sales management and sales experts

Why Aren't Your Salespeople Selling?

Tony Cole

Tony Cole

Tony Cole, Founder and CEO of Anthony Cole Training Group

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Does Your Team Need a Wake Up Call?

IgniteFireBoxTony Cole tailors workshops and keynotes to ignite the sparks of extraordinary motivation in your sales teams!

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Now Starting for Your Sales Team - Yasiel Puig

  
  
  
  
  

Yasiel Puig - (yah-see-EL PWEEG) is your "A" player that you signed at the beginning of last year to a 7-year $42,000,000 contract. He finished the year with a "Best of the Best" type of performance that you would expect from a seasoned verteran and he looks to have another great year this year.  As with most top performers, he has his own quirks and issues of "bending" the rules.

A lead comes to you from a strong center of influence. It's a big lead. It's an opportunity to take a major account from your biggest competitor. You have other good people on your team, but you've always held to the adage of "feed the tigers". So, to make sure you get this deal, you hand it off to the person that has demonstrated that they can get the job done and close this deal. Right?

baseball whistle

Let's ask Don Mattingly of the LA Dodgers what he would do.

Don decides that, in order to prepare for this big opportunity, the team should have a pre-call meeting. The meeting with the prospect is at 1:00pm and so a meeting is scheduled from 10:00am to 11:00am on Friday.  Everyone selected for the team sale is there except Puig.  He finally shows up at 10:30. So, Don, what do you do?

"I've decided to go with Matt Kemp". He's dependable, I know he'll do all the things necessary to win the account and we'll support him with all of our other resources."

But Don, Yasiel is your star; you're paying him $6,000,000.00 a year.  Can you really bench him and run the risk of not getting this deal?

"There will be other deals. There will be other Puig's. He's not bigger than the team. The rest of the team was committed enough to show up on time and prepare for a win. We'll take our chances."

But Don, how about your board? Won't they be upset? How about the rest of the group that is aware of this opportunity? Winning this deal could have implications at the end of the year!

"They understand that no "one" person is bigger than the team. We have to do the right thing for our culture, our team, our way of doing business. This isn't the first time with Yasiel. He's young, talented and a handful to deal with from time to time. If we don't deal with these things now, then bigger mistakes will happen later when they REALLY count."

Now, I don't know what Don really said or thought. So, for protection from the LA Dodgers, I want everyone to know that I've made up the dialog to make a point about what really happened with the Dodgers, Mattingly and Yasiel last Friday in their home opener against their division rivals, The San Francisco Giants. Yasiel was late for batting practice and Mattingly benched him knowing full well that critics would question his decsion to do this to the star, at home, in a full stadium of people that want to see the young man perform against the rivals.

That's management. That's coaching. That's holding people accountable to the things you expect them to do. That is putting your need for approval aside and making the right decision at a very tough moment.

In our sales management program, Sales Managed Environment, there are two of the 5 elements of SME that are KEY segments that, I'm convinced, have more to do with driving success with your current team than the others:  1)Setting Standards and Accountability and 2) Coaching of Success.

It's easy to think, well, that's just one game of 162, plus playoff games if they get there.  In your world of selling, it's "just one suspect" out of many.  It's not even a prospect, opportunity or sale yet. It's a SUSPECT. You have people on your team that kind of hold you hostage because of their status, tenure, book of business,etc.  As a manager, you probably give them a little extra room/margin to work a little outside the rules.  At some point in time, however, you have to recognize that allowing "outside the lines" behavior ultimately is detrimental your culture and team.

Do NOT be afraid to bench them. Do NOT be afraid to discipline them. Do NOT be afraid of losing them. There will always be another suspect, another major opporutunity, another great player.

Additional resources to help you grow sales:

Increase productivity and sales results - Sales DNA

Eliminate hiring mistakes - Hire Better Sales People

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Go Huskies! Go Sell!

  
  
  
  
  

I’m normally one to watch a movie, read a book or listen to a song and tie it to sales and/or sales management.  And, even though I use a lot of sports analogies, I rarely use sport stories or examples in my blog post or Sales Brew Newsletters.  But given the recent victory by my alma mater, THE University of Connecticut, I want to share some observations about their road to the Final Four and eventual Championship.

Basketball hoop

This is what I observed about the Huskies and, to be fair to all those in the Final Four, the other teams that they played against or who played in the tournament.

The question, the point to be made is this: Why did they win?

1.      Grit - In Dan Pink’s book, Drive, he discusses what gives winners the edge, and often it’s just GRIT: “A non-cognitive, non-physical trait.”  Time and again, I saw the Huskies and others in the tournament just go to a different ‘’place” mentally and/or emotionally.  They turned it up a notch and just refused to lose.

2.      Excellence in the simple things – In the championship game against UK, the Huskies did not get to the free throw line many times, but when they did, they were excellent.  As a matter of record, they were PERFECT - 10 for 10 from the line.  Kentucky on the other hand was not as excellent – 13 for 24. For the tournament, UConn shot 87.7% from the line – a tournament record.  (UConn won by 6 points – imagine what the outcome could have been if UK had just been good at the line! 79%)

3.      Execute the system – In the middle of the second half of the game, UK makes a run and gets to within 1, takes the lead, loses the lead, gets back to 1.  During this run, the Huskies stopped executing their system – their offense.  You could see it.  Even if you don’t know basketball and you had watched them the first half compared to how they where playing during the run, you would see that they stopped executing the system.  What got them BACK into the game, kept them in the game, and then kept them in the lead for good, was they got back to their system.  There is a point where Napier, the point guard, pushes his teammate, Boatright, to get back in position to run the “play”.

4.      Take chances – They call them “turnovers” when a team loses the ball to the opponent.  Many of the turnovers that UK had were a result of UConn attempting to disrupt – steal the ball from - UK’s offense.  They converted almost every steal to points.  You have to take some risk, and when you do, you have to do everything possible to convert the risk effort.

5.      Coaching and Preparation: Mentally – Ken Ollie had his team ready for the competition.  You could tell that they were prepared to take it to the other team, they were prepared for the other team to make runs, they were prepared to take advantage of the “free” opportunities.

6.      Defend the territory – If you watch an animal defend its territory, then you get the feel for what the UConn defense was like.  They smothered the ball, they rebounded, and they “forced” turnovers.

Summary:

  •  Grit
  • Excellence in the simple things
  • Execute the System
  • Take Chances
  • Get coaching be prepared
  • Defend the territory

 Question:  How does this pertain to you and what you do? Take a moment and leave a comment.

 Go Huskies! Go Sell!

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5 Keys to Building Successful Sales Teams - Hiring Desire

  
  
  
  
  

I started this series - 5 Keys To Building Successful Sales Teams with this post: 5 Keys to Building a Successful Sales Team/Career.  I finished that post with the following statement:

I believe that, with all the variables that contribute to the outcome of a sales team, there are 1) just a few that really matter, 2) just a few that you can really control, 3) some that you can manage, 4) some that you can improve and 5) some that you have to ignore.  My quest is to help you figure out what you need to keep doing, stop doing, and get better at doing.

How about hiring?  How do you go about hiring people that are already motivated, who already have a burning desire to succeed IN SELLING? Instead of taking you through all the steps in our recruiting deliverable, let me discuss what you should be looking for, listening for and uncovering to find out the answer to this question - Does this candidate have the burning desire to CONTINUE to be successful?

hiring sales aces

It's all in the questions you ask during your initial phone interview and your first face-to-face interview. And those questions are easier to ask if you've established the right profile upfront and you have/use a pre-hire evaluation tool (Objective Management Express Screen) to specifically determine their desire to succeed in selling.  Assuming (which I hate to do) you've done those two steps, let's talk about your phone interview and your initial in-person interview.

It's not "complicated" hard, but it IS "challenging" hard if you are afraid of the answers you might hear.  Your job is to disqualify them based on desire for future success.  Here's the secret - identify what you want to hear when you ask the question - nothing else they say matters... unless they give you the answer you are looking for.

Phone interview:

Why did you respond to the job post?
  • I believe the opportunity spoke to my desire to take my career and personal objectives to another level.
  • What motivates you to succeed?
    • Money, I need to make a lot more money because...
    • I want to be the very best
    • I love to win, hate to lose
    • I want to prove to myself and others that I can achieve...
  • When you fail to achieve a goal, how do you feel? What do you do next?
    • I hate it.  It pisses me off.
    • I figure out what I did wrong, make the adjustements, learn from my mistake and start over again.
  • All of these are great answers; how do I know all this is true?
    • Look at my track record of success and you will see that...(what they should be able to demonstrate is a track record of successes that had greater demands, higher standards and those standards were exceeded)

In-person interview

  • In our phone interview, I asked you why you responded to the job post and you said that you believe the opportunity spoke to your desire to take your career and personal objectives to another level.  Tell me about your desire to take your career and personal objectives to another level.
    • You want to hear stuff that meets or exceeds the outcomes produced by your best people.  If you hear stuff that sounds like they would perform like the people that are underperforming in your organization today, you respond with, "I already have people that perform at that level, and I don't need another one. So, tell me something else that I can believe that will put you best in class." (Or something challenging like this).
  • You said you are money motivated. How much money do you intend on making 2 years from now?
    • Again, you want to hear something that meets or exceeds your top producers' incomes.  If you don't, again, you ask them about it. For example, why such a low number or double the number and ask them why not 2x the number they gave you.  
    • What you are really looking for and listening for is how they react.  You have to have your BS meter fully functioning.
  • Tell them that their profile indicated that they have a desire to succeed in selling. Ask them, "If I followed you around for the first 6 months of your employment here, what would I see you doing to confirm the findings of the evaluation?"
    • You want to hear them talk about working until the job is done, that they will not fail to meet sales activity objectives, that you would see them out-work, out-learn and out-perform everyone else they have on the team, and that you'll want to pay them more based on what you see (or something similar to this...).

Here's the problem - what they say is one of those things you CANNOT control.  You have to be very good on your feet to adjust to what they are saying.  You must be superb at listening, understanding and digging deeper into their responses.  You must be courageous in your own desire to make sure you are making the right hire.

Additional resources:

STAR - Sales Talent Acquistion Routine Training Module

OMG Sales Manager Evaluation - Find out if your sales manager has the right recruiting skill set

Sample Interview Questions

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5 Keys to Building Successful Sales Teams - Keep Them Motivated

  
  
  
  
  

In a previous blog, I talked about my own motivation as it related to my athletic career.  In an earlier earlier post (yes, I typed it twice to make the point that it was even earlier than the first), I wrote about my motivation today to drive revenue to Anthony Cole Training Group – to build a sustainable business so that those who depend on us (our clients, development experts, and employees) would not have to worry about the future of the company.  Today, let’s talk about what you can do to "help" your people stay motivated.

Sales motivation

Before I get into the list below, note that I said "help your people stay motivated."  When I originally wrote the line, I wrote, "stay motivated to sell."  However, when I reread the sentence, I recognized that the focus was on the wrong objective – sales.  I know you want them to be motivated to sell, but my belief is this:  If they are motivated to accomplish great things in their life and they can make great things in their life happen by working with you and your company, then the selling will take care of itself!

The non-definitive list of things you can do to KEEP your team motivated (assuming you hired motivated people):

  1. Help them stay motivated. Motivation/desire/passion is an inside-out job.  You cannot MAKE people motivated but you can help them STAY motivated by – get this – by NOT doing things that de-motivate them.
    1. Bad sales meetings
    2. Unrealistic goals
    3. Micro–managing
    4. Changing compensation plans
    5. Doubting their intentions
    6. Talking about results only when positive results aren’t there.
  2. Create opportunities to recognize success.  I don’t mean that you have to fawn over them because they prospected.  That’s like passing out participation trophies in youth sports (you don’t want to get me started on THAT discussion...). But you DO want to make sure that your recognition encompasses more than just production goals.  In your sales meetings, make sure that you highlight success in several areas such as:
    1. Highest percentage of goal for the month
    2. Largest sale
    3. Most sales
    4. Best sale in a tough, competitive situation
    5. Best start to the month or quarter
  3. Keep recognizing. Non–sales meeting recognition can be given by walking around and congratulating someone when they make a sale over a certain threshold, putting a substantial deal in the pipeline, save or retain a large/meaningful account, etc.
  4. Provide feedback when you see improvement.  You should be collecting data that tells you at least TWO big things about your sales team:  1) Effort  2) Execution.  I heard a child behaviorist once state that you want to "catch them doing something right".  The same holds true for your sales people. They don’t have to worry about you tracking them down only when they fail to meet expectations.  Shock them by letting them know YOU know when they are doing well.
  5. Tie business success to personal success.  If you’ve followed our instruction and provided your people an opportunity to explore their dreams, ambitions and goals, then you need to make sure you consistently tie their business outcomes to what is important to them.  Ask them about the vacation home, the wedding plans, the extended vacation or getting out of that college debt hangover.  That is the stuff that is important to them.
  6. Be open with them about what is important to you. Share with them your goals, dreams and objectives? Be vulnerable and let them know you are human and you also have similar things that you care about.
  7. Make their success more important than your success. 

Motivating your team works when it is a constant effort rather than a rah-rah speech after a great play or an a** chewing at half time.  Take time daily to look for the good things, the progress, and the changes that are taking place that contribute to success.

Additional Resources:

How do I motivate my sales people? - Why is sales management so damn hard?

Harvard Business Review Article - Three Things That Actually Motivate Employees

Evaluate Your Current Talent - Who on your team has the motivation and commitment to grow?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

     

     

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    5 Keys to Building Successful Sales Teams – Let’s Talk Motivation

      
      
      
      
      

    Over the last 5 years, when conducting keynote sessions or workshops, senior sales executives overwhelmingly want to know – How do I motivate my sales people and keep them motivated?


         motivation

    The answer that I give them is one they never like, but they soon understand:  You cannot motivate them nor can you keep them motivated.  Let me make this clear; I am not a student of motivation.  I’ve read many, many business books, management books and self-help books.  I do not profess to be the expert in this area.  However, I do understand it well enough to make the following comments. 

    But, first, my personal story about motivation:

    It was late August in 1963 when I went to my Dad and told him I wanted to play football.  He told me he knew someone that coached Peewee football in town, which was Hammonton, NJ.  He said he would get the number for me and then I could call the coach and tell him I wanted to play.  That night, Dad handed me a slip of paper, I made the call and I was signed up to play for the 9 year old team and we immediately started practice.

    I do not remember all the details about practice.  I remember the field was a dirt field, probably still is.  There were 3 other groups of boys practicing, running, throwing and catching.  We did various football drills, exercises and stretching and we finished with wind sprints.  I came off of the field to where my Dad was standing and he asked me, “What do you think?”  I said, “I’m going to go to college someday and play football.”  He replied, “Well then, take off your helmet and shoulder pads and go run some more.  To play college football you have to be in great shape.”  I ran two extra miles that night (and for many nights after that) until I was sweaty enough to go home.

    My Dad had to coach me and manage me in a lot of things in my life like “Don’t pick on your little sister, Tresa”, but he never had to coach me again about running or being in shape.  It was my goal. It was what I knew I had to do because I believed in and trusted “the manager” that told me I needed to run and be in shape.

    Once, when Tresa and I were working together making blueberry crates, I was picking on her.  She ran home and told our dad.  Dad came across the street, opened the door and just looked at me.  Dad was a tough dad.  Then he said, “You wanna pick on your sister?  YOU make all the rest of the crates before you go to practice.”  I explained that practice was in 2 hours.  He said, “Then you better stop talking and get to work.”  You need to understand that the work Tresa and I were doing would take us all of another 3 hours if we BOTH did it.  Now, I had to get it done all by myself in 90 minutes to make practice. And I wanted to get to practice.

    Two hours later, I was at practice.

    Over the next 13 years, I ran a lot of sprints (and a lot of miles) through the blueberry fields of home to get in shape.  My dad and I would lift weights together across the street in “the old brick building”. When we would finish lifting, we’d play ping pong to loosen up the tight muscles.

    I finished my career as a player in November of 1977 in the Stadium of Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass.  We lost 41 to 40 and I stood there on the field and cried.  Cried like a baby because I knew I’d never play again. Goal accomplished.  I loved my dad.  I loved football and everything about it including the conditioning.

    This is just a simple story about a young boy who played hard enough and well enough to earn a scholarship to keep playing the game he loved.  I was able to do that for a variety of reasons, but as I think back today, it was mostly because I loved the game so much that no one ever had to tell me to get ready for practice, get my gear together, get in shape, practice hard, study the playbook, be fair and a good sport.  I was my own motivator.

    In 1989, while I was in Cincinnati working as an insurance agent for David Zimmerman (who actually recruited me to play at UCONN), I attended a life insurance conference.  The main speaker was Mark Victor Hansen, who later became the creator of all those “Chicken Soup” books.  During his presentation on “visualizing is realizing”, he said the following:

    “Motivation is an inside–out job”

    This is the moral of the story and the lesson of motivation. Your sales people don’t give a rat’s a** about shareholder value and year over year growth of the division or the department.  They care about their kids in school, paying off college debt, building a deck on the back of the house, saving for the wedding, the vacation home and the retirement years.  That is their motivation. That stuff is on the inside.  If your people don’t have it, you cannot give it to them.

    You CANNOT Motivate them, but you can do THIS!

    You can create an environment where they believe their dreams can come true.  You can foster the ability to pursue those things that are near and dear to their heart.  You can create a recognition program (or incentive process) that recognizes the things that are important to them.  You can find a way to mesh what they want, with want you want, and with what you have to have for success in your role.  THIS you can build; THIS you can control.  Do THIS and you won’t have to worry about them running to be in shape.  They will just do it.

    Tony’s Online Course on Motivation

    Harvard Business Review Article - Three Things That Actually Motivate Employees

    Evaluate Your Current Talent -  Order a Sample

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    5 Keys to Building a Successful Sales Team – Laying The Ground Work

      
      
      
      
      

    As I think about this concept, I realize that I may actually discuss more than just 5 keys.  These elements, or contributing factors, can be called “keys” but they can just as easily be called the 5 elements of successful sales teams or the 5 contributing factors of successful sales teams.  5 Keys sounds too finite or definitive but, although I’ve never claimed to have the definitive answers to building successful sales teams, I am convinced that if you have strong Performance Management, Recruiting, Coaching, Motivating and Mentoring, then you have a very good chance of success. 

    However, as I sit here in Delta’s seat 2D(pleasant surprise – I got bumped to first class) returning from the BISA Annual Conference, I realize that I need to build a little ground work before I get into the FAB 5 of building successful sales teams. 

    groundwork

    Ground Work – Here are some things that I’ve come to believe about building and leading a successful sales team:

    ·         The manager’s primary responsibility is to put the best team in the market place.

    ·         The manager must be able to discern between what is controllable, what is not controllable, what they should attempt to control and what they need to let go.

    ·         Jim Collins in Good to Great nails it when he states that “if you have to manage your people, then you’ve hired the wrong people.”

    ·         The central theme of Rham Charam and Larry Bossidy’s book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done - There must be a clear process that is consistently executed in order to get things done

    ·         The Harvard Business Review definition of the manager’s job as aligning resources for the teams to execute the business strategies.

    ·         To begin implementation of our Sales Managed Environment, our clients must understand and commit to the following:

    o   They must lead for results, manage behavior and coach activity.

    o   Management is not about being nice or being mean.  It’s about holding people accountable to THEIR commitments and having a meaningful process to reward success and a disciplined (not punitive) approach to correct failure.

    ·         The manager must be willing to face the reality that their systems, processes and teams are perfectly designed for the results they are currently getting.

    ·         The key to changing results is to change behavior, improve skills and execute the process.  The key to changing behavior, and improving skill and execution is attitude.  The key to changing attitude is to changing beliefs.

    More to follow…

     

    Resources:

    www.anthonycoletraining.com/resources

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    5 Keys to Building a Successful Sales Team/Career

      
      
      
      
      

    I’ve delivered a workshop by this title several times over the last 5 years - at conferences as a keynote and also as a break out workshop.  The program, delivered in a 45 to 90 minute segment, is an overview of our Sales Managed Environment (SME) program.  SME is one of our corporate coaching/consulting deliverables for companies trying to get the answers to the big question:  How do we drive more sales growth?

    drive

    I’m reading Dan Pink’s book, Drive.   Generally, in my blog, I do not make it a habit to be so “directive”, but today I am making an exception.  Regardless of your role in sales, go to Amazon (or your other favorite on-line book source) and buy this book. And then study it.

    As I sit on Delta’s Boeing 757 in 19C on my way to BISA’s annual conference in Ft. Lauderdale, the author’s words, concepts, ideas keep rolling around in my head. I begin generating the following thoughts:

    ·             - Most companies ask the question – How do I drive more sales revenue/growth?

          - Most companies then implement various strategies based on their answers or answers they get from others.

    ·             -   Those strategies often do not meet or exceed the expected outcomes for

    o   Consistent sales growth

    o   Minimizing the variability in success between the top and bottom

    o   Building a consistent and reliable pipeline to accurately forecast future sales

    o   Hiring new sales people that are far and away better than the ones they’ve exited

    As I think about these things, I wonder why, after all the millions/billions spent, does the quest for a solution that works rarely end for countless companies?

    One answer I’ve been convinced of for many years is that companies have been approaching it from the wrong angle - companies work on the symptoms instead of the root problem.  And it was this thought that leads me to the point I want to make today and in the future.

    I believe that, with all the variables that contribute to the outcome of a sales team, there are 1) just a few that really matter, 2) just a few that you can really control, 3) some that you can manage, 4) some that you can improve and 5) some that you have to ignore.  My quest is to help you figure out what you need to keep doing, stop doing, and get better at doing.

    More to follow. Stay tuned!

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    Successful Selling - Must You Demonstrate What You Know/Do?

      
      
      
      
      

    When we evaluate a sales organization using the Objective Management Tool - Sales Force Evaluation and Impact Analysis, we uncover the Sales DNA that drives sales results for the individuals and therefore the company.  As part of the DNA, we uncover several items - one of which is called the "Record Collection". Record collections are beliefs that individuals have developed over time that become the unconscious motivators for actions and decision making.

    sales belief system

    This information helps us, the sales person and the sales manager, understand the "root" of the sales symptoms being displayed by the sales person:

    1. Not asking enough of the right questions
    2. Not getting to the decision maker
    3. Not making presentations at an appropriate time
    4. Not getting decisions at time of presentation
    5. Not getting timely decisions
    These are just a few records identified in the analysis.  Three of the five listed point to the root cause record of I must educate the buyer in order to get them to buy.
    In order to increase sales, it is important to understand how these root causes affect the bottomline. The article, "Believe Me, I Have No Idea What I"m Talking About" by Zak Tormala, does a wonderful job exposing how these "records" can actually cause a sales person or marketer more harm than good.  
    In our program, The Art and Science of Asking Questions (link to outline), we constantly role-play and conduct drill-for-skill sessions to improve the skills required to engage clients in conversation rather than taking sales people through lessons or "interrogations".  During the workshops, the participants say they "get it", but when we follow up, we find that those same sales people still struggle with execution - NOT because it's difficult - BUT because they cannot overcome their natural tendency to "educate".
    This belief system is so engrained in their thinking as a result of two drivers:
    • How the sales person makes buying decisions for themselves - they want to be educated.
    • How the sales person has been taught to sell - they must demonstrate their expertise.
    To "fix" the problem, it takes more than just teaching a technique or approach.  You MUST:
    1. Uncover the underlying problem(s) or "Record Collection".
    2. Deal with how the record (belief) sabotages the sale and/or sales cycle
    3. Conduct joint/observational sales calls
    4. Conduct post-call debriefing sessions
    5. Engage in pre-call sessions to prepare appropriate responses to "How do you...?" questions.
    Additional Resources:

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    How Do You Measure Success in Sales... and in Life?

      
      
      
      
      

    This is short and sweet... and probably a relief to those who are tired of my longer blog posts. I was reading a poll question in the Harvard Business Review Group in LinkedIn. Sometimes I respond to these type of questions; other times I simply move on to the next question, discussion or poll.

    But today, the question caused me to pause and reflect. The question was: How do you measure success? 

    When I read the question, I immediately thought of one of my favorite poets/thinkers/authors - Ralph Waldo Emerson. His succinct definition of success may be the ultimate standard by which all other definitions of success could be measured. Tell me what you think.

                  poet thinker

    To laugh often and much; 
    To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
    To earn the appreciation of honest critics and
    Endure the betrayal of false friends;

    To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
    To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.
                    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Want Sales Success? Practice. (We’re Talking About Practice?!?)

      
      
      
      
      

    Several years ago, a video with Allan Iverson (then with the Philadelphia 76ers) went viral.  Apparently, there was a problem between him and his coach Larry Brown about a practice session that Iverson missed.  When questioned about it by the press, Iverson goes on and on and on (see video) about practice.

    Iverson

    Switching sports – let’s talk baseball.  Teams are now reporting for spring training in various locations in Florida and Arizona.  Supporting the local economy and their teams that arrive for spring training, fans flock to watch practices and games.  For many, this is just as much a spring ritual for the fans as it is for the athletes on the field.

    Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees will be 40 in June of this year.  He was drafted in 1992 by the Yankees.  He’s been at this a while.  Let’s conservatively pretend that he didn’t start to hit Major League Batting Averages until 2002.  Assuming that is the case, he has approximately 615 at bats per season and has faced 6.5 pitches per at bat.  I’m going to round the number to 4,000 pitches per season.

    Defensively, let’s say he has averaged 140 games per year since 2002; that would mean he has played 1,734 games and spent 15,612 innings in the infield facing at a minimum of 3 batters per inning.  I won’t bore you with more numbers, but let’s say that he’s made a few fielding plays in those 15,612 innings.  Let’s also say he’s pretty good:  Rookie of The Year, Gold Glove (5), Silver Slugger (5), World Series MVP (1), Hand Aaron Award (2), Roberto Clemente Award, All Star Appearances(19), and has been the All Star MVP.

    Derek is contracted through 2014 - even though he only played in 7 games last year.  So, as the team prepares for the season down there in Tampa, Florida, what do you suppose Derek is doing?

    Practicing.  He will practice infield, base running, batting, bunting, advancing runners, fly balls, throwing and catching.

    Why?  Because that is what it takes to be the best.

    Why then, as professional sales people, should we see ourselves any differently?  Why do we shy away from training programs?  Why do we hesitate instead of embrace role-playing?  Why do we feel that we practice and improve our skills simply by executing our sales activities day in and day out?

    I wish I had the answer to those questions, but I do not.  What I do know is if I would intend to sell more, sell more quickly, be more effective, then I must:

    Practice, Practice, Practice

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