The world of benefits has changed. It used to be that those withthe most discipline simply had an advantage over everyone else.Now, what was once an advantage has become a necessity forsurvival.

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Unfortunately, one of the almost universal frustrations I hearfrom agencies is their lack of a disciplined sales culture.

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As I talk to these agencies, I see two realities playing out. Isee many struggling with a reality of a changed industry: theirbooks of business are shrinking; they sense impending irrelevance;they're scared.

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And then there's the second reality. I see those who have foundunprecedented opportunities as a result of the changingcircumstances: they're bringing value to their clients in new andunexpected ways, and they've found themselves more in demand thanever before.

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The difference between the two realities isn't resources,intelligence, some new product, work ethic, or even divineintervention. The difference between the two is one thing:discipline.

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Those with the most disciplined sales culture . . .

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1) Coach their team

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Not only is coaching necessary, your employees are looking forit. And, it doesn't take excessive amounts of time.

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Read: Coach K toHR: Make employees feel valued

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Five meaningful minutes a week with each direct report candramatically change your company.

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Only 2 percent of employees who get no coaching areengagedin their job while those coached to weaknesses are 20times more likely to be engaged, and those coached to theirstrengths are 30 times more likely to be engaged.

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2) Know what matters and measure it

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As Einstein said, not everything that can be measured matters,and not everything that matters can be measured.

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Companies with disciplined sales cultures know what to developand track:

  • The results each role has to deliver

  • The behaviors that drive those results

  • How to measure/quantify the behaviors

  • What discussions are necessary when measurements aren'tpossible

  • Teaching employees how to measure, report and initiatediscussions about their own performance

3) Prepare and debrief

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Preparation means learning your prospects' overall situation.The better you understand their situation, the more often you willwin.

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Win or lose, debriefing means understanding what happened.

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Asking the new client, “Why did we win” will reinforce thedecision in their mind, and it will also help you identify what ismost important to them.

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Asking that lost prospect, “Why did we lose?” will give youinsight as to how to avoid the same result in the future. Maybe youneed to qualify better, have better timing, or simply prepare moreeffectively.

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4) Feed the tigers, tend the sheep, and shoot thedogs

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In undisciplined companies, the 80/20 rule is alive and well.Managers spend 80 percent of their time with their worstperformers. All the while, their best performers get ignored and,as a result, are twice as likely to be actively looking for a newjob.

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Despite the time spent with poor performers, undisciplinedagencies struggle firing those who need to be fired.

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The behaviors you tolerate may as well be the behaviors youpromote.

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One of your greatest responsibilities as a leader is to rewardthe right behaviors and refuse to tolerate the wrong behaviors. Ifyou don't, you put all of your credibility at risk.

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5) Create a theme

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Selling is hard, it's emotional, and it takes a commitment tosomething bigger than ourselves to go out every day and facerejection. Having a theme, an idea to rally around, provides theemotional counterbalance to what can be an emotionally drainingeffort.

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6) Celebrate everything that matters

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We're competitive people; we expect to win. Unfortunately, wedon't celebrate nearly enough and, when we do it's usually onlyabout a new sale. Yes, it's important to celebrate sales, but weneed to be celebrating everything that matters.

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7) Master a sales process

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The most successful people in any profession are the ones whopractice the most. It can't be just random practice; it has to bepurposeful practice built around a process that can be taught,repeated and coached.

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A sales process is as much about helping the buyer make betterbuying decisions as it is about the producer selling moreeffectively.

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Agencies with a disciplined sales culture have a sales processthat:

  • Differentiates

  • Educates

  • Is scalable

  • Is repeatable

  • Delivers value

This isn't just about working harder at what you're currentlydoing. This is about changing your game, changing what you have tooffer to clients, and doing so with great discipline. Is it goingto be hard work? Of course it's going to be hard work, but findingthe discipline to do what is hard is what makes successful agenciessuccessful.

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