This month I’m pleased to announce a new series where we interview sales professionals about their careers and their thoughts on key trends, as well as asking them to share advice for their peers – all in 5 minutes!

We begin with Mark Blackmore, Managing Director at Lammore Consulting. Mark is an experienced consultant and passionate sales and management educator who has consulted and trained in a wide variety of sectors and his clients have included both blue chip and household names such as Barratt Homes, Mamas & Papas, G4S, NHS; Nokia, AutoTrader; Google, and Hellmanm Logisitcs.

What is your background?

I left University and decided to follow my father’s footsteps in becoming a salesperson. In the early days I sold double glazing, water filters and washroom products. A lot of what I did was commission based, so I had to learn how to sell pretty quickly. In the 90s I joined Yellow Pages, where I spent 10 incredible years, as they really understood how to sell and the importance of implementing a sales process. Prior to founding Lammore I gained experience in delivering large complex sales as Head of Sales at an IT Solutions Provider.

Tell us about Lammore.

Lammore Consulting is a specialist provider of sales and management training to organisations across the globe, with offices in UK and the USA. Founded in 2002 its blue chip clients include The European Bank, Clearstream, Tosoh, Essity, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Palapina, Barratt David Wilson, Bloor Homes, A2Dominion, Wellers Accountants, and RSi.

Our mission is to ‘Inspire, Entertain and Make a Difference’.

You’ve trained many sales leaders. In your eyes what makes an effective sales leader?

Effective sales leaders give salespeople ‘the What’, ‘the Will’, and ‘the Skill’. The What: clear direction on value proposition, expectations and purpose. The Why: they motivate the salesperson by providing a compelling ‘ what’s in it for me’. The Skill: they ensure the salesperson has the competence to deliver an effective sales call.

How important is it that sales leaders are continually developing their teams?

A lot of managers tell me they want to spend time developing their team, but they just don’t have the time. The challenge with training is it is rarely urgent (unless the person is brand new), and as such it goes onto the ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ list.
When you analyse, however, the activities that have the biggest impact on sales effectiveness, such as prospecting, planning and training – they all appear in the ‘important’ but ‘not urgent’ category. That is until it’s too late. Leaders, therefore, need to prioritise their training and place it above the urgent, but actually non important tasks – such as completing the report that no-one will ever read, or attending the meeting that didn’t really need you to be there.

When you think back to the best salesperson you managed, what made that person stand out?

Their sales numbers made them stand out! Great salespeople always finish number 1. And it’s this drive to be number 1 that makes the difference.

What do the best salespeople have in common?

The best salespeople have total belief in their product, their company and themselves. I was lucky enough to manage the number one salesperson at Yellow Pages (his company car registration plate was YLW 1!), and his mantra was ‘buyers believe in believers’. It’s why a rookie often sells great deals in their first few weeks. They haven’t been given limiting beliefs by complaining customers and disillusioned sales colleagues – they still believe the hype!

What are the costs to leaders of hiring the wrong salespeople?

Apart from the obvious recruitment costs, and waste of management time inducting the individual, the biggest cost of hiring the wrong person is the negative perception your clients will have of your product and company. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and poor selling can permanently harm your reputation.

What advice would you offer newly appointed sales leaders who are managing a sales team for the first time?

The shortest sales manual in the world is just 16 words long: ‘Know your product, believe in it, speak to lots of people, ask them all to buy.’ With this in mind, sales leaders need to ensure their salespeople know exactly why customers should buy their product and have total belief in it. They then need to set clear direction on sales activity and KPIs. Lastly, having a defined and implemented sales process will ensure that quality, as well as quantity, will be delivered.