Living Sales Excellence is an on-going series of articles that gathers and explores the principles of building world-class sales organizations including the behaviors, skill sets, and life lessons that support them. You can find Dennis’ blog articles here.

  • Top 10 Must-Haves to Avoid Salesperson On-Boarding Failure
    by Dennis Connelly on March 18, 2019 at 2:15 am

    Having just returned from training over 60 sales leaders this past week in Central America, one of the subjects covered was recruiting and specifically how important on-boarding is to the success of new hires. Working with leaders (CEOs, General Managers, VPs, and other heads) from all seven Central American countries, there was consensus that one of the most important missing components to their current recruiting process was on-boarding and that they were struggling as a result. In fact, none of the executives thought that they had an adequate process to get new hires up to speed to collaborate with their managers and with each other with competence and full commitment. What they wanted was a plan that avoided unnecessary failures due to on-boarding mistakes. I will share with you now the key elements of that plan. […]

  • Turn Your Sales Results Up to 11
    by Dennis Connelly on February 24, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Sales managers have two choices. It's still the first quarter of the year and you can improve your success and go flying past your targets in this very year by choosing one of them. The first option is as follows:&nbs […]

  • Of Polar Vortices and Training Sales Managers First
    by Dennis Connelly on February 11, 2019 at 2:18 am

    What if the whole company went to a transformational conference except for the executive team? How likely would any of the actions, strategies, and ideas generated at that conference gain traction? I was in western Canada at a conference in the early part of last week, way up into cold country, in what at that moment was the very heart of the Polar Vortex, about which news anchors everywhere breathlessly warned us. While trying to thaw out my semi-frozen brain, I got to thinking about that. What would happen? The conference I attended was at a client who was taking the opposite approach. Their executive team was all-hands-on-deck leading by example, exposing their vulnerabilities, and welcoming the team to take risks and solve problems together. They illustrated the point using well-curated examples from the movie, Apollo 13. I got to thinking about the alternative approach because I have seen it before in sales organizations. A failure to engage at the highest levels of the company creates a toxic force working against the progress most companies desperately seek. […]

  • The 5 Steps to Sales Management Mastery
    by Dennis Connelly on January 29, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Twice a year, we take a 2-day time-out from our private work with clients and hold an open-enrollment Sales Leadership Intensive in our training center outside of Boston. We grab everything that works, across hundreds of companies and dozens of industries and pack it all into the best two days you'll spend on your own improvement all year. Attendance is capped at an optimal size of 30 people. Because of demand, we are holding an additional session this year and the next one is March 19-20. If you are interested, you can find out more about that here. And whether you are ready to take big action toward your success right now or not, here we are in January at the beginning of a new year, and this could be a good time to think about what will be the very next improvement you are willing to make to support your team so they dramatically outperform themselves vs. the alternative outcome. Leading sales expert Dave Kurlan points out that in sales management, you have two choices. You can develop your leadership skills to catapult your professional success and that of your teams or you can continue to perform at status quo. Today, a company needs every possible efficiency, effort and effectiveness from its sales management and salespeople to get ahead and emerge at the forefront of industry. Those companies that innovate are growing. And then there's everybody else. &nbs […]

  • Sales Training Success Dependence on Trainable Sales Managers
    by Dennis Connelly on January 7, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    It's a new year. "Don't train your sales force!" As strange as that sounds, it might surprise you how often this was my recommendation to business leaders looking for help last year for their sales organizations. But please don't misunderstand. Unless your sales force has a full pipeline, accurate forecasts, high closing ratios, improving margins, consistent revenue growth, and meets budget every quarter, they might need training. But that doesn't mean you should get them trained. For sales training to be effective, the conditions must support it, or it isn't worth the investment. Without knowing the underlying causes, the training could be indiscriminate and ineffective.  Recently, I posted an article listing the 7 Success Factors that support sales training. If interested, read it here. Today, we'll address number 4, below: Trainable and coachable sales managers. After all, why should it matter? If the manager is on her game, knows how to sell, and operates autonomously, is it really necessary that she be coachable and trainable, too? C'mon! Here's why. […]

  • Five Steps to Frictionless Feedback
    by Dennis Connelly on December 4, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Six years ago, I wrote an article on how to give feedback. It was narrowly focused on how the brain processes criticism. As an executive coach, I'm frequently asked for the best way to give constructive feedback and I'm still stunned at how many people try to insert negative comments into a "sandwich" with two positive-sounding bread slices on either side. Even though we have all been on the receiving end of such a tactic and therefore probably know it doesn't feel good and isn't motivating, many of us still do it and wonder why we get friction and resistance to our generous offers of help. After reading the research from many world-class business thinkers, extensive personal training in neuro-strategies, and 30 years leading several companies, I'd have to be in a deep sleep not to pick up a few tips on human behavior. If your role includes helping people change their behavior and you want to be more effective and encounter less friction, I hope you find some useful distinctions here. […]

  • Don't Buy the Exit Interview Crap - How Sales Managers Win with Environment
    by Dennis Connelly on November 19, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    It's not often you see a disconnect between belief and reality this large, but a PwC exit survey concluded that managers believe that employees leave the company 89% of the time because they want more money and 11% of the time for other reasons. The same survey revealed that almost the reverse is true for the employee; 12% of time it's for money and 88% of the time it's for other reasons. Unfortunately, managers either get their information from the exit interview, or make up a story, being careful not to blame themselves. After all, who wants to say to their employer, whom they will be listing on their resume, "My manager just didn't get me and failed to recognize my real contributions and nurture my soul. I simply wasn't flourishing under their tutelage." They're not saying that, and not just because they can't pronounce tutelage. No, they often say, "I found a great opportunity for higher pay." Simple. Innocuous. Is it hard to imagine that most managers are unaware of those "other reasons?" Is it difficult to believe that most managers are not aware of the factors that shape how and why an employee wants to be on their team and follow their leadership, or why they want to get off their team and follow someone else? […]

  • Avoid Sales Training Failure By Using a Formal Sales Process
    by Dennis Connelly on November 5, 2018 at 2:06 am

    It's an interesting statistic that 68% of the companies surveyed claimed to have a formal sales process. Yet, when tested, only 9% of salespeople actually follow one. See the research in the White Paper written on Sales Force Excellence by Dave Kurlan. This important research shows that of the companies that saw "significant sales increases" due to the adoption of a formal sales process, 73% of them had evaluated their teams. Based on my experience with sales teams across dozens of industries, the importance of an evaluation cannot be underestimated in the context of sales process because it uncovers the difference between the claims and the reality. Let's look at how sales process, used correctly, ensures you beat your goals. […]

  • Top Seven Reasons for Sales Hiring Failure
    by Dennis Connelly on October 23, 2018 at 12:39 am

    Did you ever wonder why so few sales candidates who performed well at other companies, fail to become top performers at yours? Somewhat unique to the sales role, most other non-executive positions can be quantified sufficiently to make a prediction with some degree of confidence that the candidate will or will not perform in the role. They've done it before, for example. Or they can demonstrate their skills. Or their resume clearly shows that they have the exact experience required for the role. Sales, however, is another matter. […]

  • How an Evaluation Avoids Sales Training Failure
    by Dennis Connelly on October 8, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Six months ago, a large agency asked me to deliver a sales training program for their business development team. After listening, I recommended a detour that led to something rather unexpected. The business development/sales team at this company was a dedicated sales group with the goal of setting up new business that would supplement the business that was generated by repeat clients, by agent networks, and by inbound marketing programs. The company didn't believe the sales team was gaining much traction, resulting in wasted resources, particularly their marketing spend. So what was going on? […]