Dan Pink

Best Personality Type for Sales


Hire an ‘Ambivert’ or Learn to Become One

Are you in sales?  Yes, you are. Think about it, your title may not say so, but essentially you make a living selling. You may label it To sell is humaninfluencing, persuasion, cajoling, convincing, trading or exchanging—but if you use the general definition of selling: “to hand over something in exchange for money or to persuade someone of the merits of” then hopefully you’ll agree with Dan Pink, author of To Sell is Human (Riverhead Books, 2013) that we’re all in sales.

A seller’s market

In general, sales people have had a traditionally negative stereotype. The typical car salesman comes top of mind. People have associated sales roles with adjectives like pushy, sleazy, and manipulative—you get the point.

Historically, sales people could afford to take on an aggressive stance because it was a seller’s market, where the salesperson had exclusive information. In this context, the customer needed to interact with this gatekeeper. In this traditional model, extroverts— outgoing, gregarious and talkative—were hired and promoted in the sales ranks.

A buyer’s market

Pink details in his book how the sales playing field has been changed and the customer now has the advantage. Much of development has come with the advances of technology, access to information, increased global competition and consumerism.  Today, if a customer knows what they want, they can access most, if not all of the information without involving a sales person.

As the selling dynamics have shifted from seller to buyer, Pink identifies 3 key qualities a sales person must posses in the today’s environment:

1.  Attunement: fully understanding your target’s perspective as the prelude to help them

2.  Buoyancy—resilience through multiple cycles of rejections

3.  Clarity—expertise to make sense of complex situations and providing insights for problem finding

These qualities are not found in the traditionally extroverted salesperson.

The Rise of the Ambivert

A study conducted by Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Management developed and deployed a personality scale from 1-7.  The scores from 1-2 were considered introverts and scores from  6-7 were considered extroverts. In the middle, scores from 3 to 5 were considered ambiverts—a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.

Additionally, the study mapped personality scores to sales productivity. Quantitatively, introverts produced $120/hour, extroverts $125/hour and ambiverts $155/hour.  Surprisingly, the ambivert group that scored the highest productivity of $208/hour scored a 4 in the personality scale, right in the middle of the ambivert range.

Unlike the extremes in the scales, ambiverts know when to talk and when to listen;  when to support and when to push. They are able to manage more selling situations, customers from broader spectrums of personality and leverage both skill sets of the personality spectrum for the benefit of the sale. In short, Pink and the research conclude that ambiverts are the best personality type to sell in today’s environment.

Conclusion

The book and the accompanying study demystify the stereotype that extroverts make the best sales people. To find out where you fall on the scale, take the brief indicator at http://www.danpink.com/assessment/. The good news is that we can all work on balancing our skills and becoming better ambiverts. If you’re looking for a pragmatic how-to book to balance your personality skills, I would recommend this book, it’s a how-to manual packed with exercises in every chapter.

Published in PM360

7 Tips for Moderating a Panel

Seven Tips for Moderating an Audience-centered Panel


Have you ever attended a terribly moderated panel? Unfortunately I have, several times. Panels can be a great way to get diverse points of view on important topics from thought leaders. Yet, while the medium is widely accepted and often used, in my humble opinion it is not done well the majority of the time.

Last month, I was asked to moderate a panel on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Convention in Chicago. After the initial excitement wore off, I began to reflect on the bad panels I’ve participated in over the years. Determined to make a difference, I interviewed several colleagues and researched literature on how to moderate panels; however, the marketer in me urged me to keep my audience in mind as I was preparing.

After I distilled my research and obtained a good understanding of my audience, I put together these seven tips:

1. You’re a moderator, not a panelist. Like the saying, “those who cannot do, teach” remember that if you were selected to moderate you’re not selected because of your opinions on the topic. As tempting as it might be, let the panelists be the content experts. 

2. Define the scope. Agree with your panelists on a tight scope of the topic ahead of time, including what is out of scope. In our case, we agreed on limiting our discussion on the pragmatic activities small business owners should be taking to prepare for the ACA. Given the audience and the topic, this could have easily turned into a long and heated debate, with everyone walking away at best entertained, but with little value post-conference. 

3. Provide different points of view. If you can select your panel, pepper your choices with panelists from different points of view, limiting overlap. In addition, agree on points of view to take on while answering questions. For example, in our panel someone represented the executive, another offered the insurance perspective and yet another was a patient educator. When a question arises ask another panelist for their point of view on the same issue. 

4. Structure the format. Plan, plan, plan. Then enforce, enforce, enforce. Break down the timelines for each section (introduction, Q&A, conclusion) down to the minute. Remind your panelists and the audience of your structure.

5. It’s not about the panel members. Every panel member is a thought leader in their own right. Do not waste valuable air time introducing them at length—let the content of their comments show how educated, experienced or famous they are. Social media should give full visibility to anyone if they truly want to find out more about the panelists and you. 

6. It’s all about the audience. People pay hundreds of dollars to attend a session, let alone the value of time. Open the panel to comments and Q&A from the audience. Out of the 45 minutes we were allotted, we spent 35 minutes in Q&A—hearing directly from our audience what burning questions they had. 

7. Close strong! Allow the panelist to give a final 30-second point of view on the issue, based on the questions from the audience. Wrap up by providing a brief summary of the scope, the themes of the answers and by making the panel and yourself available for a continued dialogue outside of the time allotted. 

Our panel was warmly received by the audience—a large feat given the topic at hand. Surprisingly, the panel members were very complimentary on our approach and discipline. Personally, I felt satisfied that like every good marketer, I was meeting my customer’s needs.

 This post will be published in the November issue of PM360. 

changes

Moving Change Management to the Forefront


Is your organization undergoing a radical transformation? It should be because the U.S. healthcare dynamics are drastically changing our customer’s business model. It is an understatement to say that in five years, we’ll see our healthcare ecosystem significantly change for our patients, customers and businesses. This transformation will be both a challenge and an opportunity.

But what role does change management play in building business strategy? Most of the time, change management is an afterthought to strategy development. Unfortunately, most change initiatives fail. That’s a correlation that’s hard to ignore.

Business Change Management

Leading & Implementing Business Change ManagementDavid J. Jones and Ronald J. Recardo state their case in Leading and Implementing Business Change Management: Making Change Stick in the Contemporary Organization (Routledge, 2013). Change management should be integrated at the origins of strategy planning, throughout the implementation cycle. It should also ensure strategy sustainability.

Jones and Recardo introduce the Business Change Management concept, a new coined term. It is defined as an end-to-end process from assessing the need for change and designing a target solution in alignment with overall strategic business direction through implementation and institutionalization.

Like previous change management work, this approach takes a multi-dimensional perspective:

  • Technology: Info, data, networks.
  • Organization: Culture, roles and responsibilities, org structures.
  • Process: Workflows, rules, performance measurement.

Building on past efforts, Business Change Management seeks to evolve traditional change management through four attributes:

1. Cascades from business strategy: Integrated from inception and critical to the solution.

2. Considers internal and external stakeholders: Collaborates with environment, partners, regulators, etc.

3. Proactively leverages culture, resistance and leadership: Sets roadmap and mitigates risk.

4. Encourages organizations to adapt this DNA: Builds competitive core capability.

The strategic, external, proactive and capability-building aspects of this concept are novel in a change management context.

Business Change Management is an ambitious endeavor. But think through the opening question, then consider the four key attributes. Now ask yourself, “If I was preparing my organization for the upcoming healthcare landscape, would my probability for success be better by applying Business Change Management?” Speaking from personal experience, the answer is a resounding yes.

In parallel to the changing landscape, nearly all of the latest thinking around market strategy has one common theme: We must prepare our organizations to be flexible. Long gone are the days of building differentiated products, capabilities or sustainable advantages for the long-term. The speed of business, technology disruption, customer transparency and global competition call into question the sustainability of any business, let alone singular advantages. Marketing leaders must now be both strategists and change agents.

If you are considering a change management effort, then pick up Leading and Implementing Business Change Management. It will be a great guide and companion in your journey.

Good marketing!

This book review was published in the August issue of PM360

Reinvent by Ramiro Roman

The ABCs of Corporate Turn-Arounds


Reinvent is a leader’s playbook for serial success

Do you know leaders who no matter where in the world their career takes them, they always seem to succeed? I know a couple. They seem to will their way in and out situations, almost magically. Fred Hassan’s Reinvent – Jossey-Bass 2013 - portrays the story of master turnaround artist—but make no mistake about it, it’s not magic. Although after reading the book, it’s easy to see that there’s something special about Hassan. Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money on CNBC, referred to Hassan’s skills in a TV interview this way: “You’ve done many turnarounds, which is why I bank with you first and then I bank with the company that you’re with.”  Marshall Goldsmith, recognized among the world’s top 50 influential leadership thinkers states, “I have had the honor of working with many of the world’s greatest leaders. I rank Fred Hassan as one of the top five.” 

Reinvent by Ramiro RomanIn many ways, Reinvent is his autobiography. It is full of real life stories, with real people—six who have gone on to become CEOs of large organizations. He is a great story teller who blends situations, observations and people in an engaging way. My favorite story in the book is when Mr. Hassan was called by The Coca-Cola’s company CEO to address the troubled company which was looking to embark on a turnaround.

Mr. Hassan started his speech to an audience of 200 executives this way: “Start with productive attitudes and behaviors to build a productive culture. Diffuse these into the organization via three main pathways: the Power Trident of Passion, Courage and Tenacity; the Power Triangle of People, Products and Process: and the Leadership Quartet of four winning leadership approaches. Do this right, and you can unleash a virtuous spiral of results that then generates even better results.”  This quote is a summary of his entire playbook, which uses the tools detailed in the book. In Reinvent, Hassan delivers the sound business practices he has refined over his career. His playbook packages his ideas in a simple and straight-forward system.  

What Are The ABCs?

Hassan’s playbook is not of the flavor of the month variety. He developed his approach over decades of practical experience. He’s not an academic, consultant or journalist. As the famous saying goes ’he’s been there, done that, got that t-shirt’ and the book simmers with pragmatism. This is not a book about grand strategy: It is about how do get things done. It is about people and culture at its foundation.

  • Attitude. Everything starts with attitude and that is to be role-modeled by leaders, especially the CEO. He believes that what holds companies back is the skepticism for management. He advocates being authentic—at work and in life—valuing integrity and owning your accountability for self-development, self-control & self-drive. Hassan seems to have an innate ability to see possibilities, persevere through challenges and restlessly drive towards excellence. And he believes we all can unleash this capability. He says.“It is in our power to do more with what we have. It’s in our power to fulfill our own potential. It’s not where we take our aspirations—it’s where our aspirations take us.” Attitude serves as the catalysts that stimulate the desired behaviors. 
  • Behaviors. There are three behaviors that Hassan outlines as key: purposeful, connected and leadership. Purpose is characterized by having clear goals, risk taking, inspiring energy and self-renewal. Connected means self-awareness, sincere emotional intelligence through all levels of the organization and being attuned to the external environment. Behaviors are the substance that sustain the culture.
  • Culture. People are the decisive difference in any organization. Hassan walks through the steps in selecting, aligning and motivating. He spends a great amount of time discussing how leaders should role-model behaviors throughout the organization, thereby inculcating winning behaviors and creating shared ownership. Culture is the context that fosters executional excellence.   

The ABCs are the foundation of Hassan’s playbook. The ultimate result of his playbook is to achieve executional excellence. Hassan understands that the power of a CEO is not realized by strategy or the leadership team, but by aligning all employees, customers, regulators and partners in execution. “Making strategies happen is the toughest part of being a CEO.” 

Hassan believes that strategies are best articulated in a few straight-forward sentences. He provides an example of his work at Schering-Plough, where he kept his strategies as simple as 1,2,3:

  1. Grow the top line.
  2. Grow the pipeline.
  3. Reduce costs & invest wisely.

That’s it. For six years these strategies remained unchanged. Their simplicity was executable and yielded one of the best turnaround stories in the pharmaceutical industry. 

Commentary

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found its tone sincere, personal and easy to digest—yet intellectually insightful and practical. If you’re interested in turnaround stories, you should definitely pick up this book. As you get your summer reading list ready, don’t overlook Reinvent: you’ll feel as though you’ll be sharing a conversation with a wise friend. Enjoy!

This book review will be published in the June issue of PM360.

Challenger

Sales Book Review : The Challenger Sale – Taking Control of the Customer Conversation


What are the characteristics of the high performance sales representative in the complex B2B environment?  To answer that, think of the sales representative that you seek advice from or would drop your next appointment to meet with.  If you need more than one hand to count these professionals, consider yourself lucky.  Then consider how you can help your organization develop these types of representatives to sell your product. 

The Research behind the book

untitledIn 2010, The Corporate Executive Board Companywhere Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of The Challenger Sale, consult — commissioned a study of 2,400 B2B decision-makers to understand what contributed to customer loyalty.  Surprisingly, 53% of the drivers were attributed to the sales experience, a category dependent on an individual sales representative’s performance.  In a nut shell, customers buy B2B products and services from representatives whomake them smarter.”  That means they provide uniquely valuable perspectives on the market, educate on new issues and outcomes, navigate the risk/reward trade-offs, and gain widespread support from all stakeholders.  These findings led to further research in order to understand what types of representatives performed best in B2B scenarios. 

Analyzing research on over 6,000 sales professionals, Dixon and Adamson developed three key findings:

1.       There are five types of sales representatives:

  • The Relationship Builder: Gets along with everyone, builds strong coalitions
  • The Hard Worker: Self- motivated, does not give up easily, goes the extra mile
  • The Problem Solver: Responsive, detailed, seeks answers
  • The Lone Wolf: Mercenary, difficult to control, generally gets results
  • The Challenger: Understands customer’s business, debates, pushes customers

 2.       There is one clear winning profile. The Challenger scored the highest in performance ratings versus all other groups.  The top characteristics of a Challenger representative are:

  • Offers the customers unique perspectives
  • Has strong two-way communication skills
  • Knows the individual customer’s value drivers
  • Can identify economic drivers of the customer’s business
  • Is comfortable discussing finances
  • Earns the right to pressure the customer

3.       Challengers are the next evolution of the solutions representative. The more complex the sale, the more likely that Challenger representatives will be among the high performers. The challenger model has three phases which are designed to build constructive tension:

  • Teach: Reframe the way customers view their business by providing unknown value-added insights
  • Tailor: Link data-backed projected outcomes to stakeholder’s individual goals
  • Take control: Pursue the sales agenda in a direct way at every phase, without being aggressive

Research into action

The good news is that Challenger representatives are made, not born.  The Challenger model is a set of skills.   Most representatives have the basics to build from.  Training, coaching and development will nurture these skills into behaviors. 

A caution: building a Challenger sales organization is a long journey.  The reason why the challenger representative can create constructive tension is that they intimately know the customer’s business and their products at a mastery level.  To achieve this end demands a comprehensive curriculum.  This is a not an easy or rapid transformation, it is one that requires both individual and corporate capability, resources and patience. 

Still, think back on the representative you envisioned at the beginning of this review.  If you want that type of representative selling your product or service, you can build it and The Challenger Sale offers you a great model.  In addition, The Corporate Executive Board, through their Sales Executive Council, offers many resources to help you along the way. 

Good selling!

Published in PM360

Brian Solis

Book Review: The End of Business as Usual


Last month, at General Electric’s Hispanic Executive Leadership Conference, I attended a session featuring sociologist, futurist, and author Brian Solis. My expectation was to hear this brilliant and bona fide social media thought-leader discuss the intricacies of new electronic tools and how I, as a marketer, could capitalize on those to reach my target audience. Instead what I learned was how leading companies are evolving from seeing social media as a tool to using it as a platform toward becoming more customer-centric. It was a welcomed view and it is the central theme of Solis’s new book that delivers a message that can connect to any business environment. 

At the heart of The End of Business as Usual (Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution) is the premise that commercial success rests on our ability to deliver a great customer experience. Underlying this call towards customer-centricity is the disruptive role of social media is playing in influencing customer purchases. The book details how digital culture is changing the landscape of business, consumerism and the workplace. Today’s customers rely on their friends, family and social networks—not companies—for purchase decisions. The marketer’s challenge is to design the appropriate customer experience, monitor feedback and address gaps or reinforce positive experiences through the relevant channels, including the right technologies. It expands marketing with an external focus on creating customer experiences that evoke advocacy.

Solis urges businesses to adapt to this new era of consumerism or die. He calls this phenomena “Digital Darwinism,” where companies that do not evolve as rapid as the evolution of consumer behavior and technology fail to exist.  In other words, it’s not necessarily the strongest who survive but the most adaptive. We live in an era of transparency, explains Solis, where the product value proposition cannot be faked. The word of mouth, benchmarking, blogs, ratings, etc, that are held at the customer’s fingertips (or thumbs) cannot be ignored or covered up. This transparency truly calls for companies to be customer-centric. 

Solis warns that any company that focuses on operations, margins, and efficiencies over customer experiences will hasten the erosion of market relevance. In order for companies to become more customer-centric, Solis offers a blueprint for change. It includes setting the need, and managing and reinforcing the change. Additionally he asks companies to connect the value propositions to personal values through accountability, authority and rewards. 

Solis’s insightful and well written book clearly communicate what can be a complex message. It is recommended as a primer for anyone looking to improve the customer experience and seeking to understand how to leverage social media toward that goal. 

You can follow Brian on twitter @BrianSolis, or join his blog at www.briansolis.com/

This book review will be published for PM360

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Go Giver Pic

Book Review: The Go-Giver – A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea


Are you as successful as you dreamed of being at this point in your life? If you are, congratulations! If you’re not, you’ve perhaps second-guessed your education or career choices. Maybe you think you will have to work harder and faster. But before you’re too hard on yourself, consider trying the old proverb: “Give and you shall receive.”

The Go-GiverI realize that this can seem counter-intuitiveness in today’s competitive world. The Go-Giver, however, claims that the secret to success is giving. Authors John David Mann and Bob Burg know you’ll be skeptical: “Most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving…. Then again, most people are nowhere as successful as they wish they were.” Furthermore, they challenge the law of scarcity and say the 50-50 partnership principle as a losing position. Instead, they ask readers to think exclusively about helping others to a 100% win. It’s a business philosophy that places altruism before one’s own interest.

A story of reciprocity

This 127 page book is written in a short story format. It’s the tale of Joe, a young professional who is hard-working and ambitious, yet lately finds his hard work disappointing in sales results. Inadvertently, he finds himself seeking the mentorship of an older gentleman named Pindar.

The mentor—practicing the method he preaches—gives Joe his Trade Secret, with one condition; he too must give it away to others. Joe goes through a set of meetings that teach the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and through that process achieves a transformational experience. In the end, Joe learns that giving is truly the secret to success and abundance.

The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success

The Trade Secret is found in these five laws:

  1. The Law of Value. Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. This book challenges us to not to simply employ this tactic for self gain, but to learn to embrace this as a way of life.
  2. The Law of Compensation. Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. In a sense, you’re in control of your own compensation because you can always find more people to serve.
  3. The Law of Influence. Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. This in turn creates a network of ambassadors who become personally invested in seeing you succeed.
  4. The Law of Authenticity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Be authentic!
  5. The Law of Receptivity. The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. This is the byproduct of the first four laws.

Try each one of these for each day of the work week. You have nothing to lose. Hundreds of thousands of people have tried, and the book has achieved a core following.

I was given this book in 2009, by one of the general managers at GE. Since then I have distributed about 20 copies to direct reports, colleagues, and friends. I do believe that if people authentically behave altruistically, they will be more successful, regardless of their personal definition of success. The book is a simple and powerful reminder that the more you give, the more you get.

By the way, if you’re still skeptical, the book went on to become a national best seller, making top lists at BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and Amazon, among many others. It has also stood the test of time, through continued book sales, current seminars, and a lively internet community (http://www.thegogiver.com). You can buy it in any books store, and it’s very likely that you’ll find it in your public library.  Enjoy!

This book review was published in the May issue of PM360.

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