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By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m Pacific on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can subscribe right at Sales Pipeline Radio and/or listen to full recordings of past shows everywhere you listen to podcasts! Spotify,  iTunesBlubrry, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Stitcher and now on Amazon music.  You can even ask Siri, Alexa and Google!

This week’s show is entitled, Leading Your Sales Team in Times of Change and my guest is Steven Rosen, Sales Leadership Coach at STAR Results.

Keep reading to learn about:

  • The importance of sales focus for leaders
  • Result-oriented time management
  • How to reduce distractions and improve work efficiency

Listen in now for this and MORE, watch the video or read the transcript below:

Matt:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. We are here every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. If you’re watching or listening on demand, thank you so much for subscribing and for downloading. Every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is always available on demand and for free at salespipelineradio.com and each week we’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is no different. Steven Rosen, who I’ve known for a long time, sales leadership coach. Steven, thanks for joining us.

Steven:
Matt, thanks for having me. It’s been a while, but I always love coming on your show. So, maybe I got to put it in my calendar that once every six months, we chat for a little bit.

Matt:
We’ll just make you a recurring guest, that would be fine with me, for sure. And I enjoy spending time with you. We get to see each other every once in a while out in the field at conferences and I’ve really just enjoyed learning from you, your insights, your approach, your sense of humor, so appreciate that. Recently, I think I’ve noticed a lot more of your content is focused, pun intended, on sales focus and how sales leaders need to increase their focus. So, let’s start there. Am I wrong? Or is that an increased-

Steven:
You are focused, man. You are right on the mark, and I love it.

Matt:
Why a focus on focus then? What are you seeing in the market right now?

Steven:
Why the hell do I do sales leadership coaching? Why do I focus on sales leaders? Because your frontline sales leaders, no matter how good your marketers are, they may be great marketers, but unless you’re executing, your frontline sales managers are the key to driving sales performance, yet the stats show, and I’m not a stats guy, but more than 50% of salespeople are missing their quotas. And I think, “Okay, why? Maybe there’s crappy salespeople out there. Maybe quotas are too high, but I blame senior sales leadership.”

And many of the folks I work with are good leaders. There’s three things to me that are key for success as a sales leader. Number one is leading your team, inspiring them, coaching, and developing them. Two is creating the right culture for success, having accountability. But three is the biggest problem, because if you’re too busy doing minutia, you can’t get to number two and three, which is leadership and culture. You’re not focused on what’s going to make a difference and, to me, the real difference between the okay sales leaders and the top sales leaders is they’re focused on results.

So, what am I talking about? Well, if you look at the average sales manager, they’re spending a ton of time in meetings, especially now. They’re in meetings on Zoom. They’re dealing with texts. If they don’t answer their emails or texts, someone’s calling them, so they’re getting triple focused on.

Many of them are, as Keith Rosen says, chief problem solvers. They’re always taking the monkeys on their back. They’re dealing with customer issues. Really, what they’re doing is they’re not focused in the moment. So they’ve got all this minutia coming at them and they’re so focused on stuff that doesn’t generate results. That’s why 50% or more of the reps are not making it, because their time as a sales leader, their goal as a sales leader, is to drive sales performance. So, if they’re busy, bogged down in the minutia of the organization, you’re not going to get the results you desire. I was going to add one thing.

One of my colleagues, who I laugh and laugh every time I speak with him, but he calls them the sales prevention departments. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with those. Marketing’s not one of those, but your financial people, your legal people, your compliance people, they’re all telling the sales leaders, “You can’t do that.” And you spend so much time arguing with them, “No, we have to do this for our client” as opposed to them telling you, “This is how you can do it.” And he calls them the sales prevention departments because his time is focused on convincing them that, “Hey, we have to do what’s right for our clients” and he’s not always successful at that.

So, focus is a funny thing, so I want to talk about focus, you led in beautifully, and I hope it’s a good analogy. But focus to me is a phenomenon almost like pregnancy. Okay? So, here’s the thing.

Matt:
Go on.

Steven:
You can’t be half pregnant. You can’t be almost pregnant. You’re either pregnant or you’re not pregnant, and focus is the same way. You’re getting distracted. Just kidding here. But the bottom line is, you can’t be half focused. You can’t be somewhat focused. Either you’re focused or you’re not focused. So, to me, it’s a binary situation. So, if you’re spending 50% of your time on stuff that’s not generating results. Well, it’s no reason why 50% plus of your salespeople are not making it. You need to be out there doing the critical things that drive success. What are they? And how do we help people?

Matt:
I think there’s a couple layers of being focused. One of them is being present. So, whatever you were doing today, whatever you are choosing to do in this moment, you are focused on doing that. But then there’s the layer of focus on is that the right thing to focus on? So, how do you address each of those? Is one more important than the other? What’s your thoughts?

Steven:
So, I’m a very simple guy and I start with very simple principles because I think there’s a beauty in simplicity. The fact is, people say they can multitask. No one can multitask. You can’t do two things at one time. So, where the thinking comes into being focused is we try to do too many things, whether it’s in the moment. I remember the days when I used to sit with reps in the car and I’d be on my phone, communicating to the office, answering my emails. That’s not focused in the moment, because what’s critical at the time is I’m giving the salesperson I’m with the attention they deserve. So, any thinking in terms of focus, focus is a decision. It’s the decision as to what’s most critical.

So, if you look from a sales leadership perspective, and I talked about this, probably the most important thing you can be doing to generate results is the time you spend coaching and developing your sales reps. The old adage, I remember I used to run a marketing department, and always the first question is, “If you had $1 to spend, where would that be?” I remember that question. Where do you spend your first dollar? So, if you look at your first hour, where do you spend your first hour? Well, for me, one of the keys to success is how much time a sales manager spends out in the field. But if they’re too busy doing the other stuff and they’re not blocking the time to work with their salespeople, or they’re not in the moment where they’re busy on their iPhone, while they’re working with the salesperson, that’s not focused in the moment and you’re all over the place.

I spend time watching sports with the kids and we have two kids, but one has a significant other. So I look at all three kids sitting there and they’re all on their phone, and I think “I’m the only one watching.” So, when we do that with salespeople that’s bad, but really to get focused, it takes critical thinking and it takes discipline. So, to me, I always start, if you want to focus from a business perspective, what are the three most critical things you need to do to be successful? And do those extremely well. And the other stuff you ignore, you punt, you remove, and that’s the strategy that we teach people. One from a time perspective, because there’s where do you focus your time? Also, what do you get trapped into doing? Are you doing your work? Are you doing your work and your sales reps work? Taking on monkeys as the adage goes?

And then what I call a focused mindset, which could be in the moment. It could be on what’s critical from a business perspective. So, part of our program before we teach anybody how to go from good to great in leadership, how to build a good to great culture, if you don’t have the time and the mindset to basically do those things, you’re going to do a suboptimal job. And really that’s what I see happening. And it’s not their fault. That’s why I blame senior leadership, but there has to be a radical change in where time is spent.

It’s like having a rep. I know I get very passionate about this. I’m not letting you get a word in edgewise, but if you have a rep who does great paperwork, but never makes calls or spends only 20% of their time making calls or effective calls, they’re not going to get the results, but no one says, “Hey, what about our sales leaders? Are they spending, I don’t know, 45 or 50 or 60 or 70% of their time helping their salespeople get better?” Not do their job, but develop them. Because to me, that’s the most important task. So, you said it. It’s not just being focused, but focused on the right things

Matt:
I mean, this is true of really any manager, but especially I’ve heard from sales managers for a long period of time that they don’t feel like they get enough time to coach. And I think they spend either too much time in meetings or a lot of time reinforcing requirements like, “Are you following the playbook?” And not as much time on actually coaching and improving performance. Can you talk about separating those two and then, how do you as a sales leader start to carve out more of the time to do the coaching and improvement work?

Steven:
Okay. So, I guess starting from the last question, we work on a very simple time management perspective. I’m trying to get better at implementing it myself because I realize being home there’s lots of distractions, especially in summertime in Canada, doesn’t last too long. But part of the key that we teach is called focused time, but it’s blocking your time. So, for example, you have 10 reps and your goal is to work with each one of those per month. We go ahead and coach our sales managers to book the next three months of coaching calls. It’s in your calendar. No one else can overbook it. It’s a very simple technique but you start with putting in the most important things because guess what? Your calendar fills up. It just does. People request meetings, you accept, and all of a sudden, “Oh, I can’t go into work that day.

So, we work the other way around. What’s the most critical task? I’m not saying it has to be coaching. I think it is. But block the next three months of your coaching time and stick to that. Holding your salespeople accountable, cadence and accountability. Book your times where you’re having accountability meetings with them where you’re reviewing performance. Book it in your calendar. Book it for three months. Keep it rolling. So, immediately what you’ve done is, and I call them results-generating activities because they do generate results. Put those in first and keep putting those in. So, you have time blocked for those.

Matt:
Yeah. I love that.

Steven:
It’s not a complicated technique. It’s not like, “Oh my God, look at Rosen’s time management skills.” But it’s a simple technique that we forget and don’t have the discipline to do.

Matt:
Well, I think it’s super important. I mean, the one thing we do have control over is how we spend our time every day. And if you don’t preschedule yourself to do your prospecting, to do coaching with your team, to work out, to whatever it is, it won’t get done. And there’s lots of shiny objects everywhere. And I think you mentioned your kids sitting on the couch in front of their phones. I mean, most people are very, very close, arm’s distance, to wherever their phone is.

Steven:
Yeah.

Matt:
We all do it now. So, do you have some best practices? We just have a few more minutes here before we got to wrap up. Do you have best practices for how to help people with the discipline of focus? What are things people can do to say, “Okay, I’m not going to pick up my phone. I’m not going to get distracted. I’m going to spend the next 20-30 minutes on something in a focused way?”

Steven:
Okay. That’s a great question. So, number one is actually 30-minute periods of focus time. We all need a little break, but my phone is off. I don’t hear it buzzing. I still think about it, but part of it is turning distractions off so you can get your work done because, the problem is, if you’re not getting your job work done, paperwork, administration, then you don’t have the time. How many times do we hear “We don’t have the time to do this?” So, one of the disciplines is removing distractions.

Right now, we’re spending time. There’s nothing else around me that’s going to distract me. My emails are off. I’m with you right in the moment. And then, we’re going to go for a half hour. I’ll take a little walk around the house or go sit out in what I call my international headquarters, which is the deck. Sit out on the deck and take five minutes and then go back. So, I’ve really tried to practice what I preach and I’ll tell you, it’s made me so much more effective. I’m pumping out more stuff. I’m excited about it, but it’s not rocket science. We all know this. Just like exercise we know gives us more energy, but if we don’t schedule time for what’s important, it doesn’t happen or it’s unlikely to happen.

Matt:
Yeah. And the time you spend doing that reinforces, once you do it, why it’s important and it makes you want to do it more. I mean, people may have heard of the Pomodoro Method where you spend 25 minutes focused on a single task and then you get a five-minute break. And if you’ve ever tried that, for those of you that haven’t tried it, try to stay focused on one thing for 25 minutes and you’ll notice how often you otherwise would reach for your phone, otherwise would change the browser to something else. But also notice that after 25 minutes, which isn’t that much time, if you really do focus on something, how much you get done in that time period. And ideally, you do that a few times. It starts to reinforce the value of that, and you want to get back into that mode because you recognize how productive you are.

Steven:
So, just to share … I’m with you, and I’m actually trying to do that myself as I incorporate that thinking, but we talked about blocking. We blocked the time to have this discussion, so there’s a commitment made to do it on both sides. So, I talked about blocking coaching time and what have you. If you actually put an equation to, “Hey, going out and coaching a rep is worth $5,000 in sales or $10,000” and you looked at your calendar because you have to analyze: “where are we at?” and you looked at where you are spending your time because that’s where we start really: where are you spending your time? How can we simply shift your three most important revenue-generating or results-generating activities to put those into your calendar? And then there’s lots of whatever you want to call it, minutia, time suckers, I use that term, and then pull those out. And how many people don’t have enough time with their family? Always go, “I don’t have time to go in and coach my reps.” Well, that’s your job.

Matt:
Right. Right.

Steven:
That’s where, at the end of the year, no one’s going to look at, “Okay, Steven’s done some really good paperwork. He’s got his administration on time, but you know what? Too bad he missed his sales by 20%.” So, that’s where some of that critical thinking and discipline comes to from a focus perspective because, if you know what’s critical, the next step is to do it.

Matt:
Love it. And one of the reasons I like this topic is you approach this very much from a senior sales leadership perspective, but most of what we’re talking about here can be applied to anybody, early in your career, late in your career, no matter where you are. And I think especially for those of us that may be working from a home office or a corner of the home, more often, there are more distractions around. So, what you do to create that environment of focus, what you focus on is important, but how you create the time and the environment to be focused is so important.

Steven:
You got it. And it’s interesting. Certainly, work from home has added a level of challenge. Zoom has created a level of challenge because people have filled their time with Zoom meetings and then you have Zoom fatigue. Well, say no. One of the key things again to success is saying no. Sometimes you have to say no to meetings and think “I don’t really have to be there. Can I send somebody else?” So, yes, we’re actually working with a group of future sales leaders, which are salespeople who have high potential, and some of these same skills. I mean, a lot of these same skills apply. What’s key is making calls. I mean, you don’t have to get any more basic than that, but sometimes we forget the basics. And when sports teams do the basics well, they tend to succeed. Those that don’t struggle. They try to do too much and they don’t accomplish anything. And that’s my belief in leadership. And my belief also, as I said, is your frontline sales managers are your key to driving results and performance in your organization, so let’s help these guys because they’re going to help everybody else.

Matt:
Absolutely. Well, Steven, thank you for doing this today. We try to keep these under 20 minutes so people can get back to their day. If people want to learn more from you or read more about you or schedule some time with you, starresults.com, best place to go?

Steven:
You got it. That’s the best place to reach me. I’m on LinkedIn. And of course, you can certainly call me at (905) 737-4548. But the best place you want to book a time, go to my website, starresults.com, and book a time. I’m happy to speak to people and help them get better at their craft.

Matt:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today and being generous with your time and ideas, and thank you everyone for watching here today. Another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio will be here again next week 11:30 Pacific 2:30 Eastern. Until then, my name is Matt Heinz. We’ll see you next week.

Steven:
See you, Matt.

 

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I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena@heinzmarketing.com.

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Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 322: Q & A with Steven Rosen @stevenarosen