The message below is what I sent out to our Global team today. I thought it might be of value to an even broader audience.
Thank you so very much for caring.
To the WW Client Engagement Team;
A quote that I had seen before rang loudly in my mind this week as I saw it again. It is from Edward Everett Hale, a 19th-century social reformer and minister.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
As we have discussed before, many times, our way to serve is to help others “make a difference”, in any way we can.
I am also reminded of a story that I have heard Steve Sanghi tell many times…..
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My thanks to each of you for making a difference in the lives around us each and every day!
Has it all really gone full circle, or did it just never change? Selling that is.
Interesting question and a lot of assumptions. I have been in a B2B technology selling environment for more than 4 decades. And yes, I did start at the age of 12…NOT. My first sales territory covered 475 miles of highway from Las Vegas, Nevada to Nogales, Arizona. In those days we did not have a WFH (work from home) style… we had a WFA (work from anywhere) style. No cell phones in “those” days, but you did know where the best client lobbies were based on bathrooms and payphones. We made it into the office on Monday afternoons for “product” training supported by beer and pizza later. In those days there was a lot of emphasis, by many people, placed on entertaining clients and “relationships” based on who you knew. It was a pretty common way of viewing the world of selling. And oftentimes pretty sleazy, at least in my opinion.
I had the amazing good fortune of having a gentleman by the name of Chic Blum as my first outside sales leader and coach. His words to me in those days have followed me for a lifetime and are even more critical today it seems.
His guidance was not too complex and after more than 40 years of this journey, it has become the simplified heart of what I strive to do on a daily basis.
His words were varied, yet came down to the central theme of….
“Help other people succeed!”
I am combining a lot of specific thoughts that he left me with… like “always do the right thing.. you know what that is”, and “we have to earn the right to serve, not buy it”. His overriding theme to me was “help other people succeed.”
In those days, the men and women selling were the Queens and Kings of DATA. We were the source of all data that a client needed to understand anything about the products that they were trying to use… And in those days that data came in the form of DATABOOKS… I know, what’s a DATABOOK? Well, its hundreds of printed pages of product specifications. Every manufacturer had their own, often several different ones. And the clients wanted that data. So as stewards of the data we all drove around with trunk loads of data books and doled them out to our selected deserving clients. We were in control and we loved it.
We added great value to the client’s business world. And those that focused on that pure aspect thrived through every evolution that was to come.
During the decades that passed since then, we have grown, learned, experimented and failed in a variety of “ways” to sell. There was once an IBM sales process, and a Xerox Selling process. We worked our way through 7-step selling, 8-step selling, and back to a 6-step process. Most of us participated in Target Account Selling, Spin Selling, Solution Selling, and on to Value Selling. Later years brought Strategic Selling, Conceptual Selling, the Sandler Selling System, and Challenger. (a personal note: Challenger, as it is truly built and worked by Brent Adamson, is still near perfection, you need to know the “master” to really get it).
Through all of the variations to the theme of selling that can be imagined, Chic’s words still work the best for me. I have learned, executed, and taught nearly every one of the methods above. They all have had their place and their time. They can all be supported by the proper evolution of a well-designed coaching system (normally called a CRM). What normally matters more than anything is that you use one or create your own that you commit to and use. And stay with it over time.
What has become more true over time is the singular importance of focus on serving the client. Anything that distracts from that will lessen your time and energy spent on helping your client succeed, as individuals. Where I work today we have created a Client Engagement Process. With a heart of serving our clients and helping them succeed. Our “system” has lots of detail to it, and as it is used daily by a global team of engineers, it may be a bit too complex…. Maybe! But it is clear to all is that it is driven by CUSP.
Care greatly, about the people that you serve in the clients that you call on.
Understand deeply, all that they care about, and is critical to them as individuals.
Serve endlessly, in every way that you can and never stop. Serve without reserve!
with Purpose, by knowing what matters to them and to their team and serving their need.
CUSP is simple to state and requires great leadership to execute well… or you can just poison everyone with commission and not bother with the high-value tough stuff (sorry, could not help myself with that plug for my past blog on the Poison Known as Commission).
This all comes out to pretty much what we have all learned at Sunday School. It seems the basics in life apply to selling just as well…. Who woulda thunk it? Sounds like it's time for another selling process… The Ten Commandments of Selling. Oops… never mind, that one is already out there too.
Thanks so much all for caring enough to stay engaged.
Nearly every week I sit down to put some thoughts out on “paper” to our WW Client Engagement Team (about 1700 people). I cover a variety of topics, with of course today’s general focus being on thriving in a chaos driven world. The text below is one of those weekly messages. In parentheses you will see the explanation of some internal terms that I use that need external explanation. Not all of this may make sense to you as it is heavily internally focused. Hopefully it still provides some value… you tell me.
To the WW Client Engagement team,
I believe that in the next 2 years we will see more change than we have in the last 2 decades. As we unfurl the flag of hope and execute into creating our future all of the things that we once did and were so proud of MUST be looked at with a whole new lens of understanding. For the last 20 years WE have all been in a transitionary stage of evolution. I’m sure that you recall a message from me, of several weeks ago where I called upon us for a client engagement process REVOLUTION. VIVA LA REVOLUTION! Little did any of us know, most certainly I did not, that we were about to be shown the door of revolution and that we were going to have two choices, go through it or not, survive by radical change or not. Thrive or not. REVOLUTION or NOT. As always, it would be OUR choice.
WE choose to serve our clients in ways that help THEM thrive. We choose REVOLUTION!
There has always been a term around our world that we used to highlight great examples of things done. It was called ‘best practices”. From the CEO of Korn Ferry I heard a great new term that frames our new challenge perfectly… BEST THINKING. This is the challenge. Where will all of the ideas for excellence and service come from in these next 2 years? They will come from the front lines of our world that are intimately engaged with the individuals that we label “clients”. You will bring us our new BEST THINKING. These ideas will reflect the changing environment that our clients are facing and their need for solutions to challenges that they are just now grasping. There is a ton of what we don’t know that we don’t know. REVOLUTION comes from the rapid execution of radical ideas that make a difference… to the client!
As we reframed our challenges for this time we faced recently we spoke about the BIG PIVOT (an “annual” operating plan ripped apart and turned into a “daily” operating style) and the power of AND. As we engage with the people around us we must open the doors to BEST THINKING and that comes from starting with a position of EMPATHY. In past boot camps (our internal 2 weeks in-person training that has now gone for good) many of you have heard me say that the greatest strength that a person can have is a natural sense of humility. Right now our 2-way conversations must start with an understanding that we do not know all that we need to know, to best serve those we choose to serve. To root out BEST THINKING we must, as Stephen Covey wrote, “we must seek to understand before being understood”. A natural sense of humility will open up the doors to understanding AND then we can examine the possibility of ALL of the possible answers needed to THRIVE. And that all starts in the mind of the client… with empathy on our part. You have all done your homework, as asked by Hendre (Hendre Coetzee is our external coach and my co-author of SHIFTABILITY). The power of understanding through the filter of empathy is becoming quite clear as I watch the many examples in COMPASS (our tool that coaches client engagement). Thank you! You are brilliant!
In the next days, weeks, and months we will rapidly reexamine all that we need to do NOW, in this brave new world, to excel in helping our clients MAKE A DIFFERENCE. The doors are wide open for those of us that choose to execute to the backside of our “challenge coin”… DRIVE CHANGE (search on “challenge coin”, we made one for boot camp grads)! Each of you own this one. Each of you can bring NEW THINKING to light for all to see. There are no bad ideas or wrong ways as we create LA REVOLUTION. Only silence is deadly. Ideas shared, developed, and brought to our world will ensure that we SERVE ENDLESSLY with PURPOSE.
This is OUR time. We ARE built to THRIVE in these conditions. Our best opportunity to serve is right now.
As a little kid in the mountains of Montana our family would many times take camping trips in the family pick up. To this day I can still hear my father launch each one of these journeys with his last call to get in the truck and hit the road… he would simply, loudly, and with passion, say…. OK, LET’s ROLL! And we were off. So my request to you is…..
Our past does not have to dictate our future. Only if we choose not to learn from it will we be forced into duplicating it.
So let's learn from it.
We are not happy with a 35% turnover rate. If you are… bless you and good luck!
We want a truly engaged sales team, service team, client team, all of our teams.
How do we accomplish this? Here are the answers.
So, just to set a baseline, let's look at the bottom line of this kind of shift. The company that I currently work for is Microchip Technology Inc. I have been there for more than 30 years. I am currently privileged to lead our WW Client Engagement team of about 1700 people. Microchip is a ~$5.5B company with a market cap (based on the hourly market sentiment) of ~$20B. We are highly profitable and just finished our 117th consecutive quarter of profitability, a record that no other semiconductor company can match.
We moved our entire global team to a non commissioned comp plan in 1998. The best thing we ever did and our clients tell us regularly that they appreciate what it brings THEM. As we converted our team we lost zero of our folks. Since then we have completed 20 acquisitions in the last 10 years and integrated global sales teams into our system at a 95% plus acceptance rate. Our team’s turnover rate is less than 3% globally across 114 countries serving out of 77 offices and serving 122,000 clients.
What you will also find is that there are many other companies that have learned the value of not manipulating their sales team (meaning they are non commissioned).
So just WHAT do you do… specifically?
First, you start with UNDERSTANDING. Understanding what TRULY motivates people… ALL people.
Motivation comes in two forms… Extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic comes from outside sources, outside forces such as money or praise. Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself, understanding your own real purpose.
The old world of Motivation 2.0 (Author – Dan Pink) is all about carrot and sticks and uses “if then” rewards to encourage short-term trade-offs of decisions and inherently delivers no long-term positive outcomes. Motivation 3.0 the next generation of working understands that people only act when they are intrinsically motivated, can act on their own strengths and feel that they can make a difference in a bigger way. To truly understand this and the framework below you must go read the book DRIVE by Dan Pink. His research covers decades of understanding what really motivates humans (and salespeople ;-).
Dan describes Extrinsic and Intrinsic as:
Extrinsic motivation is when you use external factors to encourage your team to do what you want. Pay raises, time off, bonus checks, and the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators – some positive, some less so.
Intrinsic motivation is internal. It's about having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, to produce high-quality work, or to interact with team members you like and trust. Intrinsically motivated people get a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from what they do.
According to Pink, intrinsic motivation is based on three key factors: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Do you want to understand what your team really thinks about “motivation”? Go read Dan Pink!!!
To break the curse of 35% turnover you MUST break the cycle of manipulation. If you don’t step away from the individualized, quota-based, only revenue counts, compensation plan you will be forever stuck with the challenges that replacing your team every 3 years creates.
You must dig in and understand AMP both organizationally and personally. We must break the thinking cycle… We must develop skills in curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, project management, and orchestration. Yet the normal response from sales executives is “how can I afford to invest in developing these skills if the salesperson is going to be gone in 15-22 months”? The answer…. This level of turnover is NOT acceptable. The cycle MUST be broken if you wish to evolve.
And it starts with countering the poison… and the thinking that keeps it alive. Understand clearly that…
We must remove the bias that is clearly evident to the client. That bias is a salesperson personal gain. When you remove the personal incentive bias the client and the salespersons have a different relationship and conversations Open, candid, seeking a trusted advisor. Unbiased!
They KNOW that you have a motive to simply serve, helping them achieve what they NEED, not what you WANT!
Do you want 40% of your time back? Kill commissions. You can do that AND not raise your cost of sales, AND drop your turnover rate to single digits, AND have clients that are your evangelists. With all-time on your hands you will have gobs of coaching and leading work that you can do. Or perhaps that part scares you!
Considering the COVID-19 world changes, this will give you a chance to explore and perfect the VIRTUAL RIDE ALONG! I’m just waiting to see augmented reality come to the virtual sales call world. So long trade shows!