I hope that at least one of these three conversations puts money in your pocket.
Here they are in no particular order.
Lee contacted us. $6M company. 3 salespeople plus Lee and CEO. Lost a $500K customer. Can't motivate salespeople to do more. Believes that they know their salespeople. Hired a consultant. Fired the consultant. Here's the thing. They're not after world domination. They've got a niche. They know what they want to do, but they and their salespeople don't know how to uncover the deep down need that their prospect has. So, they show up and sound like all the other vendors that have a niche. Here's the problem. $500K is about $10K/week. Every week that they don't have those sales they lose $10K that they'll never get back. I'm not saying that we can get them a $500K customer this week, but if it would have taken us 10 weeks if we started two weeks ago, now it's 10 weeks from today. They've already cost themselves more than we'll charge them. What if they lose another customer? How much can they lose and stay in business?
A well respected sales executive referred a VP Sales to us 6 months ago. 2 weeks ago, he sent an email in which he said that he was referred by the exec, some stuff about his company and team and this, "...I have been planning on reaching out to you for a while, but wanted to make sure the timing was right on our end...".
We scheduled a call. We agreed to next steps. He did not follow through. I reported back to the exec that referred him and the exec replied, "...it seems I am not making these referrals quite right. Is there a way that I can position them so that the buyer is more aligned with the direction you want to take them?"
I was pretty impressed that this exec asked the question. It tells me that he wants to help the person that he's referring. He's also showing the humility that's necessary to admit that even though he's well respected, he's not 'the best' at everything.
This is what I told him.
- It could be that the Sales VP believes that he knows what needs to be done. He might believe that he already knows his people. Maybe, but he may or may not know what piece of their sales DNA is keeping them from doing what needs to be done. Knowing what to do and being able to do it at the right time and in the right way is very different.
- If you look at the Sales VP's LI profile, you'll see that he's never had a sales job. I'm not saying that he can't sell, but his view of the ideal salesperson may or may not be accurate. Additionally, if he has any of these issues, he's probably not able to help his people and is at least part of the problem. The Sales VP does not want us to 'fix him'. He wants us to tell him how to fix his people.
- So, I suggested that in the future, he should refer us to the CEO. Something like, "I had a conversation with the Sales VP about upgrading your sales force. He has some ideas, but I suggest that you reach out to Rick and Carole. They have a track record of being able to determine, specifically, who needs what a lot more quickly and objectively than company executives can. Talk to them. Invite the Sales VP and if Rick and Carole say they can help, let them work with your VP and his people." Notice that I did not suggest that the exec talk about us evaluating, coaching, etc. I don't need him to 'sell' what we do. I just need him to say that we're good at what we do and I need him to say it to the right person.
- Last point. A few days after the exec makes the referral, I suggest that he follow up with the CEO and ask, "Have you reached out to Rick and Carole yet?" If he has, "Cool. Let me know how it goes." If not, "Do you think it was bad advice?"
If you make referrals, but they're not quite right, I hope that this helps you help the people that you care about. If you are the recipient of referrals that aren't quite right, share this article with the people that are trying to make referrals and if you don't start getting better referrals, call me.
Over the years, I've received thousands of referrals and introductions. Pete Caputa, Marshall Katz, Dave Kurlan, Steve Groccia, Steve Rodman have referred more than their share. Here's their basic three step process.
- They will only try to refer clients or others that respect their opinion and value their expertise.
- When they identify the issue, they say, "Call Rick. If he can help, he will. If he can't, he'll tell you who can."
- The next time they speak, they'll ask if they reached out (as described above).
Somebody asked Carole last week, "How long does it take?" She asked me if I've ever written about it. So, I went looking.
Sometimes, we see results on the very first call.
Sometimes, we send them away with a suggestion and hope that they get what they want.
Sometimes, the second paragraph applies.
Sometimes, you have a list and need to work methodically through it.
So, Carole, how long it takes is totally dependent on how willing a person is to give up what is not working and learn how to do what works.
BTW, Carole arranged for a very special Coaching Camp this Wednesday. Will you be there?