Entries with tag sales .

What to Do If You've Been Put on a Performance Improvement Plan

Nobody enjoys being put on a performance improvement plan (PIP).  However, if you are put on one, it's a great idea to know how you should proceed at work going forward.  Read on to learn how best to navigate a PIP:

  1. Own It.  Avoid making excuses or denying responsibility.  Instead, be open to criticism and accept that you're going to have to haul up your sleeves to change your manager's perception of you.  Unfortunately, people tend to get defensive when they're given a PIP, and their negative attitude does nothing to help their cause.

  2. Establish Clear Metrics.  A PIP is going to detail areas for improvement.  Rather than signing a PIP that is murky in this area, ask for specifics.  For instance, let's say you're a salesperson and your manager is displeased with your recent sales.  Rather than signing a PIP that says you need to obtain higher sales, ask your manager to put his expectations in writing.  Does he want you to increase your sales by 10%? 20%?  You're going to want to know what the benchmark is so you can focus on exactly what you need to achieve.

  3. Ask for Time.  It never hurts to ask for additional time to achieve your performance goals.  If your manager has set 3 months as the deadline, consider requesting 6.  Change isn't accomplished overnight and the more time you have to meet your goals, the more confident you will be of your ability to do so.

  4. Have Positive Expectations.  If you've been thinking about changing jobs, this is probably a great time to be proactive about it.  However, if you like your job and want to remain there, have positive expectations.  All too often, people believe that once they receive a PIP, they're doomed.  However, this can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Instead, believe in yourself and your ability to meet the objectives established in your PIP, and you can overcome this. 

5 Tips for Creating a Sales Email that Gets Results

If you've ever stared at a blinking cursor, you know how hard it can be to successfully put your thoughts into words.  It's especially daunting when you're trying to craft killer copy that's going to get your marketing email opened, read, and clicked upon.  To make it easier for you, we have some tips to help you craft more effective sales emails:

  1. Write Like You're Talking to a Friend.  Avoid jargon and acronyms.  Instead, imagine that you're writing directly to a friend and use simple, direct language.  This will go over much better with recipients than tossing around industry lingo and big words that are better left to the dictionary.

  2. Break Up Text.  Rather than having lengthy paragraphs that take a long time to get to the point, keep it simple.  Use short sentences and keep your paragraphs to no more than 3 sentences.  Also, don't forget to include bullet points and subheadings—these features allow readers to quickly grasp main points while skimming.

  3. Use Benefits-Driven Language.  Speaking of features, you'll want to avoid using feature-driven language and focus on a product's benefits instead.  By way of example, feature-driven language might mention a car's gas mileage.  Benefits-driven language would emphasize how much money you'll save on gas with the great mileage you're getting.

  4. Think Action.  Action verbs aren't just for resumes—they're also highly effective in sales emails.  When you're creating your copy, choose action verbs where possible.  They'll make your copy more interesting and impactful.

  5. Don't Forget a Call-to-Action!  A call-to-action or CTA tells the recipient what action he should take after reading the email.  CTAs are typically lines like, “Buy now!” “Download our free e-book today!” or “Contact us within 24 hours to receive your free gift!”  The best CTAs are prominently displayed throughout email copy, designed with a clear objective, and create a sense of urgency.  

4 Hot Tips for Overcoming a Sales Slump

So you're in a sales slump...no worries.  It happens to the best salespeople from time to time.  Rather than panicking about it, try these hot tips for breaking free from the slump.  In no time, you'll start to experience a reversal of fortune:

  1. Listen or Read Motivational Materials.  The inspiration that comes from listening to a motivational podcast or reading a sales book can be all that it takes for you to turn things around.  If you're crunched for time, listen to a podcast on your way to work or read a helpful book during your lunch hour.  Although these activities may seem relatively minor, they can have a major impact on your outlook.

  2. Remain Positive.  Speaking of outlooks, you're going to want to stay positive.  Have you ever heard the phrase “self-fulfilling prophesy?”  Don't allow a slight dip in sales to cause you to engage in catastrophic thinking which ultimately, will make your sales decline even more.  Instead, practice positive, uplifting talk: “I know that I can do this, I've pulled out of sales slumps before.  My upbeat attitude is one thing my current clients really appreciate, and it will be appealing to potential clients on new sales calls as well.”  This type of thinking is how sales slumps are overcome!

  3. Recall Past Successful Experiences.  Think of a time that you were extremely successful in your sales career.  Remember the activities you engaged in to experience that success.  Then, focus on replicating those activities to drum up new business.

  4. Concentrate on Service.  Author and sales guru Mike Brooks suggests that you begin each phone call with the thought, “I'm here to be of maximum service to this person.”  This takes the pressure off—your prospect will sense it and respond favorably to you. 

5 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople

Author and businessman W. Clement Stone once said, “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman—not the attitude of the prospect.”  He's right.  Time and time again, research has shown that there are certain personality traits that enable great salespeople to sell to so-called difficult prospects.  The most successful salespeople display the following characteristics:

  1. Optimism.  Sales can be a difficult field but as Stone noted, attitude makes all the difference.  Optimistic salespeople don't conclude after 1 bad sales call that the rest of their week is likely to go the same way.  Instead, they understand that the occasional rejection is the nature of the business and continue to maintain a positive mindset.

  2. Confidence.  Confidence is oh-so-important in sales.  As Megan Ingenbrandt, marketing representative for Green Technology Services, explains, “All great salespeople have confidence.  If you don't believe in your product, you aren't going to make a customer believe in your product.  If you can confidently explain how your product or service is going to solve a problem for the customer, then you've got the customer in the palm of your hand.”

  3. Conscientiousness.  According to Entrepreneur, the American Psychological Association published a report concluding that the most successful sales reps are conscientious.  Essentially, they're organized, efficient, and take great pride in their work.

  4. Empathy.  Empathetic salespeople can identify with their prospects, making them feel heard and respected.  This fosters rapport, ultimately leading to higher sales numbers.

  5. Tenacious.  Research shows that 80% of prospects say “no” 4 times before saying yes.  However, most salespeople give up before getting to that yes.  In fact, 44% of salespeople give up just after hearing the first “no”!  A great salesperson is tenacious and doesn't quit at the first sign of disinterest.  

3 Strategies for Overcoming Social Anxiety

For the 3.3 million Americans who suffer from social anxiety, certain work responsibilities—like giving presentations and meeting new clients—can be challenging.  These activities can even be difficult for shy people who may not have a clinical diagnosis of social anxiety.

If you’re shy or suffer from social anxiety, here are some strategies to help you navigate your work place with greater ease:

  1. Try “Implosion.”  Psychology Today describes this as tackling a challenge that you find so intimidating that your original goal (to feel more comfortable in social situations) no longer fazes you.  For instance, psychologist Albert Ellis once decided to approach every woman sitting alone on a bench at the New York Botanical Garden.  While he experienced discomfort, he learned that he wouldn’t die from it and eventually found that approaching women became much easier.  He said that of the first 130 women he went up to, he only got 1 date but later, he became “one of the best picker-uppers of women in the United States.”

  2. Ask Questions.  One thing that makes people with social anxiety particularly uncomfortable is having the focus on them.  By asking questions, you can direct your attention outward and feel more relaxed in social situations.  Try asking open-ended questions (rather than yes/no ones) and use the information you gleaned to deepen your connection with others.  Most people are quite happy to talk about themselves and will appreciate your interest.

  3. Avoid Catastrophizing.  It’s not uncommon for people who fear social situations to imagine the worst (“I’m going to bomb this speech,” or “I’m terrible with small talk.”).  Rather than allowing your mind to dwell on imagined negatives, think supportive thoughts that will pave the way for new and better experiences.  For instance, you might tell yourself things like, “I’ve never bombed a speech before, because I’m always well-prepared,” or “While I prefer more intimate conversations, I do fine with small talk and had a great experience talking to John at the company picnic last week.”