Over the past few years the UK economy has ‘forced’ many people to become reluctant entrepreneurs, through redundancy and lack of PAYE options. Well this blog is to sing praise to those people. I spend a lot of time encouraging and talking to small business owners advising them on matters such as social media marketing and sales skills.
I do appreciate that there are a small minority of people that never wanted to be self-employed and have hated every minute of the experience. I hope for their sanity that they have now found paid employment as the economy continues to improve.
For some people however, redundancy has simply been the best thing that ever happened to them. The old saying is “Necessity is the ‘mother’ of invention”, well in my experience (and indeed my own experience) some fantastic businesses have been born through necessity. I can also categorically say that not one business has been born through ‘apathy’!
I am simply fascinated by the myriad of business diversity in the ‘small sector’ and also the sheer size of it. According to the Federation of Small Business (FSB) 99.3% of ALL businesses in the UK are SMALL (employing 1-49 people) but they account for 47.9% of UK employment and contribute 36.6% of UK business turnover!
0.6% of businesses are classed as ‘MEDIUM’ (employing 50-249 people) and they are responsible for 11.5% employment and 13.6% of UK turnover.
According to the FSB only 0.1% of UK businesses are ‘LARGE’ which means they employ over 250 staff. Despite the tiny number (in comparison to small businesses) these business produce roughly 50% of UK turnover!
It is a slight digression but a big ‘hate’ of mine, that despite the above numbers, schools and universities put such value on a corporate career.
Anyway back to my entrepreneurs! When I speak to them, many have tales of woe and stories of long standing jobs snatched away from them at a very short notice. Rather than crumble and accept their place on the scrap heap prematurely, they decided to fight. They stuck two proverbial fingers up at the corporate or public sector treadmill to go it alone. These are the brave pioneers of small business and I love them!
Don’t get me wrong, being self-employed is not for everyone and many that start don’t even last a year! Here are four key questions to see if you should start a business:
What you don’t know can’t HELP you, so also attend seminars and training courses to learn new skills. The time and money invested will reap rewards.
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As a sales manager, director or otherwise, frontline supervisor of a sales team, you have many challenges. Motivating the crew to do their best is usually the primary goal and the area where most sales managers spend their time.
However, in motivating the team, it is easy to overlook the individual sales person. After a time, you can find yourself treating everyone on your staff the exact same way. While there are some areas where people should receive the same and equal treatment, HOW you manage each sales person should be as unique as each individual is.
You have to recognize the personality differences, skill levels and potential of each member of your sales team and treat them accordingly. Below are just a few thoughts to keep in mind as you build a strong sales force and lead your team to success.
Lead or Direct
With some people, you almost have to physically take them by the hand and walk them through responsibilities and procedures step-by-step. Some people need a bit of handholding, and you have to SHOW them exactly what to do. For some sales people, such close guidance helps them perform better.
Alternatively, for some sales people, the “self-starter” type, this kind of handholding and guidance has the reverse effect. For some the worst thing you can do is try to lead them step-by-step. For these team members, you are best to give them a direction, and leave them alone. Let the sales person know what you want done, what the goals are and what you expect from them, and then get out of the way.
Manage or Micromanage
Though this sounds similar to the above topic, it is not. Now, I am referring to the continued follow-up management style you adapt for each sales person. What I am talking about is should you “look over their shoulder” or not.
Let’s face it, with some sales people you have to know what they are doing every day, and sometimes, every minute of every day. Some need a supervisor to constantly remind them of their goals and help keep them focused.
On the other hand, some sales people can get quite insulted should you “check-up” on them to see if they are doing their job. Do not micromanage those who are good self-managers.
The 80% or the 20%
No sales manager wants to see the old 80-20 rule come into play, in where the situation is that only 20% of your sales people are responsible for 80% of your sales and vice versa. Of course, we would all much rather have a crew full of nothing but 20% types.
The key though is not to expect or demand top 20% performance from bottom 80% people. You should push the 80%, constantly helping them to reach beyond their immediate grasps so that they improve. Yet, you cannot turn 80 percenters into 20 percenters.
When I say, motivate for SHOW, manage for DOUGH, I mean, motivate the group, but manage the individual.
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The sales team works hard. Most put in long hours, study diligently and follow the plan. However, are all doing as well as they can? Are all of your sales people actually working as hard, trying has much and giving it all they have? In short, are they doing their very best?
Below are some effective ways to help you motivate your sales people to do their very best and try their hardest. After all, often the only missing ingredient between success and failure is that last little push.
Money is Not the Prime Motivating Factor
First, find out what it is that truly motivates each sales person. Understand that on the surface, and even to the sales person, that motivator may appear to be the money, but it is not. The sales person who is motivated by money, is really inspired by the things that the money will do for him or her. The person’s desire is the results, lifestyle, power, influence, fun or any number of a thousand things that the money will provide.
Your job is to find out exactly what it is that money provides that powers the sales person, and use it as the proverbial “carrot.”
Uncover Past Feats of Great Inspiration
In attempting to discover what a sales person’s motivating triggers may be, look to a time in his or her past, for a demonstration of great inspiration. Everyone has a story when they persevered through enormous adversity to succeed. Everyone has a story about when they would not stop, would not give up and won against all odds.
Such an experience could have been in a business setting, or something personal like overcoming a health problem, passing a difficult test, getting a degree, pursuing a member of the opposite sex, quitting smoking or learning to swim. Everyone has a situation where they pushed their hardest and succeeded.
You should get to know your sales team on a level more personal than just business. Take an interest in their lives and get to know them. In doing so, uncover one of those great challenges, and see what was the underlying motivation.
Perhaps it was love, or the feeling of power, or being in control. Often, it is recognition and pride. The point is that you want to take those past underlying motivational triggers, and use them today.
As an example, you ask a sales team member to explain the greatest challenge he has ever faced and overcome. The reply is that he trained for years, tried and failed many times, but finally he completed a full marathon race.
You next ask him to explain why he went through so much effort. Why was it so important and what drove him to keep trying? He tells you that it was simply to be able to know that he was capable of doing it.
Obviously, self-satisfaction and inner pride are driving issues for this sales person. You then use such ideas during your personal motivating meetings with this sales person.
“You know Steve, it is extremely tough and may take a lot of tries to do it, but if you can hit 45 sales in one month, you can take pride in knowing that you are the first person to ever reach that goal in the first year with the firm.”
Perhaps the marathon runner’s answer was that she wanted to prove all of those people wrong who said that she could never do it.
“Sarah, if you could close 45 sales this month, you will prove me and other managers wrong…”
Do It Again
Please understand, I am not talking about trying to manipulate people nor am I suggesting some psychological mind games. I am simply suggesting that you find what motivating factors led someone to overcome great obstacles in the past, and use those same factors in the present. In fact, do this to and for yourself!
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To quote one of my favourite motivational speakers, we either live a life of discipline or a life of regret.
What do we mean by discipline? You know that time when you have a choice of two or more things and you choose the easier option? You know what I’m talking about…when you could make that one more call but you don’t, when you could prepare better for that presentation but you don’t, when you could manage your time better but you don’t.
Why don’t we do what we know we should? Because disciplining ourselves to live up to the standards we know we can, often causes us more pain than just going with the easy option. But it’s the pain of regret afterwards that can often be greater.
My mum says that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. She also told me that discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons. Thanks, mum! Strange how the truth often causes even more pain!
The lack of everyday little disciplines builds up day by day until each of us inherits the final consequences of those deeds. Remember, every day you have a choice of how you are going to manage yourself. Those small disciplines can add up and actually make you feel really good about yourself when you get them right.
Think of the small things you can do that will build your discipline muscles. It’s making that call when you promise to. It’s living up to high standards when it takes just one or two minutes extra. It’s thinking of the right things to say and then saying them instead of running your life by habit and regretting what you said or did just moments later.
When you consider that each of us has thousands of choices to make every day on what we say and do, it’s unsurprising that we don’t make the best choice every time. But if we consider self-discipline to be the key to quality results, we will think before we act, consider before speaking and focus before choosing. Then we won’t have the regrets that many people have to endure and will enjoy the benefits that self-discipline always brings.
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