I'm often asked, how do you engage your audience? It starts with a passion for your topic. But even if you have that nailed, a PowerPoint with a bullets isn't going to cut it.
When you speak to an audience you are part domain expert and part entertainer. You have to be, especially if you want your message to be remembered.
At many of the events I speak at there are all types of speakers. From professional keynotes who can guarantee a fun learning experience to association members who volunteered to run a breakout for the first time. And do you know what they all have in common? Hint - it's in the first paragraph of this post. It's passion - speakers are there because they deeply believe in what they want to share with the audience. They have something to say and they want to say it.
Passion is essential. It's the fuel for a speaker. And believe it or not, it's what the audience is longing for too. One of the best secrets in public speaking is to realize that your audience is wanting to get inspired, to learn, to be moved. That's why they are there.
Audiences want to embrace your passion completely. Remember that if you're planning to speak at an event. It will make it easier for you when you take the stage. It's a simple formula, speakers want to share their passion and audiences want to embrace it.
But passion alone isn't always enough to engage audiences. Passion sets the stage for a speaker and allows him or her to get in the proper head space to take the stage. But it takes more than that to really engage audiences. Here are three best practices I follow to deliver my passion in a way that engages audiences.
[Watch the video: How Chance Favors The Prepared In Sales]
Three best practices for engaging audiences:
In closing, there is a tremendous amount of satisfaction for both the speaker and the audience when passion is shared and engagement is created.
There’s an easy way to produce great content for your association – ask domain experts to create it for you. [Hint – There are individuals out there that are passionate about what they do and would love to write about it and share it with your membership. And for free.]
If you love this idea, there are a few things to consider to really make this a successful strategy.
Below are the steps we recommend to creating a win-win partnership with a domain expert.
As a real-world example, let me share with you how this works with our company.
Do you solution sell? Here's a quick tutorial to help you solution sell more effectively during the entire sales life cycle. In this Whiteboard Video Karl Becker introduces a simple, proven construct called Trial Balloons - a construct to test the waters and move up the value-creation ladder in any sales conversation.
When you use Trial Balloons you will sell more effectively and create more value.
My grandfather once told me that he started every presentation with a joke. To warm up his audience and break the ice. So here we go...
Four different types of learners.
Four different types of learners who?
Are in your audience who came to be engaged, to learn, and be inspired.
Ok, so you're not rolling on the floor laughing. Probably because it's not really funny. But it is true. Your audience will be filled with all different types of people, and they will all be there for the same reason - to have an experience and to learn.
We all learn differently, so it's critical to develop presentations that engage audiences in the various ways humans learn and interact with information. After all, we want our audiences to be engaged and to feel connected. And every human want to feel understood - especially the presenters!
There are four primary learning style and being aware of each one gives us insight into how to develop presentations that resonate and connect with audiences.
[How To Engage Audiences With Different Learning Styles]
In my presentations, audiences become active participants in learning experiences that create genuine understanding. I combine presentations, worksheets, team interaction, and physical props to create unique, memorable, and high-impact learning experiences.
Let me break this down for you, so that you can use this same framework in your next presentation.
First, I believe that most people learn through a combination of learning styles, not solely from one style alone. This is important because I not only want to address each of the four styles to connect with each audience member, but also to reinforce the subject matter by accessing each individual's multi-modal preferences. This gives every audience member a different way to learn and remember each topic.
Second, I craft every presentation to have subject matter that can be experienced in each of the four different learning styles. Initially this might sound challenging, but this is how to do it.
Third, enjoy yourself as a presenter. Whenever I am presenting, I want to reach my own personal mindset of where I am having fun sharing my content and interacting with my audience. I want to be fully present with myself, my audience, and my content. When I can achieve this state, then I am naturally engaging my audience and achieving my goal of being understood by and connecting with those around me.
What Is Your Client Really Buying From You? How to Create a Winning Value Statement [with Examples & Templates]
You know that a strong value statement is crucial for your company to thrive. It’s that power statement — those magic words — that tell your client that you understand their problem and have the perfect solution at the ready.
Though value statements are often brief, the process of getting to those precise, honed words can be anything but. So, here are some hacks and examples to help you write your own winning value statement.
Questions to answer with your team
Before you put word one down on the page, you want to make sure you have these five questions answered with your team:
1. Who is your client? “Anyone” is never the answer. Try our Ideal Audience worksheet if you’re struggling to define your market.
Example: Full-time long-haul truck drivers
2. What problem are they facing? Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What are they struggling with that your service will help them with?
Example: Truck drivers struggle to find time to eat and sleep while meeting demanding scheduling expectations.
3. What do you offer? Be sure to articulate what you offer from your client’s perspective. So, your app may have the most cutting-edge framework ever and you may be totally geeked out about it, but your clients care most about what your services offer them.
Example: A voice-activated app that optimizes truck drivers’ routes and identifies weigh stations, truck stops, and hotels with driver discounts along the way.
4. What differentiates you? Think of the superlatives that you and your team use to describe your product: is it the first, the fastest, the easiest, the only one of its kind? Focus on why your client should pay attention to your solution over all others like it.
Example: First navigation app built with truck drivers in mind.
5. What are the benefits of your solution? How do you solve your client’s problem? How will their life, work, or situation be different once they adopt your service?
Example: TruckerMap shaves time off your drives, identifies the food you need to fuel your trips, and keeps you well-rested and safe.
Putting it all together [examples + templates]
Now that you have all the elements, you want to put them together in a way that’s attractive, easy to process, and memorable. Here are some hacks for doing just that.
Write one powerful sentence
The most straightforward way to build your value statement is to connect your client and their challenge to your services and benefits in one, clear sentence. In Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers, Geoff Moore suggests using the following template to do just that:
Compare your service to something your client already knows.If you can find a way to compare your service to another well-known product in another industry, you’ve found a shortcut to conveying your value proposition. By relying on your audience’s knowledge of the familiar product, you can quickly say a lot about what you offer.
Focus on who and how you help.Steven Blank’s suggestion for cutting through the noise is to frame your value proposition in a way people will easily understand. He suggests focusing on who and how you can help.
Nail your elevator pitch.Building off of Dave McClure’s How to Pitch a VC presentation, which encourages businesses to focus on short, simple, memorable keywords or phrases, use this simple template to define the elevator-pitch version of your value proposition.
Challenge yourself to be brief.Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write an entire story using no more than six words. Since then, many writers have similarly tried to pack an entire story into as few words as possible. Can you convey the value you provide in six words or less?
Want more templates? Check out our Value Messaging Worksheet.
Looking for more on how to grow faster? Check out 10 Sales Tactics CEAVCO Audio Visual Used to Generate $2 Million in New Revenue.
Ever wonder what your prospect’s real challenges are? Or what they are really looking to solve? What’s on the surface is not always the full story. By creating a 360 degree view of their challenges you can be more competitive and solution sell even more effectively. In this Whiteboard Video we share a framework we teach our clients to get to the real challenges quickly and brainstorm effective solutions as a team.
Want more tools to support your own ideation process? Download the Ideation Worksheet and use it to implement the process with your team.
Many sales leaders looking for ways to reach their revenue goals faster will say something like:
We need a team that closes more sales.
We need more leads in our sales funnel.
We need to convert more leads into customers.
We need to run better ads.
This way of thinking is a trap.
It’s an easy one to fall into. You look at your team, your funnel, or your outreach and see that they aren’t working the way you’d like. You immediately want to fix them.
But, as long as you’re working to solve your sales organization’s systemic problems by focusing on symptoms, your company will remain stuck.
Imagine you’re building a house. Your screwdrivers and nails keep rolling off your work table. You discover your floor is uneven. Now, you can put your tools in a container that stays put on the table. You can prop up your table legs with a book to counterbalance a slant. But, to really fix the problem instead of creating a makeshift solution, you’ll need to repair the very foundation of your house so that the floor is level.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to begin to inspect and repair your foundation.
What value does your company create?
The answer to this question is the foundation of your foundation. You need a clear definition of the value that you provide your customers. You may think that this is a no-brainer, but unless you take a thoughtful, in-depth look at how you define and state your value, your strategy, messaging, and team may not be as aligned as you thought.
Who is your team’s target audience?
Once you have a clear statement on your offerings, next you need to define who you’re offering it to. Without a clear understanding of who you’re selling to, you and your team may be wasting time, energy, and money selling to the wrong folks.
Is your messaging aligned with your value, audience, and offerings?
Without strong messaging that clearly communicates your value, you’re keeping your company’s purpose a secret from your audience. It can be tough work to create succinct, attractive messaging that articulates the value of your offerings. But without that effort, you’re hiding your light under a bushel.
Does your marketing tell your company’s story?
Once you’ve got your messaging down, you need to make sure your marketing conveys that message to your audience. If you don’t, you’re still not accurately and effectively getting your word out there.
Does your sales team fit your company’s needs?
Imagine each member of your sales team sitting next to your ideal client. Do you feel confident in their ability to engage your ideal client? If not, you need to look more deeply into your team members, your team structure, your team’s sales resources, and your training processes.
Do you have a clearly defined sales process?
Now, once you have all of those fundamentals worked out, then, and only then, should you turn to looking directly at how your sales funnel operates. You can get to some of the questions you originally asked – how do we bring in more leads? How do we nurture our leads more effectively?
With a firm foundation, the answer to these questions will be more meaningful and the changes you make to your sales process more enduring. You will also be on your way to creating a more scalable, stable, and predictable sales engine within your company.
Is your sales organization guided by clearly defined and measurable goals?
To know if all of your efforts are working, your goals need to be tied to data you can measure. If you don’t monitor your leads, traffic, and close rate as they relate to your sales and outreach efforts, you will never get a clear picture of what’s working for your organization — and what isn’t.
If you put the time and energy into thoughtfully answering these 7 questions, you won’t just temporarily repair your sales structure — you’ll create an adaptable sales organization that will engage your audience, build crucial relationships, and boost your revenue.
Ready to get started on creating a high-performing sales engine that drives scalable, stable, and predictable revenue growth? Check out our article on defining your value or take the sales engine diagnostic.
Your team seems to be doing everything right. You know what you offer, what value you provide, and how those attributes align. But you just aren’t seeing the lead velocity you want.
Are you running paid search campaigns and finding the leads are a poor fit for your business? Or that your sponsored ads are showing up in the wrong locations? Are your sales teams having meeting with the right people? Maybe they bring you along to the meetings and when you get there you realize the lead will never buy your service. Do you get the feeling when you’re interacting with leads that something isn’t quite right?
These breakdowns may indicate that you haven’t found the perfect product-market fit. Here are some signs you might not be targeting the right audience — and what to do about it.
You’re targeting anyone who walks in the door.
You’re passionate about your offerings. You have no doubt that they could benefit a wide variety of people. Are you harder pressed to think of who you don’t want to contact than who you do? If that’s the case, your target audience might not be targeted enough.
Imagine you’re shopping for a gift for a teenager. Try and picture what you’d get that teenager. Tricky, isn’t it? Without knowing anything about the person except their age — not their gender, their location, their interests, their needs — it’s really difficult to buy an appropriate gift for them.
You might be thinking, Ok, but what about a car? Any teenager wants a car! And since our offerings are so awesome, anyone will want them.
Not so fast. Even if your products or services could benefit anyone, not everyone will really resonate with the value you’re providing or be drawn in enough to listen to your message.
Consider a small electric car and a full-size pickup truck. Neither is better than the other, they are just each aligned to audiences with completely different experiences and lifestyles. So their target audiences are completely different, too: an eco-conscious single mother with a tiny car budget for her teen daughter vs. a father whose teen son will use the truck to help with their family landscaping business.
Plus, if you’re casting too wide of a net, you and your team are wasting a lot of energy sorting through the flotsam and jetsam that you pull in. You may catch a fish or two, but not before discarding the tin can, the lost shoe, the spare bicycle wheel. And, if you do catch that big fish, you won’t know if it was because you were fishing in the right area or if you just got lucky.
On the other hand, if you research where a particular type of fish hangs out, go there and bait specifically for that fish, you can tie your success to your intentional efforts and repeat it in the future.
Raise the bar from “anyone with a bank account” to some really specific criteria that will guide you and your sales team to client gold:
You aren’t finding leads in the places you thought they’d be.
You’ve got your industry, demographics, and psychographics down, and you’re hot on your target audience’s trail. You’ve talked to your sales team, and you’ve heard that the group you’re looking for lives on LinkedIn. So, you do some targeted outreach, even join some professional groups on the platform, and nothing manifests. Sure, you have some good conversations, but deals-wise, you’re still coming up empty.
If your target audience isn’t showing up where you expected, it’s time to do a bit more research.
Your audience isn’t engaged.
But, maybe you’ve done all of that, you’ve found the right people in the right places and you’ve brought them to your door. And maybe they take a peek in, explore your website, read an email or two, and then wander away.
If you’ve found your ideal clients and they’re nibbling but swimming away, what you’re offering might not be attractive enough to hook them. In this case, you may want to take a look at your messaging.
So, there you have it — 3 key ways to tell if you don’t quite have a handle on your target audience. Looking for more on finding that perfect product-market fit? Check out our video on target audience and this target audience worksheet you can discuss with your team.
“If you build it, they will come” is only true in sales if you know exactly who you want to come your way. If you assume that creating a great product or service model and “getting it out there” is enough, you may find yourself struggling to create reliable growth.
By narrowing in on who you can best serve, your sales organization can avoid wasting resources on poor product-market fit. And by clearly defining your target, your team can readily align on messaging, sales tactics, and goals. Here’s how to define your ideal client.
Revisit your value proposition.
When you’re looking for a romantic partner, you focus just as much, if not more, on what you have to offer as what a potential date might bring to the table. The same is true of identifying your ideal client.
To thrive, your understanding of who you’re selling to needs to be rooted in what you’re selling. And what you’re selling is not your product, not your services, but the value you provide. When considering your ideal client, your value proposition must align with their needs.
For example, take a look at the following value proposition: “We help companies create corporate event experiences that expand team knowledge, boost sales, and increase revenue.”
If you were the leader of this organization, your ideal client would be companies whose events are dedicated not just to increasing sales but also to learning. Companies needing an event planner for their corporate gala wouldn’t be an ideal fit. But companies looking to establish an annual sales conference would be right up your alley.
Study your current clients.
If you’re stumped as to how to articulate your ideal client, take a look at the customers you’ve already built strong relationships with. Explore both who they are and what works about your partnership:
Answering these questions about your current client base and searching for patterns will help you create a clear picture of your ideal client.
Identify your top industry sectors.
It’s tempting to cast a broad net, especially when you’re looking to get your business off the ground. After all, the more customers the better, right?
Not really. Your ideal client is one that your organization has a good grasp of. And no matter how skilled your team is, their capacity to really understand the inner workings of other industries is limited. Partnering with customers from any industry that comes your way will likely lead to a shallow picture of client need, scattered team energy, and stagnant sales.
To create repeatable, sustained growth, you want to narrow in on and study your best-fit industries.
There’s a big difference between your ideal client and your idealized client. Just as it’s hard to give up on romantic pipe dreams, it can be difficult to adjust your expectations about who your best client is. You may think that your services are tailor-made for Fortune 500 apparel companies and discover, with time, research, and trial and error, that your golden ticket is really mid-sized food manufacturing businesses.
You want to make sure you are pursuing the audience that is the best fit for what you offer, not who you think should be the best fit.
When defining your ideal customer, take a good look at what partnerships have been fruitful for you and what pursuits have cost a lot of time and effort — without solid results.
Do market research.
While looking at your internal data and past experiences is an excellent way to understand what’s working and what’s not, market research can help you uncover paths you might not have thought to explore. What’s more, market research can be especially effective in telling the difference between a pipe dream and a dream client.
Focus groups and external surveys can help you determine if your hypotheses about your target market bear out. You can also do research to understand how big a specific market is to better understand your ideal fit. Do this for each target audience you want to pursue to help validate or reassure a target audience strategy.
Create a persona.
Now that you have a strong idea of the value you create, who you’ve sold successfully to in the past, and what industries you’re targeting, you’re ready to delve into the process of creating a persona.
A persona is a semi-fictionalized representation of your ideal customer. It’s grounded in market research, current customer information, and industry knowledge. You want to include detailed information in this representation, including:
Here’s an example of a persona of an ideal client for a B2B communication SaaS company who sells to the staffing and recruiting industry:
Persona: Steve the Staffing Executive
Job title: CEO or President of a staffing and recruiting company
Goals: Gain more new clients, go deeper with current clients, increase recruiter productivity, and improve candidate response rates, be seen more and more as a resource to current and new clients
Challenges: Standing out from competition in a highly competitive industry. Getting candidates to respond, retaining core staff, and attracting top talent
Sources of Industry information: Staffing Industry Analysts, StaffingHub, Inc, Forbes
Story: Steve has been in staffing and recruiting for 10+ years. He manages a large team of recruiters and works hard to adapt in a constantly changing and increasingly competitive industry. He has a core fan base of loyal candidates, and while the reputation of his company gets him far, the market for talented candidates is tight. He needs to break through the noise, as a talented candidate will receive 10+ email and voicemail messages each day. He wants a reliable, unique solution for getting candidate attention that will please his recruiters and speed sales.
Once you have this level of understanding of your ideal client, you can hone your marketing efforts, refine your value messaging, and ensure your sales team is aligned on who you’re selling to.
Defining your ideal customer may seem like a daunting task but it’s well worth the effort. By aligning your team on who you want to provide solutions for, all of your sales team’s activity — from generating leads to closing deals — will be more targeted, efficient, and fruitful.
Looking for more on defining your audience? Check out our target audience worksheet and video.
Your value proposition is your company’s North Star: it guides you in every client-focused aspect of your business and provides direction in times of confusion. That’s a lot of weight for a few sentences.
Your value proposition is important because it embodies what you provide your clients. Look at any successful company: every one of them clearly articulates the value they offer. For example, Slack’s value proposition is “making working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive — for everyone.” Digit’s is “save money, without thinking about it.”
This strategic message helps your clients find you and helps your team rally behind what you do. Without one? The internal and external confusion that commonly results in lost sales.
Here are a few reasons why you might be avoiding writing a value proposition — and tips for working through those blocks.
You’re only focused on leads.
Creating your value proposition may seem like a time-waster compared to the everyday quest of attracting clients, but it definitely isn’t. Operating without one can create the kind of inconsistent experience that may hurt your brand — and your growth.
If you are unclear on the value you provide, you’re likely unclear on who you provide it to and how you create it. Without an understanding of these foundations — value, audience, and offerings — your team is selling blind. You may be successful in the short-term in generating some sales, but you’ll be closing fewer deals than you could with alignment. Without clarity around these fundamentals, growth often plateaus.
Everyday operations and closing deals today are both crucial to keeping the lights on. But if you want those lights to be on five or ten years down the road, make time for deep, strategic thinking today.
Your leadership team isn’t aligned.
Does your leadership team see eye to eye about what you offer? Without this alignment, it’s difficult for leaders to guide organizations effectively. This lack of clarity can impact not only your team but how clients perceive you.
It’s easy to believe that you and your partners are aligned even if you are not. You have an intimate understanding of your product, right? You’re experts! However, your value proposition is the articulation not of what you sell but of the need that your products or services fulfill.
So, for example, you may be aligned on the fact that you are selling event services to small- to mid-sized businesses. But your partner may see your primary value as “saving busy executives time and money by taking responsibilities off their plates” while you see your primary value as “bringing clients the new ideas that really engage audiences.” Neither answer is right or wrong, but misalignment can lead to inconsistent messaging and ultimately miscommunicating your real value. Both saving resources and creating engaging experiences are great value propositions for event services businesses. But only one should be your primary focus, the goldstar message that you communicate to your team and to your customers.
Take the time to really articulate — together — what you think the purpose of your company is in the eyes of your clients. If you find disagreement or differences of opinion within leadership, these are often opportunities for growth.
You’re afraid of getting it wrong.
Nothing stifles curiosity and creativity quite like perfectionism. If you and your partners find yourselves continually revisiting and redrafting your value proposition but never finalizing it, you may be paralyzed by fear of getting it wrong.
There’s no doubt that the value proposition is important. But overemphasizing how crucial it is to the point that you are operating without one is counterproductive. Your value proposition will grow and change with your company over time and with the changing needs of your client base.
Don’t languish without one. After some hard work, client research, and open conversation, give one of your best drafts of your value proposition a try.
You need to embrace growth and change.
It’s even more important to sync with your team as your company grows. If you resist writing your value proposition, or reworking one that’s outdated, you need to take a good hard look at what’s changing and how you’re handling it.
Perhaps the real value of your offerings has incrementally changed with your audience. It’s easy to overlook this kind of gradual change — until you find your value proposition sounding increasingly stale or inaccurate.
Periodically reevaluate what you’re providing your clients — and why. Take regular client polls that help you understand what challenges you help them meet. Check in with your sales team — not just on their numbers, but on questions and thoughts from leads and clients.
Look for patterns and create messaging that reflects your current solutions and where you are headed in the future. This will not only help keep your value proposition on-point but will help you stay on the pulse of your clients.
Not writing a value proposition plagues companies for some of the reasons outlined above. But every company needs one, including yours. It guides your sales efforts, helps express what you do for potential clients, and leads your company in the right direction.
Do you need help developing your company’s value messaging? Explore this worksheet and video with your team.
To use your resources wisely and build a high-performing sales organization, you need a clear picture of your ideal client.
Check out the video above as Karl Becker from The Carruthers Group describes how to define and narrow in on your target audience.
Good advice isn’t designed to make you feel better. It’s designed to make you better, says author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker Seth Godin. If you’re reading this, it means you want to learn how to make your own sales team better.
Maybe you want to see your team embrace a stronger sense of camaraderie. Or perhaps you want your salespeople to set realistic goals quarter after quarter — and reach them. Sometimes you may need to address negative behavior head on.
Most managers and CEOs don’t enjoy giving feedback. But when you ground feedback in strategic understanding, root it in constructive honesty, and use it to promote individual and collective growth, feedback creates a profound moment of vulnerability between you and your team. This can be a catalyst to elevate your team from good to great.
Here’s how to do it.
Focus on your organization first.
Giving feedback to individual employees without first taking deep stock of organizational health is like having your doctor only examine your liver during your annual check-up. You’ll get a really great picture into one small aspect of your health. But that information will be partial at best and deadly at worst without a clear understanding of the bigger picture.
In the same way, all of the following advice will fall flat — or worse, give a false sense of progress — if your feedback strategy isn’t grounded in a deep understanding of your organizational strengths and challenges.
Tailor feedback to the individual.
Feedback isn’t one-size-fits-all. One employee may need you to include a lot of actionable ways they can improve while another may work better if you let them work out solutions on their own. Some may prefer a lot of praise and recognition before any feedback while others may need problem-solving conversations to be as to-the-point as possible.
Before you start revamping your feedback strategy, explore what kind of feedback is best for each team member. Consider implementing personality or strengths assessments. Pay attention to what feedback strategies yield the best results for each of your employees. And, as you read the rest of this article, reflect on how each of the suggestions may be implemented differently to best serve each of your team members.
Lead with questions.
Think about the different meanings of feedback. When there’s something wrong with the way a sound system is set up, everyone within earshot may hear the telltale whine of feedback. And often, it takes someone with a view of the entire system to locate the reason for the offending noise.
In the same way, your employees will likely know something needs to be improved. They can hear the urgent sound, like an alarm, telling them that things aren’t operating smoothly. But, they need your system-wide view to help them locate the problem and fix it. And just as a sound engineer may need to examine an individual amp or microphone, you need to ask an employee the right questions to fix the problem.
When you begin a feedback session, start with curiosity. Find out your sales team’s or salesperson’s thoughts, then explore the overlap between their challenges and the feedback you’re providing.
Be honest, but not too honest.
When a leader isn’t honest with their team, it’s also pretty obvious. It may manifest as passive aggressive comments that avoid naming necessary changes. Or, a leader may scapegoat all problems on an individual instead of looking at ways to make systemic change.
It’s important to be honest with your team — it shows vulnerability and breeds trust. But being honest doesn’t mean being harsh or shutting down conversations. You want your team to grow, and judgment and negativity won’t get them there.
Out of anger, you may feel like telling Dan, a new sales team member, that he ruined a potential client relationship for good by not being prepared for his presentation. Even if it’s true, that feedback won’t inspire him to make changes. Most likely, it will make him feel unproductive.
Instead, shape your feedback using the previous items on this least. Consider if there are any organizational issues that may have made it difficult for Dan to do his best. Explore what kind of feedback will be most meaningful to Dan. And ask him for his thoughts and rationale on the presentation and see how you can become better aligned in the future.
Focus on forgiveness.
Even though you know intellectually that erring is human, when the health of your business is on the line, it’s hard not to expect perfection. Holding a grudge because of a mistake a team member makes, though, can breed a negativity that infects the team. Not truly forgiving an employee leaves them vulnerable to future punishment — something that doesn’t inspire a team to improve — to get that much closer to perfect.
Instead of dwelling on mistakes, you get the divine role of forgiving. Make it part of the feedback process. Kim Cameron, from the University of Michigan, notes that a culture of forgiveness in organizations leads to increased employee productivity and less voluntary turnover — and a company culture that breeds trust.
When a team leader doesn’t look at how they can improve themselves, it makes it difficult for team members to follow suit. If you aren’t honest about your own performance, it causes blind spots that don’t allow you to lead your team effectively. And when those blind spots are around leadership and the behavior you model for your team, the problems you’re hiding from can spread quickly.
So as you’re doling out feedback, don’t forget about yourself. Ultimately, it’s your job to drive company growth, and asking for feedback yourself makes you a more effective leader.
In the Dan example, you could end with a question: “Do you have any feedback for me as a leader? Is there anything I can do to help you be more prepared in the future?”
Make it a habit to ask your sales team for advice on how you can be a better leader for them. Listen to their ideas and take action on them. When your sales team sees you consistently improving and making an effort to grow with them, it sets a foundation for a team that trusts one another.
If you want your team to grow, start with giving individualized feedback. While it’s not always enjoyable to deal with a team that isn’t performing, addressing what needs to change is the first step in creating the success you want to see.
How do you create the most effective feedback for your team? Let us know in the comments below.
Trust is one of the most important attributes of any high-performing team. Just ask Jeremy Bloom, a former Olympian and pro football player who is now a tech CEO. He wrote in Entrepreneur: “I’ve been on losing teams and high-performing ones both in the NFL and in the business world, and the common thread of success is trust.”
Trust isn’t quantifiable, and cultivating it takes some work. But many strategies exist to help you create a welcoming company culture and build trust within your sales team. Here are 5 strategies you can implement starting now.
Foster real connections
Teams that trust each other accomplish great things. Think about any Super Bowl champions. Not only do they work together every day, but also they spend time with each other’s families, eat dinner together, and celebrate wins (and losses) together. Many remain friends for years, even as they move onto different teams.
Your team is no different. The stronger the relationships between your team, the stronger the trust — and the stronger your company.
Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last reinforces this message: “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.”
Make it a priority to gather your team for meaningful interactions outside of meetings. Donate to their kids fundraisers, sponsor in an employee in a cause they believe in, or give them a bottle of wine to celebrate their parents’ birthday. These show commitment to both the individual and the team to build authentic trust.
Nix the judgment
Just as real connections lift a team up, judgment tears it down. This kind of negativity seeps into any team if it’s not addressed.
Rich Karlgaard, author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, says that mocking irony, snark, and cynicism can be compelling, but they’re toxic to your company’s culture.
Don’t let criticism get the best of your team. Instead, address any negative behavior over time. One-on-one meetings work well for individuals. Then, hold team-wide meetings if necessary to solidify the message.
Model the behavior you want to see in your team. Your actions and words serve as a blueprint for your team’s behavior, so model the behavior you want to see in them. By walking the walk, you’ll create lasting patterns and cement positive team culture.
Create a safe space within your meetings
If members of your team are afraid to open up or feel they can never perform at high levels, it inhibits them. They may clam up at meetings or become your echo, rotely agreeing with all of your input. If you really want to know what your team thinks, you need to create a safe space for them to tell you the truth.
Creating a supportive environment is tricky to do. Individual team members’ egos, pressure to hit numbers, and interpersonal differences are formidable opponents. Building a strong foundation of trust and transparency takes time and hard work.
There’s no magic bullet to make teams feel secure enough in their positions to share what drives them and what stands in their way. But a good way to start is to model the behavior you want to see in your team. By being accountable to your team and honest about your own missteps, you can inspire the transparency and vulnerability that’s integral to a team that trusts each other.
Encourage positive, strategic feedback
Too often, feedback is seen as sharing employee pitfalls. This negative perspective can make employees avoid seeking input on their performance, hide perceived failures, and miss their goals.
You can be honest without bringing your team down. Frame missteps, errors, and losses in a positive light, as opportunities for learning. This encourages deeper trust and allows your team to grow and evolve.
Further, to break the association between feedback and finger pointing, tie feedback to larger strategic goals. This also strengthens a sense of team responsibility and contextualizes individual challenges within the organization’s greater mission.
Let transparency lead the way
If sharing positive feedback or creating a safe space doesn’t come easily for your sales team, it may be because you aren’t modeling true transparency.
Lack of clarity about foundational aspects of your organization — from your vision to what value you provide your customers — can thwart attempts to lead with transparency. You can share your thoughts, personal insights, and experiences openly, but if your team isn’t aligned on company culture and sales culture, these attempts are going to fall short.
Ground any efforts for greater transparency in total alignment on your organizational building blocks. Only then can you achieve the openness that naturally creates trust — and a path towards a healthy, aligned company culture running towards the same goal.
Adopting the strategies above will help you create a culture that encourages trust. By developing real connections, creating safe spaces, and developing alignment and transparency, you and your team can reach your goals.
How do you build trust within your team? Leave comments below.
One of the most powerful ways to gain clarity into your strengths and to grow faster is to define how you create value for your clients.
Check out the video above as Karl Becker from The Carruthers Group describes the importance of aligning your sales organization around your defined value.
How would your sales team talk to a prospect about your brand? Would they all use the same words to describe it? When they dig into who you are and what you do, do they share a common language?
Check out the video above as Karl Becker from The Carruthers Group describes a simple but powerful exercise to find out if your sales team aligns on your brand value.
Karl Becker is an authority on sales & marketing for the SMB. He is the architect of The Revenue Equation Framework – a construct for developing and optimizing high performing sales & marketing organizations.