Meny Hoffman and Rene Zamora, the President of Sales Manager Now, discuss important tips for keeping your sales team sharp and strong.
Your sales team is one of the most important aspects of your larger team because, without them, your business isn’t actually making money. You have to make sure that your sales team is always in optimal working condition so that they can communicate and sell as effectively as they can. Meny Hoffman is joined by Rene Zamora, the President of Sales Manager Now. Together, they talk about the importance of keeping your sales team sharp and strong. Check in on your sales team today, and see if they’re the best they can be!
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How to Make Your Sales Team Unstoppable—with Rene Zamora
Our guest is Rene Zamora. After having led over 2,500 sales meetings, he has discovered that there’s no such thing as a bad salesperson. Rene is the Creator of the Part-Time Sales Management system, which redefines the relationship between small business owners and their sales team. Sales is the lifeblood of every business. Most businesses bleed to death because they’re too focused on finding the right person and less focused on building the right environment. In our interview, Rene and I will discuss the different roles for a salesperson, sales manager and business owner. We will also explain the most common setbacks for every salesperson and how to avoid them. Also, Rene will break down the difference between an introvert and an extrovert, and how sales is done differently. Finally, pay close attention to the practical tips Rene provides on how to overcome objectives, especially when there’s uncertainty in the marketplace. Without further ado, here is my interview.
Rene, thank you for joining me on the show.
It’s good to be here, Meny. Thank you for having me.
I’m happy that we got connected through Daniel Gefen, who is a great friend of the show. He always sends me great people to interview, your topic, in particular, what we’re going to speak about is sales. It is because you grow with your business or you die your business based on the sales. This is something that a lot of our readers on the show are always looking for practical tips on how to grow their sales strategies, their salespeople, so on and so forth. There’s so much to talk about, but I’ve got to start with the first question and to validate what you wrote to me, which is you haven’t had to find a new client in over thirteen years. Explain to me that because we could do a full episode only on that one line.
I might lose some readers that aren’t too spiritual or faith-based. I found my purpose. I started out selling door-to-door. I’m selling stuff, I needed to make some rent money. That’s how my sales career started. From there, it went into cellular and other industries. I was always someone who’s goal-oriented, made the calls and go to find the customers. Being successful in sales was always hard, but I always did it. When I started doing this business in 2006, every customer has come to me. I don’t need as many as my other businesses required as far as sales go because people stick with me, but it was different. Every customer has come to me through a referral or the website. There have been a few times where I’ve said, “I need to go find a customer, go make a phone call and have a couple of meetings.” It didn’t go anywhere. Everyone’s been attracted at the right time for them, for me. It’s how it’s been. It’s not necessarily a sales strategy. It’s a fact in a spiritual reality for me.
For our readers, share a little bit about what you transition outside of being a salesperson and doing the kind of stuff you’ve been doing for years. You’ve been involved in thousands of sales meetings. Explain to our readers a little bit more what role you’re playing.
If you have a small business and maybe you haven’t had a sales manager or you’ve tried to have a sales manager or you’ve had your salespeople be your sales manager, I and Noel are professional sales managers. We’ve worked at corporations and small businesses as sales managers and we love managing salespeople. What we do is simple. We are a sales manager for small businesses who can look outside the box. We would enjoy painless than hiring some top tier high-priced talent, but get the talent they want and someone who they can trust to take care of their team. Grow them individually, grow them numerically and take the load off the owner so they can do their CEO job. We’ll take care of the salespeople. We are a sales manager.
We’ve been having different people on the show outsource CMOs, CFOs, sales managers. It’s becoming a newer trend because it opens up an opportunity for people that might not be available and afford full-time or virtual people that are not even local to your business. You never hire someone full-time that’s totally miles away. For strategy or for overlooking different aspects of your business, you are able to do it and it’s been successful for a lot of companies.
There is one different element that I’ve analyzed and said, “IT took off and CFOs took off.” What’s a little bit different in what we do is many of those other services work directly maybe with a few key leaders in a company or they don’t manage people. They’re not responsible or accountable for someone’s performance so much. We are, and that’s what makes it a little unique. How do salespeople sell more from a distance? Are they going to confront poor performance? How did they do that? We do all that and I’m not the only one. There are other companies out there that do this fractional sales management, but it is a little bit more involved. It’s more hands-on.Many small businesses don't have a dedicated sales manager. Click To Tweet
Let’s dive in a little bit deeper into sales. This topic is dear to my heart and many different people have been involved in sales groups. There are different salespeople that I’ve been able to provide a lot of value and a lot of readers on the show. Most business owners, to one degree or another, they are salespeople. The topic is important and I want to give them as much value as possible. The first question is there’s also a notion that not everybody is born a salesperson. I would love to get your perspective on this. Is this the case? Do you have your different approach to it? How do you look at it?
That’s an accurate statement. In today’s world, there’s always been but probably more. There are different types of people or personality types that fit into different sales roles. We have a lot of inbound sales where it’s more transactional things coming in that you need to deal with that whole chat conversation. It’s another skill level that wasn’t around when I was selling. Telephone with voice, you lose your voice and your vision, face-to-face and so on, there are people that are skilled there. To answer you directly, yes. Not everyone is born to be a salesperson. My wife tells me, “I don’t know why anyone is crazy enough to do sales.” She’s not and she’s not going to be.
There’s this notion of the difference between the extrovert and the introvert and who is made to be a salesperson who’s not. If you look at the facts on the ground, sometimes you could find this amazing young person, who maybe is an introvert by nature and all of a sudden, they’re connecting and doing a lot of good sales. You have your hardest person, who is this extrovert and you have hopes on that person. Ultimately, they’re not converting and not doing the sales. They’re not meeting their sales quota. For people reading and even myself, how do you go about this when you evaluate a sales team and you see those different types of people on the team and the different results by those different groups?
It goes back to the role. A lot of times when I’m hiring, we build hiring templates based on the people that are successful in the role. That hiring template is going to tell me how quickly they learn, how they think, how assertive they are, how independent they are and how confident they are in making decisions. There are about fifteen different categories. I do not have one template that says, “This person is a salesperson.” What I have is a template for a role that takes those strong hunters. All they do is find new business all day long. That’s a different person. Banking started doing selling. They used to do service, but now they’re asking you for credit cards. All over the world, there are service people that are great at selling if they don’t have to. They’re good because they’re doing what customers want. They’re answering questions and helping to educate them, and people just buy in it.
That type of personality is becoming more attractive. The challenge is getting that person on how you lead them into selling more without making them feel like they have to sell more. There’s a psychological thing there. When you start putting quotas on people that are more service-oriented, it doesn’t always fit well with them. It tweaks them. How you work with them, the things you focus on that help them produce more, things like good conversations and focusing on the team goal more than the individual goal. These are the little nuances an expert sales leader would understand. It isn’t the same everywhere. You have to understand what your objectives are, the type of people you need to get where you want to go and how you’re going to work with them.
What would you say are the biggest 2 or 3 obstacles for salespeople that are hindering their success?
The issues not getting resolved by the company. When they’re bringing things to the company, but it’s getting ignored or goes out on the priority list. Communication between departments is not solid. There are workarounds and frustration, and everything’s not working optimally because of that. I could almost think of it like putting the wrong oil in your engine. It’s oil, but it’s not making the thing work well. I’d probably say not being clear on expectations. This goes back to general business leadership, as far as setting clear vision and expectations. Not only collectively for the company, but specifically for salespeople. What type of customer do we want? What is the goal that you’re expected to hit? What customer we don’t want? What are our pricing guidelines for those clear expectations? Normally, when I go in and work at a company, owners feel like they’ve communicated that. I would say they have stated it or maybe written it in an email once or twice, but they haven’t made it important that everyone says, “That’s how we do it here.” That takes consistent messaging frequently.
From the effort that the salespeople put in, let’s do the same thing on understanding. Let’s say, sometimes you have this energetic salesperson start off, but they’re not seeing the results. When you would guide and train a salesperson starting off, hitting that plateau or the ceiling, where would you find the immediate place for improvement? Where would it be usually? Is it in finding the right leads? Is it following up? Is it selling the value? What would it be? All of the above?
You’re hitting all the areas you need to. I would say, we should explore. If they’re asked to go find business, are they seeking in the right place? If leads are coming into them, what are the quality of leads? You’ve got to go into the conversations they’re having, how is their messaging, written and verbally and their activity? Once you set activity goals for people, if it’s conversations, meetings, proposals, sales or whatever it is leading to sales, if those activity goals are being met, that normally leads to the right amount of sales with other salespeople. If they’re not, then you have to dig down into the quality and that is the quality of the lead and quality of the conversation.
It takes a little bit more monitoring and coaching at that point to get them over the hump. You can’t baby everyone. People are hired to do a job to make decisions during a conversation. Most of us would agree that we can’t stand it when we get a customer service call and all they do is repeat the same thing without listening to me. As salespeople, we don’t think of it this way, but they’re making decisions in every conversation, which way to guide that, how much to listen and what to share. Those are things they need to do to be in their profession and if they can’t do that, it might not be the right professional role for them.
When small business owners start, most of the time, the owner of the business is the salesperson, the Chief Everything Officer. As they grow, they start to build out, maybe hire for a salesperson or an outbound salesperson. Eventually, they would build on the sales team and a role like yours, which is sales management comes into play. Walk me through your typical model that you would coach and teach business owners. At what point is the company ready for the first salesperson, second sales salesperson and then the owner coaching them and overseeing them? At what point do you feel that the sales team needs to have sales management in order to make sure that they’re hitting the quotas?
From one salesperson forward, if the owner has other things they could be doing to lead the business. The book I wrote, Part-Time Sales Management, was written for small business owners who do want to do the sales management and run the business. The book helps them manage effectively the way I would suggest in 10 to 20 hours a month, and how to be efficient at it and effective at it. If they have other duties, then hire someone like us because we’re going to get people on the fast track. I have one client who has one salesperson. I have one that has eight salespeople, so it depends on that company’s finances and their goals. Sometimes owners can hide. As you know, you talk to lots of businesses, you can end up doing busy work instead of the CEO work.
When a person is ready to hire their salesperson, people will put out ads and try to get some recommendations for a salesperson. What are the do’s and don’ts that a person needs to be looking out for in this interviewing process when they’re hiring a salesperson?
The do’s are be clear about what’s attractive about your business and why people want to be part of your company. It’s there. Your best people will tell you. Shout it out. Let people know what you’re about because you’ll attract people that fit that a little bit more. That gets missed sometimes in advertising. Be clear about the tough expectations in your job description. You don’t have to spell out every single thing in your advertising, but make sure you’re clear about the tough ones so you’re not getting someone in thinking that says it’s an easy job when it’s tough when they arrive. Whatever tools you’re using are, give a good realistic on a conservative and a high opportunity from the compensation level. You’ve got to be willing to start here. If you can’t, don’t show up but we love to see you get here.
We do a lot of training and events and have been speaking to a lot of business owners. This is sometimes tricky when the business owner has done sales out of necessity and then all of a sudden, they’re hiring the first salesperson and they’re taking a step back. They’re giving over what they have done, the expectations for the first salesperson, which is not realistic. That’s when our goals become not attainable or not realistic as we use this SMART analogy. Another challenge we find is that a lot of those conversations are focused on the end goal, which is the outcome instead of the input. What I found is that if you’re hiring a new salesperson, you could speak about the outcome as far as commissions and what it means for them in the pocket, but get their commitment on the input of what is expected you should do on a daily basis. Is it making cold calls? Is it going to events? Is it getting leads? Whatever it is, and not enough is being spoken about that side, rather most have spoken about the quota and the end result.
That transition between the owner doing the sales, hiring the first salesperson, that’s why I also said it’s good to get someone involved early because they’re blinded by it. They don’t even know what they do. They’re an owner and they have passion. People listen to them because they’re the president or CEO. They have to close the business to pay the payroll. There are different drivers in that person compared to the salesperson who’s not an owner or an employee. They go home and enjoy their other life. Having someone dissect that and separate, you said it perfectly. There’s the importance of getting someone in there to help you with that.
I want to shift a little bit in speaking about selling in uncertain times. We’ve been unfortunate with the COVID-19 situation and this has been hitting businesses on all different fronts. Some of them, it’s straight-up hitting their business to unfortunate stages. Others, it’s changing the way people communicate and ultimately doing sales. From a sales manager perspective and based on how you’d be continuing to guide your salespeople, what pieces of advice would you be able to give a salesperson that’s sitting uncertain, not knowing how they need to shift and adapt to the new world?
If you’re reading out there, teams, I hope that you’re already doing this. The discipline you want to have before in sales always is, “How do I find a business in the short-term now? How do I prepare for a business I’m going to close later?” If your mindset is always there and you develop that like, “How do I find it now for short-term goals? I’m sure it is halfway through the month. How do I recoup my pipelines not showing you that?” How do you keep that fire in you to find now? Also, how do you keep the balance? You’re saying like, “I’ve got to make a referral list. I’ve got to ask some people that I’m not going to be able to close until 3 months, 6 months or 1 year down the road.” When you have salespeople that are always selling thinking like that, the environment doesn’t impact them as much or the circumstances don’t because it’s the mental outlook of, “How do I work within the current environment? How do I work within the future environment?” Training people to get there takes a little time and that’s where leadership comes in because they keep hearing that message over and over again. It sets a great foundation to operate when things change.A salesperson needs to be clear about what's attractive about your business. Click To Tweet
Let’s take it a step further. How do you feel those salespeople need to adapt under the circumstances with objections from potential clients? People are saying, “We’re uncertain. We don’t know if we need to service or not. We want to cut costs.” Those basic challenges that people are using, some of them rightfully and some of them are trying to give you the objection that you as a salesperson have to overcome.
Let me ask you this. You’re the customer and we’re role-playing, and you just said that. I say, “Have you decided yet if we are the company you want to work with?”
“I would love to but ultimately, I don’t know if we could afford you.”
“I understand. I get that. I want to make sure what you said was you’ve looked at some other vendors and you looked at us, and we’re the company you’d prefer to work with?”
“Tell me why.” What I’m drawing out is I want to understand and help flash out that objection. If I haven’t thought about it yet, it’s easy for me to say, “Wait until the COVID is gone,” because that couldn’t be a reality. The reality is they might not have thought about it through. You’ve got to make sure people are being real and honest. One way to help people be honest and transparent is to invite them to say no and give you the answers you would prefer not to hear, and be able to say, “If you’ve chosen someone else, it’s okay. I could deal with that.” You’ve got to get things on the table.
First off is making sure people do want to work with you and then say, “Let’s talk about your circumstances. What’s the biggest concern?” “The uncertainty of cashflow.” “I got it. How do you want to approach it? How should we do this? I want to do business with you, you want to do business with me. This time, it’s hard to say we’re going to sign off. Let’s set up a plan. How are we going to do this? This shouldn’t fall off the radar. Do you agree?” “No, it shouldn’t.” We get working. Be sensitive. You can’t go close it hard but it doesn’t mean you can’t lose everything you know, which is to help people first commit to you in your company, then deal with whatever the negotiation points that need to happen if needed. Set up a plan on when they want to get started.
I want the readers to grasp what you said. When you get the initial objection, make sure that the objection is not now or not you. You want to know how to play it.
It’s a good way to say it.
I know in business and a lot of books on sales, you will see words like sales system, sales process and selling process. What’s your definition of those? Are those similar? Are those on different parts of the sales process?
A high-level look at it is that understanding your sales process is understanding the decision points along the conversations and decisions to be made toward a final decision of, “Yes, I’d like to purchase something from you.” That’s usually the first thing in the sales process. Have a meeting to introduce your product or discuss their needs or whatever. The first decision that needs to be made is someone has to see enough interest to schedule a meeting. Step one in the sales process is to get a decision to meet, then get a decision to share some data, introduce you to other decision-makers, have another meeting or whatever it might be.
There are lots of decisions, but when people say milestones, I think of your major decisions that are made that move sales along. In general, those things are called initial introduction meetings, discovery or exploration. The next step in the sales process is discussing solutions. Maybe then presenting a draft solution or a discussion solution. I like to not have my solutions be in stone. If I have this as a suggestion, let’s talk about it. They end with them saying, “I want to order,” and that’s important. It’s not about closing anymore. I don’t close. If you start thinking about it, the close is upfront. When you start building trust and the more open they are through the conversation, you’ve closed them to have your best chance. They’re either going to buy or they’re not. That’s not up to us. You can’t make people buy, but what you can do is make them comfortable enough and trusted enough to want to work with you. You have to have a good enough offer.
You author the popular book, Part-Time Sales Management: For Small Business Sales Teams. Elaborate a little bit more, who is the book written for and what should they expect reading it?
It’s written for small business owners that have 1 to 8 salespeople, who do not have a sales manager and have a difficult time finding a sales manager. It’s written for them that they’re not going to hire a sales manager. They enjoy working with the sales team enough that they’re willing to do some better work at it, but their fear is it’s going to suck all their time. This book is written for owners who want to do this, but they feel like maybe they don’t have enough know-how or time. I’m giving them the know-how, how to structure their sales management activity with the team. There are a lot of templates in there.
Also, the quality of conversations. There are five elements that are in this book: beliefs, expectations, accountable environment, meetings and conversations. Those are the five key areas I focus on in those conversations. It can’t be dropped out. It’s one of the ones that can quickly be lost though. Go over that, show them how much time they put into it, and allow these salespeople to be who they are. They want to run. They want to go if you hire the right people. Get out of their way. Make sure the environment they work in is a smooth track so they can run fast the way you want them to run. Focus on the environment.
Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Number one, the book that changed your life?
Number two, a piece of advice you’ve got that you’ll never forget?Leadership comes in when employees read a message over and over. Click To Tweet
After 30 years of consulting when I first started, he said, “When you’re ready to give your answer or your solution, stop yourself and ask one more question.”
Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
Be around my family and my siblings when I was in my early twenties. I got into myself for a while there. I missed some cool years with my sibs that I wish I could have had.
Number four, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
Visit people. In this virtual world, I’ve met a lot of people around the United States and the world. I’m growing a list of people who I want to go see face-to-face, shake their hands and give them a hug. I told my wife this, “My bucket list is about who I need to see more than where I need to go visit.” Those are on my list.
Thank you for joining us. I know your time is valuable. That is why in the name of our audience, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.
Thank you, Meny, for having me.
It’s my pleasure.
- Part-Time Sales Management: For Small Business Sales Teams
- Daniel Gefen
- Messy Spirituality
About Rene Zamora
Rene is in a situation most business owners dream of. He hasn’t had to find a new client in over 13 years! After having led over 2500 sales meetings in the last decade, he has discovered that there is no such thing as bad salespeople.
Rene is the creator of the Part-time Sales Management System, which redefines the relationship between small business owners and their sales team.
Sales is the lifeblood of any business, and most businesses bleed to death because they’re too focused on finding the “right” people and less focused on building the right environment. Get ready to have your sales mindset rewired and your business transformed.