About Barbara Spector: Barbara Spector is the Founder of Smart Moves where she is an expert in sales force retention and development. She has a degree from Boston University, has been a guest lecturer at Syracuse University and is certified in over a dozen assessment methodologies. She specializes in and speaks on helping the C-Suite make effective hiring decisions to accelerate their revenue. As a member of SHRM, ATD, AA-ISP, NAED, NAPW and the National Speakers Association, she has worked with companies such as Corning, Merrill Lynch, US Bank, Citizens Bank, Woodruff Sawyer Insurance, Samsung, NEC, Raytheon, HCA & Sun Microsystems. With over 20 years of sales success, she has been a multi-million-dollar producer in her own right and recently named the Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Barbara.
In this episode, Nancy and Barbara discuss the following:
- Challenges faced by sales leaders today.
- The impact of mindset on sales team performance.
- How to instill a growth mindset in sales leaders.
- Metrics used to measure the success of transformation initiatives.
- Barbara’s approach to sales training and coaching.
- Traits defining high-performing sales teams.
- Barbara’s perspective on the effectiveness of cold calling.
- Rome was not built in the day, and people don’t change behavior quickly.
- It starts with the level of commitment that this is going to be something that everyone must get involved in.
- The reason that people say cold calling doesn’t work, is because they haven’t fixed what’s going on between their ears.
- Many individuals have a need to be liked and loved.
“You know that expression, there’s sort of an expression, the longer things go, the more things don’t change. So what I mean by not changing is that the majority of sales forces that are out there are really very mediocre and a large reason why they’re mediocre is because a lot of the sales managers and sales leaders were put in those roles out of being salespeople and they never quite made the psychological jump from being an individual contributor to being a somebody who has to produce results through people. So, they’re so they are still functioning with it with their own sales mindset and then expecting their salespeople to do something differently. So, one of the biggest issues that I see is if we’re going to help salespeople, we’ve got to first work with sales leaders and sales managers to kind of get their heads screwed on right in the first place.” – BARBARA.
“So, if the person at the top accepts the excuses of the next person down on the run, that gives permission, so to speak, of that individual to accept the excuses of the people below him or her. So, we’re seeing that a lot gets lost that could be taken care of because when we make excuses, we’re losing control because we’re pointing the finger sort of out there like they, it wasn’t for the competition, if it wasn’t for the economy, if it wasn’t for the fact that, you know, that they were comparison shopping, whatever it might be. We need to be able to point our thumb at ourselves and say “I forgot to do something. I didn’t, I wasn’t as effective as I could have been”. And for managers, they need to be able to hear that and then respectfully confront the salespeople that they’re managing so that the excuse making stops.” – BARBARA.
“Because we all know people buy, everything we do in sales has an emotional content to it. Whether we’re selling or buying, it’s all emotional, but we rationalize logically. So, if we can get people in sales to emotionally be connected to the amount of money that they’re asked to make or that they want to make, makes a huge difference.” – BARBARA.
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Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it’s time again for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Barbara Spector, founder of Smart Moves, where she is an expert in Salesforce retention and development. Her success lies in providing critical and insightful information that enables business owners and executives to make better decisions regarding all their people issues. With over 20 years of sales success, Barbara has been a multimillion-dollar producer in her own right and recently named the woman of the year by the National Association of Professional Women. Barbara believes that if you master your mindset, you will multiply your sales and you know, so do I. This is going to be a great conversation. Welcome to the show, Barbara.
Barbara Spector: Thanks, Nancy. I’m so appreciative of being here. [1:17]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, well first, congratulations on your award. So, what did you do to win it?
Barbara Spector: I just have a reputation out there in the universe, I guess, is probably the best way to say it. And I work with a lot of women entrepreneurs, and I just was blown away that I was voted and got that award. It’s nice.
Nancy Calabrese: Wow. Well, all the best. All right, so let’s start. In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges facing sales leaders today? And how do you help them overcome these challenges to drive growth?
Barbara Spector: It’s a big question to answer, so I’m glad you asked it. The longer I do the kind of work that I’m doing, the more I see that nothing changes. You know that expression, there’s sort of an expression, the longer things go, the more things don’t change. So what I mean by not changing is that the majority of sales forces that are out there are really very mediocre and a large reason why they’re mediocre is because a lot of the sales managers and sales leaders were put in those roles out of being salespeople and they never quite made the psychological jump from being an individual contributor to being a somebody who has to produce results through people. So, they’re so they are still functioning with it with their own sales mindset and then expecting their salespeople to do something differently. So, one of the biggest issues that I see is if we’re going to help salespeople, we’ve got to first work with sales leaders and sales managers to kind of get their heads screwed on right in the first place. I can give you examples if you’d like. [3:06]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Yeah, sure.
Barbara Spector: Well, for instance, one of the biggest, I’m going to call it a weakness or a failing or a gap that sales leaders have is they make excuses when they need to report to a CEO or to, if they’re a manager, when they must report to a sales VP or a director. They don’t even know that they’re making the excuses, but the excuses get accepted, whatever they might be. It’s like, oh, the reason we didn’t reach our numbers this quarter was because of blah, whatever it might be, right? So, if the person at the top accepts the excuses of the next person down on the run, that gives permission, so to speak, of that individual to accept the excuses of the people below him or her. So, we’re seeing that a lot gets lost that could be taken care of because when we make excuses, we’re losing control because we’re pointing the finger sort of out there like they, it wasn’t for the competition, if it wasn’t for the economy, if it wasn’t for the fact that, you know, that they were comparison shopping, whatever it might be. We need to be able to point our thumb at ourselves and say, you know, I forgot to do something. I didn’t, I wasn’t as effective as I could have been. And for managers, they need to be able to hear that and then respectfully confront the salespeople that they’re managing so that the excuse making stops. It’s a big deal. [4:43]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Wow. I mean, how do you help sales leaders develop a growth mindset, and by the way, overcome the excuses, what are some of the key strategies you use?
Barbara Spector: Very good question. So, we do take a deep dive and do a diagnostic into a number of things, what the skill sets are of each member of a team, what their mindsets are like in terms of very specific things. I can give you some examples of that in a minute. And so, if we can understand almost scientifically, when certainly objectively, what’s really going on in that organization that’s causing things to be not as strong as they would like it to be, whether it’s the revenue, whether it’s the number of deals in the pipeline, could be any number of things. Most companies look at the superficial, what’s the word I’m looking for, symptoms. They don’t look at the root cause of the problem. So, what I do in our organization is we help folks get to the root problem rather than deal with just the symptoms. And invariably that shortens the amount of time it takes for them to solve the problem because they’re really dealing with the true issue. [6:01]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, talk about your approach to sales training and coaching. Share with us, you know, how it contributes to improve performance and growth.
Barbara Spector: Okay. Well, when we do this sort of work, it’s not a one and done. It’s not a weekend sales training, because, you know, as the old expression goes, Rome was not built in the day, and people don’t change behavior quickly. So, when we get involved in training an organization, it’s a six-month long process. And it’s, yeah, and it’s because it takes that long for people to literally make some and how they’re performing. So, if we can work with them on two fronts, mindset and then skillset, over a course of six months, we can see dramatic change. [6:55]
Nancy Calabrese: Huh, and what happens after the six months?
Barbara Spector: Well, sometimes some of those companies will go on and continue to work with us from the standpoint of coaching. We coach either individuals or a whole team of people. And really the bottom line, Nancy, is we’re seeing a minimum of a 17% increase in top line revenue growth. So yeah. [7:18]
Nancy Calabrese: Really? Well, I’m such a big believer in sales training. I mean, I’ve been involved in it for over a decade plus, and I can’t get enough of it. Even, you know, I walk away from every training meeting with a new nugget, right? Or it’s a reminder, oh, yeah, stop doing that. I’ve got to do that again. Yeah, it’s invaluable, I believe.
Barbara Spector: Exactly.
Nancy Calabrese: How do you measure the success of your transformation initiatives and what metrics do you typically use?
Barbara Spector: Well, we begin with the baseline. So, we look at where everyone on the team lives, so to speak, in terms of how much revenue they’ve brought in over the course of the last 12 months, whatever that 12-month period is. Then we project out, if they did the things that we would suggest from the standpoint of training and coaching, what the increase in that revenue would be. And it’s usually exponential. Not everybody on the team will come to post, so to speak. But that’s the biggest metric that we use. The other one is, what’s the pipeline looking like? Does it have real quality deals in there? Or is it still sort of just, you know, fluff? [8:39]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Yep. Yeah. Well, you know, I mean, how have you been able to consistently help organizations achieve this double-digit sales growth? You know, what are some of the key elements of your proven system that helps them overcome these challenges to drive growth?
Barbara Spector: Well, that’s a great question. It all starts with at the top, and it starts with the level of commitment that this is going to be something that everyone must get involved in. That’s critical, that’s critical. And then we keep driving that commitment level and holding people accountable throughout the six months. We’re not task masters, but they must get certain things done that are very practical tasks or activities that come out of the sales training and the learning that they received on every two-week basis over the course of six months. And when they don’t get the work done, I’m very tactfully insistent, so to speak, because I’m going to ask them what they learned, what are they going to do differently if it didn’t work out, and how are you going to do it once they decide, and they say here’s what I’m going to do differently. [9:56]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Barbara Spector: So, we’re playing in a very adult world here and moving people from mediocrity, hopefully, to superior performers. Hope I’m answering your question.
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, yeah. Is there a story you could share, you know, of a client that you worked with who was struggling with sales and how you were able to turn their situation around?
Barbara Spector: Yeah, I have a great one. One of my clients up in Canada, who was the executive VP of the largest privately held company in Canada, they’re a manufacturer of windows and doors. And the company hadn’t grown in terms of revenue or accounts for five years. They were still marketing to the same list of accounts for the past five years before we got involved with them. There were several things that they saw out of the diagnostics that we did that were the source of the problem. And I’m just going to talk about one of them right now because it was so dramatic from what was occurring initially to what ultimately happened. These guys didn’t know how to differentiate themselves from their competition. So that’s just one of many things. And what they ended up doing, what we did together is we brought everybody in from literally from the janitor all the way up to the CEO and sat them down in a room and had them write out a list of all the things that they had that were the same as everybody else, you know, the lack of differentiation. That was all well and good. But then what was important was for us to somehow create a list of what could they do differently. [11:37]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay.
Barbara Spector: And here’s what they came up with once we cleared their heads out of all the things, you know, all the typical things that people say, oh, we’re a family-owned business. Do you think your prospects care? No. And there was a laundry list of all the things that they thought made them different, but they actually didn’t make them any different at all. So, we had to sit down and go, what’s going to really make this, make a true difference? Well, as you well know, Canada is very, very cold in the wintertime. And this company worked with large developers of subdivisions, and they were a window and door manufacturer. And what was happening previously is, you know, piecemeal, they would deliver a set of doors and windows and then another two weeks later, another set and so on and so forth. And they said to themselves, well, why don’t we deliver all the windows and all the doors for the entire subdivision in one fell swoop which means that the manufacturing arm had to really ramp up and get going, but everyone got behind it. And they did, they delivered all the windows and doors to two different subdivisions. And it was such a differentiation that nobody else was doing. And so, what was happening for this company prior to that is they were always fighting on price with their potential buyers, with the general manager of a of a subdivision. As soon as they did that, the price issue went away, and they increased their revenue within 12 months just for that one division by $20 million. [13:13]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Wow, wow. Why would they have like sporadically have delivered versus just delivering them all in one fell swoop? Oh.
Barbara Spector: Oh, that’s a super question because that’s what people, because it was comfortable. It was what everybody did. You know, it was the standard approach. And, if this put a lot, by doing it all at once, it put a tremendous amount of pressure on the manufacturing arm, where they had to do all the building of the windows and the doors, but everybody got behind it because they had strong enough leadership. We backed the leadership, and it made it just a tremendous difference. [13:55]
Nancy Calabrese: Awesome, great story. What are some of the key traits and characteristics of high performing sales teams and how do you help develop them within the companies that you service?
Barbara Spector: Do we have a couple of days to talk about that? Just ask me the question again. What are the qualities of high performing teams and how do you do what, please?
Nancy Calabrese: No, unfortunately. How do you help to develop these within the organization?
Barbara Spector: Okay, good question. All right, so there’s a couple of things that are crucial. I’ve been doing sales training for a long, long time. And even though the industries might be different, and the type of sales might be different, one of the two things that stand out as essential is the salesperson must have a burning desire to be successful in sales. You could call it grit. But the big kahuna really is they’ve got to be committed to doing whatever it takes to be successful, as long as it’s legal and ethical, of course. So that means that they don’t quit. When they’re supposed to make 25 calls in a day, they don’t quit at 20 calls just because they’re tired or because it’s five o’clock. So, when people are super committed and really driven to succeed, guess what happens? They do. So, to get people committed and successful at sales, one of the things that we get them involved in is developing personal goals. To motivate people to succeed, just having a paycheck dangling out there like a carrot on a stick that was going to yield a certain amount, doesn’t always do the trick. What they need to do sometimes to reach their goals is they have to have what I’m calling personal goals. So, for example, let’s imagine somebody needs to earn for themselves, and I don’t know what the number might be for a particular company because every product is different, but they need to generate, or they have an opportunity to generate $200,000 in revenue to themselves. So, they’ve got corporate goals, but how do they create a personal goal? Well, maybe this family has just had another child. [16:20]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay.
Barbara Spector: They’ve been living in a two-bedroom house. They need to get a bigger home. So, the personal goal becomes that larger home, which then drives the motivation of the salesperson to make more money because they need a bigger home. Because we all know people buy, everything we do in sales has an emotional content to it. Whether we’re selling or buying, it’s all emotional, but we rationalize logically. So, if we can get people in sales to emotionally be connected to the amount of money that they’re asked to make or that they want to make, makes a huge difference. [17:00]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. Well, tell me something that you believe in strongly that others may not agree with you on.
Barbara Spector: Who might the others be that wouldn’t agree with me? Just give me a clue.
Nancy Calabrese: Sure. Well, like, you know, for my business, I know cold calling works. Most people say it doesn’t work. Um, something that is true that other people may not agree with you on, you know, maybe the need for sales training, for instance, um, many senior level salespeople don’t believe they need training. I believe everyone needs training.
Barbara Spector: Yeah, I agree with you. And it’s interesting, because I was going to talk about this notion you brought up, which is cold calling. And I’m going to go off on it if it’s OK with you. OK. So, the thing that doesn’t get considered, and the reason that people say cold calling doesn’t work, is because they haven’t fixed what’s going on between their ears. A lot of individuals have a need to be liked and loved. [18:10]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, sure.
Barbara Spector: And when somebody says no to them, they take it personally. Rather than having the, I’m going to use the word bravery, the bravery to say that’s not, to themselves, that’s not it. I am going to, I am here to serve this person. I have something that I’m pretty sure they need that will get them out of their misery, will solve their pain point. And I can’t be worrying about whether I’m going to be liked or not. [18:40]
Nancy Calabrese: Yep. Right.
Barbara Spector: I must get my own mind situated so that picking up the phone is a service to people rather than me thinking of it on a personal level as a drudgery.
Nancy Calabrese: Yep. You know, for me, this is the ongoing mystery. I just don’t get it. Many people are just uncomfortable talking to strangers. That’s number one. They say it doesn’t work. It’s because it’s not done consistently enough, or maybe they don’t have the right script, you know, when they wing it. Yeah, yeah. And as you said, we call it head trash. It’s all trash in the head. [19:18]
Barbara Spector: Exactly. Exactly.
Nancy Calabrese: Finally, we’re almost up in time. What advice do you have for sales leaders who are looking to transform their teams and drive growth in the future?
Barbara Spector: Well, there’s two things. I think that they need to stop trying to figure it out on their own. I think that they must stop doing things like looking at what needs to be fixed only through observation and subjectivity. There are tools out there that can literally help them empirically and almost scientifically identify what needs to be changed and then great training programs to enable those changes to take place. [20:03]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, wow. Barbara, you’re great. I’m so glad that you joined us on the show. How can my people find you?
Barbara Spector: Okay, good question. Two things. If they’d like to explore further, you know, what’s going on in their organization, how we might be able to help, they can literally go to http://vipchatwithbarb.com/
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, well, folks, you heard it right from the expert. Pick up the phone or go to vipchatwithbarb.com. Do that. Reach out. Oh yeah, dot com. And all of you out there, I think we have an obligation to ourselves and our organizations to really look at training as a vital component for continued success. So, Barbara, I hope that you’ll come back on the show and continue to share some of your insights in the future. And everyone else, I want you to make it a sales day that you haven’t had in a long time, and we’ll see you next time.
Barbara Spector: Thanks, Nancy, so much. It was a pleasure to be with you.
Nancy Calabrese: Uh, ditto, ditto. [21:33]