All posts by Chris Lytle

The Bannister Effect

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

I was talking with a sales manager last week and I mentioned “The Bannister Effect.” When that was met by silence, I backtracked and asked him if he know what “The Bannister Effect” is.

When I was a little boy, I had a book called The 100 Greatest Sports Heroes. One of my favorites stories was about the British miler Roger Bannister—he broke the barrier—the 4-minute mile barrier.

For nine years the world record in the mile stood at 4:01.4. Some speculate that the “conventional wisdom of the day” maintained that a man would die if he put out any more effort. Bannister’s own memoir blames the disruption in training brought about by WWII as the major culprit.

Once Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on May 6, 1954, it only took another month and a half for John Landry to break the 4-minute mile barrier and Roger Bannister’s record.

By the end of 1957, 16 runners had broken the 4-minute mile.

“The Bannister Effect” is the phenomenon of one person showing others that it can be done and, thus, prompting others to believe and achieve.

I market a product called Instant Sales Training. Each week, I create a short audio “knowledge bite” that sales managers can download and send to their salespeople ahead of the sales meeting. I also create some discussion questions so the manager can hold an engaging sales meeting.

I suggest that the managers assign the content three to five days before the sales meeting. That way, a salesperson or two might have implemented an idea with a customer or prospect and have a story to share about it.

A salesperson with a success can share it and the others can see that it can be done. “If she can get results with this idea, so can I,” they reason.

Michael Bosworth and Ben Zoldan encourage this kind of sharing and story telling in What Great Salespeople Do.

They write, “Sales reps can learn a lot from each other’s stories as well. Firefighters have long understood the value of such peer-to-peer story sharing. Every night, in firehouses across the country, firefighters take part in a tradition where they share stories about their day. It’s more than just a social ritual; it’s a means by which firefighters learn from one another’s successes and failures and build institutional memory within their departments. The goal: to make sure every single member of the firehouse has the same level of situational knowledge. With lives at stake, the 87/13 rule simply is not an option in the firefighting profession.

“Sales managers can foster similar peer-to-peer learning by encouraging reps to share stories (including dumb ass selling moments) with each other. One of our clients actually replaced his weekly sales meeting with what he calls “The Monday Morning Campfire.” Instead of focusing on forecasts and pipelines, he goes around the horn and has each of his team members share a story about a recent selling experience. The young reps learn from the old reps, the old reps learn from the young reps, and because the lessons come through storytelling, they’re much more likely to be remembered and taken to heart than anything learned from a sales manual. Since our client implemented the campfire meetings, attendance is up, morale is up, and his salespeople are more engaged. The meetings also promote a culture of story and reinforce the way he wants his sellers to communicate with buyers.”

I call mine “the honors class in selling” sales meeting. It’s peer-to-peer experience sharing and story telling. You’ve got to come to it with an opinion and be willing to share an experience.

Someone always has to go first. Roger Bannister lead the way in breaking the 4-minute mile. Today high school students have run sub four minute miles and the world record is 3:43. 17 seconds lower than Bannister’s barrier buster.

Who on your sales team is showing that it can be done?

My new book is a compilation of 23 of my weekly sales meeting scripts. Need some meeting ideas? Check it out here.

Reprinted by permission

The Dreaded “Got-a-minute?” Meeting

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

How long is a “Got-a-minute?” meeting in your office? I’m guessing it’s more than a minute.

Shoot, I remember a “Got-a-second?” meeting that lasted an hour and a half!

Salespeople ask you for a minute whenever they have a fire for you to put out for them.

Could it be that you’ve trained salespeople you’re willing to do their firefighting for them?

Why not? After all, you know more than they do and you’re their boss.

Here’s why not.

Your real job is developing your salespeople so they can do their jobs better.

Yes, developing people takes a lot more time on the front end. As a sales manager, the quick and easy thing for you to do is this:

• Give people the answers to their questions.
• Solve their problems for them.
• Put out the fire.

Then, move on to your next “Got-a-minute?” meeting.

This can go on all day.

And it probably will unless you change your approach.

Developing people starts with your willingness to coach.

Chris Lytle’s Critical Rule of Coaching is to ask at least seven questions before you give an answer.

“But, Chris, I don’t have the time to ask seven questions,” you say. “There are salespeople lined up at my door waiting for me to fix things for them.”

You have to make the time.

Coaching builds loyalty. To ask seven questions, you have to quiet your mind and listen to people.

When people feel listened to and not judged, they become more confident and committed.

Because people rarely resist their own ideas.

And you cannot possibly ask seven questions in a row unless you really are listening.

“You can’t influence someone’s thinking until you know what they’re thinking.” The late Norm Goldsmith said this to our Leadership Institute participants every session.

You won’t know what someone on your sales team is thinking until you ask.

“Got-a-minute?”

That’s your signal that you have an opportunity to develop someone.

Reprinted by permission

40 Years Later Sales Managers Are Still Making This Silly Mistake

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

As a young sales manager, I actually said this in a sales meeting: “We have a new salesperson starting next week. Her name is Andrea. I need all of you to give up five accounts from your lists so I can create a new list for her.”

Nobody complained. They smiled knowingly and gave up the accounts they found impossible to sell:

  • The mean ones
  • The small ones
  • The slow paying ones
  • The ones who’d had a “bad experience” with our station

And our brand new hire began her radio career with an account list that our veterans couldn’t survive on: The Charles Darwin Account List.

In this free Webinar. I describe exactly how I learned to get salespeople to willingly pare down their account lists and thrive.

Plus, I reduced turnover by having accounts with real potential to give to the new salesperson.

This is mission critical “stuff.”

Don’t miss it.

Reprinted by permission

The Shopping Spree

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

I’m on the road doing my one day seminar Radio Sales $101.

Our brochure advertises a 180-day money back guarantee. Still, I’m surprised when three of the participants leave at noon and ask for their refund.

The temp we’ve hired to work the registration table hands over $303 in cash to their spokesperson.

They leave.

I call Sarah McCann, my partner and wife, to let her know what just happened.

She calls the manager who signed them up. He paid for the seminar after all.

“I want you to know we’ve given your three salespeople their money back. They left at lunch. I’m sorry they didn’t find the training helpful,” she says.

The next day the manager calls Sarah to thank her for the heads up. “Those three women came back to the station gushing about your seminar. They thanked me for sending them to your wonderful training,” he said.

“When I confronted them about leaving early, they were shocked I knew. They admitted they never intended to stay. Their plan all along was to tell you it was a bad seminar so they could take the money and go shopping.”

We all have our priorities. Have you had the conversation with your salespeople about theirs?

Consider doing so before it’s too late.

Reprinted by permission

Ask Every Sales Candidate This Provocative Question

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

If you want to save yourself from another bad hire, then ask this question toward the end of your first interview:

“We’re about finished with this interview. After this, I will start checking your references and doing my due diligence. Is there anything you would like to tell me now rather than have me find it out later from an outside source or reference?”

Watch closely and listen carefully.

See if the candidate’s eyes dart about in his head. Follow the thought processes as a candidate reaches back into his past to see if there are any secrets he’s willing to disclose.

Allow lots of “dead air” to give the candidate plenty of thinking time. Then, get ready to receive some fascinating new information.

Candidates will reveal some negative information about themselves that they wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Why?

Because they would rather put their spin on the information rather than have you hear it from a reference or discover it online.

Just ask.

“Is there anything you would like to tell me now rather than have me find out from an outside source or reference?”

Please leave a comment about this short article. And when you do, feel free to share your favorite interview question.

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The Sales Contest

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Let me tell you a story because that’s what I do.

Some of you will remember when I used to tour with Radio Sales $101. It was a one-day seminar for new radio advertising salespeople that cost $101.

Clever, huh?

We got a call from a budget challenged sales manager that went like this:

“We can’t afford to send our whole team to your seminar in Columbus. So we’re going to have a sales contest to see who gets to attend,” he said.

“I hope you’re planning on sending the loser,” I replied.

“We’re planning on sending the winner. Why would we send the loser?”

“Because the winner of your sales contest will have the least need for sales training,” I said. “And the loser will have the most need for the training.”

“But we reward people who sell well with extra training,” he objected.

I tried to reason with him one more time. “Why not reward the winner with a weekend at a nice hotel in the city and some theater tickets? Make the loser sit through six hours with me.”

There’s nothing wrong with training and retraining your best salespeople. The lapse in this sales manager’s logic was thinking of sales training is a reward for, and not a driver of, performance.

You can also be using your sales training program as a recruitment tool. Many entry level people want to know what you’re going to do to make them successful. Their friends are talking to them about the training they’re getting in their first jobs.

Ongoing learning should be part of your retention program, too. Market your sales learning program to your current team. Let them know that you have a budget for their ongoing development and how much it is.

Here’s why: When salespeople think of your sales department as a place to grow rather than just a place to work, they will stay with you longer.

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The Debrief: Five Questions to Ask at the End of Your Meeting

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Sarah and I are in Bermuda with her brother, Bob, and his wife, Kathy.

On Tuesday morning we get up, get on our motor scooters and go to breakfast. Then we journey to Hamilton to shop. We eat lunch together. By 2:30 p.m., we’re playing golf at the St. George Club.

As we watch the sunset and sip cocktails on the patio, I ask, “What was the highlight of your day?”

We go around the table.

Kathy: “I loved turning the corner and seeing the pink sand beach. Spectacular!”

Sarah: “The lunch in Hamilton was my highlight. It was so relaxing sitting in that open air space overlooking the harbor.”

Bob: “It was on the way to breakfast. As we rode by the airport, there was an awesome military plane being refueled. What was your highlight, Chris?”

Chris: “I should say it was waking up with my lovely wife in this beautiful country. But it was saving par from the sand on sixteen.”

We experienced the same day, the same restaurants, same stores and the same golf course. But we had four different takeaways.

Let’s apply this to you and how you run your sales meetings.

Until and unless you ask, you’ll never know how your salespeople are processing your sales meeting or your training session.

Five salespeople will bring five points of view to the meeting.

You want to find out what they think they have learned. You can’t influence their thinking further if you don’t know what they’re thinking.

To find out, you might ask, “What was the highlight of this meeting for you?”

Once the first person offers a highlight (takeaway), go around the table and get a response from each person. (In the training biz we call this a “whip around.”)

Listen to the responses. Review the whole meeting from the perspective of each person.

Don’t leave it there.

Here are the five (coaching) questions I promised:

1. How does what you learned differ from what you’re doing now?

2. Does the learning apply to a specific customer you work with or a situation you’re facing?

3. What do you think might happen if you use this new skill (learning) in this situation?

4. Do you need more information or practice before you act on this?

5. When will you act?

To know and not to do is not to know. Training that doesn’t change behavior is as useless as a parachute that opens on the first bounce.

“Transfer” means the learning gets from your conference room into the customer’s office.

Without “transfer” there can be no results from your training efforts.

Great sales managers concentrate on and coach the transfer of learning.

Don’t have time for 5 questions? At least ask these two:

1. What did you learn?

2. What are you going to do about it?

Thanks for reading my article. If there was a highlight for you, then please share in the comments section.

Want more? Watch my Year of the Sales Manager Video for more transferable sales training ideas.

Reprinted by permission

The Real Job of (Sales) Management is Getting Into Their Heads

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

I do not have a degree in psychiatry.

But as a sales manager, I often felt like I needed one.

You too?

Maybe all you really need is the willingness to listen to your salespeople.

“Hey Boss, got a minute?”

Turn away from the computer.

There should be no rolling eyes or heavy sighs.

Give them the gift of your time and attention before you shower them with your wisdom.

My late colleague, Norm Goldsmith, was fond of saying this:

“You can’t influence a salesperson’s thinking until you know what s/he’s thinking.”

That’s why my first rule of coaching is to ask seven questions before giving an answer.

Listening to your salespeople and getting into their heads is a huge part of your job.

It’s not psychotherapy. It’s just good (sales) management.

You empower people by listening to them. You build loyalty, too.

So find out what your people are thinking. Then (and only then), begin to influence their thinking, Boss.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

This Word Increases Your Personal Power

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

Sarah and I are on a two-hour drive to a vacation cottage we’ve rented in Michigan.

Our three cats are along for the ride.

We’re making great time on I-94.

Until . . .

Bang!

We hit the mother of all potholes. We watch as the tire pressure indicator drops from 32 to 24 to 4 to zero psi in a few seconds.

The first thing I say to her is, “Well, this is inconvenient.”

Because, that’s all it is.

“Inconvenient” is a fine way to describe things you don’t like, but which aren’t disastrous.

We hit a pothole. There is no collision. There are no injuries.

I learned to think this way from the late Larry Wilson, the sales and leadership guru.

I was watching one of his videos and he said,

“Personal power is having access to and control over the energies and emotions required to optimize and maximize your performance.”

Then, he told his audience,

“Most people never think about what they think about. Have you ever thought about that?”

What a question. It stopped me in my tracks.

Too often, we think about the event. In this case, the flat tire.

Then, we think about how we feel.

But, what causes the feeling is what we think about the event. And, then, what we say about the event to ourselves.

I could have thought and said, “Well, that ruins the first day of our vacation.” I might have gotten mad about having a flat tire.

But, saying: “This is inconvenient” put things in perspective and I felt neutral about the flat tire. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t mad either.

Truth is, we have a late model Cadillac ATS. We can drive up to another 50 miles on a flat tire.

So, we drive to a GMC dealership in Benton Harbor and pay $175 for a new tire.

No biggie. Just a minor inconvenience.

Larry Wilson taught me to think about things like flat tires, late flights and cancelled appointments as . . .

“Inconvenient.”

I believe that idea has added years to my life. Because I’ve learned to think about what I think about, I don’t get angry about the small stuff anymore.

Start thinking about what you think about.

It’s pretty important.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission

You Can’t Bore People Into Buying From You

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

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Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer
InstantSalesTraining.com

In 1976 there were no cell phones or email. We had a message nail.

When you walked into the office, the first thing you did was retrieve all the little pink message slips from the message nail and go through them to see which calls needed to be returned. One afternoon there was a message for me from the new manager at one of my car dealer clients. The fact that the message was on a pink slip was ironic because, in essence, the new guy was firing me.

The message read, “Bob Voss, Schappe-Conway Dodge, called. Cancel all of our advertising schedules immediately. You will have a twenty-minute meeting to re-pitch the entire year’s advertising budget on Thursday. Your appointment with Mr. Voss is at 1:20 P.M.”

Twenty minutes to present an entire year’s advertising program. The meeting was in forty-eight hours.

The bad news: The client had canceled his advertising. The worse news: I was his 1:20 meeting. That meant he was meeting with sales reps from every media for twenty minutes each. He had an 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, 9:00, 9:20, 9:40 and so on. I was going to be the fourteenth media rep he would see that day.

Mr. Voss canceled his advertising on Tuesday. The twenty-minute meeting was set for Thursday. In preparing for the meeting, I called a salesperson at the dealership. I learned from her that Mr. Voss had just been hired away from Dodge City in Milwaukee to turn around the Dodge dealership in Madison. For those of you who can remember back that far, that was pre-Lee Iacocca, and Dodge was struggling nationwide.

I planned my approach.

I decided I didn’t want to be like every other rep, in there for twenty minutes desperately presenting the year’s budget. My goal was to sell Mr. Voss on the fact that twenty minutes wasn’t long enough to plan a year’s worth of advertising. My strategy was to differentiate myself and my presentation from that parade of media reps I imagined he was meeting with and the presentations they were making.

I made a conscious decision to not even present him a year’s schedule, even though that was what he requested. I left the Arbitron local ratings book at the station. I didn’t pack a rate sheet or a brochure on the station. All I had in my fiberglas™ briefcase when I walked in the door was my customer needs analysis form and a notepad.

At precisely 1:20 P.M. on Thursday, the door of Mr. Voss’s office opened and out came the salesperson with the one o’clock meeting. He was rolling his eyes and surreptitiously shaking his head in disgust. As he made his exit, I made my entrance. As I walked into Mr. Voss’s office with my briefcase in my left hand, I extended my right hand and said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Voss, I’m Chris L- . . .”

“You’re my 1:20 appointment. Sit down and pitch me.” He said it in an obnoxious, but not abusive way.

“This is going to be an interesting meeting,” I thought to myself. I had never been to a seminar on neuro-linguistics to learn about mirroring a client, but I was astute enough to realize that here was a tough customer and I had better change my style of selling and become the salesperson he wanted me to be. Gruff, quick and to the point. Get to the bottom line.

“Mr. Voss, I don’t know if you should be on our station or not,” I said. I knew he hadn’t heard that line from any one of the thirteen eager salespeople who had come before me.

“What do you mean you don’t know if I should be on your station or not?” he shot back.

“Well, Mr. Voss, I know that you’re already a successful car dealer and I’ve heard about your work with Dodge City. We’re having the biggest month in the history of our radio station. So we’re both successful and we’re doing it without each other.”

(Even when I was twenty-six years old, I wanted to see myself as providing a valuable service instead of taking someone’s money.)

I looked him in the eye and said, “I work with Len Mattioli at American TV, Jon Lancaster at his dealership and the Copps account. I’m helping them get some big sales increases.

“This is the way I work with them. See if it makes sense to you.

“Most of my important clients want ideas that help them improve traffic, sales and profits. In order to be in a position to bring ideas instead of just rates and ratings, I use a tool that helps me learn about nine key areas of your business that may give you an advertisable difference over your competitors. It takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and one half to do this right.

“I could present a schedule and show you what your predecessor and I were working on. But I imagine you have bigger goals and tougher targets than Steve did or you wouldn’t be in that chair.

“Mr. Voss, I want to be in a position to make an intelligent proposal based on your objectives and not just my need to sell you a schedule. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” he said, his voice softening a little bit.

And then I made The Gesture. I raised my hand and gestured to his credenza and he looked around. On the credenza was a pile off all the media kits every other salesperson had brought to the meeting. “Mr. Voss,” I said, still gesturing at the stack, “have you had any intelligent proposals so far today?”

The man changed before my very eyes. The gruff, powerful executive was now slumping in his chair. His face sagged. He looked at me and said these words: “Chris, this has been the most boring day of my life.”

“Mr. Voss? Can we go through this analysis together?”

“Chris, please, call me Bob.”

“Bob, what are your plans for turning this dealership around?”

Ninety minutes later, Bob Voss accompanied me out of his office. There were four salespeople in the waiting room, like planes circling over O’Hare Airport on a stormy night.

Two weeks later, the client was back on our station in a big way. They were one of the top ten advertisers on the station that year.

The most boring day of Bob Voss’s life was made up of thirteen consecutive meetings with people presenting their rates, ratings and schedules. They were talking about buying advertising. Nobody talked to him about selling cars, which was the only thing he was really excited about.

I might have made a quicker sale if I had pitched him in the allotted twenty minutes, but I don’t think I would have made a bigger or longer-lasting sale. I would have been just one of the vendors he bought from, not one of the people he looked to for advertising advice and ideas.

And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling.

Accidental Salesperson Axiom: You can’t bore people into buying.

Corollary: Your clients buy the way you sell before they buy what you sell.

This is an excerpt from The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve.

Chris Lytle is the author of The Accidental Salesperson: How to Take Control of Your Career and Earn the Respect and Income You Deserve and The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team to Record Profits. Because sales managers are pulled in so many directions, Chris built this resource for you.

Reprinted by permission