Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Busting 5 Myths (Secrets) of Successful Selling

Tags: close more sales, managing salespeople, assessing sales talent, getting consistent sales performance

Ok, let’s start here - there are no secrets!  The Internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated ignorance and secrets to success in sales and about how to do almost anything.  All you need is a mobile device (could even be a watch) with access to the internet and you can find just about anything you want to know.

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Myth Busters used to be one of my favorite shows.  I searched google to find the Discovery Channel episode about lifting a car with duck tape. Here is the link (but, unfortunately, you won’t get the complete show).

With facts and strategies being so readily available, why do most salespeople (about 80%) still struggle to be successful? A lot of it has to do with beliefs and myths. What about you? Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Since I short-changed you a little on the video, I will share a list of some other common myths:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon – Pink Floyd led us astray (Here you go, rockers!)
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

THE BEST METHOD - GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

As many of you know, Anthony Cole Training Group has specialized in providing specialized sales growth solutions for banking, investment advisory and insurance.  Primarily, those growth solutions include:

  1. Hiring better salespeople
  2. Executing an effective sales process
  3. Sales Management certification

During our years of developing and delivering content to hundreds of sales organizations, we have used the #1 sales assessment tool on the planet.  Not only is the accuracy of the sales inventory assessment tool unbelievable, but the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis has been game changer for every one of the clients in our niche:

“The Sales Person Skills Assessment Tool has enabled us to discover some interesting information about our sales process, current sales capabilities as well as potential opportunities for growth and improvement in sales competencies. This assessment tool has also changed how we go about hiring for our sales force.”

President & CEO
F&M Trust

One of the most interesting segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs.  Each of us has personal beliefs that dictates our behaviors and thus determines our outcomes.  This holds true for all areas - sales, sales management and sales leadership.  Whether aware or not, we all have beliefs about what we do that impacts our opportunity for success. 

5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE

Here are the beliefs that many salespeople hold near and dear to their hearts that simply are not true:

  1. People buy from people they like – Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you liked, but the “liking” didn’t drive your decision. What drove your decision was your confidence and trust in the person, the product and the company behind the product.
  2. People make buying decisions based on price – Staying with you and your purchasing habits for a second, let’s talk automobiles. According to autobyel.com, the cheapest car available today is the Hyundai Accent SE with a MSRP $15,580.00.  If you own one, then you are a rare breed.  The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2016 was only .38% of all vehicles sold in the U.S.  If people simply bought on lowest price, this would not be the case.
  3. Closing skills are the most important – This might be surprising to you, but in the last three studies I personally conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers and private bankers severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right – Actually, the customer is rarely They are more right today than they USED to be when it comes to product knowledge, availability, options and pricing as a result of information available on the Internet; but to assume they are right about everything is just SO wrong. However, this in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is this: if salespeople believe this, then they will never be gutsy enough to execute the challenger sale, the value-based selling system, the SPIN System or our Effective Selling System.
  5. Prospects are honest – 95% of respondents in all of our studies believe prospects are honest. That is… until we conduct our first meeting with our clients and go through the process that buyers to go through when executing their buying process. g.  If a prospect was completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who just cold-called them that they just got a renewal that they think is too high and they want some competitive bids to keep the incumbent honest.  We all know that doesn’t happen!

TRAINING ALONE DOES NOT GET LASTING RESULTS

Time and again, companies spend money on sales training to introduce them to a new…

  • sales language
  • sales approach
  • prospecting method
  • time management process
  • cross-selling strategy

What happens is that the company spends a lot of time, money and effort and yet, at the end of the event or training, they cannot point to any discernable difference in outcomes.  Behaviors stay the same, problems that existed before are still there, effort changes for a while but soon returns to pre-training levels and salespeople still blame the economy, the company or the competition for lack of success.

Top people still are performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are still “at leasters” and your bottom 20% are not performing any better than the bottom 20% you had the year before.  Why?  Because the root problems associated with beliefs were never addressed.

I grew up on a farm.  I know about planting things and making them grow, and if it’s a fruit tree or bush (blueberries), I know that there is a time to harvest.  What I also know is that you can buy the best plants and trees in the world, but if you don’t take care of the root system with good soil, fertilizer and water, they will not produce.

GIVE ME A CALL - I WILL HELP

For more about growing blueberries, peaches and salespeople, call me! This is your call to action to get more productivity out of yourself or your sales team, so call me NOW at 513.791.3458.

Additional Resources

  • # 1 Sales Assessment in the world
  • Identify Your Systems and Processes – The Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample (SEIA)
  • How do my salespeople compare to industry standards – Get 3 people on your team (the best three that do the right things, have the right fit and blow out their numbers consistently) to take the sales skills inventory assessment and compare. Be prepared to take a call from us, discuss the results and answer the question: Do you want our help?

What is Your Sales Team's Motivation?

Tags: developing sales talent, Motivational, getting consistent sales performance, predictable sales growth

QUESTIONS THAT COMPANIES NEED TO ANSWER

As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for.  The process helps us (and helps our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

6 FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE WILL TO SELL

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here for a review of the OMG pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because, over and over again, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question, “How do I motivate or keep my people motivated?”

FINDING INSPIRATION

I was getting ready to work out at my club the other day and, when walking to the men’s locker room, I stopped and looked at this sign.  Now, I’ve seen this sign literally hundreds of times and have read it dozens of times. I have always found it interesting and a bit inspiring. 

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I can imagine being a young tennis player who has big dreams of playing tennis on a large stage someday.  And that young person might take a photo of this poster and put it on their phone, locker room, door or wall at home.  They might even post it to social media – Facebook. Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.

It all depends on that person’s motivation.

This person could be driven by pride, satisfaction, mastery, achievement, competition, enjoyment or recognition.  They could even be motivated by the love of winning or that hate of losing. They might just be trying to prove the naysayers wrong!

ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality
  • Make sure your children receive an education without the debt

I have to ask: Why?

 

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship.  Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.
  • I played hurt.
  • I studied and got the grades needed to get into college.
  • I did all of those things for 13 years.

MY STARTLING WAKE-UP CALL

On the other side of that coin are the years between 1998 and 2003.  Those 5 years are lost to me because of the event of our son's (Anthony) cardiac arrest and subsequent severe brain injury.  I could think of nothing but his full recovery to health.  Nothing else mattered and it showed up in the shrinking of our business.  One day, Linda walked into the office and said, “We need to talk.”  I thought it had something to do with Anthony.  Instead, she asked, “Are you ever going to start working again?”

Man, did that piss me off!

But, I started to work again because I had new motivation.  And that is my point.  I believe most people go through stages of motivation.  The stages probably look like the side view of a roller coaster – lots of ups and downs.  If you find yourself in the down, don’t assume that you will go back up.  You may be at the end of the ride.  If you are there, you need to find new and different reasons to get back in the seat and ride to the top.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

I remember having a discussion with Tom. Tom was a COO of a large insurance holding company and we were talking about his next day’s presentation to the troops.  He told me about his agenda and the key points in the speech.  One of the topics was shareholder value.  When he finished, I asked permission to ask a question and then make a comment.  “Permission granted,” Tom said.

I asked, “How many people in the audience are shareholders?” One, he said.

I then said, “Tom, with all due respect, those people don’t give a rat’s #@%  about shareholder value. What they care about is having enough money to retire, pay for a wedding, have the dream vacation, pay for college, and eliminate debt.  Talk to them about how the company will support their efforts to make those things happen and then you will have an audience who will listen and respond.”

THESE 3 FAILS = NO MOTIVATION

The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of the sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  Without knowing that, how could you possibly create a motivated environment?

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

How could you possibly have a motivated sales team?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE:

Motivation Quotes in Unlikely Places – Dave Kurlan

Pavarotti and Motivation – Music and Self Motivation

Robert De Niro Inspiring Speech at NYU School for The Arts - Youtube

Motivation – What Would You Attempt If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

 

Fixing a Broken Sales Environment with 3 Essential Sales Tools

Tags: developing sales talent, hire better salespeople, predictable sales growth, consistent sales results

The 3 Es

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THE 3 ESSENTIAL SALES TOOLS

  1. Speed to failure
  2. Conversation is still king (the person with the best conversation wins)
  3. Technology that supports SELLING – NOT finance

Before I get to the 3 essential sales tools, consider for a moment all the systems and processes you have in your organization:

  • IT
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Physical plant
  • Hiring
  • Technical training
  • Underwriting
  • Risk management
  • Sales
  • Customer service

(Also watch this video – it is worth every minute of your invested time).   

ARE YOU OK WITH ONLY A PARTIAL SOLUTION?

I know the list above isn’t a complete list, but let’s pretend for a minute that you just invested $500,000 in new technology.  It could be a website enhancement, new finance applications to improve billing and financial projections, improved communication equipment or a sales CRM.

Let’s pretend that the investment was for finance.  Your expectations are to “tighten up” the reporting on payables, receivables, compensation reports, taxes and forecasting.  The company you bought the service from told you that it would probably take about 90 days to work any bugs out, but certainly, by year end, your expectations would be met.  You meet with your CFO and ask, “How’s it going?”  She responds, “Pretty good!”  You then inquire, “Pretty good means?”  She replies:

  • Our payable reports are about 66% correct, but trending the right direction.
  • Our overdue receivables still average 45 days, but we’re making progress.
  • Our compensation expenses are off by about 5% and we’re not sure why, but we’re working on it.
  • Taxes? Well, my best guess is that we are going to owe between 10% and 20% more than last year.
  • As far as forecasting revenue, well…our pipeline shows $5,000,000 to be closed in the next 6 months, but we’re not confident that the number is accurate.

How do you feel about your investment?  What is your reaction to a complete lack of success at meeting expectations?  Whose head is on the block as a result of this?  How long would you tolerate the continuance of this failure?  I’m not sure you’d fire your CFO, CTO, President, HR or your consultant, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say, “Okay, let’s give it another 30 days.”

WHAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT

I know I created a bit of a stretch scenario, but the point I want to make is that you probably get a report like this about your sales team; you just don’t know it.  What isn’t revealed in a sales meeting or in your monthly meeting with your sales manager is the detail behind the big numbers you talk about.  You talk about year over year results, you talk about sales YTD against plan, you might even talk about how you are doing against other sales divisions or peers in your industry.  What you don’t talk about is this:

  • Over 90% of your results are probably coming from 36% of your sales team. (LinkedIn article on the 80/20 of the 80/20).
  • What doesn’t get reported that would make you jump out a window is that the bottom 36% of your sales team is probably responsible for less than 4% of your total sales.
  • What the sales manager doesn't tell you is that - of the last 4 hires - only 1 of them is doing better than the people that were replaced with the new hires.
  • What you won’t talk about - but need to talk about - is the cost of putting the other 3 in the market for 12 months and then the cost of replacing them with 3 more that won’t make it either. (By the way, over a 5-year period, that is a 2 comma problem).
  • What is also probably not part of the discussion is that, if you really wanted to drive profit, you could probably eliminate the bottom 36% and increase profitability significantly.
  • You probably won’t have a discussion about how some of your more senior people are not performing nearly as well as some of your new people.

 WHAT MATTERS MOST

The challenge to organizations (and what matters most) is the answer to the question:  Are we hitting our numbers?  As long as that answer is yes, you’re okay.  BUT, if you are unwilling to accept 90% correct in your tax estimate or compensation projections… or 90% of the calls getting through or 75% of the customers being happy… or your website being operational 66% of the time, why are you settling for anything less than 100% execution from your entire sales team?

What I know and what I’ve stated before:

  • You don’t intentionally hire sales people to fail; so, if they do…
  • You either hired them that way or…
  • You made them that way

HOW TO FIX A BROKEN SALES ENVIRONMENT

What does this have to do with the 3 Essential Sales Tools?  Maybe not everything, but these 3 tools have a lot to do with fixing a broken sales environment.

  • Speed to failure – With your new hires, do your best to find out quickly if both of you made the right decision. Make sure that, as you are making the offer, you let them know all the crap they are going to have to go through, what they will be managed to and what is exactly expected in the first 90 days and the following 6 months.  Let them know that the hire is going to be probationary and that you have a 3 Strike Rule.  (Call me at 513.226.3913 about the 3 Strike Rule).
  • Conversation is KING – Despite all the technology that is available to help your salespeople create opportunities, nothing yet has replaced the value of quality conversations. This means you need to have a very high standard for training, practice and preparation before you put people out into the market.
  • The technology that you buy to support sales has to support sales not finance. Finance should find its way to use the appropriate sales tool to get the information they need not the other way around.  Your sales technology should make it easy for salespeople to communicate to suspects, prospects and clients.  It should be easy to use and provide extremely useful information for the sales manager as well as salespeople.  It should make it easy for your people to consistently follow your sales process.  Finally, it should help you predict with a high level of validity what is actually going to get sold over any given time frame.

Implementing these three sales tools will go a long way to helping you improve your sales environment and improve the productivity of the entire team.  In my next blog – What do you know (really know) about your sales manager’s and your team’s WILL TO SUCCEED in sales management and sales?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Call 513.791.3458 now to get a copy of a recent case study on Will to Succeed and the productivity of the sales organization –Ask to speak to Jeni.

Find out about the WILL of your sales team as defined by The World’s #1 Sales Skills and Sales Manager Skills Assessment

What You Don’t Know Can Kill Sales Growth

Tags: developing sales talent, how to manage salespeople, effective sales management, predictable sales growth

I had a conversation this week with 3 executives that run bank-owned investment programs.

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  • The first executive is restructuring his program to go from $3 million to $8 million in revenue and will do that via a team approach to the credit union membership.
  • The second executive is looking to improve the effectiveness of junior advisors and improve the quality of new hires. He is the president/program manager and sales manager.
  • The third executive has sales management executives, and is part of a very large bank that has a robust training department, several leadership programs, a very tenured group and a full calendar of training programs scheduled for the balance of the year.

WHERE TO BEGIN FOR SALES GROWTH

If any of these rings true for you, consider the following:

If you’ve read any of my posts over the last 10 years, you know that our initial step in any engagement is to first assess the current state of the sales organization.  In our initial conversation with any prospect, we attempt to explore…

  • What’s happening
  • What’s not happening
  • What the objectives and expectations are
  • The gap (money) between where they are and where they need to be; Attempt to uncover the symptoms that indicate the “why”
  • If the problems are “have to fix” or “want to fix”

If we arrive at a “have to fix” state, then we discuss the process required to “fix” it.  To help paint the picture, I normally describe a situation where someone has a “have to fix” problem.  I choose improving my golf game as an analogy because I’m in a constant state of saying that I want to improve my golf game.  (Apparently, improving my game isn’t that important because I always fail to take one really important step – I don’t take lessons.  But… that is another story…)

I go on to ask, if my prospect was my new golf coach and we were in our first lesson, what would the golf coach do in our first lesson?  Almost everyone (over 90%) replies, “Ask you to take a few swings with a club.”  I ask why would the pro want to do that.  Again, almost everyone responds with, “So they can see what might need to be fixed.”  I respond with, “Perfect - that is exactly what we have to do.  We can’t go about fixing the problem unless we know the root cause.”  We have to have some insight into:

  • The skills of your salespeople
  • The strengths and weaknesses that support or hinder effective selling
  • The systems and process that exist
  • The skills of the sales manager, their tendencies and where (in the 4 functions of sales management) they are most effective
  • The actual performance of the entire team
  • Answers to 19 critical sales growth questions

A TALE OF TWO MANAGERS

As an example of what we find out, look at the chart below that describes the leadership and sales management skills, tendencies and effectiveness of two sales managers.

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The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the data has not been altered.  Here is just one example of one of the findings from the assessment that companies find so useful when attempting to analyze the “why” of productivity and sales outcomes:

#1 – The score tells you how well Gene and Paul scored in their skills for the various data points evaluated as sales managers and sales leaders.

#2 – This helps us understand what a manager’s “go-to move” is when there is pressure to drive performance.

#3 – This tells us how effective the manager is when executing to a skill (recruiting, coaching, motivating, performance management, strategic thinking)

Looking only at the sales manager’s skills - performance management, recruiting, coaching and motivating - you can see that there are problems with motivating and recruiting effectiveness for Gene.  Both of these are his strongest tendencies, but he lacks the skill and perhaps has a problem with the make-up of his sales team (not coachable). Therefore, he is not very effective.  You would want to know this prior to implementing any type of sales management coaching program.

Paul, on the other hand, is average at best at 3 of the 4 sales management skills needed to effectively drive sales growth.

 

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER

I once heard Tony Robbins declare that “Knowledge is NOT power.”  He went on to say that “Knowledge in Action is Power.”  That is the purpose of this post.  Too many companies create budgets for training and development without good intelligence.  Too many companies believe that training salespeople on the latest sales process concept is the way to drive sales.  Suppose you have people that lack desire?  Suppose they are un-coachable?  Suppose you have managers that don’t have the skills to support the dollars and effort you spend on training your salespeople? 

Before investing time, money and effort to train and develop your sales managers or salespeople, strongly consider doing a study - an x-ray, if you will - of the team that you have. Find out why they perform the way they perform, how coachable the team is , what the opportunity for growth is and if you’re going to help them with those contributing factors that support effective execution.

Supporting information:

Root Cause Analysis Training Video

Find out Why Selling is So $#$%! Hard?

Talk to Tony about the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis – 513.226.3913 (Text:  SEIA – provide your name)

How Do I Grow Sales? – An article that answers that question

Is Motivating Salespeople What It Takes To Drive Sales Results?

Tags: close more sales, motivating salespeople, getting consistent sales performance, effective sales management

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I have done many workshops over the years and, normally, in the very beginning, I ask:  What is it that you want to leave here with that would make this a great investment of your time?  One of the top 3 answers in every situation is the question:  How do I motivate or keep my sales team motivated? (Dan Pink – Ted Talk on Motivation – a great 18 minute investment!)

IT HAS TO START INSIDE

My response 100% of the time is this: “You cannot motivate your sales team.  All you can do is recruit motivated people or create an environment where they motivate themselves.”  I then share with them what I heard Mark Victor Hansen say many years ago at the Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting: “Motivation is an inside-out job.”  In other words, it’s something that has to start inside of someone; you cannot motivate them from the outside.  I believed that then and I still believe it now.

IT HAS TO BE THERE FROM THE BEGINNING

As some of you know or may recall, I grew up on a blueberry farm in the blueberry capital of the world, Hammonton, NJ.  My dad, Ray, was the foreman on the farm.  I’m sure that if dad hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant.  Does that give you a picture of the type of guy my dad was?  Dad was a no B.S. ”you want to make more money then work more hours, when all else fails hard work works” kind of guy.

You may also recall that I graduated from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on a full scholarship.  Working towards earning my scholarship didn’t start when I entered high school in the 9th grade.  It didn’t start my junior year when I earned the starting position of center.  It didn’t start when I was named co-captain along with Patrick Gazzara my senior year.  No, I started earning the scholarship when I was 9 years old.

That summer of 1963 was uneventful until I made the comment to my dad that I’d like to play football.  He asked me why? I said, “It looks like fun.”  He asked, “Are you sure?” and, without hesitation, I replied, “Sure.”  He pressed on saying, “It’s going to be hard.”  I said, “Okay.”  Finally, he said, “I’ll get you the name of the coach, Matt Gazzara (not related to Patrick). You call him and tell him you want to play.”  I said okay.

[Jumping ahead to the end of my first practice] I came off the field and dad asked me, “What did you think?”  I said, “I loved it - I'm going to go to college someday and play football!”  He asked me, “Are you sure?” He went on to tell me that college football players are in great shape, so I would have to work hard to be in great shape.  I said, “Okay.” 

I took off my helmet. He helped me take off my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then said, “Start running laps around the field.”  I asked, “How many?” He just said, “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

I stopped 13 years later when I finished my career on the field of Holy Cross where we had just lost the game 40 to 41.  I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again played the game that I loved so much.

That is internal motivation.  I didn’t know about scholarships when I was 9.  I hadn’t thought about the education I would get.  I had no idea that I’d get a chance to fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18.  I didn’t know I’d get to travel along the Middle Atlantic and New England region visiting places like Bangor, Maine and The Military Academy in Annapolis.  All I knew was I wanted to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to succeed.

DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

  • Do you have that?
  • Do you have people – salespeople - on your team that have that?
  • When you think about all the things you’ve tried to motivate people, has anything REALLY had a long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or significantly moving the results needle?
  • When you look at performance, how many people do you have that are just “plug and play” - the few you know you can count on day in and day out to do the things they need to do and you know they will perform?
  • When you look at those that don’t perform, how fatigued are you just thinking about the effort you have to put in just to get them to come to meetings on time, use your CRM, and do the activity to get the results?

IS IT EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL?

What we have learned over the last several years by assessing sales organizations using the Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis is that motivation has changed. There was a time when salespeople were primarily externally motivated, but now there is data that tells us the primary motivation of salespeople is internal!  Let me show you: 

motiv-table1.png
Table 1

This table represents the top ten performers in a recent assessment of 100 sales people in the financial services/banking industry.  These findings are consistent with all assessments done in this space over the last 3 years.  By the numbers:

  • 8 of 10 are motivated by winning
  • 9 of ten are motivated by self-rewarding performance
  • All ten succeed and are motivated when self-pressure is applied
  • 9 of the 10 successfully self-manage
  • Competition against themselves or others is evenly split 50/50
  • Self-satisfaction motivation has a slight edge 60/40

NOW, here are the bottom 10 findings: 

motiv-table2.png
Table 2

SO, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS...

So, after looking at the evidence, let's go back to our original question – Is motivating salespeople what it really takes to drive sales results?

NOPE!

Additional Resources:

How do I hire people who WILL sell?  Ebook

How do I get this information for my sales team? LINK

Ghostbusters I Predicted the End of the Sales Professional

Tags: closing more sales, buying process, effective sales management

THE DIGITAL AGE SIGNALS AN END TO TRADITIONAL SELLING

If you’re not worried about losing your job as a salesperson, an investment advisor, an insurance broker or a banker, think again.  It’s already happening and it will continue to happen. 

This is not a bold statement coming from someone trying to create hysteria to create more business for his own business solutions practice (Anthony Cole Training Group). Think of this as someone who is reporting today’s weather and attempting to tell you that the current weather patterns are predicting with some certainty that tomorrow will be cloudy with a 50% chance of severe thunderstorms with hail and rain coming down like cats and dogs.

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(Click HERE for the MUST watch prediction of the future of salespeople…)

THE LIMITATIONS OF COMPUTER INTELLIGENCE?

Dan Sullivan, co-founder of Strategic Coach and author of The 21st Century Agent, attempted to warn salespeople (agents) about what they needed to do to secure their future. These three keys to professional security were based on the known capabilities of the microchip in 1995.  At the time, Dan stated that the microchip was incapable of:

  1. Finding and creating new relationships
  2. Providing creative solutions
  3. Helping people make the decision to buy

But, how accurate are those comments today?  Not very!  Mobile technology, big data, sophisticated algorthyms and search protocols allow for anyone selling anything to:

  1. Reach out, find and attract potential buyers
  2. Digitally collect the appropriate data and apply that data to provide solutions for the buyer based on the purchase preferences of the buyer (For instance, I now buy most of my shoes on Zappos.)
  3. Provide a “1 click option” (like at Amazon) for people to purchase nearly anything in less than a minute

“So…” you reply, “this technology only applies to shoes, books and low cost items.”

Not so fast. Think about the last time, either at home or while in your car, seeing or hearing Flo from Progressive or the reptile from Geico telling you that you could get insurance from them cheaper and faster.  What about State Farm and Liberty Mutual who also consistently tell you that, not only can you get better coverage, but they will also pay your claims quicker and reward you for safe driving?

The technology and AI of today has replaced sales jobs – make no mistake about it!

HOW AI CHANGES THE GAME

You think that your type of selling is really that sophisticated? Alec Ross recently spoke at the Bank Insurance And Securities Association (BISA) meeting at the beautiful Diplomat Resort and Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.  He provided a harsh look at reality to all of the advisors in the room when he candidly answered the following question:

“Alec, what is the one question that this audience (Presidents, program managers, advisors, sales managers, VPs of sales, Investment Product Companies and Broker Dealers) should be obsessing about?”

Alec:  You should be obsessing over ‘disintermediation’. You should be worried about the question – Will the future need financial advisors to help people with their financial independence and retirement planning? Given the state of artificial intelligence and the speed at which data – big data – is becoming available, you should be worried about the role you currently have.  You should be worried about being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) that is so sophisticated that it functions as well, if not better than, any human advisor would and it does so at a lower cost and a higher level of productivity and effectiveness.

I have Alec’s book and am reading the first chapter about robots.  Quite clearly, he states that if your job is defined by

  • Collecting data and…
  • Applying that data to known information in a data base and then…
  • Providing information back to your prospect…

Then you CAN BE REPLACED by the microchip (artificial intelligence) that…

  • Doesn’t need a vacation
  • Won’t require medical leave
  • Won’t need health insurance or a 401(k)
  • Will work 24/7/365
  • Will never complain about management, competition or compensation

All companies will need to do is keep the machine in a cool room with fresh air, update the components every 18 months at a fraction of the cost 18 months earlier and you are set to go.

THE CAR BUYING EXPERIENCE

My current Ford explorer has just less than 100,000 miles on it.  I received a notice on my notification band (a wrist accessory that used be called a watch) that 1) it was time for a trade-in to maximize the value of the trade-in and 2) the market conditions were going to be perfect over the next 30 days.  The market was going to be perfect because of these 3 factors:

  1. The anticipation of a new trade agreement was going to provide tax incentives to manufacture more power alternative vehicles domestically
  2. The previous year models were going to be discounted or would have to be shipped overseas – the discount was a better economic alternative for the auto makers
  3. There would be a reduction in price due to the redistribution of labor cost

I’ve always dreaded the buying process when it came to buying a new car.  It’s not that I don’t like getting a new car; my family can tell you how excited I get as my vehicles close in on the 100k range.  I start thinking about and ogling cars for at least 6 months in advance. 

My good friend, JB, just bought the latest Lexus SUV… and I’m jealous.  JB is a habitual car buyer and an easy mark.  He takes his car in for service, they lend him a new one to drive around, he does his errands, gets seduced by the latest technology, fuel efficiency, et cetera… and, the next thing you know, he’s taking his golf clubs out of the old SUV (only 2 years “old”) and putting them in the new one.

AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE - BUYING FROM BILL

Every time I search for anything on my laptop, my mobile connection device (MCD or notification band; no longer just a watch, phone or fitness monitor) begins popping up with small ads to notify me about the closet auto distribution center and the “best” deals in a 20-mile radius.  Honestly, I’ve never been one to shop for the best deals.  I’ve purchased cars from Bill for several years now and Bill is the one I will buy from again.

It’s Saturday. I just finished my workout and then headed over to see Bill… but Bill wasn’t there. As a matter of fact, it was hard to find anyone there. The service bays were open so I walked over there and asked to talk to someone about buying a car  - specifically, I was looking for Bill.  Joe, the service manager, told me to head over to the main entrance and I would find “Bill” inside.

I did as I was instructed.

I walked through the sliding glass doors and in front of me were a series of kiosks -   very similar in appearance to what you might see in airports or grocery stores.  They all had names on them and one of them was named “Bill”.  I walk over to Bill and looked at the screen, which welcomed me to the King’s Auto Distribution Center.  As I moved closer, Bill, the kiosk, began speaking to me:

 car dealer kiosks.png

  • “Hello, Tony, welcome back! It is great to see you again.” (I'm amazed that it even sounds like my old friend, Bill). Bill continues, “How have you been?”
  • I stood there, not saying anything. Eventually, Bill asked, “Tony, are you here to talk about buying another car? I got a notice that your Ford was closing in on 100k miles and I know from your history with us that you like to maximize your trade-in value and buy at just the right time in the market.  How can I help you?”
  • The screen instructs me that it’s okay to talk to Bill and that I should put on the headset and talk to Bill.
  • “Bill,” I say with some hesitance, “I'm here to look at some cars, SUV’s specifically. You’re right; I have 97,000 miles on my car, it’s got new tires and up-to-date maintenance.  I’ve been look at some other SUVs.  I still like Ford, but would like to see last year’s Lexus XL26.”
  • “Excellent, Tony. I'm glad you’ve come back here to let us help you with your transportation choices.  The Lexus xl26 also comes in the Lexus xlndr (NDR – No Driver Required) model.  May I ask you a couple of questions?”

 lex-Kiosk.jpg

Bill continued to ask me questions about my driving habits, preferences and skills.  He was very cordial and non-offensive with the delicate questions especially the ones about my ability to navigate now that I’m a bit older.  He knew that I’ve had a few vision problems for some time now and wanted to know how that impacts my driving in poor conditions like evening, rain, fog or snow.  He wanted to know if I always drive alone or if I have someone with me like my wife, Linda, my golfing friends or perhaps grandchildren.  He wanted to know how concerned I am about my own safety and the safety of others.  He wanted know if I'm planning on any long trips and if a sudden rise in traditional fuel prices would have a negative impact on my budget.

Once we got through this discussion, Bill informed me about the cars that match my profile that were available now or in the next 7 days. If I wanted to test drive a couple of the vehicles, then all he needed me to do was confirm my driver’s license number on file and to select a payment option as a security deposit.  I could now test drive each car for up to 12 hours with a limit of 3 cars over 5 days or 5 cars over 7.

I selected 3 cars over 5 days and I received a receipt telling me which parking spaces have the cars I’m interested in and codes had been sent to my MCD so that I can start the cars I choose to test. 

Bill wanted to know if I had any other questions. He sent me a notification that provided me with information on how to contact him while I’m on the road.  I can contact him directly from any vehicle or my MCD.  He thanked me for coming to Kings Auto Distribution Center, told me to give my family his best regards and said that he looked forward to talking to me again soon.  He hopes that I find a car to my liking.

BUYING NO LONGER REQUIRES FACE-TO-FACE

No, this really didn’t happen, but as I prepared for writing this article, I spent a lot of time playing the “what if” game.  Given that today you can actually do a lot of car shopping online AND dealerships already have kiosks that have taken over various duties, it isn’t a far stretch to think that the auto industry will soon have a sales model that won’t need “a salesman on the lot”.

Several years ago, my wife and I bought a houseboat at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.  We went to the lake, visited several marinas and looked at a dozen boats or more before settling on “Light’n Up”.  What I didn’t have to do is speak to someone about financing. I had already been approved for the boat loan… without even talking to anyone.  That was 12 years ago. 

It’s just a matter of time before someone can get a $1,000,000-dollar loan that way!

HOW TO SECURE YOUR FUTURE IN SELLING

I know this article might seem harsh, but the situation is not hopeless. In summary, here are the things you can do to secure your future in selling. Be good, and I mean really good, at the items on this list:

  • Passion and commitment to success in selling
  • Taking ownership of outcomes
  • Finding high value, sophisticated opportunities in the marketplace
  • Deciding that you will only work with people that have a need and understand the value of what you bring to the table
  • Being masterful at a Discovery and Stewardship based sales approach.
  • Being able to recover from rejection anytime during the process
  • Being able to connect with people via social selling modalities and not be afraid of providing information to help people in their decision-making process.
  • Following a specific sales process and executing it flawlessly
  • Demonstrating that you are a great investment for a company because you know how to express their value proposition. You represent the company to their target market(s) and you drive revenue growth.
  • Being a self-starter
  • Having a great figure-it-out factor
  • Taking risk, failing, learning, growing
  • “Owning the room” when you present solutions

This list represents about ½ of the characteristics and skills demonstrated by elite salespeople as identified by the research done by Objective Management Group. Keep in mind that the top performers today are the ones who will have sales jobs in the future.

Additional resources:

Alec Ross' Book – Industries of the Future

Assessing Your Top Talent – How well will your salespeople perform in the future world of selling?

 

 

 

 

Assessing Why Performers Perform and Non-Performers Fail – The Impact on Revenue, Profit and the Ability to Grow

Tags: pareto principle, close more sales, assessing sales talent, 80/20 Principle, effective sales management, consistent sales results

IT STARTS WITH UNDERSTANDING PERFORMANCE

Let’s start with the problem that you have seen me write about again, again and again. 

Perry Marshall’s book – The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing created a major shift in how I think and go about talking to prospects about their sales team and its ability or inability to demonstrate consistent and predictable sales growth.  Everything, and I MEAN EVERYTHING, starts with an understanding of how your sales team is performing. 

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IS THERE A PROBLEM?

This exercise identifies if there is a problem or not.  It really IS that simple.  All you have to do is a little simple math and then answer the question – Is this a problem?

I recently reviewed the productivity of a group we are in discussions with.  Nothing is final yet as the company is in that early step of the process – trying to determine if there is a problem.  To help them in the process, we sign the NDA and ask for their production numbers.  I get the numbers, stack rank them and start applying the 80/20 rule.  I don’t follow the exact procedure; instead, I just take the number of people on the list and break the group into fifths.  If I have 100 salespeople, I end up with 5 groups of 20.  Then, I just do the math.

  • What percentage of the total is being produced by the top quintile?
  • What percentage of the total is being produced by the middle quintile?
  • How much is being produced by the 5th quintile?

 

ACTUAL NUMBERS MAY BE DISTURBING

The findings were not startling in and of themselves because the top two fifths closely resembled what you would expect from the 80/20 rule.  What was interesting (and what would interest you) was the discussion about the bottom two fifths.  When we discovered that the bottom two fifths generated less than 5% of the total revenue, we then got into the compensation/revenue discussion. 

  • How much is 5% of the total revenue?
  • How much in compensation alone is it costing to generate that 5% of revenue?

 

TIME FOR THE “LET’S PRETEND” EXERCISE

I won’t go into all the details, but when we played “let’s pretend”, then everyone in the room got real serious.

  • “Let’s pretend that we fired all of those people in the bottom two fifths, how much would that save in compensation alone?”
  • Subtract the revenue
  • What’s the profit?

I assure that in most, if not all, companies (I suggest you stop reading and do this right now) the profit is significant.  So much so that it starts a really good debate that starts with the question:

Why in the heck are those people still with us?

 

GET RESULTS WITH AN ESTABLISHED PROCESS

The discussion was robust, honest, helpful and productive. And, yes, they all agreed that they have a “have to fix” problem. But my post today isn’t just about getting to a point where you can determine a problem and the severity of the problem, but more about the cost of the approaching the solution the right way.

Understand we don’t get to close all the opportunities we engage in.  We don’t get them all because, at the risk of sounding arrogant, not everyone qualifies (We just failed to make the cut on a recent opportunity because of our commitment to the process).  Our process, just as yours should be, follows a fairly strict set of guidelines. We follow these guidelines because we know we can guarantee results when they are followed. We have experiences from early on in our business when we didn’t follow the guidelines – we didn’t get results and we didn’t keep the relationship.

 

INVALUABLE DATA FROM THE RIGHT ASSESSMENT TOOL

The primary step in our approach is the use of an assessment tool.  Specifically, we use the Objective Management Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA).  It gives our new clients and us everything we need to impact revenue, profit and growth.  Let me explain by using one of the tools we get from the SEIA.  (see chart below)

SEIA_Data.png

 

This chart represents those people in a sales organization that are succeeding and failing the most.   Assuming for a minute that you don't understand the meaning of the headings, just look at the colors:  Green is good, red is bad, high numbers good, low numbers bad.  The first column identifies if the people are performing to goal or not.  The only anomaly in the group is the third person from the top.  I inquired about this and there are two pieces of information that are good to know. 

  • The data we collected on performance was based on the previous years sales.
  • The manager answering the question “Is this person performing as expected” answered the question for the current year.

So, what we have is someone that performed exceedingly well in one year and is now failing.  What the graph helps the manager do is have a very significant discussion on “why” there is a change.  I won’t go into all the details as to what that discussion should sound like, but now the manager has some interesting data to look at and digest in order to help frame the narrative of the required intentional coaching session to be scheduled. 

 

TIME TO GET REAL - THE BOTTOM LINE

What I believe is most important is to get arms around the total picture provided by hard data and assessment data.  What we know is the following:

  • Coaching the top group will be effective because they are coachable and have the will to sell
  • Investing in the bottom group will bring little or no return:
    • They lack desire
    • They lack commitment
    • They have a poor outlook
    • They won’t take responsibility
    • And they are not motivated to succeed in selling
  • You can assume (because I did further analysis) that at least one of the other fifths in the organization looks like the top group and one looks like the bottom group.
  • The one fifth that looks like the top group may not hit the top ranking because they lack tenure in the company or in the business.
  • There is at least one other group that looks like the bottom quintile. They may or may not be new.  In this case, the bottom quintile we are illustrating is NOT at the bottom of the ranking because they are new. They are at the bottom because they suck at what they do!
  • The question(s) you have to ask about the entire team is:
    • Did I hire them this way?
    • Did I make them this way?
  • This applies to every quintile that you look at.

 

So, getting back to the title – The Impact on Revenue, Profit and Growth - consider the following:

  • What is it costing you to carry those that are failing to perform – in real dollars and lost opportunity? You MUST calculate the cost as if you were reporting this to the board!
  • What would the impact be to the bottom line if you fired them all today? Certainly, sales would not suffer.  Also, you have to consider that if they are this bad at selling, what else are they bad at and what is that costing you?
  • What is the financial impact of those that looked like your worse performers but have exited over the last 12 to 24 months? Those that you fired or exited? What did that cost you in time, training, recruiting dollars, on boarding, compensation AND lost opportunities?
  • How many training dollars will you pour down the rat hole attempting to fix people that are un-trainable or un-coachable? What impact could you have if those resources were redirected to sales management improvement, more focus on developing new hires with skills and true potential, recruiting talent that mimics your current top performers?
  • What is the impact of keeping non- and low performers on the team? How do those in the middle react to the stack ranking knowing that those on the bottom are not at risk of losing their jobs? Why should they worry?

 

Okay, so maybe I’ve beat this drum enough – you got the point.  What’s the solution, what am I getting to, how do you (as the person responsible for revenue and growth) make sure you are making wise decisions when it comes to hiring, managing and developing talent?

 

DON’T GO IN BLIND

Think “doctor”.  I just completed an abdominal biopsy.  Prior to the procedure last Friday, I had a CAT scan, a Pet Scan, Ultrasound and another CAT scan plus results from the same test taken a year ago. 

I’m glad Dr. Max didn’t go in blind.  It was tough enough even with all the data he had.  Without it, there would have been virtually no chance to get it right.  That’s the point. Don’t go in blind.  Assess your talent, assess your new candidates, know what makes your current successful people successful and know why those that are failing are failing – DON’T REPEAT.

 

Additional Resources:

What Great Sales Meetings, Massages and Colonoscopies Have in Common

Tags: sales meetings, close more sales, building effective sales teams, top sales performers

START WITH "WHY"

Let’s look at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Formula and go right to the heart of the issue – “why”. (If you have not watched this video on Ted Talks, do so; it is a must for anyone in leadership, management AND sales.)

Golden Circle.png

“Why” is the most important thing to uncover when…

  • attempting to alter behavior,
  • move towards a specific outcome or
  • understand why someone would be willing to go through the pain of change when it is so much easier to deal with the status quo.


PAIN... IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR

Years ago, when I heard Tony Robbins speak in Cincinnati about Pain and Pleasure, he stated:

“People will do whatever it takes to avoid the pain they have today,
the pain they foresee in the future or to arrive at a pleasurable outcome. 
Avoiding pain will always trump pursuing pleasurable outcomes.”

Sales meetings, great massages and colonoscopy visits – when conducted and executed well - change behavior, improve skill and impact future outcomes.  However, yes, they can be painful. 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND TO GET THINGS ROLLING

This week, I had a massage… as well as a colonoscopy (although I realize that is more information than you wanted to know…).  During the massage a couple days ago, they found a pressure point in the middle of my right shoulder blade that was tense with stress. When the masseuse applied pressure, there was definite pain.  But, once I got through the pain, I was rewarded with less stress and now the impinged shoulder isn’t as painful.

Today, I had my colonoscopy.  Now, if you’ve done this in the past, you know the drill and the “pain” of it all.  The pain or discomfort isn’t so much with the procedure, but with the prep. That god-awful stuff you have to drink, the endless hours on the commode, the cramps in your intestines as well as all the good-natured ribbing you get at work (What? You don’t share this moment with co-workers?).  And then, you have some definite discomfort at the end when you are trying to relieve the pressure while in the post-op “GAS CHAMBER”.

HOW ALL THIS RELATES TO SALES MEETINGS

So, after laying all that as a foundation, I’m sure you are wondering, “Why is Tony talking about sales meetings, massages and colonoscopies?!?” Well…

  • Too many sales meetings are conducted like a great massage:
    • Soothing
    • Relaxing
    • No tension
    • Positive environment
    • People leave without any kind of stress or care

  • Too many sales meetings are also being conducted like colonoscopies
    • People that have been to them before don’t want to do them again
    • The prep for both is critical for success
    • Often, if the environment isn’t controlled, there ends up being a lot of gas expelled
    • Sometimes, depending on the doctor, the anesthesia and/or the meeting, people are put to sleep or, at a minimum, in “twilight”
    • Everyone is starving for something productive to happen during the “meetings”, but too often they come to “the table” hungry and leave hungry
    • Everyone is thrilled that they only have to go through all that once in a while

Do you see any correlations? You might find yourself agreeing to many of the bullet points above.  You might also be able to relate to some of the things that aren’t too good about the sales meetings you have attended or conducted.  The purpose of this writing is to help shed some light on the right combination of things in a meeting that should happen so that:

  • Meetings are productive
  • No one wants to miss your meetings
  • People learn and grow their practices as a result of the meetings
  • They don’t have to sit through painful re-enactments of each salesperson’s pipeline discussion (Truly, this is like multiple colonoscopies on the same day!)

WHEN THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE PAIN 

Here are the correct procedures for sales meetings, massages and medical procedures that will result in a clean bill of health:

  • At a certain age, colonoscopies are non-negotiable. Effective sales meetings are not negotiable any time for any company of any age.
  • Preparation is required to have a great outcome
  • You know you have great outcomes if: (These are in BOLD because they are IMPORTANT!)
    • People never miss, leave early, or arrive late
    • Your people learn something that they can implement right away to help them grow their business
    • The meetings are all about selling and driving sales growth
      • No ops discussions
      • No underwriting discussions
      • No business strategy discussions but “foot soldier” discussions on strategies to gain entry into markets
      • Anything that can be communicated via email should be done so
    • People should leave the meeting re-invigorated, but also mindful of what it takes to maintain a stress-free existence in the organization
      • Activity and production requirements must be met
      • Mediocrity is unacceptable
      • People will be coached with a disciplined approach for improvement if they begin failing at activity or production
    • And finally, just like after a colonoscopy, people may not always want to return for another one; but the upside is that benefits (health and sales success) outweigh the pain of the procedure!

WHAT I GAINED FROM THE EXPERIENCE 

During my exam, they found 5 polyps and removed them all.  Don’t panic; the doctor did not indicate that I had a problem. It’s just when you get to a certain age, you find little skin things hanging off of your body all over the place. Why should the colon be exempted? (Again, too much information? Ha ha) 

Here are my other massage and colonoscopy outcomes:

  • I learned from it: keep doing the right things – exercise, diet and sleep
  • I am now stress-free for a while because I have a clean bill of health on my colon
  • I feel 5 pounds lighter, which is always a good thing
  • I came home and slept soundly for another 5 hours after only getting 3.5 hours of interrupted sleep the night before. Admit it, you would all like to sleep like that once in a while and you KNOW it would be good for you
  • It brought my wife and I closer together. We both had the chance to be supportive because she also went through this; hers was last week.  It was an opportunity to put the world outside for a while and just focus on each other.

 WHAT YOU CAN GAIN FROM THE EXPERIENCE

Positive outcomes of a great sales meeting:

  • Unsuitable opportunities (that actually create an unhealthy approach to prospecting) are jettisoned from the pipeline
  • Something is learned that can have a positive and dramatic impact on sales success
  • Salespeople, who are getting the right results and doing the right things, get recognized
  • Sales skills are improved because upcoming sales or prospecting calls are role-played and practiced
  • People left the meeting feeling like part of a successful team – where everyone cares about one another and knows they are all fighting for the same successful outcomes

 

Additional Resources:

3 Reasons Why Sales Get Stuck – And 3 Steps to Keep Them from Getting Stuck

Tags: close more sales

sales-funnel-stuck.jpgEven if you are not in “sales”, you’ve actually been in sales your whole life and you’ve had sales get stuck in the pipeline. No? You don’t think so. Well, let me provide a few examples to clarify.

  • When you were 5, you spent an entire 30 minutes of shopping time at the grocery store asking your mom to buy you the shiny toy, and after asking please 100 times, you worked down the “buyer” and you got the toy.
  • When you were in high school, you wanted your own car and, after asking mom and dad 25 times, promising to do better in school, working part-time on weekends and getting all A’s and B’s on your report card, you finally drove your date to the prom in your own car.
  • Let’s be candid on this next one – how many “attempts to close” before you had that first “intimate moment” with that person you are now engaged to/in love with/married to?
  • Asking for the promotion
  • Asking for a raise
  • Asking to be transferred to another department
  • Asking for a shot at being partner

Every one of these situations requires some “selling”, and in every situation, you had to make a case for why the outcome you desired was a good outcome.  That, my friend, is the essence of selling.  So, why do sales get stuck?

saleseq.png

I’m working on an opportunity right now that has hit a snag. Coincidentally, at the suggestion of Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group, I’m reading SALES EQ by Jeb Blount.  Based on the 29 pages I’ve read so far, I think I’ve figured out why we - the stakeholders and I - are stuck.

SITUATION:  The stakeholders were looking for a solution to a management problem. They, based on PEAR (Previous experiences/Education/expectations Appearing Real), had a vision of what that solution would and should look like – Sales Management Coaching.

WHY WE’RE STUCK:

  1. I succeeded in uncovering the emotional motivation for taking action, BUT I have also introduced additional factors they have to consider because these new factors help solve the root cause of the problem(s) they face.
  2. These additional factors have created cognitive dissonance for the stakeholders and they are now in a pattern of trying to reconcile 1)what they initially thought they needed with 2) this “shiny new object” (this new solution that makes sense to them but something they weren’t prepared to deal with from a functional or investment perspective).
  3. I failed to meet with one of the money decision makers. This isn’t always a problem, but in this case, I believe it is a problem because he has no emotional attachment to the “new” direction regarding the solution.

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance noun PSYCHOLOGY

noun: cognitive dissonance 1.the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

3 Steps to Close More Deals More Quickly (To Keep Deals from Getting Stuck)

  1. You must create cognitive dissonance (show them the “shiny new object”). This is done when you can express a value proposition, a brand promise, a catalytic mechanism that sets you apart and keeps you from looking, sounding and acting like everyone else selling anything else.
    1. NOTE: This is important!  Keep in mind that your prospects face lots of salespeople in lots of different aspects of their life.  They’ve been inundated with sales pitches and so are numb to the same old same old.
  2. You must find a way to connect your pitch to their experience. Mitch Anthony and Scott West do a great job of helping sales professionals do this in their book – Story Selling for Financial Advisors
    1. NOTE: Don’t let the title fool you or discourage you.  The principles of right brain selling work and make a difference in even the most left brain world like engineering and technology.
  3. You must “rehearse” their decision-making. What I mean by this is that, no matter what the situation…
    • Go to committee
    • Work with other trusted advisors
    • Talk to partners
    • Run it up the ladder
    • Think it over
    • Talk to spouse

The buyer(s) will go through a process of:

  • Remembering their original intent and have difficulty reconciling that original direction with the new information/potential solution you help them discover.
  • Then, assuming for a minute that your solution expanded their thinking and may require they expand their wallet, your prospect will start left brain thinking (logic). Depending on their finances, they may default to their original plan with someone else (they trust) simply because of the money involved.
  • **NOTE: “Rehearsing them” simply means that you must take them through the process of their thinking. Ask them what they will do when someone on the committee challenges their thinking.  What will they do when the current provider sharpens their pencil?  How will they deal with a partner who doubts or challenges a solution that differs from the original objective(s)?

Additional resources:

The 2 “MUST TAKE” Steps for Guaranteed Sales Results

Tags: close more sales, how to improve sales results, no excuses

In many cases, here’s the problem: Sales results are not what you expected.  Regardless of your role - sales manager or salesperson - you are looking at your sales results YTD and you are:

  • Not ahead of last year’s production
  • Not on pace to hit this year’s goals (personal or corporate)
  • Not keeping pace with those in your peer group (those you should be able to compete with based on experience and previous success)
  • Not up to par with your efficiency (conversion ratios aren’t the same, average size deal isn’t the same, you’re not getting the leads you used to)
  • Taking longer to get sales closed
  • Running out of time at the end of the week to get your prospecting done

 

Those are just a few of the symptoms observed by me, my staff and the many companies we work with when attempting to get our heads and arms around driving sales growth.  I have discovered that there are 2 “MUST TAKE” steps to address this; but, first…

I’m shooting in my first ever National Field Archery Association Indoor Nationals Tournament.  My brother, Michael, and his wife, Gwen, owners of Insight Archery in Binghamton, New York, have participated in this tournament for years.  This year, it is in Cincinnati, so I thought I’d enter.  The first round is today.

Yesterday, we went to the Duke Energy Center where the tournament is being held.  We registered, stored our bow cases and made our way to the practice venue.  I’ve been practicing some, but not enough, in the basement of my house.  My wife, Linda, is not thrilled with this, but I'm a pretty good shooter and honestly, there is very little down there for me to damage. 

The range I have in my home is about 11.5 yards long. The scores I am shooting (25 points per end) are really not a good indicator of how I’m shooting because the distance is too short.  The other night I shot a 244 out of a possible 250 and one floor joist when my release strap broke from my wrist and the arrow in the bow got away from me.

(Nice Shot!)

basement arrow.png

Yesterday, we practiced awhile and I realized that the shooting regulation distance – 20 yards – is a WHOLE lot different than the 11.5 yards I’ve been shooting at home.  The main problems, of which there are many, are

  • I can not see very well out of my right eye due to recent surgery.
  • The vision in my left eye isn’t nearly what it used to be.
  • Wearing glasses is not an answer because I haven’t figured out how to see around the frame of the glasses.
  • I shake a little more than I used to when I get up to about 50 shots because I haven’t had the time to practice to build up my endurance.
  • When I shoot by myself, I'm by myself. When you shoot in a tournament, there is someone right behind you and right in front of you creating a heck of a distraction.

When we finished practice, we walked over to another practice range and met up with Hilda, a friend of Mike’s and Gwen’s, who is also shooting in the tournament.  Right next to her was an older large gentleman with his bows and arrows… who  only had one arm.  He’s shooting at the same type of target I am …but minus his right arm.

I’ve seen videos of people doing this and I’ve heard stories about this, but I had never before witnessed it live.  He placed the bow (to rest on the stabilizer) on the floor between his knees.  He notched his arrow and lifted the bow with his left hand to bring the bow string close to his mouth.  He grabbed the release with his teeth and pushed the bow out to full draw with his left hand. He steadied his left arm, sighted slightly with his head and, finally, released the arrow by opening his mouth.

Then and there this article hit me!  I realized that the solution to sales success, sales growth and sales results really comes down to 2 basic fundamentals.  Sure, the man has skills, strength and stamina to do this, but he has 2 other things that trump everything else:

  1. Effort
  2. No Excuses

 

You don’t just show up at a tournament and NOT put forth the effort to compete... and then expect to compete.

AND… You don't allow excuses to get in the way of the effort (like I did - see above).

Sir, I don't know who you are. But I hope I see you again today, so I can say hello and let you know what an inspiration you are to me and maybe to anyone else who might read this article.

Additional Resources:

The What Works for Biz Interview (Greg Miller interviews Tony Cole): Peak Sales Performers ARE Out There

Master the Sales Managed Environment® with the SME Video Practice Center

Are You Owning Your Sales Results? Listen here