Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Will You Be Able to Recruit Good Salespeople in 2015?

Tags: hiring better sales people, recruiting, sales recruiting

A guest blog by Dave Kulran, President and founder of Objective Management Group, with an introduction by Tony Cole, President of Anthony Cole Training Group.

INTRODUCTION: I’ve been working with companies for 22 years: companies of all sizes, in various business segments and across the country. One thing I’ve witnessed, discussed or heard for all of these years is the issue about talent. I’ve read books and articles and listened to keynote speakers talk about sales talent. What I cannot understand is this: why does this conversation still exist? For a problem that seems to be so obvious, you would think that, as an industry, we would work hard to ‘find a cure’ to the high cost of hiring the wrong sales people. (Click here to find out more about the cure)
About 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to hear about David Kurlan and his company, Objective Management Group. After some initial discussions (and reluctance on his part), I managed to sell him on the idea that we would be a good distributor and a solid partner. At that time, I don’t think either one of us realized how true these predictions would be, and I certainly didn’t realize 1) how important Dave would be to our business at Anthony Cole Training Group and 2) how important he would become to the entire  industry of sales and sales development. At some point, I sent him a request for some information on recruiting pipeline and in return he sent me a link to a blog article which you will see included below. I have read the article before but I had forgotten that he was the one who wrote it. Reading it once again, I realize that there is a pioneer in our industry that continues to work hard at finding the recruiting cure. Thanks, Dave, maybe between you, me and all the distributors in your network, we will help companies fix this problem once and for all.
dave_kurlan
Will You Be Able to Recruit Good Salespeople in 2015?
By Dave Kurlan

Do you know when your car is not running properly?  It's usually quite obvious.  Lighting is very obvious too.  How about your home theater?  You probably won't know about a problem with that until after a component has stopped working.  Do you have a really good way to determine whether your sales recruiting process works the way it should and will work going into next year?  How can you determine whether your job postings are effective?  How do you know if you are getting enough candidates?  How do you know if the best candidates are making it to the interview stage?  How can you tell if you are about to make a hiring mistake?

Occasionally, my sales development firm conducts a turnkey search for a crucial sales, sales management or sales leadership role.  Usually, this occurs when the client lacks either the bandwidth, expertise, or desire and absolutely, positively cannot afford to get this particular hire wrong.

Last week, we completed two such projects where we were looking for salespeople that were absolute needles in the haystack.   This 2-minute video has my take on what constitutes "needle in the haystack" criteria.

Below, you can see a breakdown of candidates for each company and how they converted along the way.

 kurlanresults

Which project was more successful?  Was it the NY company where we identified 5 candidates that met their needle in the haystack criteria, or the CT company where we only identified 3?  Was it the NY company where we took 101 applications or the CT company where we took only 20?  Was it the CT company where it took less than 30 days, or the NY company that really did their due diligence and took 16 weeks?  Was it a tie because both companies got two great salespeople?

Determining winners and losers is dependent on roles and expectations.

From Objective Management Group's (OMG) perspective - both companies had licenses for unlimited sales candidate assessments, so it was a tie.

From Kurlan & Associates' perspective, getting the CT company completed in less than 30 days was more profitable and less labor intensive than what was required to complete the NY company.  However, the time and labor must be measured against the context of fees.

From the client's perspective, the CT company was the winner because we were able to exceed their expectations on the timeline.

From the perspective of the job sites, they won big on the NY company because they were paid for views and got 4 times as many.

If it had taken as long for us to complete the hiring for the CT company as it had for the NY company, the numbers, multiplied by 4, would have been very similar to the numbers of the NY company.

There are a few interesting side notes to this exercise.  We teach most clients how to do what we do instead of doing it for them.  In those cases, they are responsible for sourcing candidates, and typically, if a company had received only 20 applications, 12 assessments with only 7 passing the assessment, they would call to complain about a lack of candidates.  And if a company had received 101 applications and only 5 of the candidates that passed the test met their needle in the haystack criteria, they would be calling to complain about the quality of the candidates.

That's the thing about getting selection right.  The only thing that matters is that you have the patience to wait for the right candidates to appear, the ability (aided by tools) to recognize those candidates, and in the end, the ability to convince those candidates to join you.  The numbers and ratios are just that - numbers and ratios.  It's about getting the right candidates into the pipeline, not getting lots of candidates into the pipeline.

Of the candidates that viewed the postings, why did such a relatively small number send their resumes?  Because we wrote the ads in such a way that most of the readers knew that they did not fit the criteria for who we were looking for.

Why did fewer than half of the candidates complete applications?  Does the answer really matter?  All you need to know about the candidates that didn't complete them is that they didn't follow through.  Why did a third of the candidates that completed the application fail to take the assessment?  Again, who cares?  It's yet one more way in which we can disqualify those candidates that need to be filtered out.  Could we have lost out on some good candidates who decided not to complete applications and assessments?  That depends on what you consider good.  If those same candidates won't complete call reports, use CRM, attend huddles and meetings, follow through, or do things your way, then no, we didn't miss out on anybody.

I believe that there will continue to be a shortage of good candidates through the first three quarters of 2015.  You can counter the effects of a candidate shortage by getting some help, using good tools or having experts do the work for you.  Would you like to use the accurate, predictive sales candidate assessment that we use and recommend?  Click here for a free trial.

 

 

 

My 4 Thoughts on Selling - Performance, Motivation, Consistency and…

Tags: reaching sales goals, sales success

The Dave Kurlan Blog – Understanding the Sales Force – has ben abuzz with comments about a youth baseball coach that made his team run wind sprints after they gave up a lead big enough to invoke the ‘mercy rule’. I won’t go any further into the comments made by others about Dave’s position. You can click here to follow that discussion. What I will talk about is this:

Consistency – As some of you know, I played college football at UConn from 1973 to 1977, coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1978 to 1980 and was the strength and conditioning coordinator for varsity athletics at Iowa State University from 1980 to 1983. In those years as an athlete and as a coach, this is what I witnessed and experienced. Those that had the greatest overall success in their athletic career were those that were the most consistent in everything they did.

As an example: We had two players - one a great running back and the other an above average lineman at Iowa State. The first was incredibly gifted, but never took the time to leverage his gifts. The other, while gifted, had to work extremely hard and had to consistently work at his skills, fitness and knowledge of the game to be a success. Both made it to the NFL. The running back had a very short career with spotty success at best. The other was the starting right tackle for the 1986 Superbowl Champion NY Giants. The difference in natural talent was made up by consistency in effort and execution to improve the skills and execute the behaviors needed to be successful at the highest level. The offensive lineman allowed himself to be held accountable to the little things that mattered while the superstar running back avoided all manner of management.

chriscampbellMotivation - Chris Campbell won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling in the 1986 Barcelona Olympics – he was 2 months shy of his 38th birthday. At that time, he was the oldest known medalist in Olympic wrestling. His motivation? He had made the 1980 Olympic team. But, for those of you old enough to remember or know enough history, the US boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest of the war in Afghanistan. So, Chris did not get the chance to wrestle. Two years later in the 1982 World Games, he beat the 1980 Olympic champion. As sweet as that victory was, it wasn’t an Olympic medal. I lost track of Chris for a while after I left Iowa State. Then… four years later, there he was on the Olympic podium.

Performance – This is what is actually done by an individual versus what is projected to get by that individual. My daughter, Alex, loves to perform. Now that she is working full-time as a recruiter for Aerotek, she doesn’t get the chance to perform on stage. If she thought she could make enough money performing (what she wants drives what she needs to do – work), that is what she would do.

I loved watching her perform. I was used to watching athletes and I could always tell the ones that “loved it”. They just had a look when they were performing - either in practice or in game situations. When Alex played basketball and volleyball, I never saw that look. The night she stepped out on the stage and started singing as the queen in Cinderella – I saw the look.

I have never asked her why she likes performing, so I don’t know her motivation about that. What I do know is this: When she had a great performance and she did her curtain call at the end of the show and the audience went wild, I saw a beaming look in her eyes and a shine on her face that is un-mistakable – the satisfaction of knowing she did her job well.

There was for her - and there is for your sales people - a direct correlation between performance and outcome. But, the thing to remember, the thing to understand is that the applause wasn’t just for that 90-minute performance when all eyes were watching and the lights were at their brightest. No, the applause – the outcome – is for all the hard work done when no one was watching and the lights were not on.

The same thing applies to the sales people you lead, coach and manage. And if you are not managing and coaching the day-in-and-day-out performance, then expecting applause at the end of the year is an un-validated expectation. Sure, someone might luck into one – the luck being the timing of the need and the decision to buy – but no true professional goes into a game, a match or an onstage performance counting on luck.

Last story. It’s about David Sandnaller. I remember listening to cassette tapes and hearing him tell a story about playing in a Pro-Am. He was paired with a pro that day and David went to the driving range early to get some practice swings in. He was swinging away with a bucket of balls by his side. Hit a ball, reach into the bucket, grab a ball, drop it and hit it. Repeat until bucket is empty. The pro comes up with 6 balls in his hands and a couple of clubs. David asked him, “Is that all the balls you’re going to hit?” The pro replied, “If you didn’t bring it (your game) with you, you won’t find it here.”

If your sales people are hoping to perform at their best without having done the work, then you can count on them not making the cut for the weekend rounds. As the old adage goes – Success only comes before work in the dictionary.

What does this have to do with all the buzz on Dave’s blog? It has everything to do with it. Dan thinks it is fine to just hit the big sale – pay the producer and not worry about all the other stuff that drives performance, consistency and results. Dan you are wrong. (Just in case you think I’ve lost track of my original 4 thoughts, here they are – Consistency, performance, performers and Dan is wrong)

Two Things Breakthrough Companies Do that Others Don’t (Part 1)

Tags: sales success

A guest post by Tony Scelzo, President of Stringcan

We know that domino companies that move from small to big don’t all share the same characteristics tonysbubble100%, but the similarities that they do share are striking, so when Tony Cole pointed out that there were at least two things he’s seen breakthrough companies succeed in—we were quick to have him elaborate.

  1. Appetite for Change: I absolutely love what Cole had to say about the type of conviction he’s seen breakthrough companies embrace:

“One of the things that has to exist is there has to be an appetite for change. It can’t be ‘we’d like to change and we’re thinking about change;’ it has to what my associate Mark Trinkle calls ‘table-pounding conviction’—that is, the realization that the status quo as it is today can no longer continue to exist.

We have to go from this to that. [Clients] have to be passionate about that, and they have to be committed about doing that. So we talk about the commitment level of it, and we ask them ‘so does that mean that you want to do whatever it takes to get where you want to go?’”

When you ask a client this question, about how strong their commitment to improvement and success is, you learn whether they have the mark of the breakthrough company. Cole shared how those prospects who aren’t willing to change on the macro-level, also won’t be able to hear how an organization like Cole’s can help, let alone see the results that could be achieved.

  1. Deep Structural, Process and Systems Change: Across industries, technology is delivering and introducing opportunities for change, yet these opportunities look very different to the company unwilling to listen. These threaten key leaders and teams who have devoted their careers to creating structures, processes and systems for organizations. Those companies which are positioned to break through, accept change on all levels, even if it means changing who they are from the inside out are the ones who move from small to big fastest. These companies are willing to take a deep look at their systems and processes.

 

“The 2nd thing [breakthrough companies] talk about is the structural and process and system change. I would say this has to be another component that the organization is willing to do in order to get to another level.”

In fact, Cole tells many of his clients that while “I may not know much about your specific company today because we’ve just met, what I know about every company is that you’re perfectly designed for the results that you are getting today.” Again, how the prospect responds to this tells a lot about whether they are breakthrough material.

Companies willing to consider change on a fundamental level, perhaps to the very pillars of how the organization has done business; question everything about the structure of their company, asking questions like:

  1. What makes up your company?
  2. What are the systems?
  3. What are the processes?
  4. What are the people?
  5. What’s the plant look like?

Becoming a Breakthrough Company Means Being Willing to Change

What really sets breakthrough companies apart from the others is their response to these types of questions. Ultimately, being agile, being able to respond to change and overcome what is the much more natural response—resistance is the first part to the equation. The second part is how leadership teams, managers and of course the C-suite internalize what change means to the foundations of the company and whether they are willing to watch something they may have spent years building be torn apart and rebuilt.

Stay tuned to Tony’s blog to learn how breakthrough companies set themselves apart by not giving into one of the most common human responses to change—resistance—in Part II: Two Other Patterns that Set Breakthrough Companies Apart from the Crowd.

 

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Overcoming The Money Problem in Sales

Tags: sales prospecting, closing sales

A guest blog by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert

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You must be PREPARED.

  • Have specific questions to respond to the price issue
  • Help them discover that low price may not mean lowest cost
  • Find prospects that place value on something besides just price
  • Look at why others are doing business with you
  • Keep a full pipeline

“Show me the money.” 

It’s a critical part of every effective sales process, and yet, sometimes that very discussion causes us to get “off track” and lose focus on the objective of the call.

Welcome to this week’s Sales Brew about “The Money Problem” - overcoming the reluctance to ask the tough questions.

While I won’t argue that price is part of the decision making process, what do you do when the prospect tells you it is the driving factor?  This can be challenging, but you can use this information to your advantage to make critical decisions. Once you understand the motivation of the buyer, you can and should decide early in the sales process if it makes sense for you to work on an opportunity or not.

Realize that there can be times where making a price-based sale could be bad for your business. So, let’s talk about the problems of selling on price.

  1. You sacrifice margin, which means making more sales to achieve your revenue goal.
  2. It’s a short-term versus a long-term strategy to building your business.
  3. You trade “building the kind of business you want” for revenue today.
  4. You will constantly be “defending” the sale over the next 12 months from the “price attackers.”
  5. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Win on price, lose on price

So, what should you do when you find out that it’s a price-driven decision? Well, you need to recognize the following:

  1. First, it’s part of the official buyer’s manual. Buyers have been conditioned to believe that there is always a lower price and a salesperson desperate enough to go there.
  2. Sometimes they buy on price because that is how THEY personally make buying decisions.
  3. When the prospect tells you up front that this is a price-based decision, you need to ask what else besides price is driving this decision and, if the answer is “nothing”, be prepared to move on.

 

So, what can you do to overcome the money problem?  Answer:  You must be prepared.

  • Make sure, in your pre-call preparation, you have specific questions to respond to the price issue, i.e. questions that look for things that are important to them other than price.
  • Ask questions to help them discover that low price may not mean lowest cost. Price is what you pay for something; cost is what you end up paying or losing out on because of that decision.
  • If you are committed to achieving your goals, then you must find prospects that place value on something besides just price.
  • In order to do that, you must look at why others are doing business with you.
  • Keep a full pipeline. The lack of an abundant pipeline puts pressure on us to work on low probability opportunities.

 

Don’t let your business be driven by price shoppers.  Get out there and prospect everyday.

Protect Your Precious Sales Time

A guest blog by Jack Kasel, Sales Development Expert

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  • Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing right now helping me become a better sales professional?”
  • Make a list of the “Gotta Do’s”… and then do them
  • Evaluate your “opportunity cost” to maximize the investment of your time
  • Ask the right questions to eliminate prospects that aren’t going anywhere

In April 1970, the first official Earth Day was held with the intent of raising the awareness of protecting our natural resources.  As salespeople, we need to be constantly protecting one of our most precious natural resources - our time.

When I’m working with sales people, one question I generally ask is this: “What do you need to improve so you can be a better professional?”  A common response is Time Management.  I get a chuckle out of that because, just like the Tracy Lawrence song “Time Marches On”, time indeed does march on.  Each day at 12 midnight, we get 24 more hours and it will “march on” regardless of how we try to manage it.  We can’t manage it, but we can maximize and protect how we spend that precious resource.  Here is the basic question I have people ask themselves: “Is what I’m doing right now helping me become a better person and sales professional?”  Make a list of the “Gotta Do’s” and then do them.  Some of those tasks include making calls, expanding your network, getting introductions, reading something to improve your skills, and sometimes, it means having a cup of coffee with an old friend.

When I was in the leadership position with a transportation company, I told my people to be aware of their “Opportunity Cost”.  The point I was trying to make is, whatever you are doing right now, it’s at the cost of doing something else.  So, make sure what you’re doing right now is maximizing the investment of your time.

One of the biggest time wasters I see salespeople do is working with prospects that just aren’t going to do anything.  How do you avoid that?  By asking lots of questions to determine if you really have a prospect. Ask: Is that a problem?  Do you NEED to (not want to) but need to fix it?  Do you need to fix it NOW?

So, in April 2015, I ask you to jealously, and with great zeal, protect your most valuable resource - your time.  Someone out there needs what you do; go find them.

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Is Your Sales Career Surviving or Thriving?

Tags: sales priorities, sales success, sales career

A guest post by Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert

Mark

If you are tired of mediocre, ask yourself:

  • Are you tired enough to change? 
  • How long have you been settling for average? 
  • What will it cost you this year to be average or less than your best? 
  • Are you willing to change?

Today I want to ask you one simple question:  Are you surviving or thriving in your sales career?

I think most of us would agree that sales is tough; there are far easier occupations to enter into.  Most of us coming up in sales have learned some hard lessons on the street. We have been kicked around…stood up…knocked around…used…turned over…and otherwise had to deal with the frustrations of getting past gate keepers to find our way into the office of the decision maker.  Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” that goes like this:  “The road is long, with many a winding turns, that leads us to who knows where.”

Which leads me to wonder why most people got into sales in the first place.  While the majority no doubt did so because of the promise of making money, some got started because sales allowed them to not be chained to desk; it got them out of the office. Perhaps they liked the ability to work from home, to create their own schedule…or to help people solve problems.

Whatever the reason, I operate to this day under the assumption that nobody decided to be average or mediocre in terms of their results.  I don’t think for a second that any of you listening to this brew thought, “Hey, I am willing to put up with all of the challenges of selling and I will be ok just being ok.”

Which brings us to the idea of having extraordinary goals.  At Anthony Cole Training Group, we believe the first step that you can take to having extraordinary results is to set extraordinary goals.  I’m talking about you getting ready to turn off the lights in your office on December 31st and heading off to your New Year’s Eve party thinking, “I had an extraordinary year.”

So, if you are tired of being mediocre, I will close by treating you like a prospect.  Are you tired enough to change?  How long have you been settling for average?  What will it cost you this year to be average or less than your best?  Are you willing to change?  It will be painful at times and I can guarantee you will be uncomfortable from time to time.

As for what needs to change, spend some time thinking about that.  Is it more effort?  Is it more introductions over cold calling?  Is it having walk away power after the first call?  Is it tracking your weekly sales activities?

As Urban Meyer, coach of the national championship Ohio State Buckeyes, says “I refuse to be around average.”  How about you?  Are you being less than your best?

Now… go sell like a champion today.

April 1st - A Day for Sales People to Remember

I normally have to do some research prior to posting an article or shooting a video for our weekly Sales Brew.  Depending on the title we have selected, I look for thoughts from other subject matter experts, the history of the theme we are using or a definition of a key word.

    April 1st

With April Fool’s Day on the horizon, I did some research on this annual day of chicanery.  I really didn’t find anything of great interest other than the idea of identifying one day in the year to play tricks or jokes on neighbors, friends or co-works is a universal practice.  What did catch my eye, however, was a quote by our very own American humorist, Mark Twain: “April 1st is the one day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” Aha! I had found my theme.

It was 1983 when I started my career as a sales person.  I was the regional sales person for Nautilus Equipment Inc. covering the four states of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.  The company went through some legal issues and fell apart, so Linda and I moved to Cincinnati to be close to family.  I got into the life insurance business as an agent with National Life of Vermont.

I came into the business as a life insurance agent only to find out that others in that business were calling themselves planners, consultants, advisors, risk managers and a variety of other titles.  Apparently, they didn’t want their prospects to think they were trying to “sell” insurance.  I spent a total of 5 years in the insurance services business before starting Anthony Cole Training Group in 1993.

As I began working with companies helping them improve the skills and processes of their sales teams, I experienced the same job title “cover up”.  Sales people were account executives, new business development officers, relationship managers, sales directors and various other titles to describe what they were really doing – selling.

Let’s take April 1st and remember what we do – we sell stuff.  The old expression – nothing happens until something is sold – is something that should make us very proud.  Our efforts of going out into the marketplace, initiating conversations with people generally unknown to us, attempting to get them to either 1) discover they need what we have or, 2) discover that what they already have is something they should really be buying from us.

Day in and day out, we face the same grind of finding people to call on, calling people and trying to convince them to meet with us, meeting with people and engaging them in deep conversations about their current state and trying to determine if there is a significant gap between where they are and where they want to be, attempting to get them to realize that what we charge for our product or services is of great value and that they should part with money in exchange for our product or service.  It’s a grind that has great reward and requires great effort and sacrifice.  There are reasons I wrote, “Why is Selling so Damn Hard”.  It is hard, it is a grind, and it is a profession that we must take great pride in.

If we stop for a moment to think about what really happens, we really should be in awe of our own work.  We bring solutions to people that have worries and concerns about something in their personal or business life. If we do our job well, their worries and concerns are taken care of and those people rest easier knowing we have their back.

The companies we represent do not exist unless we do what we do.  Technology may allow you to go to Amazon.com and buy almost anything in the world from anywhere in the world, but there are still sales people at Amazon.com convincing advertisers to advertise and investors to invest and people to come work there and have suppliers put their products on their site.  Even though the Internet has changed the world of buying (See ZMOT – the Zero Moment of Truth), in many cases, the sales professional is still critical at the FMOT and SMOT – first moment of truth and the second moment of truth.

After many years, I am convinced that sales people are worth their weight in gold – but only –  if they continue to go out in the marketplace and develop relationships, help people by providing creative solutions to their problems, and finally, initiate the decision making process so that problems go away.  If you do those things today and every day, then that’s a good day.

On this April Fool’s Day, take a moment to remember exactly who you are the other 364 days a year...

A great professional sales person!

 

Did you like today’s post? If so, you’ll love our weekly audio Sales Brew and monthly newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive Tony Cole’s eBook, Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?, as our thanks to you!

 


March Madness Thursday and Selling

Tags: Selling, sales prospecting, closing sales, march madness

MarchMadness123rf

This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.

  • Prospecting > games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
  • Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
  • Assessing the Opportunity to win > selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
  • Presenting > The Madness begins on Monday night in the play in gams and then on Thursday the real fun begins with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out and let the ball bounce where it may
  • Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins – Villanova. In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (overtime) before a victor is declared – Ohio State and Cincinnati! (Both WINNERS). In some cases an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 13 seed beating a 4 seed and the favored winners Iowa State and Baylor are going home.
  • Get a decision > The loser goes home, the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge – Cincy vs. UK and OSU vs Arizona. Xavier is still in the hunt, but they play the upset winner - 14 seed Georgia State.

And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”

Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, you have the bench strength, you have had great coaching, you’ve prepared, you have presented to the prospect what you said you would but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale. What happened?

  • The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
  • I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
  • They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
  • They said it was too expensive
  • They are thinking it over
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State – (You have to watch the video!!!).

But, when the coaches that lose review the game video with their team, they point out to their team that there were several opportunities during the game that, if the team had performed better/differently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.

The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:

  • Matching price – you should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
  • Changing covenants – you should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
  • Decision making – you should know the decision making process before presenting.
  • They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
  • Think it overs – you must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
  • Etc. – uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.

As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:

  • Put the best possible team on the court.
  • Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
  • Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
  • Practice what you expect them to perform.
  • Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill

Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Environment – Duilding the structure to improve your chances for winning.

Sales Talent Acquisition Routine – Hire Better Sales People - get the right people to come to your team to play and WIN against the opponents in your market.

Goal Setting and Business Plan Development – Build a foundation so that your team has the required internal motivation to win in all market conditions.

March Madness Thursday and Selling

March Madness (c)123rf.com

This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.

  • Prospecting > games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
  • Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
  • Assessing the Opportunity to win > selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
  • Presenting > The Madness begins on Monday night in the play in gams and then on Thursday the real fun begins with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out and let the ball bounce where it may
  • Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins – Villanova. In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (overtime) before a victor is declared – Ohio State and Cincinnati! (Both WINNERS). In some cases an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 13 seed beating a 4 seed and the favored winners Iowa State and Baylor are going home.
  • Get a decision > The loser goes home, the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge – Cincy vs. UK and OSU vs Arizona. Xavier is still in the hunt, but they play the upset winner - 14 seed Georgia State.

And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”

Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, you have the bench strength, you have had great coaching, you’ve prepared, you have presented to the prospect what you said you would but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale. What happened?

  • The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
  • I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
  • They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
  • They said it was too expensive
  • They are thinking it over
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State – (You have to watch the video!!!).

 

But, when the coaches that lose review the game video with their team, they point out to their team that there were several opportunities during the game that, if the team had performed better/differently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.

The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:

  • Matching price – you should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
  • Changing covenants – you should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
  • Decision making – you should know the decision making process before presenting.
  • They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
  • Think it overs – you must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
  • Etc. – uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.

As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:

  • Put the best possible team on the court.
  • Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
  • Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
  • Practice what you expect them to perform.
  • Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill

Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Environment – Building the structure to improve your chances for winning.

Sales Talent Acquisition Routine – Hire Better Sales People - Get the right people to come to your team to play and WIN against the opponents in your market.

Goal Setting and Business Plan Development – Build a foundation so that your team has the required internal motivation to win in all market conditions.


Who is Your Sales Competition?

Tags: Selling, sales competition, Sales Brew, Mark Trinkle, sales prospecting

A Guest Blog By Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group
competition

Hello, this is Mark Trinkle with Anthony Cole Training Group and I want to ask you one simple question.  Who is your competition?  That is a question that we ask our clients from time to time and the answer usually comes back in one of two ways:

  1. The name of another firm that competes in the same space and/or the same geography.
  2. Something more introspective, with some salespeople saying the answer is that they are their own worst enemy…that they are the competition…kind of a “I have met the enemy and it is me” kind of deal.

I have always had high regard for how Tom Connellan defines competition.  In his terrific book titled “Inside the Magic Kingdom – Seven Keys to Disney’s Success”, Connellan defines the competition as anyone who raises your customer’s expectations.  Think about that for a moment.  Even if you are in the financial services space or the insurance space or maybe you work in IT, it is possible that an experience with a doctor’s office or an automobile mechanic could, in fact, be your competition.

So, let’s translate that to selling.  My belief is that you should have two goals on the first meeting with a prospect:

  1. Find Clarity – You know the drill here; you are there to find out if there is enough severe mental anguish to the point where the prospect has conviction around fixing a problem. Remember, you are really there to disqualify the prospect.
  2. Raise Expectations – By that I mean your conduct on every sales call but, in particular, the first call is to raise your prospect’s expectations for what it means to be called on by a professional consultative salesperson. Someone who is prepared not to “pitch”, but who rather is prepared to engage the prospect in a fierce conversation around solving problems that might exist in the prospect’s world. It means caring a lot about the dialogue and very little about whether or not there is a sale to be made.  I really like what Peter Guber has to say about this in his book, “Tell to Win”, when he writes that many salespeople make the mistake of aiming for the prospect’s wallet instead of aiming for their heart

So, forget about making the sale.  Forget about trying to force your way into a second meeting.  Spend your time in advance of the call figuring out the questions you need to ask within a consultative approach.

So… one last question – have you raised any expectations lately?  If you have, then you are formidable competition…for your competitors in many different industries

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.