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The Effect that Good and Bad Apples have on your Sales Team

18 Sep

A “great” salesperson isn’t just a performer – he/she is a team player who is able to help co-workers due to their experience from past challenges and successes. A “bad” salesperson isn’t only a poor individual performer, they are a bad employee even as they attempt to sell for the organization.

I often talk about the importance of hiring strong salespeople, but today I’m sharing a true story about the positive impact of a great salesperson – and another example of the ramifications of keeping a bad salesperson.

The Good Apple

A few years ago, I was consulting with a company and running their monthly sales meeting. Other than their monthly meeting and separate one-on-ones with their leadership, I had little contact with the salespeople outside of those two hours a month. My job was to run a great meeting and motivate the salespeople while keeping them on track.

What the meeting was lacking was a veteran salesperson. I asked ownership why their top three performers weren’t required to attend the meeting and convinced them that we needed to have the best of the three present at the next three sales meetings.

We quickly determined that Julie was their best all-around salesperson. She knew which suspects made great prospects… she knew how to balance the workload and pressure of hitting her goals… and Julie knew how to close.

Because I wasn’t a full-time salesperson in the company, Julie was better equipped to share real examples with the greener group of 8 salespeople. I asked Julie to attend three meetings and basically, made her a one-person panel.

  1. At the first meeting, I asked her 10 questions about lead generation and the activities she focused on in order to always have enough prospects in her sales pipeline.
  2. In the second meeting, I focused my 10 questions on targeting and qualifying. Which suspects and prospects deserved her time?
  3. In the third meeting, it was all about the close. How did she hit her record numbers over the past year? Exactly what was her sales process all the way to close? She knew the questions that I was going to ask ahead of time and never failed to show up prepared with great examples and stories.


By the end of that third meeting, I saw the sales team’s eyes light up. For the next few months it was WWJD – What Would Julie Do? We talked about how she built up her base of clients over the last four years. We discussed her obstacles and how she overcame them. The effect she had on that group as a significant sales performer was immeasurable. By the end of that year, the company had surpassed their 16% projections – mainly because of the newer group of salespeople getting out of the gate faster than expected. I give most of the credit to Julie.

The Bad Apple

This past year, I had a 6-month project working with a software company. Before I started the engagement, we gave a sales assessment to the entire team of 11 salespeople. 4 of them were clearly wired for sales. 6 of them seemed coachable and had the potential to become top performers. One was an obvious misfit for the sales role.

Thomas was the sore thumb. He had been there for two years and hit his goals just once out of all eight quarters. I joined him on a sales call and caught him out-right lying to a prospect. As I dug in, I realized that there were two tough customers the company worked with – both clients had been landed by Thomas. In my second month, a project manager shared with me that there had recently been an issue with a client that had been promised a delivery date that wasn’t humanly possible. Guess who was behind that promise? Thomas.

Thomas showed up to half of the internal meetings late. He blew me off as someone that couldn’t help him with his sales process. He had a likeable personality and supposedly a huge rolodex when he was hired, but he wasn’t a good salesperson.

The year prior, half of the salespeople hadn’t hit their numbers. It didn’t seem to be a problem with their software, operations or delivery. The problem seemed to rest squarely on the sales team’s lack of activities. And Thomas had the least phone calls, least appointments and fewest proposals the prior quarter.

Harvard Review recently did a study ( and found that “employees are 37% more likely to commit misconduct if they encounter a co-worker with a history of misconduct. This result implies that misconduct has a social multiplier of 1.59 — meaning that, on average, each case of misconduct results in an additional 0.59 cases of misconduct through peer effects.”

I convinced management to cut ties with Thomas. Without his negative presence, I’m confident that most of this team will hit their 3rd and 4th quarter numbers if they commit to the activities. For those underperforming, their chances probably doubled the day he walked out the door.

The bad apple exists in most companies. If he/she sits in the sales team, they are costing you real money. Good apples pay dividends – not just in terms of their individual production, but the amazing effect that they can have on the rest of the team.

It’s time to grow faster~ Drew

Salespeople Can Produce 4X

6 Nov


I’ve seen many examples of salespeople and even teams that have achieved an ROI of 4X (gross margin / cost). In some industries, it is easier, but I’m a strong believer that most salespeople can reach that production level by year 2. I’m assuming that your B2B product(s) or service(s) cost more than $1,000 – and that your GM is more than 20%. If you fit that criteria, it’s time to focus on ROI and 4X.

Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) for Salespeople: 
Total Margin (Not Sales!) / Salary + Commission + Benefits

Julie sells $1 Million in 2018.
Her Gross Margin is 34% = $340K

Julie’s salary is $60K and her commission is $34K.
The company’s benefits cost approximately 20%.
$94K * 1.2 = $112,800 is the expense of this employee

$340K / $112,800 = 3.01 is her ROI

When you simplify it, salespeople only do three positive and/or negative things for your company:

  1. Make you money or cost you money.
  1. Boost or hurt the company and team morale.
  1. Externally, they positively or negatively affect your company’s reputation.

They’re Just a Number? 

I hate to turn salespeople into numbers and that isn’t where I start; especially in the interview and training process. Your sales force is much more than salesperson #12 that sits in the 34th cubicle on the 5th floor producing 3X.

If you’ve read any of my previous material in my newsletter, blogs or book, Sales Neutrinos, you realize that I put a lot of emphasis on the qualitative side of appropriately selecting, managing and motivating employees. Every salesperson is a unique human being and typically you should be helping them versus berating them over their ROI. If you hired well, assume they are another important future 4X producer on your team – and do everything in your power to get them there (or fall short at 3X).

Managing salespeople is actually a lot easier than we make it. They are working for you to help sell more goods or services. Long term, it’s about measuring their production. If they aren’t delivering a strong return, then they aren’t making a lot in commissions… and they probably aren’t happy either.

Hire, train and manage them well. In terms of numbers, first and foremost, concentrate on ROI; the rest of the metrics are secondary.

It’s time to grow faster~ 

Better Sales Series

4 Oct

I’ve started doing a video series on YouTube titled “Better Sales”. Please check out my latest two videos below!

It’s time to grow faster~

Drew Schmitz

Overcoming Those Dang Objections

4 Oct


You thought you were going to close the deal – and now you hear one of the five put-offs listed below. What gives? As a salesperson, you must take accountability for everything – and when you do so, you start to realize that a lot of this is actually in your control.

Every salesperson should expect one of these objections:

“I need approval from my manager…” In the early stages, you aren’t just selling to one person. So ask about who else is going to be involved in the decision. You also need to make sure that you understand what all decision makers are thinking from the first step.

“We don’t have it in the budget…” Initially, you must ask about their budget. The pricing “fit” is determined as you make the sale – not at the end. There should be no sticker shock when it’s time to close because you’ve already had conversations about your pricing.

“We are looking at other options…” What – really? You didn’t know from the on-set which competitors they were looking at in comparison? You need to know who/what you are selling up against. That way you can overcome this through selling your value proposition prior to the close.

“I don’t think we are ready to make a change right now…” These last two objections are more difficult to anticipate ahead of time. It seemed like they were buyers in 2018 – and for some reason that has changed. Overcoming this one starts with simply asking “Beyond the expense, what are your concerns?” IF they are responding to fear of change, then you need to show them the danger of NOT making a change. What is it costing them in delaying this purchase?

“This just isn’t a good time…” I hate this one as it’s ambiguous.  But again, take accountability for the deal because if it’s your fault, it may be within your control to help them see that this IS a good time. By asking better open-ended questions along the way, you will reduce the number of times you hear this in the final stages. That said, it may not be the right time. Unless they just aren’t interested, you are going to stay in touch with them every week – until it is the right time.

  • Encourage them to share concerns early in the sales process.
  • Communicate with all of the decision makers.
  • Be aware of their budget and how they can afford the purchase. Your product or service should essentially save them money within 12 months and you are building excitement about the earnings or savings tied in with only your solution.
  • Understand your competitors and how betting on your company isn’t a gamble.

Once again, my primary message is to anticipate the objections above in the early stages. If you expect them and do your homework on the front end, you are going to overcome their concerns and hear a lot fewer objections in the closing stages.

It’s time to grow faster~

Drew Schmitz



What is a Salesperson Exactly?

27 Mar


I was having coffee with someone last week that does online sales assessments. We started to break down what a B2B salesperson really means in 2018. I tend to oversimplify and think of salespeople as an inside or outside employee. Smaller companies tend to only have those two positions – but let’s break down the roles into individual sales skills sets (this blog will not cover the growing list of marketing & social media roles).

In an ideal situation, you have all these people on your team. If not, it’s important to think of these nine roles and who takes on these responsibilities inside your sales team. Some people can do 2-3 of these positions, but almost no one is very good at more than a couple.

  1. Sales Leadership: it could be more than one role depending on the size of your organization.
  2. Sales Trainer: someone in the company that teaches the product or service (and company culture) to the sales team. Typically, “how to sell” (and close) is still taught by the manager.
  3. Sales Admin: they are the organizer and support for all the roles on this list.
  4. Sales Channel Manager: this position focuses on managing and selling to distributors. Many companies obviously don’t need this title depending on how their product or service is sold.
  5. Account Manager: I have a hard time calling this a sales position unless they are servicing and focused on account penetration (or else this is simply customer service). They typically work full time at a desk. In many companies, the inside salesperson has this responsibility.
  6. Inside Salesperson: works the phone and email and converts conversations into appointments or demos. They focus on generating leads at the top of the sales funnel.
  7. Technical Salesperson or Sales Engineer: they are the topic expert. In software, they do the demos and discuss content. In other technology companies, this is the Sales Engineer.
  8. Outside Salesperson: someone that opens the door to a proposal stage. They work the entire sales funnel from lead to close.
  9. Closer: sometimes it’s the sales leader that comes in to help close all the deals. Often it is the responsibility of the outside salesperson. Regardless, closing is a trait that many do not have and separating this role should be considered.

It starts at the top. Many companies end up promoting their best salespeople into sales leadership. I’m guessing a promotion to Sales Manager/Director/VP is successful half the time at best (unless the executives above are matching their other abilities to the position). Sometimes effective sales leaders are only average salespeople, but they understand the science of sales and how to motivate a team.

Regardless of how many different sales titles you have in your organization, it starts with the sales leader. He or she is going to have a lot of input into how these roles are divided. In an ideal scenario, they look at every individual on the sales team and place them in the right role to suit their talents.

I’m a big believer in Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept; there are 3 circles for defining what someone is best at: (a) Passion (b) Skills and (c) Money. If you are skilled and passionate about a certain area of sales, that is where you will have the most value. Understanding someone’s passion, skill set and economic engine lead to more success and less stress. These three circles help define where someone best fits into a sales team.

There are a lot of assessment tools that I use for hiring but start with the Hedgehog Concept and you have a quick litmus test of how to design your sales team.

Forward, never straight~ Drew

Better sales recruitment. Better sales coaching. Better sales. 

It’s time to grow faster.


The Challenger Sale?

12 Dec

goldfish jumping - improvement and career concept

Recently, someone asked me about the Challenger Sales program; it gave me pause and led me to thinking about all of the sales training methodologies that have been introduced over the years. The long list includes sales models like SPIN, Conceptual Selling, SNAP, CustomerCentric, Sandler and now, the newer Challenger model. Below is a short recap of these six models. For the purpose of this blog, I’ve summarized this list in very simplified terms.

SPIN (Situation Problem Implication Need-Payoff) Selling – Don’t tell the prospect… ASK and help them find the best solution

Conceptual Selling – Listen, share and get commitment

SNAP Selling – Keep sales on track by keeping it simple, being invaluable, aligning with the prospect and raising priorities

CustomerCentric – Collaborate and empower the buyer to buy

The Sandler System – Uncover the pain, determine obstacles, decide together to continue; move on or close the deal

The Challenger Development Program – Teach, tailor and take control. The customer already knows what they want, so your job is to inform them about larger business problems, ideas and insights. Through educating and challenging them on their preconceived beliefs, you will ultimately lead them to the sale.

There are many similarities between all of these models. To a great extent, a lot of the solutions are just semantics. Most of these systems can be effective – and most of them still need to be tweaked according to your customer and your solution.

I personally like the Challenger model because of the initial premise – the prospect may already believe that they know what they want. They may not give you the time to go through discovery questions and therefore you may need to challenge the buyer to consider alternative solutions.

I also prefer the Sandler model because it stresses the need to qualify through questions and understanding at the beginning of the process. It also encourages you to walk away if your organization doesn’t have the best solution and it isn’t worth the time to push back. You simply cannot always customize your solution and/or be all things to all buyers.

Ultimately, these are the most important areas on which to focus:

1. Teach your internal sales team a model. Any sales process is better than winging it.

2. Always be consultative, collaborative or whatever you want to call it. The old-fashioned push doesn’t work.

3. Understand the decision maker(s) and their personality style which determines how they buy.

4. Uncover the prospects’ potential needs. Whether that’s gathering intel before even speaking with them or through a discovery process (even if it’s only 2-3 questions).

5. Figure out their budget parameters.

6. Determine if your solutions are a fit (or move on).

7. If there is a pain, then move forward with the Sandler or a pain-selling process.

8. If you KNOW they are a good prospect but the pain or solution is unclear, then move into the Challenger Sales. Educate and push back … still moving them to yes or no.

It’s complicated.The best salespeople can use both Sandler and Challenger accordingly. The sticking point is whether you continue to push the sale or give up and decide to move on. I’m concerned that the Challenger model can be a waste of time if the salesperson is overly bullheaded and refuses to give up and possibly offends the customer or prospect; but the Sandler pain-solution doesn’t always work with good prospects when they won’t reveal their challenges and needs. Teach your salespeople a method; more senior salespeople can learn more than one. In the year ahead, I challenge sales leadership to buy their teams a few books and discuss the different approaches in selling your solution.

Forward never straight~ Drew

Sales Neutrinos

5 Feb

Cover Neutrinos

To those of you who have consistently read my blog –  or “stumbled” into it recently, I have finished an eBook called Sales Neutrinos. If you are interested in a free copy, please reach out. I’ve told everyone that it will cost you in 2016 but I’m giving it out complimentary in 2015!

Essentially, the book is an organized version of my blog – laid out in a linear manner with some new content. I would love to have you take a look. The forward is below…

What is smaller than an atom?

Recently, scientists have identified subatomic particles called neutrinos – they are so miniscule and weigh so little that no one has been able to measure their mass yet. Yet neutrinos are among the most abundant particles in the universe and by finding them, we are able to learn a great deal about the structure and the history of the universe.

I’m a bit obsessive about the root of a word, cause, movement or ideology. I want to understand the reason behind why certain salespeople overachieve while others flounder. Hence, my sales book gets the title Sales Neutrinos. We’re here to uncover the sales truths at the core!

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

Blue Octopus LLC

How to Close More Deals

18 Dec


The one question that I’m asked most often is simply “How can I close more deals?“. It’s a loaded question, but if I had only one response it would be that you have a specific sales process which gives you control throughout the entire sale.

Sales is completely different than customer service. In customer service, you bend over backwards to take care of the customer. You react to their needs.

In sales, you only bend over backwards if there is a high probability of closing a deal. As the salesperson, you drive the deal and the prospect reacts. You still want to help people but only if you get something in return. If this sounds selfish than you probably aren’t wired for sales.

1. Call the decision maker(s). If you can send over some more information, I can ask my manager…” How many times have you heard this? You are calling the wrong person and need to be talking to that manager directly.

2. Don’t waste time on maybe’s. Sometimes it is hard to tell if people are seriously interested. It’s your job to always ask questions that identify the following:

  • Am I speaking to the right person?
  • Do they need my product or service?
  • Do they understand my offering?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Do they have the budget for my product or service? (see below)

3. You have a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. That means having a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. I repeat – have a series of questions prepared for every phone call or meeting. This requires preparation. Are you putting the work into it?

4. There is always momentum. From the first phone call to inking the deal, there is always a next step. Whether it’s a phone call, meeting or a simple answer, it’s on the calendar and both parties are in agreement on those deadlines. You are continually dictating or asking for the next step. This weekly or daily momentum is where a salesperson is essential.

5. Every meeting has a preset agenda. It’s your job to make it a good one. Do you know everyone involved in making the decision on their end? Figure out who should be there and don’t hold the meeting until everyone can be present. Prior to the meeting, speak to every person involved and simply ask them directly what they’d like on the agenda.

6. At the meeting, use a version of this script.

  • Meeting Opener: “I’m not sure if I’m visiting at the right time, but what I’d like to do is just ask you a number of questions about your business. I’d also like to answer any and all of your questions. I can take whatever time you need today or in the future to go as deep as you wish. If it looks like there is no value, we will probably both realize that at the same time and we can end the discussion and get on with our days. Are you comfortable with that approach?”
  • Pain Probing Questions: “I’m never sure which is more important, but usually when I’m talking to a CEO, they’re often dealing with X issues and it’s usually one of two things:” (next should be a money and time problem that is related to your product or service’s solution).
  • A Catch-All Question: Is there anything else keeping you up at night in regards to X?”
  • Summary: “In regards to evaluating X, what were you planning to do next?” OR summarize issues and ask “What would you like to discuss first?

7. At the meeting, discuss the budget. 

  • What do these issues cost you per month“?” They won’t know. “How could we find out?” What do you think that problem is costing you every year?” They answer and you respond “Interesting. Where did that come from?” (their best guess or an actual number). “On a scale of 1-10, 1 not being a problem, 10 being a must change, what number would you give your intention to fix the problem?”
  • What is your process for making a decision on this in the present quarter?” Somewhere in here you should find out their process for vendor decisions. If there are a lot of steps and decision makers, ask “How long can you wait through this process while it’s costing your business even more?
  • Assuming we came back with a solution that (1) fixed the problem(s) (2) stayed within your budget and (3) includes answers to all of your questions – What action would you take?” If you don’t get a commitment, say “Tell me more about that” or “I’m not sure I understand.Shut up and work through an often uncomfortable moment. Let them think and elaborate a complete response.

8. The Proposal. It should include unique solutions catering to a prospect’s needs. It’s your “canned” proposal with specific answers to their business so that it doesn’t look like your competitors’ template. By the time you are pulling this together, the deal should already be 90% closed and this is only the window dressing.

This process has worked well for me for a number of years even though my prospect doesn’t always like it. You aren’t in sales to make prospects happy, you are selling to close deals and make clients happy.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

"M@il" button (blue)





Twitter: @drew_schmitz




Would Johnny Manziel be a good salesman?

20 Aug


Cocky or just confident? As a sales coach and sales recruiter, I am always seeking confident salespeople. It comes with infectious enthusiasm, drive, optimism and carries immediate respect. Cockiness is interpreted as brash, arrogant and unlikable. What is the fine line between the two?

20 years ago, I went out on sales calls with a guy that entered an office suite without an appointment. He often flashed the lights on and off to get their attention and to get a laugh. I was amazed how Tom usually got away with it… and then followed it up by selling his printer cleaning services. Tom had a likeability about him and could quickly disarm the prospect at the front desk with a wink, smile and a joke. Later on in life, I realized that he probably wasn’t going to get away with selling anything that cost more than $500. Tom had half of what I was looking for – confidence, but he never succeeded as far as I know, in making a connection with a CEO and selling a bigger ticket item because his borderline cockiness would not fly today.

Cocky Salespeople:
  • Sell you stuff – if you don’t like the product, all they have is words…
  • So they talk a lot.
  • They tell you this product is the best one then make you feel bad for not buying it today (like most people in car sales).
  • This trait develops when people externally are continually telling them that they are important. When this breaks down, they usually don’t have the internal wherewithal to recover well.
Confident Salespeople:
  • Sell you a product and/or service with choices, solutions and benefits surrounding their offering(s).
  • They usually don’t talk that much but ask you what you are looking for and answer questions.
  • The urgency to buy belongs to the customer – the salesperson is urgent, but can sell it to you as slowly as you’d prefer.
  • This trait arrives from an internal self-assurance. It is built from within through a realistic view and trust in your own talents and abilities. It allows you to authentically respond to your customers and prospects.

If you are still waiting for the punchline on Johnny Manziel… NO, he wouldn’t make for a good salesman!

There are two things a salesperson can do this week:
  1. Have your manager or one of your better coworkers join you on a call with a prospect. Their number one job is to evaluate you while in the meeting.
  2. Video tape your presentation in a mock sales call with a coworker.
Evaluate your sales approach and make sure your confidence never comes across as cocky. You can always learn something about yourself through these two simple methods to keep yourself sharp.

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

Twitter: @drew_schmitz

Being Direct = $ and Happiness

6 Aug


Authenticity – Being genuine trumps everything else in terms of human relations. If you’ve heard me speak, had coffee with me for 15 minutes or read my previous blog posts (see I Like the Fat Policeman blog –, you know authenticity is a characteristic I emphasize.  If you want to be a better salesperson, manager, co-worker or friend, you need to be more direct with people. Simply, “let down your guard” more often and be honest. The stress will dissipate and more will happen in your career and life.

Let Down Your Guard – Share something about yourself – NOT “I have two kids, I’m a Twin’s fan, look at my cool car or I went to Disney World last week…” tell them something about YOU. Tell them something interesting. Trust them with something important. When you do this, most people reciprocate and open up to you. It usually doesn’t happen unless you are the first to tell them about the time you got your tongue stuck to the fence last Winter…

Honesty – The truth is a universally good trait that we have not perfected. There’s two sides to this coin – the importance of maintaining some level of decorum and the advantages of being honest. “Decorum” is about being appropriate. There are rules at home and at work that don’t allow us to be completely honest. If a 400 pound woman asks you “Do I look fat in this dress?” you have to soften it – somehow!

You also can’t share everything with our 7-year-old and you can’t tell your boss in the middle of a meeting that you’re leaving to play golf (if you can, you are working for the right boss!). You cannot wear pajamas to work – you get my point. If you read my last blog on the importance of “please” and “thank you”, you’ll understand that I appreciate good manners, but there’s a point where nice has to end and being direct begins in order to accomplish your priorities…

In the workplace, I can be a little brutal at times. I tell clients the truth even when it hurts. If a sales candidate sends me a lousy resume, I tell them to fix it. It’s direct, short and polite usually includes some constructive criticism, but I don’t have the patience for spending a lot of time with average salespeople (I can’t place them!). I’m certain that I offend people, but if my three bullet points on their resume leads to them getting a better job on their own, I’ll settle for that victory.

Recently, a friendly current client asks me “How are you doing?” on the very same morning I’ve been up all night. I was driving back from the ER with my son who smacked his head the night before and he’d gone through concussion testing. I answer “Not very well” and tell him an abbreviated version of the story (if he wants the long version, he’ll ask). Now a lot of people wouldn’t share this personal news, but I usually “spill the beans”.  It gives me a buffer in case he catches me yawning and most importantly, it pre-empts the fact that  I’m not going to be razor-sharp on the call. He did ask a few questions – the same thing happened to his daughter last winter and we chatted for 10 minutes before getting down to business. We now have a better bond and will both enjoy our future interactions even more.

Ten years ago, I had a client in Minneapolis where we were placing inside salespeople. Their office was filthy and two of our hires told us about the overflowing garbage in the middle of the room and their dirty bathrooms. We contemplated how to handle it and I decided to call the owner and be direct about it. The next year our business with them doubled. I was telling them something that no one had shared with them previously and it worked

Directness is about efficiency. Efficiency is about making more money and going home earlier to see your family and friends (what’s really important).

Why are you beating around the bush to sacrifice either?

Let’s review Jim Collins’ famous Hedgehog Concept – you’ll find your sweet spot in the blue area in the middle:


Economic Engine: Translate this to finding a career where there is a demand (then there will be money behind it).

Passion: You will succeed in that circle if  you identify what drives you and continually express those desires to the people around you. These conversations are about what you’ve observed, want and how you feel.

World’s Best?: If you want to be the best in the world at something, you need to worry about this thing called time. Time requires efficiency… efficiency requires what again? Being direct.

It’s a ridiculously simple logic equation that we don’t follow often enough: authenticity = happiness. Pepper in more directness and honesty as you let down your guard more often. I know you’ll like the results.

Hope you are having a fantastic summer. Enjoy the dog days of August!

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

Twitter: @drew_schmitz