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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Coaching Works. Here’s Why.

How Does Coaching Help? 

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to lead effectively in today’s complex and rapidly changing business environment. Employees at all levels are asked to do more and more with less and less and are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed out. They need help navigating the complicated business landscape and how to handle the pressures from increased demands, high workloads, and the challenges of running cross-functional projects while working on diverse teams.  

Coaching can help by providing much needed support and strategies for not only surviving, but thriving under these difficult circumstances. It is a personalized process that provides clarity on what success would look like, understanding the obstacles and barriers that get in the way of achieving it, and specific action steps to take that will lead to a positive outcome. Through active listening and powerful questioning, a coach will help the coachee maximize their potential and move toward a preferred future.  

What’s Driving the Growth? 

There are many factors driving the growth in coaching. Quite simply, there is evidence that it works. Organizations and individuals are investing in coaching because it is a powerful form of development that leads to change and results. According to the International Coaching Federation, 86 percent of organizations saw a return on their coaching investment, and 96 percent of those who have been coached said they would repeat the process again. 

There are many tangible and intangible benefits of coaching that lead to these impressive results. Key tangible benefits include increased productivity and performance, reduced costs, growth in revenue and sales, and higher retention and engagement of employees. 

Intangible benefits also enhance the effectiveness of coaching. They include increased confidence of those being coached, improved communication, better relationships with key stakeholders, career advancement, and greater balance between life and work. It truly is a win-win for individuals and organizations.  

Why Is It So Powerful? 

A good coach who builds trust and rapport with their client can help the coachee get unstuck, shift their thinking, see new possibilities, try different behaviors, and achieve breakthrough results. Specifically, coaching is most powerful when the following five factors are present during the coaching process: 

Awareness: This is about helping the coachee become aware of the key behaviors that either help or hinder their progress and growth. We can’t change what we’re not aware of, so cultivating awareness in the coachee for how they show up and what they can do differently is crucial. 

Alignment: Coaching works best when there is alignment with what the coachee wants to work on and what is significant to the organization. It is also important to have buy-in and involvement from a sponsor such as a direct boss or human resources representative, so there is a common understanding of the focus of the coaching as well as internal support for the process. 

Action: Creating clear goals and a written action plan will help provide a road map for achieving the vision for the future. The plan also provides a baseline for the current state, pre-coaching, and indicates progress toward the desired state post-coaching. 

Accountability: Coaching by design creates the conditions for the coachee to take responsibility for their growth, and provides built-in accountability because the coach will check in on the progress the coachee made toward agreed-upon action items from the last coaching session. 

Acceleration: Due to the clarity of goals, support in overcoming obstacles, alignment on the focus of the coaching, a written action plan, and a committed coach that holds the coachee accountable, the pace in which a coachee achieves results is often significantly accelerated. Oftentimes, challenges that a leader has faced for many months or even years that they have been unable to address on their own become resolved much quicker and with better results when a coach is involved. This is the power of coaching in action. 

Take the Next Step 

Interested in learning how coaching can benefit your organization? We begin with a collaborative discovery process identifying your unique needs and business issues. To request an interview with  Peter Mclees please contact: 
Email:    or    Mobile:323-854-1713
To your greater success,
Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach and Trainer

Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How to Get Clarity, Accountability and Results in Five Minutes


The team and I had just invested three hours wrestling with significant issues.

We defined the criteria that would make for a good decision…we had healthy debate among different opinions…we listened…we looked for alternatives…we considered consequences to the organization…we pushed hard looking for the best answers…

And finally we made a decision.

Or we thought we did.


Six weeks later we were back together to discuss results.

And everyone looked at each other…

Maybe you know the look – a little nervous, eyes wide, searching the room for safety in numbers.

No one had followed through on what we’d decided to do.

Not one person.

After spending all that time and energy to arrive at a productive solution, nothing happened.

We had wasted our time.

What happened?


Many teams and leaders have experienced this frustrating lack of follow-through after decisions are made.

It can happen even with a team of high caliber, motivated people who take their work seriously.

The reason is that in arriving at a decision, you have only answered one out of four essential questions.

You have answered the “Why”, as in: “Why do we want to do this?”

The answers to the next three questions take a decision from being a nice idea and turn it into reality – something that gets done.

And the good news is that for most decisions, it only takes five minutes to answer them:

1. Who Is Doing What?

Until someone is actually doing something, nothing has changed from before you made the decision.

Until then, it is just a nice idea.

Keen readers will recognize two questions here: what is being done? who is doing it?

I prefer to combine them because it forces ownership. There is no task without a specific person having responsibility for completing it.

For smaller decisions there might be only one or two answers to this question. For larger strategic initiatives you might have an entire work plan outline dozens of tasks and people responsible.

2. By When?

As a team, agree upon deadlines for tasks to be completed.

When these deadlines are shared and publicly available, everyone is much more likely to meet them.

3. How Will We Know?

This is a critical question and the one teams most frequently ignore.

When someone completes a task, what do they do next?

• Do they need to pass the results to another person or group?
• Should they update the team and let them know?
• Will they make a presentation of their findings?
• Do they report completion in a project management software?

The specific answers depend on the task and project.

The point is accountability and efficiency.

Everyone knows what they are accountable to do, the team knows if it’s been completed, and no one is left waiting around for information they need.


Who is doing what? By When? How will we know?

You can ask these questions whether you are the positional leader of a group or not.

In fact, it’s a great way to establish yourself as a leader who gets things done – people notice when you produce clarity, accountability, and results.

These questions aren’t new – you probably learned them in your earliest school days.

Despite their simplicity, many teams struggle to get things done because they don’t get clear answers to every one of these questions.

If you want anything to change, they are the most important five minutes you’ll spend.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Organizational Facilitator
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Replacing the Old Annual Performance Review System Isn't the Only Answer

Your employees want feedback. You want to improve their performance and help them in their careers. And yet, both giving and receiving feedback appear to be universally loathed.

It’s no longer news that annual reviews are unpopular. The headline of a 2013 Washington Post article summed up the then-new research: “Study finds that basically every single person hates performance reviews.” 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that only 30 percent of people actually incorporate feedback, making it not only unpleasant but unproductive.

Only 30 percent of people actually incorporate feedback, making it both unpleasant and unproductive 

On the other side of the desk, according to a recent Zenger/Folkman survey, 44 percent of managers agreed that giving negative feedback was stressful — so stressful, in fact, 21 percent “admitted they avoid giving negative feedback” altogether.

Moving Away From the Old Annual Review System

Employees feel ambushed if they only get feedback once a year.

As researchers have identified some of the problems of once-a-year feedback over the last few years, a number of big names — from Adobe to Zappos — made news ditching or supplementing annual reviews. There’s good reason for those moves. Annual reviews make everyone involved anxious, putting a strain on the relationship between those giving and receiving feedback. Employees feel ambushed if they only get feedback once a year. And, in fact, annual reviews are likely to focus solely on recent events. It’s hard for anything that happens in such a fraught and biased context to yield positive results.

Yet, only some of the challenges of feedback are the result of cramming it all into one tension-filled annual ritual. Certainly, more frequent feedback “lowers the stakes in each of the conversations.” But supplementing or replacing the annual review process doesn’t address the emotional challenges of feedback. 

In fact, increasing the frequency without creating a real culture of feedback can aggravate the original problems, rather than resulting in more accurate data and happier, more productive teams.

Your Brain On Feedback 

We’ve all been on the receiving end of feedback that made us feel bad in one way or another: We know it can affect employees’ commitment and engagement. 

Ironically, it can even diminish their ability to perform.

According to David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, “People who feel betrayed or unrecognized at work experience it as a neural impulse, as powerful and painful as a blow to the head.” This may sound like hyperbole. However, because our brains “experience the workplace first and foremost as a social system,” feedback can, in fact, trigger a threat response.

For example, humans, you may have noticed, are incredibly sensitive to questions of fairness. Rock notes, “The perception that an event has been unfair…stir[s] hostility and undermin[es] trust” — either of which can make teamwork impossible.

Perhaps the trigger most recognizable to those of us who aren’t neuroscientists is uncertainty. Uncertainty takes a toll because we’re expending extra neural energy worrying. That’s energy we can’t use to call up memories or focus on what we’re doing.

Uncertainty takes a toll because we’re expending extra neural energy worrying.

“The threat response is both mentally taxing and deadly to the productivity of a person — or of an organization. Because this response uses up oxygen and glucose from the blood, they are diverted from other parts of the brain, including the working memory function, which processes new information and ideas. This impairs analytic thinking, creative insight, and problem solving,” Rock writes in Managing with the Brain in Mind.

And while it’s true that most of us have learned to cope with some level of negative feedback, there is the real danger of becoming disengaged in response.

Getting It Right

The benefits of getting feedback right are significant:
• More accurate feedback
• Better performance, including more successful teams
• Increased retention

Getting it right doesn’t just mean avoiding a threat response; it triggers a reward response. Everyone becomes “more effective, more open to ideas, and more creative” because we’re able to take in things we can’t if we’re feeling resentful or afraid.

Higher-quality conversations drive trust and engagement, key to the efficiency gains, better knowledge sharing, and growth potential that are key in agile organizations.

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Organizational Facilitator
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, government agencies and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The 5 Secrets of Motivating Your Sales Team

Having trouble motivating your team? You’re not alone.

Every member of your team has different skill levels, interest levels, and different ways of learning. Because of this, not everyone will respond the same way to your methods of managing and motivating, and that means you need different ways of motivating, mentoring, counseling, or even some babysitting.  Sound familiar?

Let’s face it: true motivation comes from within. In some way, each member of your team is already motivated. The secret (or five secrets) is to build on each team member’s internal motivation and learn to maximize it.

Here are five things you can do today to get the most out of your team —

#1) Make your monthly revenue goal, and each rep’s part of that goal, crystal clear. I’m sure you have a monthly revenue goal, but does each member of your sales team know what their specific part of that goal is? (Hint — it’s not all equal). Recognize that some reps will produce much more of the overall goal than others, but also make sure each person is clear on what their part of that overall goal is. And then coach to that.

#2) Make bonuses or prizes specific to each team member. The problem with most bonus programs is that as soon as they are released, over half of the sales team knows they can’t win so they are more discouraged than encouraged to produce. Instead, spend some time learning what each person would really want, and then customize each rep’s bonus and tie it to their individual production goal.

If a rep hits their goal, then they win something that is meaningful to them. This also makes each rep responsible for hitting their own goal.

#3) Get out of your own comfort zone and close some deals. Most managers are way too busy in meetings, or reporting, or just plain hiding out to be really effective. Remember one thing — as the manager, you are the leader. And leaders lead by example.

Want to motivate your team, make your numbers, and create real value for yourself? Go onto the floor and close business for some of your sales reps and help them make their revenue goals. This is the most important thing you can do not only for your bottom line, but for your team’s motivation as well.

#4) Invest $100 in a couple of trophies. This will be the best money you’ll ever spend — make one a “Week’s most improved,” or “Best effort,” and hand it out each Monday morning.

Each winner gets to keep it on their desk that week. The other trophy can be either “Most deals,” or “Most new clients.” or whatever other category everyone has a chance to win (as long as it is revenue related). Again, hand it out in your Monday morning sales meeting and each week the winner gets to keep it on their desk.

Remember rule #1 in motivating: recognition among peers is almost always more important than money.

#5) Have some fun! Go to a toy store and buy one of those beanbag tosses, and after lunch on Friday make some teams and have some fun playing as a team. Tack on $50 for good measure and watch the competition and fun build your team and dissolve stress.  This works – try it!

So there you have it. Inexpensive, proven techniques to build morale, motivate and make more money.

To your greater success,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales. 

Management by Wandering Around (MBWA)

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

If you want to connect with your people better, step out from behind the glass.

You're likely based in the same building as your manager, but how often do you see him or her? OK, so you see him any time you look through the spotless glass walls of his office, but how often do you get the chance to sit down together and really talk? Once a week? Once a month? Less, maybe.

A manager like this can seem distant, unapproachable and even intimidating. And yet, it is possible to be a manager who is admired for being wise and knowledgeable, and one who is engaged and connected with the people around her. Which would you prefer to be?

If you build a wall around yourself as a manager, your team members won't gain from your knowledge and you won't gain from their experience. Worse still, you'll be unable to spot and deal with problems before they become serious, and you'll miss out on the key, tacit information that you need to make good decisions.

Connecting with your team is a major factor in success, and this article shows you how to keep in touch with what's going on.

Introducing MBWA

One powerful way to connect with your team members is to get up from your desk and go talk to them, to work with them, to ask questions, and to help when needed. This practice is called Management by Wandering Around, or MBWA.

MBWA might imply an aimless meander around the office, but it's a deliberate and genuine strategy for staying abreast of people's work, interests and ideas. It requires a range of skills, including active listening, observation, recognition, and appraisal.

MBWA also brings participation, spontaneity and informality to the idea of open-door management. It takes managers into their teams' workplaces to engage with the people and processes that keep companies running, to listen to ideas, to collect information, and to resolve problems.

William Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett Packard (HP), famously used this approach. Tom Peters included lessons learned from HP in his 1982 book, In Search of Excellence, and MBWA immediately became popular. Now, for example, Disney leaders work shifts with their resort teams, and the CEO of waste management firm Veolia regularly goes out with his staff when they collect trash.

What MBWA Can Achieve

MBWA can produce a huge range of results. It can, for example, help you to be more approachable. People are often reluctant to speak with their managers because they feel intimidated or they think that they won't care. But when your team members see you as a person as well as a manager they'll trust you and be more willing to share ideas and pain points with you

Frequent, natural and trusting communication can be infectious, and it encourages people to work together as a team. With better communication and an improved sense of what's happening in your team, you'll likely spot big problems before they happen, and you'll be in a better position to coach your team to avoid them.

Business knowledge, commercial awareness and problem-solving opportunities can all take leaps forward when you better connect with your "front line." You'll improve your understanding of the functions, people and processes at work there, and you'll boost people's company and industry knowledge. Everyone is better equipped to perform their roles when they have the right information, and they are energized by an improved flow of ideas.

Morale  will likely get a lift from MBWA, too. Casual exchanges and opportunities to be heard really do help people to feel more motivated, more inspired, and more connected. Furthermore, you'll boost accountability and productivity, as any actions that you agree upon with your people will likely get done because you see one another regularly.

Dangers to Avoid

"Wandering around" may seem easy to do and harmless enough, but it's important to do it right. Research has shown that simply being physically present with your people isn't enough. It's the post-walk actions that you take and the problems that you solve that will determine the success of your MBWA strategy. If you don't strike the right balance, you can wind up doing more harm than good.

Don't, for example, do MBWA just because you feel obliged to – this probably won't work very well. You must truly want to get to know your staff and operations, and you have to commit to following up on people's concerns and to seeking continuous improvement.

A big benefit of MBWA is that people can be open with you, but, if you "shut down" when you hear a negative comment or fail to follow up when you promise to do so, they might perceive you as defensive or as someone who doesn't keep his word.

Gauging the level of trust within your environment is important because, if people don't trust you, MBWA could make them think that you're interfering or spying. It's also important to consider your team members' preferences and to tailor your approach to these. For example, one team member may be happy for you to offer suggestions for improvements within earshot of co-workers, but another might be embarrassed by it, or even get angry about it.

How to Manage by Wandering Around

The biggest challenge when implementing MBWA is to overcome the habit of being "too busy," and to start walking around. These tips can help you to get going.


People will sense your casualness and they'll respond accordingly. Stiff discussions held in formal spaces will lead to rigid responses, so keep your team members at ease with relaxed and unstructured conversations. Hold these where people will likely feel relaxed, such as at their desks or in a neutral place, rather than in your office.

Watch your body language, too, and your dress. Turning up at a production line wearing a crisp pinstriped suit, for instance, may distance you from your people and put them off talking to you.

Listen and observe more than you talk

Take care to sound inquisitive rather than intrusive. You can ask your people what they're working on, how comfortable they feel doing their jobs, what they find difficult, whether they see how their work contributes to "the big picture," and so on. Ask them for ideas about how to make things better.

Hold back from saying what you think, and listen actively to your team members' replies. Give them your undivided attention. When they see that you're interested in what they have to say, they'll likely be more open and receptive, and you'll build rapport.

When you talk, be open and truthful. If you don't know the answer to someone's question, find it out afterward and follow up. If you can't share something, say so. Telling half-truths can break down trust, and trust is crucial for successful MBWA.

To take it a step further, consider trying out your team members' work, to experience what they experience and to understand the issues that they face.

Be inclusive

Don't favor one department or team more than another, or people may feel left out. Instead, spread your attention evenly. Anyone can have great ideas or need support, so talk to everybody, regardless of their job title or position. If people work remotely, make the effort to get in touch with them. If they work the night shift, stay late to talk to them.

Recognize good work

Always look for successes rather than failures and, if you see something good, compliment the person. This is an effective and simple way to show your gratitude and to boost morale.

Spread the word

Share good news and reinstill company goals, values and vision within your team. Tell people how your aims for the team fit with the big picture. Your "wanderings" are opportunities to share information that helps everyone to understand and do their jobs better.

Embrace "chat"

Effective organizations aren't all about work. MBWA allows you to strike a balance between people's work and their personal lives, and to enjoy the lighter side of your job. Enjoying a joke or two, chatting with team members about their hobbies, and finding out their kids' names helps to build relationships.

You don't need to befriend them on Facebook or shoot pool together after work, but you may be surprised by how great it feels to relate with your colleagues on a personal level.

Don't overdo it

Don't leave people feeling that you're always looking over their shoulder! Wander around often enough to get a good feel for what's going on – to make it a key part of your management strategy – but not so often that your presence feels like a distraction. Try not to do it at the same time each day: be spontaneous and unplanned, regular but random.

Review your conversations

Your presence alone isn't enough to impact frontline staff performance. Be sure to review the things that you've learned – both the good and the bad – and take action accordingly.

Key Points

Management by Wandering Around can be an effective and practical way to keep up with what's happening within your team and your organization.

Make the effort to reach out and build relationships with your people. This can pay off significantly with the information that you'll gather and the trust that you'll build. A team spirit can naturally develop when you show a genuine interest in your people and their work. It's also a great way to keep the organization's vision alive. It's easy and economical, and can be a lot of fun!

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Organizational Facilitator
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Friday, September 22, 2017

How to Stay "in the Loop"

Avoiding Nasty Surprises on Your Team

Stay "in the loop" by building a culture of openness.

Do you ever get that nagging feeling that you don't know what's really going on with people on your team? Maybe you feel like they're talking about you behind your back. Or, worse, deliberately leaving you out of important decisions.

No one likes to be left out. It can make you feel anxious, and might even cause you to question your ability as a manager. After all, how can you do your job if you don't know what’s going on? Don't people trust you? Have you done something wrong? And is the team on course to meet its objectives?

Your priorities, decision-making, working relationships, stress levels, and professional reputation all depend on your ability to stay "in the loop" with your people. So, when communication breaks down, it's vital that you fix it as soon as possible.

In this article, we examine the impact of being "out of the loop," and look at some strategies you can use to avoid it, and to reconnect with your team.

Why Does Being Out of the Loop Matter?

When you're out of the loop, it can feel as though other people know something that you don't. Most of us have experienced the uneasy sensation that arises when we're not included, even unintentionally.

You may be tempted to dismiss this feeling as paranoia, but research from Purdue University, Indiana, shows that it's a very real sensation, and one that can have a number of negative implications.

According to the authors, being out of the loop can make you feel that your status within the group is falling and it can undermine your self-esteem and your fundamental need for connection. This can make you feel sad, or lead to feelings of anger toward your co-workers.

You'll also be forced to "firefight" crises if you have no warning of them, instead of being able to plan calmly and effectively. This will likely threaten morale and productivity.

So, if you or anyone else in your team feels left out, it's important that you take the situation seriously. Treat it as a warning sign that there are unresolved issues within your team, particularly if it occurs alongside other "red flags" such as bad behavior, harmful rumors , or increased absenteeism.

How to Reconnect With Your Team and Its Work

In this section, we look at three main strategies that you can use to re-engage with your team when you feel out of the loop:

Get Back in Touch

As your level of responsibility increases, you may feel as though you are becoming more disconnected from your people's concerns at "ground level." They, in turn, might see you as being out of touch or disinterested, causing them to become less inclined to share personal or practical problems with you.

If this is the case, make brushing up on your interpersonal skills your first action. These involve paying attention to how you ask questions, how you listen, and how you use body language . Simple things, such as good eye contact and adopting an open posture (hands uncrossed, leaning forward), for example, will show that you are receptive to what people are telling you.

A good strategy for re-establishing a connection with your team members is to go "Back to the Shop Floor." Spending time working alongside them can build rapport and respect. It may give you a fresh insight into the challenges that they are facing, and give you some ideas about how processes can be improved.

Consider Management by Wandering Around. This habit helps you to stay present and visible to team members day to day, and is a great way of engaging with them on a personal level, too. You'll likely find that this also helps to build trust and encourages a more natural exchange of information.

Showing support for your team is essential. When you stand up for your people against unfair criticism, and avoid blame when they make honest mistakes, you demonstrate your loyalty and boost trust. However, don't make excuses for poor performance, as this may undermine your credibility as a professional leader.


If you do decide to use these strategies, it's important that you give your people fair warning of what you plan to do. Descending on them "out of the blue" may lead to concerns that they're being watched, or could cause rumors to spread about why you're doing it.

Keeper: "Listen to the whispers and you won't have to hear the screams." --Cherokee Proverb

To your greater success,

Peter Mclees, Leadership Coach, Trainer and Organizational Facilitator
Mobile: 323-854-1713

P. S. Smart Development has an exceptional track record helping ports, sales teams, restaurants, stores, distribution centers, food production facilities, nonprofits, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength, coaching skills and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

4 Steps to Answering Sales Objections

The word "no" can be a tough pill to swallow.

In selling, when you're trying to meet a quota, squeeze in an extra deal before the end of the month, or get your bonus, the word "no" is too often interpreted as a sign to run for the hills when, in fact, it should be the exact opposite.

A sales objection is an explicit expression by a buyer that a barrier exists between the current situation and what needs to be satisfied before buying from you. Beyond that, it's an indication that the buyer is engaged, which sure beats apathy.

However, you still have work to do.

When a buyer indicates that he is not ready to buy, don't get discouraged. Use the following 4 steps to overcome sales objections and move closer to the sale.

1.Listen Fully to the Objection 
Your first reaction when you hear an objection may be to jump right in and respond immediately. Resist this temptation. When you react too quickly, you risk making assumptions about the objection. Take the time to listen to the objection fully.

Do not react defensively. Train yourself to ignore any negative emotions you may be feeling, and stay focused on what the buyer is saying and the business problem you are helping to solve. Listen with the intent of fully understanding the buyer's concerns without bias or anticipation, and allow your body language and verbal confirmations to communicate to the buyer that you are listening intently.

2.Understand the Objection Completely 
Many objections hide underlying issues that the buyer can't or isn't ready to articulate. Often the true issue isn't what the buyer first tells you. It's your job to get to the heart of the objection, and then fully understand it and its true source.

To do this, you must ask permission from the buyer to understand and explore the issue. Once explored, restate the concern as you understand it. Sometimes when you restate the objection, the buyer sees the issue more fully, and you get closer to the true source of the objection as a result. Even after the buyer confirms you understand perfectly, ask "What else?" and "Why" questions for clarification. Often it is the answer to that last "What else?" that contains the biggest barrier to moving the sale forward.

3.Respond Properly 
After you're confident you've uncovered all objections, address the most important objection first. Once you work through the greatest barrier to moving forward, other concerns may no longer matter or feel as important to the buyer.

You should do your best to resolve their issue right away. The more you can resolve issues in real time, the greater chance you have of moving the sale forward. If you need more information to resolve a specific concern, you may have to look something up. Don't wing it—buyers can sense that and it creates distrust. Long-winded responses can seem insincere, so keep your responses clear and to the point.

4.Confirm You've Satisfied the Objection 
Once you've responded to the buyer's objections, check if you've satisfied all of their concerns. Just because they nodded during your response doesn't mean they agreed with everything you said. Ask if the buyer is happy with your solution and explain your solution further if necessary. Some objections require a process to overcome, not just a quick answer.

If the customer isn't ready, don't try to force a commitment. Be sure not to accept a lukewarm "yes" for an answer though, either. Many buyers will accept a solution in the moment, but once you're out of sight or off the phone, the objection still remains.

When faced with sales objections, don't lose sight of your goal. Use the steps above to Listen, Understand, Respond and Confirm, and you will strengthen your relationships with buyers, overcome obstacles in the buying process, and move closer to the sale.

To your greater success,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales. 

Friday, September 1, 2017


Epic floods are forcing the world to think and act differently. Humanitarian efforts have been taking front stage on the world news. Some of our fellow human beings have been left with no homes, no food, no shoes. Many people affected by these disasters are literally starting over.

I'm constantly amazed at how resilient we humans are. No matter how dire our situations, we strive to right our ships--to establish a sense of normality. We suffer, yet find strength to carry on. We work together. Strangers reach out helping hands. Kindness abounds.

During challenging times, in order to keep our equilibrium, it's important to pause and reflect on what we do have; what is happening that's positive--even the smallest thing; what we're learning from the experience; and to focus just on the next step. Otherwise, it's easy to become overwhelmed and to stall out.

Like the picture of the flower growing in the parched earth, we are resilient. The power is within us to pick ourselves up, to start pulling our lives together (even if they don't look the same as before), and to move forward. It's times like this when we realize what's really important in life and how critical it is to combine efforts to lift up the whole.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt

Be well,

Peter Mclees
Mobile: 323-854-1713

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Collaboration is harder than just selling

Collaborating with prospects on their buyer’s journey to help them achieve their business objectives is hard work. But it’s easier than just selling.
I’ve written often about the fact that sales is not something that you do to a prospect. It’s a process you go through with a prospect. More than anything, sales is a service that you provide to your prospects.
Prospects rarely want you to sell them exactly what they think they need. You’re the expert. They want you to help them decide which solution represents the best solution for their objectives.
This collaboration with your prospects is hard work. There’s a reason why the word “labor” is the root of the word collaboration. It’s co-work, or co-labor, that ends up helping your buyer achieve the objective of their buyer’s journey: making a good decision to invest in a solution to help them achieve their objectives.
It would be a lot easier to just follow your set sales process and treat all prospects like interchangeable objects. Successful selling is not about taking the easy path. You may think that you can just copy your sales process from one opportunity to the next. But, it doesn’t work that way.
Every prospect is unique and needs to be served accordingly.
It starts with the questions you ask during discovery. They have to engage the interest of the buyer and challenge their current perceptions of what would be the best solution to meet their needs.
Most importantly, your questions have to demonstrate to the prospect that you’re engaged in the collaborative process of helping them move through their buyer’s journey. Too often sales reps have a standard list of questions that they trot out to ask every prospect. In those cases, your prospects usually know that you’re just going through the motions.
How? Because you don’t have perceptive follow-on questions to ask in response to their answers. Remember, it’s not the first question that demonstrates your value to the prospects. It’s all the questions that follow.

Selling is hard work. Ironically, it only makes it harder if you don’t collaborate with the buyer. The extra work you put into each deal, to engage and collaborate with the buyer to help them define and choose the best solution for their requirements, ultimately will increase your conversion rate. You’ll win more orders. While that is extra work, hitting your number is a lot easier than taking the easy path and not getting the order. After all, chasing quota from behind is no place to be.

To your greater success,

Peter C. Mclees, Sales Coach and Trainer
Smart Development
Mobile: 323-854-1713

We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales.