4 hacks for managing differently

Author: 
Tom Houlihan

There are more ways to deliver value and results than relying on the same old approaches to the same old problems. By looking at problems differently and through different lenses, new solutions get revealed.

This was highlighted in the work of Paul DePodesta, the real-life brains in the Oakland Athletics story dramatized by Michael Lewis’ in the best-seller “Moneyball.” DePodesta adapted the analytics that were already common on Wall Street and consumer packaged goods for his work in Major League Baseball. Consider what you can draw on from worlds where your passions live to apply to your work as a sales leader.

Here are some thought-starters.

Segment your audience. You may be doing this intuitively, but you’ll find better results by being intentional. Structure your calls, campaigns, presentations and the entire selling process around the type of customer you’re calling on. You’re probably already doing it on the “how likely are they to buy” scale. However, you can generate better results by understanding the personal needs of your contacts and the needs of the organizations you’re selling to. That way, they can receive relevant messages framed and formatted to deliver more impact.

Be creative. Break out of the norm to differentiate your offering. Just as marketers struggle for clever ways to get a message across to a customer, so should sales leaders be thinking outside the “just get the sale” box. Create a Spotify playlist for your best customers. Engage them in your Instagram account for relevant posts. Share their successes on social media. Successful selling is a result of many efforts, many ideas, many proposals and many micro-commitments. Customers are influenced by all of it. The subtleties of priming, as researched by Daniel Molden from Northwestern University, indicates that small things can add up and can deliver powerful results.

Deliver value with every interaction. Until you know exactly which segment each customer fits into, do your best to anticipate what messages and content will create the best effect. Yes, you may need to rely on your gut to get started, but keep track of what happens. Make notes on your process, your approach, the ways you differentiated one customer from the next. Pay attention to the way prospects and customers respond to new information in order to better tailor messages in the future.

Measure activities and results. You should be able to quantify success with numbers. A successful sales manager at a local agency uses a point system to track activity. One point for a cold call, five points for a meeting, 10 points for a proposal. Numbers are easier to remember than words or colors. In research dating to the early days of 20th century, psychologists discovered that a short string of numbers was easier than random letters.

Stories about facts are not that interesting. If you’re going to engage your reps and your customers in new ways, you’ll need new stories that engaged novel connections. Hopefully, these ideas generate some new connections for you.