastic rookie season and is currently leading the NL in Batting Average.   He's sporting a .323 Average with 136 hits in 421 at bats. 

There are a few other players in striking distance of Carlos for the title but that's not where the real story is.  I believe Garret Jones of the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates speaks volumes about how little it takes to become the best in your business. 
Garrett Jones
Garrett Jones is 52 players away from Carlos with a .263 average - 111 hits in 422 at bats.  He's wonderfully average, making a nice living, playing a game some of us would even play for free.
So what's the difference between the two?  Only 25 hits.  Over 19 weeks of baseball and 113 games the only thing separating #1 from #53 is 25 measly little hits.  One more duck snort, Baltimore chop, or seeing-eye single a week and Mr, Jones is probably looking at a million dollar plus contract next year. 
And what, pray tell, does this have to do with you and your sales career?  Lots. 

We teach that R= F x C.  Revenue (R) is created when you apply your Competencies (C) in appropriate Frequencies (F).  So, your success in sales is created by improving your skills or perfecting where you spend your time.  And many times, a minor improvement in either can allow you to get that one additional hit it takes to consistently catapult you to the top of the leaderboard.     
So, the questions to ask yourself:
Are you taking enough swings?  Are you putting yourself in front of enough prospects and customers?  You can't hit the ball if you keep the bat on your shoulder.
What kind of hitter are you?  Understand your strengths and focus on those.  Who are your "Red Zone" prospects and opportunities?  Stay in that zone.  A singles hitter shouldn't try to hit home runs and a big bopper doesn't bunt.    
How productive is your batting practice?  When and where are you perfecting your skills and honing your craft?  If you're only taking your cuts during the game you'll never improve.  Find places to practice.  Videotape yourself and observe from a customer viewpoint - would you buy from you?  Leave yourself a 30 second speech on your voicemail - would you return a call from you?

Lastly, do you have a good hitting coach?  Sales is a very solitary profession and the opportunity for feedback is sometimes limited to whether or not you got the deal.  Solicit your peers and your managers.  Ask them to observe you during a roleplay or during a sales call.  Have them view your presentation, listen to a voice mail message, or watch you in action.  Create a good network or find a great mentor and heed their advice.   
Remember, it's the work during spring training and in the batting cages, before and after a game that allows you to get that one extra hit which separates the best from the rest.  
Enjoy the Playoffs! 
Tom Latourette
Midwest Office - M3 Learning  
In This Issue
I-Date: The Maybe-Buster

Managers: Become ProActive!

Having a hard time navigating through the endless Phone calls,  Text Messages, E-mails, reports to your boss and last-minute customer requests?   
Are you spending too much time on today and not enough on the future? 
Does working with your sales team sometimes feel like you're herding cats, running a day care center, psychology ward or triage unit?  
If you answered Yes to any of these questions. 
Sign up Now!    
ProActive Sales Management Program
November 16-17, 2010
Chicago, IL
Take Charge of the GameBoard! 
chess pieces
Create a winning Sales Culture
Vision: Your Wall of Principles
Motivating your sales team
Increase Pipeline Velocity
Better Metrics & Measurement
Managing up, down & around
Personal Growth
2011 is here!
Managers:  Now is the time to plan for next year!      
If you can't make the training,  consider reading one or both of Skip's books on the topic!   
Get ProActive!     
PSM 2009 book
(now in it's second printing)
Learn how to: 
  • Do more in less time
  • Think into the future
  • Create a team of self managing salespeople
  • Turn your "A" players into "A+" players
  • Forecast with greater accuracy
  • Employ metrics that make sense AND create sales results
  • Interview more effectively and hire with better results
  • Know when to use coaching and when to use counseling techniques effectively.  
  •  More ProActive
    I-Date:  The Maybe-Buster
    Do I have a real, qualified sale, or is it a waste of time?   
    Skip Miller
    The I-Date tool, which stands for Implementation Date is such a powerful tool, it's called the maybe-buster.  A maybe from the customer is the worst answer you can get.  If you get a yes from the prospect, that's great; you get an order.  If you get a no, that's usually bad,  but since you learn more from your losses than your victories, no's are not that bad either (unless, of course, you get a lot of them).  When you get a no, you can fix whatever's wrong. 
    A maybe, which sounds like you still have a chance, is bad. 
    1.  It freezes you.  You cannot take any real action
    2.  The prospect is in control.  You have to wait to hear back.
    3.  You cannot go out and prospect since if this deal heats up, you are going to be real busy.  (Who wants to go out and prospect when you have a maybe sitting in the funnel anyway?  Ugh!)
    There are two parts to the I-Date tool.  The first is to know what date your prospect will begin using what you are trying to sell.  The second part is to go hunting for dragons, which we'll discuss next month.  Dragons and I-Dates are the maybe-busters. 
    Salespeople are under the impression that the sales-end date is just as important to the prospect as it is to them.  Prospects think differently.  A salesperson cares when you buy the television.  You care when that 60" LCD screen is up on the wall, all seven speakers are connected, and you are watching your first DVD.  Prospects care about I-Dates, the start dates of the things they spend their money on.  I-Dates are when changes begin to happen, when behavior shifts to new patterns. 
    What date does the prospect commit to when you ask: 
    "What date are you going to start using....?"
    "What date will this go into production...?"
    "When are you going to take this home...?"
    "When do you need to have this delivered...?"
    What date does the prospect commit to?  By when does your proposed solution need to be up and running, on the dock, in production?  At what date are they going to start getting their money back? 
    What date is most important to the prospect - and it has to be the prospect's date, not yours. 
    All prospects have reasons for making changes.  In fact, they're probably evaluating you to see if they want to include you in their change.  Time is a valuable resource, so the prospect has to know how much time they want to spend on a task such as evaluating your product or service.  If there's a time frame it probably has a start date and an end date. 
    A prospect's start date is driven by the end date.  Get the prospect's I-Date, make sure it's a firm date, and then go hunt for some dragons. 
    Next Month:  Time to put on that armor and get some real fire-breathing dragons to make sure the I-Date is real.   
    4th quarter starts in a few weeks and 2011 will be here before you know it.  Now is the time to master your pipeline and finish up strong for the year while you're prospecting for new opportunities to hit the ground running come January.  
    Your season is almost done but don't let the dog days drag you down.  Get your  second wind and come out swinging for a fantastic finish to the year!   
    Have a great August! 

    Skip and team