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Change Them or Change Them

by Kevin D. Crone

June 9, 2014

Over the last five months I have been interacting with owners, executives, and senior sales executives to help them compete and grow despite the changing tougher times. Most seem to be stuck with lower margins, slow growth, increased costs and a more demanding, discerning customer base as well as sales managers and salespeople who seem lackadaisical about changing.

I introduced two sets of research to them that showed how selling is different today because the purchaser and the markets have changed.  A couple  hundred people took the time to attend one of many small group meetings where we discussed this research. As a result, I came up with my list of reactions to the research, what has happened, and why.

Anything new instantly excites about 20% of people. They want to jump into action to match up with their markets and buyers. They act on change.  30% of them are inspired about what to do but, as it is with most ideas, the daily grind takes over and they can’t seem to get to it.  The rest instantly listen from a judgemental point of view, over analyze it, and get lost in their preconceived views and, I might add, are invisible to them.

Let me categorize the 5 biggest contexts they get lost in:

1.    Ontario has excelled at building our manufacturing sector for so long that many get lost in operational thinking, always expecting that improvement in operations or technology is the only answer . Well what happened to the quality movement? When markets and customers change, our back office or robotic improvements don’t matter that much. Customers expect quality, responsiveness and easy-to-do business with strategies as a given. If that’s all you’re selling – you can’t be heard.  An operational solution can’t fix a market/customer problem.  Change your view of how you match up your offering and sales strategy or get left behind.  Customers want value. They want someone to help them with their business, not your blah blah blah pitches that haven’t changed from constantly reengineering your products from your improved methods, the fastest and cheapest way for you.

2.    Blaming your dealers.   “If they would perform better we would be better” – I guess selling direct is the answer. Well it might be, but what will that cost? What do you do in the meantime? What value do you bring to your dealers anyway?  Service visits or counting on your personal relationships doesn’t matter as much as it did.  Have you given up trying to help your dealers?  In what new ways could you help them that would cause them to sell more of your products more often and more effectively?  How much of your approach is about ways to help them with their problems and their ability to compete?  That takes more upfront research, thinking, planning, and bringing new insights that could help them. How many of your salespeople do that?  I have found that most salespeople think they are already doing that, but few are. They are wrapped up into their products or service and the blame game. Change your business market strategy or be ready for breakeven with slow growth.

3.    Blaming salespeople.    Who created the structure (the way you operate) anyway?  Why are they commercial visitors or product-pedlars? With all of the well-known theories about how salespeople are and all the modelling, assessing, etc. that sales companies use, you would think that all you have to do is hire the right people and they will figure it out.  No they won’t.   That’s not their job.  Good looking performers can look like apes within months if they aren’t coached and led by competent sales managers who have figured out their offering, have a good compelling story and are coaching their people to create value for the customer on every call.  As a matter of research, 62% of the effectiveness of sales teams can be attributed to a modern, innovative coach totally committed to changing the team. I spent time with Elliot, a strategic thinker, who has taken away the constraints that customers experienced with his company and now is coaching his people. “I just didn’t do this enough. It is easy to get lost in fixing operations.”  Change your sales manager or change your sales manager.

4.    Not equipping your sales and marketing people to take the hill that is more dangerous and competitive. Yes, 10 to 20 % of your people are probably creating value on every call but what about the rest?  Yes, 20% are not openly coachable.  So!  “You change your people or you change your people,” said Patrick, one of the sharpest VPs of sales I have met in a while. He has read everything, managed a large sales team, knows the research is accurate from personal experience but is stumped like all of us at how to retrain a team to be the value creator who is winning the game. He is a change agent and is equipped with a value creator approach but knows changing and retraining a team is easier said than done. Yes, most training systems suck. Leaders are not engaged, salespeople are not engaged in rethinking what is going on, salespeople have had lots of fundamental sales training (not everywhere – it is surprising), and they aren’t very receptive. (They think I’ve heard a lot of sales concepts and I don’t really use all the old training so why give me more?)  There’s not enough personal goal-setting, corrective and supportive coaching, rehearsals, practice sessions at using new planning or behaviours, and little follow up.   So!   It doesn’t have to be that way.  Find an outside provider who will make sure all of things that I described happen and stop the quick-fix, information-dump seminars, or cheap events that may resonate, but don’t drive new habits.  As Patrick says, “Change your people or change your people. Do it right!”

5.    “Are you talking to me?” said Al Pacino, in one of his famous movies.  “We are different”.  Yeah, sure you are.  “We are trying to get everything right before we move on anything.”   Of course.   We all have initiatives.  “We are not sure what to do”.  Learning comes from commitment then action, not before. “We are too busy “.  Who isn’t?  Of course we all have some of these rationalizations.  Unfortunately, these are guaranteed ways to fail to grow.  A good dose of entrepreneurism may be what we need. Entrepreneurs act regardless of the circumstances.  Besides, there is not enough of a safety net to protect us anyway.  Sales managers and salespeople lose their jobs when they don’t adapt and change.  Companies will have to change when they didn’t want to, if they don’t move on what is important.  Try waiting out an ever-changing market – it doesn’t work well.   For things to change in your business you, and your business must change. I recently worked with Gary, a very engaging and mature VP of Marketing, he said, “I have to let go of the past and change and lead. That’s all I have control of.”

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Obviously not everyone had a chance to attend one of my meetings, which examines the research and gets everyone to dialogue about it.  So, here is your last chance!  I am inviting you to my last small group meeting on this research.

Monday, June 16th
2:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Dale Carnegie Center of Excellence

My suggestion: Click here to reserve a spot. Don’t let today’s demands block a more prosperous future. Book it and show up. Come prepared to listen for what’s possible for you and your business.

•    Where are you with growing your business?
•    Which one of these mental myths or rationalizations is in your way?
•    What are you going to do?

Have a great week!

Kevin D. Crone
Chairman, Dale Carnegie Business Group
kdcrone@dalecarnegie.ca or 905-826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032

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A Special Invitation from Kevin D. Crone, Canada’s Monday Morning Mentor…

Last chance to examine very important research from Dale Carnegie® Training presented by Canada’s Monday Morning Mentor, Kevin D. Crone, on how to reignite your sales!

Dale Carnegie Training® has engaged a world wide study on the emerging trend of Salesforce Transformation to explain the changing motives of customers, their enhanced level of sophistication, and how all of this, including the internet and tightening competition is changing how big sales are becoming more complex.

90% of businesses are seen as being commoditized and only 14% of customers see organizations as having unique propositions.

We are bringing together executives from across the GTA to reveal our research findings that will explain why big sales are tougher, what is different now and what is necessary to grab more market share and increase sales.

Final Meeting!
Executive Coaching Series: The New Sales/Marketing Transition
Date: Monday, June 16th
Time: 2:30 – 5:00 pm
Location: Mississauga, Ontario


  • Review recent research on Salesforce Transformation in the Canadian workplace
  • Learn about focusing your sales team and adapting to the new way of selling
  • Share insights and challenges, and develop clear strategies to accelerate business and team performance
  • Meet with Kevin D. Crone, Chairman and Kevin R. Crone, Senior Partner at Dale Carnegie Business Group

If you have questions, please email Chee Vang at cvang@dalecarnegie.ca or call our office at 905-826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032.
Reserve Your Spot!


Visit us at www.dalecarnegie.ca
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