Understanding The Sales Team

“In some professions such a difference would be obvious. A salesman who sells 10x as much as his peers will be noticed, and compensated accordingly. Sales are easy to measure, and some salesmen make orders of magnitude more money than others.” ~ Joe Cook

Role of Sales

Sales is one of the most important aspects of any company. As Will says, “It’s their job to get you a paycheck.” They have both a duty to the company and to the customers. Nothing sells itself. The primary function of the sales team beyond gaining and retaining customers is to make people aware of the products the company produces. This is especially important in technology as many times the potential customer doesn’t even know they need the product. A salesman’s job is to make promises to customers. As developers we can assist them by making sure those promises come true.

Sales School 101

Sales is all about managing perceptions. This is done through advertising, public relations, customer satisfaction and customer acquisition. Knowledge of the product is very important here. Salesmen need to know the product’s quality, it’s ease of use, and reliability. They also must know about it’s design to create a “cool factor”.
Depending on where you look or where you are trained the sales process has varying amounts of steps but they all will fall within the following five categories. To start a salesman must prepare by knowing the product, knowing the customer, and knowing the market in which they are working. Once prepared a salesman will begin prospecting or searching out new customers. This can be done many different ways but it is best through the process of qualifying leads. That is looking for customers that can benefit and afford the product within the market it is designed for. This begins the next step which is an assessment of the need. This is an intelligence gathering step to find out what about the product does the customer need most and to prepare for objections. This is also the time where they will build up the need for the product. Once the need is assessed and identified the salesman will go through the presentation. Here they show how the product meets those needs. They will demonstrate the product and manage objections. Finally we reach the close, the most important part of the sales process. This is the make it or break it point of the sale. In the close the salesman uses all he has been taught to overcome objections and prove the need for the product.The close is so important that there is a phrase called the ABC’s of Sales. That stands for Always Be Closing. This can best be understood by thinking of sales as an asynchronous process. At each phase of the sales process the ultimate goal is to close and make the sale.

There are many more tactics and processes that sales teams will use during the sales process. These include The Jones Effect, Urgency, The 80/20 Rule, etc.

Differences in Pay Structure

Pay does not always match ability. In coding there is a high starting rate with a sharp increase in pay up to a plateau or ceiling. Whereas in sales most companies pay on a commission basis with no cap on what one can earn. The downside is that there is also no floor. Pure commission based sales can have high earning but can also go times without. This is one of the reasons for the high turn over in sales jobs.

How Can I Help?

As developers we can help the sales team out by sharing our intimate knowledge of the product and production time lines. Generally speaking we know what the future holds and what features are in the backlog that they can use to make a sale. Our input can help them make promises that can be kept.

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Do’s and Don’ts of Conflict Resolution

A few months ago when recording the mood was hostile. Both Will and BJ were on edge but could not define the problem. Finally after over an hour of recording BJ says, “I’m getting frustrated and angry” to which Will responded, “Me too, let’s figure out why.” At that point they stopped recording and happened next is the basis for this episode.

After telling the story of what happened that night BJ and Will get into a Conflict 101 lesson followed by a list of healthy and unhealthy responses to conflict. They then discuss the skills needed to effectively resolve conflict. Next is 10 rules for fair fighting with discussions for each rule. Finally they spend the remainder of the show explaining some tips for resolving conflict.

08:46 The Episode That Will Never Air

BJ created the shownotes for an episode on dating. In the process of doing this he atempted to get into the mindset of himself and Will as college students, before many of the life lessons that have lead them to who they are now. He accomplished this so well that the entire tone of the episode was different. Upon review Will had reservations but after a few corrections they proceeded with the recording.

Throughout the episode BJ and Will were at odds. Will concerned about the tone and presentation of the episode and BJ frustrated by having put much effort into the episode. Finally BJ stated, “I’m getting frustrated and angry”

Will look at him and said, “Me too, something’s wrong.” He then grabbed a couple of beers and they discussed the issues they were both having with the episode.

14:27 Conflict 101

To start the guys review basic Conflict 101 with a few key points to remember when faced with a conflict.

Conflict is more than a disagreement.

It is the difference between a minor skirmish and trench warfare. A disagreement is a difference of opinion on issues that are superficial or of lesser importance to both parties. Whereas conflict involves deeper core differences that need to be resolved.

They also have a tendency to fester when ignored.

If left to their own devices conflicts will fester and build without effort from either party. In the example used throughout the episode had BJ left rather than discussing the issue with Will he would have ruminated on the issue his entire drive home. It would have been on both of their minds the following days and could have ended the podcast had it not been resolved.

Response to conflict is based on perception

The conflict is often times not as big as perceptions make it seem. Responses tend to be to the perception of the situation and less to an objective review of the facts. Life experiences, values, culture, and beliefs all contribute to and influence perceptions. There is a concept in psychology that each person views the world through their own set of tinted lenses. The tint on those lenses is this perception. A person with bright yellow tinted driving lenses will see the world differently than a person with dark polarized shades. It is important to not only take into consideration the other persons perceptions but also your own.

Conflicts trigger strong emotions

Passion Rules Reason

And Yet

Let Reason Be Your Only Sovereign

Two quotes taken from Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series. A set of fantasy novels read by both Will and BJ that are strongly influence by Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. If uncomfortable or unable to manage emotions in times of stress successful resolution of conflict is not likely. During the conflict between BJ and Will each had moments of strong emotion. It is not the emotion or the anger that is judged but the response to that emotion.

Conflicts are an opportunity for growth

The purpose for this episode and post is to illustrate and provide tips for growing from conflict resolution. After the conflict with Will was resolved BJ’s motivation drastically increased. He redoubled his efforts in his job hunt and from that has had several interviews.

18:35 Responses to Conflict

Healthy Responses

  • The capacity to recognize and respond to important matters
  • The difficulty here is figuring out what is important to both parties. Also recognizing what is not important can benefit the resolution.

  • A readiness to forgive and forget.
  • The goal is to resolve the conflict to both parties satisfaction not to win a battle. This can become an issue when the rules for fair fighting are not followed. Past grievences should not be a part of the discussion when resolving a current conflict.

  • The ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing
  • Knowing what is important can lead to understanding the views of the other person. That undstanding leads to a knowledge of where compromise can take place.

  • Knowledge that resolution can support the interest of both parties
  • This is more than just a belief but the knowledge that both parties can benefit from resolution. Having a mindset of mutual benefit leads to better undersanding of compromise.

Unhealthey Responses

Unhealthy responses may occur on the path to healthy responses. It’s when those are the only responses the resolution does not happen. Unhealthy responses to conflict ultimately lead to one of two outcomes. Either a healthy response and resolution of the conflict or disolution of the friendship or relationship. In a work environment this could be leaving or being terminated from a job.

  • Inability to recognize matters of importance
  • Both Will and BJ were in their own “mental echo chambers” through the recording. Neither one seeing the importance of the issues the other brought up.

  • Explosive, angry, hurtful, and resentful reactions
  • Unhealthy responses can start out with these. The visceral reaction to conflict initally leads to these reactions.

  • Withdrawal of love/friendship resulting in rejection, isolation, shaming, and fear of abandonment
  • It’s very easy to start walling off. As the other person gets more upset and irritated the pattern snowballs. If not recognized early both parties will isolate themselves from the other making understanding the other’s needs and compromise more difficult.

  • Expectation of bad outcomes
  • The expectation that the conflict will not end well or will end with the disolution of the relationship can lead to the walling off and an avoidance of the issue.

  • Fear and avoidance of conflict
  • Ignoring the issue will cause the conflict to build and perceptions of the conflict to grow disproportionately.

32:19 Rules for Fair Fighting

  • Remain Calm
  • Express Feelings in words, not actions
  • Be specific
  • Deal with one issue at a time
  • No “Hitting below the belt”
  • Avoid accusations
  • Don’t generalize
  • Don’t stockpile
  • Avoid clamming up

40:34 Skills to Resolving Conflict

  1. Quickly relieve stress
  2. Recognize and manage emotions
  3. Improve your nonverbal communication
  4. Use the five why’s

44:42 Tips for Resolving Conflict

  1. Make relationships your priority
  2. Focus on the present
  3. Pick your battles
  4. Be willing to forgive
  5. Know when to let something go

Review

  1. Recognize the Conflicting Needs
  2. Manage Stress While Remaining Alert and Calm
  3. Control Your Emotions and Behavior
  4. Pay Attention to Feelings Being Expressed
  5. Be Aware and Respectful of Differences

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