Just before graduating from nursing school, my Director of Nursing pulled me aside and told me there was no room for creativity in nursing. What was I thinking!?! I would have to stifle what was one of my best strengths to fulfill a career. No surprise that after 5 years, I moved on.
Fast forward 2016. I was introducing Stop Selling Tickets to some VP’s of teams. I asked them why they keep measuring success by focusing on 100 calls a day? Their answer: they can’t measure results of a creative process…and because that’s the way it’s always been done.
This is definitely Einstein’s definition of insanity when it comes to sports and entertainment. 100 calls a day no matter what. And that gets us…? Are our stadiums and arenas sold out with that thought process? Of course we have to make calls…but there are 4 results we should have from that call: a time and day for a next call, a meeting with a time and day, a sale, or a no.
What if instead we focused on measuring revenue by week: not by the calls or the close, but just the revenue…and encouraged our staff to use their strengths to bring it in. What if we encouraged our staff to build and write a strategy that works with their strengths and focus on their execution of that strategy? What if, when we meet with them for 1:1’s, we talk about the meetings, what is working and what is not. What part of their strategy is showing success and how can we tweak areas that aren’t. Many of us don’t because it’s out of OUR comfort zone as leaders.
In 1980 and 1990 when sports and entertainment ruled the world, it was easy to make those calls a day and close, close, close. But now people and companies have choices. They want to weigh their options. They want to know if what you have to offer will fit their needs. They want to do business with someone they can trust.
What will it take to break the cycle? It will take Leadership that has a backbone and a strategy. Leadership that is not afraid to take that risk. I meet with so many teams, and the staff is so ready in this day and age to do it differently…Meetings, social selling, snail mail, calls, group events, morning coffee meetings or after hour group meetings. I work with them. I teach them how. And then they aren’t allowed to do it. Why? Because it’s out of their supervisors comfort zone.
We know Inside sales is meant to make a lot of calls. They have to establish rhythm and practice. Then they get promoted and are expected to produce large numbers, and our only measure is call volume. We haven’t encouraged them to meet with clients on their turf. We haven’t encouraged them to assess needs. More often than not, we’ve taught them how to close.
Let’s do a little self check as leaders and see how we might break the cycle:
· Have them write their business strategy. What creative ways can they come up with to sell other than dialing for dollars? How can they set meetings? How can they speak to groups of people? How would they utilize social selling? How could they incorporate all of this into a day? Let them use their mind and share how they feel they can be successful.
· B2B meetings. Lately, I have heard leaders that do not want their staff setting up a meeting for B2B as ‘it will take too long. Just close.’ I want to sell those seats for the long term, not resell them year after year. Let your staff member have those meetings. Let them find the needs and offer the product that makes the most sense. Build on that year after year.
· Speaking of finding needs, let’s stop selling and start listening. Let’s let our clients tell us what would make their lives better, or their sales staff lives better. Let’s figure out how we can bridge the gap of those needs and make a strong sale by relationship and add seats instead of selling the same one year after year after…
· Social selling and snail mail. Not comfortable with social selling because maybe they’re ‘goofing around on social media instead of working?’ In this day and age, ‘goofing around on social media’ actually can be selling. Break down the barrier. As a leader, learn. Have them teach you the why, the how, and the expected results. I encouraged one of my sales people to go ahead and create their own twitter account from people attending as a group. After about 6 months of engagement on twitter, this person converted so many of those people to season and other groups. An approach that brought success far better than a call at a time.
· Coaching our staff. So many 1:1 meetings go over the same thing: you’re not making enough calls, you have to ask for the sale, you’re not sharing all our benefits. We could have robo calls do that stuff. Let’s start coaching our staff. They wrote their business strategy – let’s coach them through it. Let’s help them understand what to do if a strategy isn’t working to reevaluate and have it work. Let’s coach them on the business meetings they want. Let’s coach them on how to listen and give them one potato chip at a time instead of throwing the bag at the client. Let’s coach them on snail mail and social media…or, if needed, have them coach us.
Invest in multiple trainings, and encourage them to attend trainings. Here we go. We did our yearly training. That’s it till next year. Meanwhile, a week later, we are back to our usual ways. Training should be two fold…first for the staff, and then for leadership so that they can encourage the staff to follow through on what they were just taught. I have a strengths based leadership training for the supervisors, yet so few take advantage of it. Instead, some of their first questions: do you encourage 100 calls a day? Well, no, I don’t. What I do encourage is using all the talent you have in ways that work best for you and then create the process and write the strategy. If we are using analytics now, why can’t we encourage our sales staff to use their minds to create a strategic process? And why not use a couple different trainings a year? The reinforcement, the new ideas…all is like a breath of fresh air when the staff is midyear and needing re-energizing. And, if our staff wants to attend a workshop somewhere, why do we discourage it? They are trying to get better…for you and for the organization!
As leaders, you all had to start somewhere. You all had a boss that you wanted to try new ideas with. And you either were permitted to or your idea got squashed. If you did try something new, then give that same opportunity to your staff. If you got squashed, then break that cycle and give your staff the freedom to use the strengths they have. We have to stop being afraid of stepping out of that big bad comfort zone and huff and puff and blow the barriers down.
There may not be room for creativity in nursing, but there sure as heck is room for creativity in selling and understanding in leadership. Time to let Einstein know you are breaking the cycle. Make the change! Invest in your people. Really get to understand what each member of your sales staff can bring to the table. I’m here to help you.
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
Strengths Based Sales Training; Stop Selling Tickets!
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