Josh Halpern, Chief Sales Officer, FIFCO USA
Recently, we had an opportunity to connect with Josh Halpern, Chief Sales Officer with FIFCO USA, and listen to his thinking on what makes top performing salespeople different, what gives them their competitive edge, and what sales leaders can do to train and support them. He shared a number of unique ideas focused around:
- Aligning your Actions and Intentions Takes Self Reflection
- It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish That Matters
- Form and Understand Business Relationships
- Successful Coaches are Leaders Who Understand Their Team’s Needs
Early in the interview, Josh said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“There are a few basic pitfalls that sales managers can fall into. 1) Creating an overly complex sales plan that the team has trouble following. 2) Locking up selling time with meetings and desk work. 3) not allowing friendly sales competition in the workplace.”
Aligning your Actions and Intentions Takes Self Reflection
We asked Josh to explain his thinking around these pitfalls and effective ways to counter them. He explained,
“When internal research showed our sales team spending 65% of their time on internally focused objectives, we responded by banning emails from Tuesday to Thursday and launching a newsletter that condensed all the information into one place. As sales management, it is our job to understand the whole picture, and boldly change processes when needed. As a company, we went from being 65% internally focused to 70% externally focused by adopting consistent weekly routines and then communicating our new way of working company-wide. Top performers have TIME listed as part of their KPIs. They understand the value of every hour and can explain how they allocate their internal and external time. Everyday they make choices on what they are willing to invest in and what they’re not.”
He continued describing the alignment of priorities, as well as steps he took to create a culture that amplifies this focus when he described their competitive approach to sales,
“We create a culture of friendly competition by gamifying our entire sales machine. This allows our sales professionals to compete for various awards and recognition. We make it fun and part of our culture by actually giving the winners of our sales competitions championship belts!”
It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish That Matters
After this strong start to the interview, we were curious about what Josh viewed as integral to the mindset of his top performers, and he brought up a point that is often forgotten,
“Sales can quickly become a stream of broken promises. Top performers know that the sale isn’t over until execution is complete. They follow-up inspecting, at street level, to ensure that everything is delivered and promises are kept.”
An organization has professionals in a wide variety of roles, and many salespeople feel as if their roles begin and end when the contract has been signed. In some cases that may be true, but in most instances, they have the opportunity to be a steady guiding hand, ensuring that all of the guarantees made in the course of signing the client are honored, and the contract is executed as discussed. This requires both a knowledge of the client’s needs, as well as knowledge of how the gears turn internally, as Kevin puts it,
“Top performers are effective because they know how to rehash and get a full 360-degree execution of the sale. Just selling the product is not enough. Supporting the sale through promotion, and pulling all other sales levers is critical to success.”
Making the sale is important and delivering on promises is even more important. Top performers do both.
Form and Understand Business Relationships
All of these steps require open communication to be successful, and that type of communication is generally a byproduct of forming and developing good relationships, both internally with co-workers and externally with clients and vendors. This focus on relationships, is where Josh took the interview next,
“Top performers create strong business relationships that add value to their customers. They understand the data, gaps and opportunities to get to the “close.””
“Effective sales is going beyond just knowing what a client needs. You need to understand your customer’s pain points, and also how their success is measured. Then you can bring solutions and ask validating questions. Customers need to believe that you are helping them win through your products and services. Truly successful sales professionals know how to handle objections and can get to the root-cause of the customer’s issue.”
When we asked Josh to elaborate on how to identify pain points and handle objections, he brought this valuable insight to the discussion,
“Sales are guided by impulse, and impulse-based selling is governed by four factors 1) fear of loss 2) indifference 3) greed and 4) sense of urgency. Understanding which of these factors is the right way to approach your customer will be critical in whether or not you close the deal.”
Successful Coaches are Leaders Who Understand Their Team’s Needs
Those four factors rang true to us, and are largely aligned with what we have observed when working with sales professionals across a broad spectrum of industries. However, something we have also observed is how difficult it is for sales managers to get their employees consistently learning and executing best practices. When we asked Josh about what type of leadership is required to get those results, he responded with some insightful observations,
“Sales leaders are the offensive line, not the quarterback. Their job is to make sure the team doesn’t get blindsided by objections, competition, and having wrong data or information. Great sales leaders create flexibility with a framework. A sales rep knows their market better than anyone at headquarters ever will. The rep needs to be able to locally customize their plan while fitting aligning to the overarching strategy.”
This desire to provide guidance and then give trust to talented sales reps is based in a shared foundational culture. If the leadership and the sales teams on the front lines both understand what their primary objectives are, and they are aligned in regards to how they achieve those objectives, then there isn’t a need for motivation stifling micro management. In fact, when there is a shared understanding of the desired outcomes, sales training becomes a shared source of confidence in the organization, as Josh said to close out the interview,
“Sales training needs to be done in a way where professionals walk out of it saying ‘this will clearly give me a competitive advantage over my competition.’ If the training time cannot generate ROI for the sales person in the short to medium term, they will look at it as a lost opportunity to sell and earn commissions.”
Thanks to Josh for the interview and solid tips on how to generate stronger sales teams!
For videos on how to increase sales utilizing the SalesGym’s “Compete Selling” approaches, check out our SalesGym YouTube Channel!
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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