Drew Stevens Interview – Episode #114

by Richard Wilson on August 8, 2011

The following audio interview  is borrowed from our BusinessTraining.com platform and was originally recorded for our sales training program.   This interview is with sales management guru Drew Stevens.   Drew is a sales management, growth expert, and CEO of the Stevens Consulting Group. Drew helps companies clients connect with their own customers and grow meaningful relationships with them.

Through Drew’s consulting, workshops, and coaching practices he has helped 100’s of clients improve their sales performance. Within this valuable expert audio interview Drew provides $1,000’s worth of sales tips and best practices.    (Download this file in Mp3 format)


Interview Transcript: 

Ashley:  Hello everyone, and welcome to this BusinessTraining.com expert audio interview.  Today we’re joined by Drew Stevens, sales management expert, business growth expert and sales consultant at Stevens Consulting Group.  Thanks so much for being here today, Drew.

Drew Stevens:          Thank you so much for having me.  It’s a pleasure to be here.

Ashley:           Great.  Do you want to share what you do now at Stevens Consulting Group?

Drew Stevens:          Yes.  What I do is I help senior officers and their direct reports who struggle like mad to create customer-centered relationships that actually help bring in revenue to the organizations.

Ashley:           So, what does a normal day look like for you with a client?  If there is such a thing.

Drew Stevens: [Laughter]  It depends realistically on what the client is going through.  To tell you how I run things; there are really three phases to my business.  So, I have a consulting practice, I have a skill based workshop practice and then I have an individual executive coaching practice.

I believe when organizations are in trouble as many are today, there are several mitigations that can help them and I believe that those mitigations are process oriented, not an event.  So, as a good example of that, if somebody were to ask me might I be able to do sales training, the immediate response would be yes.  However, I would really want to have a good understanding of what the issues are in the organizations prior to just coming up with an event or a solution from the particular that says that we’re interested in training because sometimes I feel like organizations are suffering from [inaudible 00:01:41] when it comes to sales and business development.

Number one is that the personnel that are there don’t have the proper talent in order to conduct the job responsibilities that they’ve been hired for.  Number two is that some organizations lack a physical sales structure; in that that there is not a lot of reporting and accountability and implementation of accountables to insure the fact that selling professionals and their direct reports can actually be successful.

Now last but not least, 92% of most individuals that are in the sales force today and this includes sales managers in and of themselves, don’t have the methodology.  So, they go to the office, they start their day and they are not certain how to start it and how to end it.  Things become routine after a while but that’s necessarily a methodology, and training will not help that in any way, shape or form.

As a matter of fact, I have a client right now that has said to me numerous times they want to change the sales structure in the organization so they’ve asked me to come in and do sales training.  Now, you’ll like this Ashley, they have 425 representatives.  I started doing some “sales training” for them just to get things started within the account.  Nine people showed up and to say the least, they were nine prisoners.  Nothing is going to change.

Ashley: So how do you make training valuable then if it’s not something that’s easily taken on?

Drew Stevens: It’s an excellent question.  Well, first of all, when I had provided what I essentially do, my economic buyer is the senior officer of an organization.  I need to insure the fact that I’m getting buy in from the economic buyer of the organization in and of himself or herself.  What that means is not necessarily it’s a CEO or the CFO but it has to be the sales director.

I need to insure the fact that I’m not working with a narcissist but somebody who truly wants to change the culture and will be part of that change.  Number two, I don’t want anybody providing solutions for me and being prescriptive upfront.  So, in other words, where I started earlier, said can you do training?  The immediate response that is yet but truly I’d like to have better understanding of what the objectives that the client is trying to achieve, what the measurements of success might be and then what the value is that the organization would like to receive when done.

And then finally third, I’d like to know the budget as well as the timeframe to get these things done because I need to insure that my methodologies and what I will employ will be congruent with the organizational needs.  And the biggest thing about this is is not to be prescriptive.  I have an array of methodologies no one particular method will be applicable to no one account, each one is really personal but depending upon what that organization is going through.

Yet, I refuse to be prescriptive until I truly understand what the objectives are and the timeframe in which they are looking to meet those.  I want to become a value based partner with the organization and not just a vendor.

Ashley:  So how do you think your approach maybe differs from what you read in popular books and popular magazines?  Is there a difference between what you do and what’s there?

Drew Stevens: Very much so.  The biggest thing right now and I think it’s interesting enough what introduced the two of us is some of my writings.  Many people will say to me very similar to what you just asked, “What is different?”  My biggest approach is that I create customer centered relationships.

I’m looking to meet not only the economic buyer but I’m looking to create relationships.  In other words, more of a strategic approach.  Too many selling professionals today are very transactional and they are very tactical in their approach vis a vis many of them are cold calling today and I have been brandished North, South, East and West lately for several blogs and several articles that I’ve written where I’ve specifically stated that cold calling is just a nascent thing that will not exist in today’s economy.

Yet, many people and several people because they get very defensive behind the keyboard and the monitor have said that I don’t know what I’m talking about and I probably don’t utilize such methodologies, and I don’t.  There is no way that you will meet in today’s crazy, busy society a true economic buyer through cold calling.  You will do that through networking, you will do that by sharing intellectual property, you will do that by becoming a thought leader in your independent community.

Transactional methodologies do not work.  Not to mention the fact and this is really where it inches, and that is in today’s market it’s about customer to customer influences.  So, customers know more about organizations today than they ever had before due to the proliferation of the internet.  Therefore, any sales person that thinks that they will be successful cold calling have at it.  However, I will tell you that if I’m in need of a vendor or a supplier, the first thing that I will do is I will speak to my peer group first before I pick up the telephone and that’s the way that sales people need to operate today.

They need to operate within a particular niche. They need to have that niche talk about a particular company or the industry that they work in.  If possible, even the selling professional and then as they become known in their particular community, that’s when their name similar to a brand will manifest and they will create marketing attraction and people will want to do business with them because of that.

Ashley:           Can I interject a question real quick?

Drew Stevens:          Certainly.

Ashley: So, there is a difference between really actively looking for prospects and then conversely, writing the content, doing things like educational marketing and being found by customers.  Do you see a need for both of them together or can you get by by really integrating yourself into the community through social media and things like that?

Drew Stevens: That’s an excellent question, Ashley and actually it’s accommodation of the two.  In today’s crazy busy world, because of the internet, because of social media and because of the noise that’s out there, the fact is is that selling professionals today need to be much more active than they ever have been before and they need to do things a little bit differently.

So when I was first reared in sales in the 80s it was very easy just to pick up a telephone, tell a client you were coming over. It was easy to pick up a telephone and cold call.  In today’s market it’s not as easy anymore.  Number one, because they have so many customers have so many people calling upon them and number two, like you and I, we don’t  have the time.  Clients don’t have the time, so we need to do an array of things to keep visible in our communities.

As a matter of fact, part of this thought comes from some new technology I’m working on for one of my latest books and it’s really based upon three principles.  It’s based upon visibility, value and community and the reason why I say that is because number one, selling representatives need to be visible and they are visible by writing articles and networking and speaking at various events and getting third party endorsements and creating case studies and referrals and so on.

Secondly, when they are visible, they are then creating community which then allows those customer to customer influences to truly blossom, but more importantly, when that community is beginning to blossom people understand the value that that particular selling representative, business development manager is able to supply to the community and people say, because of that value and now because the interest in that value; I want to do business with that person or let me find out what I can about that person to truly influence additional sales.

And so selling professionals today really need to be more of a thought leader and less of an employee.  And the reason why I say what the difference is between the two of them; an employee will sit there and wait for the phone to ring.  An employee will sit there and make cold calls.  A true entrepreneur and somebody who really wants to make as much as they and really represent the organization will be out there creating this array of activity.

Ashley: So what do you say for an employer who doesn’t allow employees to do that?

Drew Stevens: And I do get that a lot.  What I say is take the bull by the horns, number one, or find yourself another employer.  And it’s an interesting statistic that I’m seeing out there today that the bureau of labor statistics by and large has seen growth in the sales market, so if people are truly unhappy they will begin to leave.

The problem is is that there is not a good corresponding set of good selling professionals coming into the market today and that is because of three things.  Number one, they are very transactional.  Number two, because of the post-recession issues people are afraid to move and number three, and it’s something that I’m very active in right now; many organizations conduct themselves very similar to the question that you asked and more importantly, many individuals and organizations do not believe that selling is a profession much like anything else.

So, many people are not very well educated in this endeavor.  They don’t have a lot of sales training and a lot of sales knowledge and because of that there is a true lack in creating these customer relationships.

Ashley:           So is there a large difference between creating a loyal customer or really servicing a potential client versus sales?

Drew Stevens: Oh goodness, yes.  And it’s interesting and I’ll back into it this way.  Years ago, when I first started in the world of sales, it truly was just that.  I had something that the client wanted or needed and because I had something that they wanted or needed I can exchange dollars for that want or need.  In today’s market, it’s really accommodation of marketing and selling together.  And interestingly enough, if one takes just a general marketing course, there is a notion known as integrated marketing of which sales is part of the process.

The division then is that marketing is a sharing of information in order to create value for to build a relationship with an organizational stakeholder.  Selling is then an exchange of that value for dollars.  So therefore, where years ago it was based upon want and need, today it is based upon value and relationship and I am then willing, or a customer rather better said, is then willing to exchange dollars for the value that they feel that they will gain from that relationship and that is specifically because customers today only want to do business with those that they know and those that they trust and they will continue to do that if in fact they trust you.

So, selling professionals really need to become a trusted advisor.  The day of supplier and vendor are slowly diminishing and that is simply because of the proliferation of the internet allows so much content to be available that customers are conducting their own research.  They automatically know what they want and need.  Now, it’s just a matter of creating that relationship to satisfy that need.

Ashley: So do you think that the internet has maybe made it more difficult for sales professionals then?

Drew Stevens: Goodness, yes.  Very much so.  Very much so and part of that problem too Ashley is simply this, what I see today happening is number one, there is an abundance of information so clients are free to gain as much as they can.  They gain that from industry reports, they gain that from customer current events and they are also able to gain this from research reports; whether it’s the annual report or some analyst reporting on the organization unless it’s a privately held firm.

The other issue though which really creates a large problem for selling professionals today and that is the fact that anyone today truly can work in an organization, decide to quit or get themselves terminated develop a website or a blog and automatically be known as a selling expert and these folks come into markets that they’ve never been involved with before.

And if you’ve been selling into that market, you now have competition that you did not have yesterday, last week or last month.  And some customers are not aware of who these folks are and what they bring to the table.  All they are looking for is value and if somebody is able to tell a good story on a blog or a website, you never know.  Now, this only holds water for large ticket items.  We’re not talking about commodities here, we’re talking about sales but if you’re talking in terms of trying to build these relationship and there is this cacophony of information that’s out there it does get overwhelming and it does get confusing for clients.

Ashley: Do you guys deal a lot with the psychology behind decision making when you consult with your clients?

Drew Stevens: Very much so.  We look at behavior, we look at persuasive techniques and we look at communication and it’s all centered on value but even so, I truly believe that a large part of that is needing to be looked at because there is science behind this.

Ashley: So, sort of to accompany that, is there a set of maybe soft skills or maybe it could be even hard skills too that you think a sales professional needs to be successful in this industry?

Drew Stevens: Yes, very much so.  I believe it all starts with having a selling methodology first of all because without a good selling methodology you do not have a pathway of bringing individuals into the sales funnel then bringing them to the closure in that sales funnel itself.

Number two is that many folks struggle with the structure that has been required, the science behind creating those relationships that bring people into that funnel and it’s unfortunate because you need to understand persuasive techniques, you need to understand communication techniques and most importantly, you truly need to understand negotiation techniques; all of which are taught in training classes through webinars but again, these are events and what we’re dealing with here are processes.  And last but not least is then creating a post-sales process.

Part of that post-sales process actually – let me back into this once again and that is, included in the selling process and then post-sale is a level of customer services and it is proven that 54% to 60% of every business development transaction involves customer service.  So that if a client believes, or a prospective client believes that they have not been serviced well and they are not getting into some [inaudible 00:18:19] they are not apt to return to that particular sales rep a second time, so in order to create these relationships, one really needs to look at the level of customer service which then gets into a whole array of other factors that scientific and soft skills combined that can affect the sales issue; a sales closure, something of that nature.

Ashley:           Right.  Are there certain characteristics that you see prevalent in successful sales people?

Drew Stevens: Very much so.  Number one, they are dressed for success and it’s interesting because many folks will say to me, “That’s not important.”  It most certainly is.  I recently had provided a training workshop for a group of commercial mortgage selling professionals, and these are selling professionals that truly can operate with anywhere between a million to a million and a half dollars per year.  They get an interesting base salary and then their compensation can literally be a seven-figure income.

And I had said, “You need to have good clothes.  You need to have a good briefcase, a good day planner, a good pen.”  A gentleman said to me, “Do you think that somebody signing a ten million dollar loan is going to care whether I have a Bic pen or a Mont Blanc?”  And I said to him, “You better believe that he will without a doubt.”

And part of that professionalism looks at your presence and how you carry yourself.  There is a fine line between cocky and confident and we never want to be cocky with our clients.  We want to create that array of customer service at any one point in time.  Another factor with great sales reps and I have an article on this that I’ve written several years ago and I just continually update it but I have seven principles but just another two or three out of these is, number one, the fact that it is all about good customer service.

Return calls when you say you’re going to return a call.  I have a return call policy within 90 minutes.  I have an email policy within three to six hours, depending upon whether or not I’m with a client or traveling but you need to ensure the fact that you remain close to your clients.  And the other thing that is very good for highly successful sales people is they manage their time well.  They know how to prioritize, they don’t spend much time behind windshield time and they truly optimize their time.

They work in blocks of time, they work with what’s important at that particular time and they don’t get phased by urgent issues that hit them at any particular point in time.  Selling is a roller coaster and you need to understand how to marginalize that day at any one particular point in time.

Ashley: Do you implement these as well even if you’re not working specifically in the sales department for your day or whatever like that?

Drew Stevens: If you’re asking me if I use these principles.  Yes, I’ve used them for 29 years and they continue to develop as even I speak to you today.  I am a big advocate of time management so when you had called earlier today and said, “Are you ready to go?”  I was expecting you half an hour to 45 minutes earlier, so I know it’s coming up in my day.  I actually carry not only an electronic planner and I have that backed up not only on my phone but on computer, but I also carry a paper planner for different things that come up during the day and so that I can write notes when I need to write notes to myself or I have a tape recorder.  I’m outdating myself here but I have a digital recorder anyway where I can make notes mentally if I’m in the automobile or someplace where I’m indisposed and don’t have a pen and paper near me at any particular point in time.

My customer service, I’d like to say is impeccable.  You call me – your call will be returned in 90 minutes.  Email is literally returned within three to six hours, if I can.  If I can’t, I have one of my virtual assistants do that.  And as far as projects are concerned, if I have a project on the plate, I’m usually ahead of the curve, I’m never behind it.

So, if I knew that as a good example of you had questions that you needed me to prepare and you wanted those a week ahead of time you would’ve gotten the answers to those questions or even those questions two weeks ahead of time so then I work from a sense of importance, [inaudible 00:22:58] Seven Principles of Highly Effective People.

Ashley: Was there a point in time where you weren’t so efficient or you weren’t such a good sales person and if so, how did you overcome that and how did you change from those days?

Drew Stevens: I want to say that I’ve always been a good sales person but I will tell you, I believe that came from my background; whole other story but I had a very, very dysfunctional home that I came from.  It’s part of another book that I’m in the process of writing at this particular point that I’m hopeful will be done before the end of the year or the beginning of next and it will be a good heartfelt story but because of that I have been independent pretty much since the days that I was 12 or 13 years of age and I believe that my time management skills, my customer service skills and my desire to create relationships stemmed from those days of my youth where I was alone and really needed to fend for myself.

Ashley: Was there a training or any sort of development that you did for yourself that really helped to bring out your sales skills?

Drew Stevens: Number one, part of a highly successful selling people skills that I talk about and I’ll just answer that from earlier is one of self-mastery.  I believe that good sales people always seek to improve each and every day; whether they read a book, listen to an audio, read an article, it does not matter but they seek to improve each and every day.

One of my first experiences in sales and sales training was at Dale Carnegie course back in 1983 or something like that and I had an absolutely wonderful instructor by the name of Norm Strauss who I absolutely loved and still do and still continue to talk about him and I was also fortunate because after I had taken that course it was only three or four years later that I had actually walked into two very wonderful sales mentors who had worked with me individually for a number of years, so I believe I have been coached since roughly 1983 and even to this day I still continue to use coaching where possible.

Although, I don’t attend classes as much anymore, I make use of the mastermind groups and I make use of very successful individual coaches to help push me to the next level and that’s in a variety of ways.  It could be based upon fees, it could be based upon methods, it could be based upon new processes, assessments, any of those tools that I can use to help create better environments for my own clients.

Ashley: Maybe aside from training, do you have another list of top three ways to really become successful in the sales industry?

Drew Stevens: Outside of just the training in and of itself, I believe that mentorship does not exist within any corporations and I’m a big advocate of mentorship; always have been and always will be.  I received that many years ago, even as a child because I was competing in track and field at the time and I had an absolutely wonderful track coach and he taught me a number of things, and so my mentorship and my desire for mentorship comes from that.

I do believe that mastermind groups, which was something that was created by Napoleon Hill and his work Think and Grow Rich is a very successful technique for helping those that are in the sales environment because you will be challenged by a peer advisory group to reach new heights.

The biggest thing though about creating mastermind groups is you need to ensure that you have people that will create; number one, candid dialog, number two; engage you in crucial conversations and number three, help you implement accountables.  Those three principles are the way that we run our coaching clubs in my organization and that has become a very, very essential tool.  And the last but not least, and not to be too repetitive is that it’s really up to the individual selling professional.  Therefore, they should attend lectures, they should read books, they should go online and take a class online or research something online but selling in and of itself does not exist in a bubble and it happens each and every day and new things develop each and every day.

Therefore, it’s important from a perspective of self-mastery, if a selling professional wants to improve that they use each day as a classroom and conduct something to evaluate the day, learn from it and use it in tomorrow’s class.

Ashley:  Do you think that with all of the information available to us as consumers and all of the information that we can gather from our peers, do you think that maybe sales and marketing and customer service are blurring together?

Drew Stevens: That’s an interesting question because one of my latest books talks about this.  I have a new technique, as part of this book, called MASS and it’s a proprietary formula based upon four principles; marketing, accounting, sales and service.  And yes, I believe that the world of selling or the world of business development really relies upon four pillars.

Number one is marketing to create visibility.  Number two is accounting, which means you’re not only bringing money into the organization but you’re reinvesting that money back into the organization or back into yourself.  Three, it’s about selling and that is no matter whether you’re a physician or an attorney or veterinarian or a plumber, the fact is is that if you’re an entrepreneur and you need to conduct business and bring revenue, you need to be engaged in healthy sales conversation.  And last but not least is the fact that it really then relies all upon customer service.

People want to engage with selling professionals, business development professionals on the basis of a relationship and the relationships will only manifest when people believe they are served well and therefore customer service is a large part of it, especially when you look at today’s US based economy which is more service based than it is product based.

If you think about the restaurants, if you think about the internet it is all about customer service and if we treat people poorly, they will tell others.

Ashley: It’s true, word of mouth is a fast moving thing.

Drew Stevens: And it’s interesting because one of the things that I’m researching now is and part of this is for my own business but also for my own self-education, in looking at Zappa’s, the shoe retailer.  They don’t develop anything, they have nothing.  Zip, nada.  All they are is a distribution channel, yet they are a billion dollar company and they are a billion company simply because of one thing, customer service.

And if others can learn from that, imagine how profitable they would be because customer service which really costs nothing.

Ashley: Yeah, I mean in terms of everything else that a company does customer service is a very easy thing to invest in.

Drew Stevens: It really is.

Ashley: Yeah.  Now, I wonder and you may have already mentioned this but do you have a number one tip, something that you could say has saved you thousands of dollars or a mistake that you now know of, do you have something like that that maybe I could glean from you if I were trying to work in the sales industry?

Drew Stevens: Very much so.  My number one tip is to ask provocative questions, not just be a name, so how are you today, questions.  True questions based upon what the customer is potentially facing but those questions really need to stem from exorbitant research and as I’ve been saying now for individuals I coached for well over 20 years, you really need to know the customer’s business, you need to know the customer’s competitors and you need to know the customer’s industry.   And when you can have a wonderful image and visual of what that customer is facing and create a series of questions based upon objectives that the client would like to obtain, now you become a trusted advisor because you truly are engaged in that customer’s business and this does not matter if it’s product or service.

You might be a hardware manufacturer and only producing hard drives.  You might be a supplier of leather goods, does not matter what it is.  Clients today would love to have conversations so that you know their business and help them become more profitable and more productive.

Ashley:  So, listening then is important.

Drew Stevens: Oh, heavens.  Yes.  And I will not sound right Ashley by saying God gave us two ears one mouth.  I will say one of the best tips I’ve ever received was pausing and not always aligning with the customer.  Human nature would say something to the tune of, as an example of, if you would say to me that I just went on vacation with my wife and we went yachting some place and the automatic reply would be, “Oh goodness, I remember when I went into the Caribbean.”  Let the customer talk.

There is no reason to validate anything.  You are simply there to listen and then when appropriate engage, but truly listen and then ask questions because one of the things l learned in that Dale Carnegie class 20 some odd years ago was simple like this, the more questions you ask, the more conversational the prospective client.  Not only are they more conversational but they give you a [inaudible 00:33:45] of information.  So when you’re questioning, you’re listening.  Then you really need to be an engaged listener.

Ashley: And is there a training for that?

Drew Stevens: Yes, there is.  We conduct quite a bit of that, I might say.

Ashley: Is there anything else you want to add to this?  This has all been really great information.

Drew Stevens:  I think the couple of other things to add to this would be to really understand where to go on your research.  I am overwhelmingly surprised today when I speak with selling representatives and I ask them what periodicals they read and one of the things they do to keep up with things and interestingly enough, almost 87% say to me they don’t read the daily newspaper.

They are not engaged in the local business pages.  Now, as an older person, I’m only 45 and I’m not that old but I grew up with newspaper, I grew up with print and so it was convenient for me to pick up the paper and I still do.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t use my computer, it doesn’t mean that I don’t use my iPad to gain things electronically but more importantly than that I’m very surprised that the sales reps don’t look at the Wall Street Journal online or in print.

They don’t research industry trait publications and see what their companies and their competitors are doing and they don’t do enough lead generation.  I see too many sales people today reliant upon the marketing department or reliant upon the organizational’s CRM systems to conduct the work for them.  That cannot happen.  Sales people need to think of themselves as the CEO of the organization.

In fact, when we conduct training in my group what we typically do is we invite people in for our skills based training and typically I’ll even conduct this with my executive coaching programs and I simply ask them to give me their business card and I rip up their business card right in front of them.  And obviously they are surprised by this, but then I provide them with a brand new business card and simply give them the title of CEO.  Immediately, there is a change in the body language, immediately there is a change in the psychology of the sale because now they are thinking in terms of profit and loss, now they are thinking about what it means when their territory might get whacked on a net loss on something.

Because most sales people think in terms of gross.  They also think tactically and they think, interestingly enough, it’s diametrically opposed; most sales professionals today, if they are out there and I’ve seen this now close to 30 years that I’ve been doing this.  You tell somebody that you’re taking away an account, they immediately scream and they say, “that’s my territory, you cannot do that.”  Yet, you have somebody engaged with a client and the client says, “That’s Drew.  That’s terrific, I’m willing to do that but it’s got to be $10,000 less.”

Do you know what the sales rep says?  “Let me go back to my manager and talk to him about this and see what I can do for you Mr. Customer.”  They bow down.  They just fall, so rather than negotiate; if you are in sales as a CEO, would a CEO make that decision or would they stand their ground because of confidence and more importantly, because of the profit that they seek to gain.  I guarantee you it’s the latter.  So I think that sales professionals really need to have a keener sense of thought when it comes to managing their accounts, when it comes to negotiating those accounts and when it concerns standing up for every piece of profitability that they need to represent for their organization.

Ashley:           Do you think some of that bowing down comes from top down management?

Drew Stevens: I think that it comes down to honestly just poor sales execution and simply the lack of skills in knowing what to say.

Ashley:           Okay.  Do you think that can change when the corporate environment changes as well?

Drew Stevens: If the structure is there and the sales person is taught how to negotiate well, the answer to that is yes.

Ashley: Okay.  It’s very interesting to hear. I mean everyone has different takes on what makes for a good sales person.  I mean it’s all very similar but it’s definitely interesting to hear your take as well.

Drew Stevens: Well, thank you.  I appreciate it.

Ashley:  Was there one more point you wanted to throw in there as well?

Drew Stevens: Well, I think the only other point is in today’s world and a large part of this is something that I’m looking at in my spare time and that is the fact that sales needs to be a profession and when I say that, just like there is management training, just like there is leadership training, there really needs to be more sales training.

One of the things that really boggles my mind is that every organization that exists today requires income.  The government, profit and nonprofit organizations.  And yet, you look at post-recession and even during the recession, budgets were slashed across the board on sales training, business development training, customer service training.  I don’t understand how organizations can do that when their biggest asset outside of their clients are the people that are out there each and every day on the front lines fighting for revenue.

Now, there is a two-fold issue to this and that is simply this.  At one particular point in time, many individuals that were in sales and I think it still exists today rely upon the organization to invest in them and invest in sales training saying, “I work for you, so therefore you need to pay for my sales training.”

The other issue is the fact that most professionals that are in selling today do not consider themselves as that, they just consider themselves what I said earlier, as employees and therefore, I truly believe needs to happen is that sales people need to take ownership of the little bit of their investment and their training as well as organizations.  And what organizations need to do is they need to create on boarding programs and they need to continue training their sales reps because if they are looking for more revenue, then you truly have got to increase the investments so that these folks are more knowledgeable.

However, that said, sales people should stop creating this paradigm that it is the organization’s problem because the one thing that can never be taken away from any individual in any position is education.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, a post-doctorate degree, a fellowship, no matter what, education knowledge is something that cannot be taken away.

If people are out on the front lines every day, and they truly believe that sales is a profession that they want to be in, then they should invest in themselves and place some amount of money in that every single year to increase their presence in the sales world.

Ashley: That could be applied to almost every industry too.

Drew Stevens: Most certainly, that’s true.

Ashley: Yeah.  Someone else mentioned too that doctors go to conferences, pilots have to recertify themselves but I guess once after we get our business degree that’s all we have to do, right?

Drew Stevens: That’s exactly it and it’s interesting that you say that and picked that up because the essence of one of my first books called Split Second Selling and I call it the practice of selling because I say that we have to manage our method of conducting sales business every single day.  Athletes practice, musicians practice.  Doctors practice and lawyers practice.  Why don’t sales people practice?  They just get out there and do it.

You would not see an NFL athlete never practice and just run a route on a Sunday.  You would never see a major league baseball player simply walk out on the dug out and start hitting homeruns or singles.  So I don’t understand why sales people continually conduct themselves in such a manner.  They pick up the phone without knowing what to say before, during and after hello and wonder why the person hung up on them.

Ashley: Right.  Right.  Do you think that this is maybe a stigma of the industry?  No one told us differently?

Drew Stevens:  I believe there is a three-fold problem. Number one, individuals in the sales process have not even thought about it for themselves.  And part of it is in line with what you just said, nobody told them before.  Number two, there is a lack of mentorship and coaching, so they don’t know what to do and they try anything themselves and number three, more so than anything else, they are waiting for somebody to tell them whether it’s the organization or whoever.

And you know, that’s the piper syndrome and that’s never going to work.

Ashley: Never?

Drew Stevens:  Never.

Ashley:  Well, great.  Unless there is anything else you want to add, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time.

Drew Stevens:          No.  Nothing that I can think of at this particular point in time.

Ashley:  Well, great.  Thank you so much, Drew.  This has been a pleasure speaking with you.

Drew Stevens:  It’s been my pleasure too.  I will say that if anybody has any questions that they would like to run past me, I do have a blog that people can read and that’s available at stevensconsultinggroup.com and Stevens is with a V.  I also have several books that are available and my blog and my website are all ubiquitous, so you are free to look at the blog, listen to interviews; radio interviews, television interviews, articles that I have on the site as well.  That all can be found on the same page.

In addition to that, I have a weekly podcast known as Sales Acceleration where I conduct anywhere between a minute and a half and two minute tips and techniques on the sales world and how to help individuals get started in sales and how to reach not only better levels of lead generation but sales closure.   And lastly, as I mentioned, I’m working on that last book known as Customer Attraction and if anybody would like a free chapter of that while it’s in development, please feel free to email me and I’ll be happy to provide for you a free chapter at this particular point in time.

Ashley:  Great.  Do you want to share your email address here as well?

Drew Stevens:  Sure.  It’s drew@stevensconsultinggroup.com.

Ashley:  Great.  Well, you’re a busy man.

Drew Stevens:  It’s all about the visibility and it’s interesting that you should say that because that’s a level in which in I conduct my coaching with.  I have a template that I use and conduct anywhere between 12 to 14 different activities each and every week to ensure visibility out in the field and interestingly enough, this is one of those.  Conducting something like an interview so that my community can hear about what I’m doing, hear of my thoughts and I’m known as a thought leader in that community, so much so that the blog has been nominated three times in the last two months for one of the top 50 blogs in the world on sales and sales leadership.

Ashley:  I picked the right person to ask then, yeah?

Drew Stevens:  Yes, you did.

Ashley:  Alright, well thanks again Drew.

Drew Stevens:  My pleasure.  Anytime and I look forward to remaining in touch.

 

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