Developing World Class Sales Teams
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By Richard White

I was working with a sales manager this week who was saying how difficult it was getting a few of his sales team motivated. When I asked him whether he had done goal setting sessions with his team he told me that he had but some of his team were ‘half empty’ kind of people and they could never work out what they wanted.

This sales manager was involved in technical sales where this can sometimes be a problem. People with a technical background often have a different way of motivating themselves to the archetypal sales person who will never have a problem telling you exactly what they want! This does not mean that technical people do not want things. It just means we need to adopt a slightly different approach when helping them find motivational goals.

At a very simplistic level, there are two different ways people motivate themselves. The first is focusing on what they want. People good at sales typically think this way. They want things and are motivated to move towards achieving them. You ask them what they want and a few minutes later they have reeled off hundreds of things and they have only just got warmed up! The challenge is to get them to focus on specific key goals and link achieving those goals to hitting their sales targets.

The second are motivated to move away from what they don’t want.  You ask them what they want and often they will struggle to tell you. Ask them what they don’t want and they will wax lyrical!

For example:

  • They don’t want to work for the rest of their life
  • They don’t want to struggle to pay their bills
  • They don’t want their kids to go to a state school

Finding out this information, however, is only half the story. You need to ask them what they want instead so that you can link it to their sales activity.

If they don’t want to work for the rest of their life then when DO they want to work until and how much will they need to have saved up to retire at that age?

If they don’t want to struggle to pay their bills then how much money DO they need to earn so that paying their bills would no longer be a struggle and they can actually start saving?

If they don’t want their kids to go to a state school – what school DO they want their kids to go to? How much would it cost per term?

People who think in this way can get just as motivated as any other person. They sometimes just need a different approach to get there.

These approaches to motivation tend to be fairly ingrained and take a lot of time and effort to change. It may be quicker to help them discover their goals by starting off with what they don’t want and then regularly reminding them of their goal and why it’s important to them.

The way people motivate themselves is something you should be looking out for during the recruitment process and there are ways to spot an individual’s approach to motivation by simply listening to the words they use. The benefits of learning how people are motivated go well beyong getting your sales team firing on all four cylinders. The ability to spot how people motivate themselves is something that’s also incredibly useful when motivating prospects to buy!

By Richard White

Feedback is an important tool in the Sales Manager’s coaching toolkit. You want your sales people to increase their sales results and feedback is an excellent way to help them identify how to make improvements. So often, however, offering feedback is like asking someone if they want to be criticised!  How does one deliver feedback in a positive way that is not only embraced but actively sought?

What is your Intension?
The first step on our improving the quality of our feedback is to examine our intension in giving feedback.

  • Do we want to show how much better we are at selling than the sales person?
  • Do we want to make them feel guilty at the mistakes they have made?
  • Or do we want them to improve their sales performance?

Hopefully you chose the last answer!

Your intension will greatly influence how the person perceives the feedback. If your intension is to criticise then they are very likely to feel criticised. Worse, they will probably feel manipulated too!

The sandwich method
The traditional approach to giving feedback is commonly known as ‘The Sandwich Method’. When done properly it can be very effective. Basically it has three stages:

  • Commend – Point out all the things you thought were good about their performance
  • Recommend – give one or two things that you feel they can improve upon and give examples of how they could do it
  • Commend – Summarise the performance in and encouraging and positive terms

The sandwich method is often wrongly seen as the way to soften the blow of criticism by sandwiching it between two positives. The recommend stage should not be used to criticise. Instead you should be recommending what they should try next time.

An enlightened approach to feedback
The best way to give feedback turns out to be asking your sales person to give themselves their own feedback! After using this approach for a while sales people  will begin to give themselves their own feedback when you are not there. They are also more likely to implement their own feedback.

Such feedback is conducted by the following three questions:

  • How do you think that went?
  • What did you do really well?
  • What would you do differently next time?

Offering input

If the sales person has correctly assessed the situation then all you need to do is agree and perhaps give some encouragement. Sometimes they may say that they would not change anything and you might agree with them.

If the sales person is being particularly self critical then I suggest you emphasise some of the things they did well to help put it all into perspective and balance things. Some people are self critical enough and they would welcome you pointing out some of the positives.

The problem comes when they have given themselves glowing feedback and have not noticed errors, perhaps because they do not understand what they did wrong. Rather than just leaving it or launching into old style criticism, give them a way forward by offering some suggestions:

Ask them ‘Are you ok with me sharing some observations?’ (you can do a Macabe nod if you think they need encouragement to say yes!)

Then follow a simple pattern:

  • What did you think they did really well?
  • What did you notice?
  • Ask if there was a particular reason
  • What could they do differently next time?

By sharing that you or others used to make similar mistakes you take the heat out of the feedback and it shows that it is possible to change. You are then able to provide suggestions that provide a positive way forward.


Sales manager: ‘I agree that the meeting went very well and you asked some great questions. Do you mind if I make an observation?’

Sales person: ‘Sure’

Sales manager: ‘ I thought you looked very confident and there seemed to be a great rapport between you and the prospect.  I did notice that you were doing a most of the talking and that the prospect mentioned a problem they were having on several occasions and you let it pass. Was there any particular reason?’

Sales person: ‘No I did not spot that’

Sales manager: ‘ That’s not a problem. I used to miss opportunities because I was talking too much. What I found was that when I limited my talking to asking questions and follow-on questions I began to pick up so many more opportunities that previously had passed me by. What could you do differently next time to pick up on the cues your prospect is offering you?

Sales person: ‘I know I should improve my listening but when I get nervous I end up talking too much! Perhaps I can work on my confidence levels before the meeting’

Sales manager: ‘Sounds like a good plan. Let’s see how it goes at our next meeting’

Be open to feedback
One thing I found was that when I became more open to feedback and actively sought feedback I started to appreciate positive feedback and dramatically improving the quality of my own feedback to others. When you see how badly people are at giving you feedback then you will appreciate how much more effective positive feedback is in generating improvements!

Focused activity is one of the fundamentals of sales success. This is a mini-course video with exercises designed to help you set your goals, get motivated and stay motivated. If you do the course yourself you will better understand how to work with your sales team to get them motivated. Feel free to let them do the mini-course too.

Click here to play the video

Think and grow rich is a classic motivational book. Written by Napoleon Hill and inspired by Andrew Carnegie, it was published in 1937 at the end of the Great Depression.  It is not a book about sales by any means yet it contains many lessons for developing our thinking for success in sales. It is a classic book about the use of the power the mind in order to achieve personal goals. It is one of the first personal development books I read. The language is a little different to what we use today but the things covered such as visualisation and affirmations are well accepted today.

The text of Think and Grow Rich! was founded on Hill’s earlier work, The Law of Success, the result of more than twenty years of research of individuals who achieved great wealth during their lifetimes.

Napoleon Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed fifteen “laws” intended to be applied by anybody to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich! itself condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.

Reflected in these principles is the importance of cultivating a burning desire, faith, autosuggestion and persistence in the attainment of one’s goals. Hill also discusses the importance of overcoming many of the common fears that can adversely affect one’s thinking and potential.

Think and Grow Rich has sold consistently since its first publishing. According to one publisher, the book has now sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Think and Grow Rich regularly appears on the Business Week Best-Seller List..

Open Think And Grow Rich

By Richard White

There is a coaching model that is very effective for coaching others but can actually be used to coach yourself if you are stuck with a problem and looking for a way forward. It’s called the GROW model and within the corporate environment it is often used to teach managers the basics of coaching.

The GROW model was developed in the UK by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore. I was actually trained by Sir John Whitmore in the GROW model back in 1993. He demonstrated by coaching someone to improve their golf swing even though he was not a golf player himself.

It’s actually a problem solving process that helps people think through their problems and come up with their own solutions. This article is about how to use the GROW process to help us think through our own problems.

If you have been trained then why not use it on yourself? It will make you a more effective sales coach if you do.

Each letter of GROW represents a stage in the process.

What is your outcome? What do you want to achieve?

Use the SMART criteria to ensure your goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound.

You need to get to a position where you are very clear of what you want. Write it down and read it back to yourself. Tweak it until it is clear enough that if you were to tell someone else in one sentence they would understand your goal.

If your goal is qualitative – for example, “I want to feel more confident about public speaking” then consider a scale of 0 to 10 – Where do you want to be on a scale of 0 to 10 and how would you know? What evidence will you have that you have achieved it? What would you be doing differently?

If you were on a journey, this would be your destination. The one you program into your Sat Nav system.

What is your current position in relation to your goal?

Articulate it with the same clarity as your goal. If your goal is qualitative with a scale of 1 to 10 then where are you now along that scale.

Goal: By the end on September 2010 I want to be feeling 8 out of 10 in terms of confidence with public speaking so that I am able to stand up and give a presentation in front of the board of directors.

Reality: I am currently feeling 5 out of 10 in terms of confidence with public speaking and racked with nerves even thinking about it!

In terms of a journey, the reality is your current position in relation to your journey. Where are you going? And How far have you got left to travel?

This is about finding your best course of action in achieving your goal and involves considering your options.

Simply ask yourself ‘What are my options?’

You are looking to list as many options as you can, no matter how silly they seem. Do not evaluate them at this stage. Just get them down on paper. I always start with ‘Do nothing’ to get me going.

Keep the ideas coming by asking yourself questions like ‘What else?’

For example, when considering improving your confidence in cold calling your options might include:

  • Join a local public speaking club
  • Go to the library and read books on public speaking
  • Speak to people who have overcome their nerves and get tips from them
  • Get some hypnotherapy
  • Get a public speaking coach
  • Attend a training course
  • Etc etc

In terms of a journey its equivalent to considering all the different ways of getting there on time.

The final part of the grow model drives out the actions. It’s decision time!

Out of all the options listed, which of them are you going to do?

In order to decide on your actions you need to first evaluate the options and begin to eliminate them. In some cases you may end up with more than one action from your list.

In terms of a journey this is about deciding on your specific travel plans to get to your destination. It is your road map.

You may want to build in some milestones or check points along the way to ensure you are on the right path.

If you are looking to improve your sales coaching skills then why not give it a go – you could see your sales begin to GROW very quickly!

This is a recording of an interview between Richard White and Chris Mather, a very successful regional sales manager of a company that sells door to door. The idea was that there is probably lots of insights to be gained from a style of selling where rejection happens on a major scale. We were not disappointed!

There  are some amazing insights to be gained from this recording, not just in relation to rejection but also keeping statistics and self-motivation. It appears that there is more in common with top performers in door-to-door selling and other types of selling than we might imagine!

The sound quality in the first 20 seconds of this recording is a bit crackly. Please bear with it as there is some very important learning and insights to be gained.


Posted by: In: Sales Effectiveness 09 Sep 2010 0 comments

By Richard White.

If you are having trouble justifying your prices then you need to REALLY understand Return on Investment (ROI) – it’s the key to achieving higher margins whilst your clients still think you are providing excellent value.

Here is an outline of key concepts and I will be writing more about how to approach your sales meetings from an ROI perspective. It’s simple and painless and actually makes selling easier! Why do I need to think about ROI?

Sales professionals take return on investment (ROI) very seriously, especially when selling business-to-business. They know from bitter experience that their prospects want to see a return on their expenditure, whether capital or operating expenditure.

Many, many years ago when I was an accountant I used to be the one in my company that ran the slide rule over projects and in those days my commercial awareness was not as finely honed as it is today. I was good with the numbers but I just calculated what I was given and if the manager had not got all the details right then that would affect the results.

As a business developer you cannot take the risk that some accountant sat in an office, with no clue about the finer points of your product or service, misses out on some more subtle benefits. The business developer needs to take charge of the numbers to ensure the accountant sitting in the back office has all the numbers and calculates the correct ROI.

Another reason to take an interest in ROI is to ensure you are not wasting your time trying to close a project with a poor ROI. You can use ROI as a way of qualifying a sale and not wasting time that could be spent finding prospects with a much better prospect for ROI.

ROI is all about cash flow

If you make an investment it implies shelling out some cash in the expectation of getting more cash back. It’s all about cash flow. In more complex projects, like investing in a new machine, you will have cash flows relating to the purchase of the machine and additional operating costs and then some form of cash benefits such as increased sales or reduced costs. Some ROI calculations can be calculated on the back of an envelope but most require an Excel spreadsheet to total up all the cash inflows and outflows. The important thing about the cash flows is that they are done over time as opposed to being lumped altogether.

Incremental Cash Flows

The only thing that matters in ROI calculations is how cash flows will change as a result of your decision. In simple isolated investments you might be able to calculate the incremental cash flows directly but in more complex investments you do a full cash flow of the affected parts of the business and compare that with an alternative cash flow as a result of the change. Calculating the difference between the two will give you the incremental cash flows.

Cumulative Incremental Cash Flow

Cumulative cash flow is simply the net of all cash flows up to one point in time. When looking at the cumulative incremental cash flow it is easy to see where “payback” occurs. This is when any initial outlay has been fully recovered. The payback period is the amount of time it takes to achieve payback.

Payback Period

One of the most simple and yet most effective indicators is the payback period. It tells you how long it takes to get your money back. It is normally expressed as a measure of time, for example 3 .5 weeks, 6 months, or 2 years. Projects that can show a fast payback are normally looked on favourably. It should be possible to look at the cumulative incremental cash flows and see the point at which the change from negative to positive occurs. There is also a way in Excel of calculating payback periods using cell formulae. [public_post]

Simple Example

Jason has a decision to make. He has the chance to save money on his monthly phone bills. He has found a new supplier that can save him about 50% on his monthly phone bills. There is, however, a large set up charge that he must pay for. His initial outlay is £300 but he saves £50 per month on his phone bills. What is the payback period?

The answer is 6 months.

Simple ROI Calculation

ROI % = 100* (Incremental benefits – incremental costs)/Incremental costs

The simplest ROI calculation is just a straight calculation of net benefits over project costs. It’s ok for short projects of a finite length but not much use for projects like the one above with ongoing benefits. Where do you draw the line? Including 3 years of benefits would give a different return to 2 years.

Net Present Value (NPV)

Would you rather have cash now or cash later? If I were to offer the choice of £100 now or £100 in 2 years time then most people will go for the £100 now. Its money in the bank – less risk and it can be earning interest or be used to finance other projects. What if the choice was £100 now or £800 in 2 years time? You might be inclined to wait for the larger payment although £800 in 2 years time will probably not be worth the same as £800 today. This is because inflation will eat away at the value. Net present value helps to translate future net cash flows into what it might be worth in today’s money terms. This helps in making investment decisions between projects of differing duration.

If you ever need to calculate NPV then I suggest you seek out an accountant who would get incredibly excited at the prospect! Believe me, it will make their day! If you are selling items of a capital nature then you may want to invest in an Excel template such as Financial Metrics Pro by Solution Matrix ( You can download a free lite version if you are in least bit curious!! The process of calculating NPV is called discounting and an incremental cash flow that has gone through the discounting process is known as a discounted cash flow. A company will have their own internal rate they use for discounting projects which is based on the cost of raising finance.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

The prospect of calculating IRR gets accountants even more excited!! It’s a calculation that works out a rate of return of a future income stream. It effectively discounts the cash flow and comes up with a single rate of return at the same time. The calculation effectively works out the return from immediately reinvesting any cash flows arising from the project. A company assessing a proposal will expect the IRR to be higher than their own cost of raising finance or it’s not worth the bother (financially anyway). If the company has competing projects then they will compare the IRRs. There is an Excel formula (=IRR) for calculating the IRR and Financial Metics Pro also includes IRR as one of its metrics.

ROI and the sales process

If ROI is so important for prospect then it makes sense to seek prospects with a high likelihood of ROI and weed out those prospects that are unlikely to get the customers accountants excited! The initial fact find stage of the sales process is the time to get as much information as possible to be able to assess the early likelihood of a good ROI. The prospect will normally be pleased to help so that they are not wasting time. You can get an idea of the relevant cash flows by considering the implications to the specific business areas affected by your product or service.

Discovering the APR

The incremental cash flows necessary to determine ROI come from the difference between the future cash flows and the current status quo. It is as important in the sales process to uncover the cost of continuing with business as usual as it is to find out how the business will change following a decision to go ahead. APR is a simple aide memoire to make sure you uncover the main elements areas of cash flow impact.

A – Alternative P – Price R – Return

The business developer should be sure to use open questions and an open mind to discover the required detail.


What would be the alternative to going ahead with the project? This is about discovering the cost of the status quo. What are the main areas of current or future pain that will occur if there is a decision to do nothing? Just finding this information alone is normally good enough to qualify a lead and overcome most price objections.


What would be the costs associated with going ahead with the project? The business developer should be careful not to just consider the deal price but should also investigate the indirect costs that the prospect will incur as a result of going ahead with the decision. For example, the price of replacing a software system for a large organisation will normally be much more that the investment in the software. There will be costs associated with migration to the new software such as user acceptance testing, training, project management, even process re-engineering. The business develop should be thorough in this area as this is the area that the accountants focus on.


What would be the returns arising from going ahead? This can be the increases in revenues or reduction in costs. Many of the cost reductions will become clear as a result of discovering the alternative.

‘No Brainer’ ROI

You can have hours of fun doing return on investment calculations! The best type of ROI is what I term a ‘No Brainer’. It’s a decision that can be made without much thought at all, let alone doing full ROI calculations. The payback period is less than a year and the cost of the alternative, the price and the returns are all clear. Business developers would make much more progress developing accounts if the first sale to a new prospect has a ‘No Brainer’ ROI to it. Once the account is established and a good relationship has developed then it will be much easier to get access to the information that would be required for a more complicated project.

ROI is a fact of life for business to business sales so its makes sense to make friends with the calculations and build it into your sales process. Have fun!

What is procrastination costing your sales team? Leads? Clients? Sales? Procrastinating on generating leads, following up or even closing can be a costly habit in sales. So it might be worth finding out what's behind procrastination and what can we do about it.

In this recording Richard White interviews the UKs leading expert in beating procrastination, Nicole Bachmann. Nicole gives us some tips on what we can do to stop procrastination getting in the way of winning business. Although the principles apply to all parts of the sales process, Nicole focuses on cold calling as this is normally a major problem area for sales people.