sales management and sales experts

Why Aren't Your Sales People Selling?

Tony Cole

Tony Cole

Tony Cole, Founder and CEO of Anthony Cole Training Group


Does Your Team Need a Wake Up Call?

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Why Your Sales Team Isn't Performing As Expected (Pt.5) - WIT



WIT = Whatever It Takes!

Successful selling is a WIT profession. Now, before you get sideways, I want you to assume that I am always working and speaking from a legal, ethical and moral standard.  So, when I say WIT, I mean WIT within those boundaries.

Here are some examples of doing WIT:

  • Making calls – Regardless of how tired you are, how much you just sold last week, how difficult it is to handle the rejection – if you are going to be successful in selling, you have to pick up the phone and call someone.  If you work strictly on referrals or introductions, that task is easier.
  • Getting introductions – Time and again, I have sales people tell me, “I don’t make cold calls.” Great!  So, do you have all the leads you need to meet and exceed your personal income requirements? Often, I then hear “no.”  Asking for introductions is the WIT task in selling.
  • Getting past a gatekeeper – This is usually one of the toughest situations in the sales process.  The gatekeepers have their job – to keep sales people away from their bosses – and you have your job – get to their bosses (aka. your contacts).  When the phone call is complete, one of two things have happened. Either 1) you did your job better than the gatekeepers and you got through OR 2) they did their job better and you didn’t get through.  To get through, you have to be willing to do WIT!

You get the point?  Now, before I move on, there are a couple of other areas of execution where successful sales people exhibit a WIT attitude. These include: filling out paper work, using the company CRM, attending meetings and being there on time, responding to your requests to set joint calls with clients, mentoring, setting a good example, etc.  Winners in sales, sports and life do whatever it takes in all areas to be a success!

In our Sales Managed Environment program, one of the segments is Setting Standards and Accountability.  It’s the starting point for any attempt of performance management in any organization.  A successfully executed performance management strategy requires a committed manager. This is the cornerstone for success.  As I discuss this with all my clients, I tell them the following:

  • You cannot teach your people to be committed
  • You cannot tell them to be committed
  • You cannot train them to be committed
  • You can describe what it means to be committed
  • You can tell them that you expect people on the team to be committed
  • You can demonstrate commitment

If you, as a sales manager and masterful performance manager, are committed – willing to do whatever it takes –then you can have a one-on-one discussions with those on your team that are not committed and tell them so.

It is exactly what happened to me years ago when my coach and mentor, Tom Anderson, came into my office at National Life of Vermont in 1991.  I had hired Tom to coach me to be a better sales person.  After several months of not making any progress, Tom came into my office and told me he had figured out what the problem was. I was excited because, after spending the money I didn’t have on training that I didn’t think I needed, I had become frustrated with my lack of success.  I asked Tom what he thought it was and he said, “Tony, I don’t think you are committed enough.  I don’t think you are willing to do everything possible to succeed.  You lack commitment.”

I won’t tell you what I said, what I called him or what I yelled.  I was not happy; I was insulted and, after I not-so-politely asked Tom to leave my office, I realized that he was correct.  I was not totally committed to being successful in selling.  I would do the things he was teaching that were easy, but I wouldn’t do the things that I found difficult, uncomfortable or contrary to my personal belief system. 

Not having commitment is one of the potential reasons why those people in your organization are not performing as you expected.


  • Do tell them what you expect – either when you "inherit" them or hire them
  • Do tell them what commitment means – how you define WIT versus WITALAIITU or Coast to Coast
  • Do demonstrate
  • Do hire those that have a committed attitude


Additional Resources:

To discuss WITALAIITU or Coast to Coast – email me at Subject line – WITALAIITU

Information about Sales Managed Environment - SME

Test for commitment, desire, outlook and responsibility – Sales Force Evaluation

Use a 94% predictive indicator for sales success – #1 Pre–hire Sales Assessment


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!

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Why Your Sales Team Isn't Performing As Expected - Part 4


Sales teams perform based on two inputs - effort and execution.  If your sales team isn't performing as expected, you must ask the question - Why?  Chances are you won't know for sure but you can describe the symptoms:

  • Anemic pipeline
  • Not closing enough
  • Sales taking too long
  • Not consistent in our prospecting
  • Chasing too many of the wrong deals
  • Etc.

This can be a very long list - you get my point.

sales results

Speaking of points - let's get to the point! As a senior sales executive, your job is to get to the root of the problem and then begin the process of addressing/fixing the problem.  Here are 19 must-have-answers-to questions to help you start thinking in the right direction. Questions courtesy of OMG and David Kurlan.

Andrew Grove, former CEO at Intel, told fast Company Magazine that there is at least one point in the history of any company when the organization must change dramatically in order to rise to the next performance level. “Miss that moment and you start to decline.”

The companies who have had the most success with our programming have followed the process:  Test, Train and Track. They have also adopted the Sales Managed Environment® and Effective Sales System as their own. They have made a cultural shift; a decision to do business differently now and in the future.

Those companies who are most successful in implementing change are those who have what we call “table-pounding conviction” and who recognize the vital importance of knowing the answers to the following 19 questions:

  1. How does leadership impact our sales force?
  2. What are our current sales capabilities?
  3. How motivated are our salespeople and how are they motivated?
  4. Can we generate more new business?
  5. Can we be better at reaching actual decision makers?
  6. Can we shorten our sales cycle?
  7. Can we sell more consultatively?
  8. Can we more effectively sell value?
  9. Is our value proposition consistent?
  10. Can we close more sales?
  11. Do our systems and processes support a high performance sales organization?
  12. Can we be more consistent with our sales process?
  13. How well are our sales leadership strategies aligned?
  14. Do we need to change our selection criteria?
  15. Can we improve ramp up time?
  16. Can we improve our pipeline and forecasting accuracy?
  17. Can we improve our sales culture?
  18. Who can become more effective in their roles?
  19. What are the short term priorities for accelerated growth?

Source:  Objective Management Group, Inc.

Additional Resources:

Want Tony's help? - Email with subject line: I want Tony's help.  Email:

How do I get the answers to these questions?  Assessment information

How do I keep from hiring the wrong people? - 1 free pre - hire assessment

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Get More Sales Opportunities With These 5 "Go To Green" Activities


By Tony Cole, President, Anthony Cole Training Group

One of my favorite expressions is “You are tomorrow what you are planning for today.” My favorite thing to do is accomplish goals and I’ve learned over the years that the best way for me to accomplish goals is to plan for them first.

Hello, this is Tony Cole, LIVE from WWHQ and welcome to another edition of Tony Cole Unplugged.

Business planning as a sales professional has several components.  But, there isn’t a component that is any more important than using your calendar system to plan for your “green” activity. Now, what I mean by “green activity” is this: “Green activity” is sales activity. “Green” means “go” and “go” means “go to the bank”.

And in my mind, from my perspective, there are 5 activities that have to be included when you are talking about “green” or “go to the bank” activities.

  1. Activities that lead to getting to the names. Now the EASY thing to do is to do email and do all the social networking. The HARD thing to do is ask for introductions and to go to networks and work hard to get speaking engagements. THAT’S the high pay-off activity; it’s not just doing the social networking.
  2. The second activity is you have to CALL those names. You can’t get in front of people unless you call somebody.
  3. Sales conversations. You’ve called them, you’ve scheduled an appointment, and now you’re going to have a qualifying appointment.
  4. Sometimes, depending on the type of business you’re in, you’re going to have an opportunity or you have a need to gather information. So, that’s a “go-to” activity. 
  5. You have to have an opportunity to make OUTSTANDING presentations and pitches.

Those are the 5 “Go-To” Activities – those are what get you paid! Everything else is just stuff – stuff that you let get in the way. In one of our upcoming videos, I’ll talk about the myth of “I Don’t Have Enough Time To Prospect”.

Today, you can begin the process of becoming a more consistent prospector if you go to our website and order your own personal copy of our book called The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written .

As always, thanks for listening and have a perfect day.

Additional Resources -

Free AudioBook - The Secrets to Prospecting Success

Wamt More Free Tools? CLICK HERE --> 

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The Next 'Can't Miss' Game Changer for Salespeople

I just read the following blog post by Dave Kurlan and I immediately asked for his permission to repost it here.  I've known Dave for 20 years and have represented his product and service all those years.  He started blogging when blogging wasn't cool.  His organization is a marketing and product machine.  Dave is truly a subject matter expert when it comes to hiring better sales people (link to our site), assessing sales organizations to answer 17 critical business questions (link to his site for download of sample) and he is an expert at helping sales managers get their sales professionals to sell more, more quickly at higher margins.  I've read Dave's blog post over the years and this may be his best ever; if not, then certainly in the top ten. And it fits in very well with the series I am in the middle of writing now - Why Aren't Your Sales People Selling As Expected.  His blog post has one of the potential answers.  Read and enjoy.

Dave Kurlan

The Next 'Can't Miss' Game Changer for Salespeople

A guest post by Dave Kurlan, President of Objective Management Group and Creator of the #1 Sales Assessment in the world.

Another game changer?  After so many in the last 5 years?  It's coming - no doubt about it.  I'll give you the background and tell you why this incredible tool will be the one to supercharge your sales.

Today, Social Selling (like blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter and others) is all the rage.  Experts are evangelizing these tools, touting their power to connect, and providing training on how to best use them.  And they're all correct about these tools.  Every seller should be using them, but therein lies the problem.

Soon, every seller will be using them!

Would you like to start blogging?  Good luck finding your audience from among the more than 2 million articles that were posted - not in the last 5 years, not last year, not last month, not this month to date - but more than 2 million posts today alone!  It's a very difficult time to start blogging.

Would you like to start sharing articles, asking questions, and commenting on LinkedIn or Twitter?  How will your tweets, comments and shares be noticed above the noise from all of the salespeople who have begun to do that?

Would you like to host webinars, or send a weekly or monthly newsletter?  How will you get people to read those when they are routinely barraged with hundreds of useless emails each day?

Would you like to have your own YouTube channel?  There are 4 billion YouTube views per day - that's a lot of people watching videos, but how can you possibly get their attention when there are millions of YouTube channels for them to watch?

Yes, friends, Social Selling certainly works - and can work well - for the people who already have well-established audiences and followings.  I'm fortunate enough to have an award-winning Blog with a nice loyal readership and get lots of organic traffic from Google searches.  A late start in any Social Selling channel may cause you to become very discouraged.

But there is hope!

I know of a tool that works better than everything I have mentioned so far.  While it doesn't have the power to reach as many people in as short a time as Social Selling, or as I prefer to call it, Personal Marketing, it is much more effective for targeting and reaching specific prospects.  Not only that, the communication is in real time, with no latency, lagging, or delayed response times.  Doesn't that bode well for having a real, rather than digital, conversation?

Even better, if you are an early, rather than late, adopter of this game-changing approach, you'll be one of the only salespeople using it, and unlike Personal Marketing, there won't be any noise!

Are you ready?

As has been the case for the better part of the past 30 years, I am way ahead of the curve on this.  Would you like to know about it?

I have become aware of a tool that allows you to reach any prospect, anywhere, at any time, without even knowing their email address, twitter handle, or public LinkedIn page!  There is no limit to the number of characters, length of message, or size of content.  Your prospect can respond to you as easily as you can reach out to them and the technology is readily available to anyone who wants to avail themselves of it.  And the best news?  It's covered by nearly all of your existing subscriptions and fees.  Doesn't that sound awesome?

It gets better.  Email, InMail and Twitter messages don't always convey how you wanted to sound and can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted.  Not so with this technology.  

Introducing the Tool of the Future

Today, I would like to be the first to introduce you to the sales tool of the future.  A Direct Line of Communication to any prospect in the world.

You may have seen this tool before, but you may have to use it in a way that is different from how it was intended.  Today, most people use these devices to send text messages, tweets, emails and upload photos and videos.  But if you poke around enough, you will find that manufacturers actually included a nicely hidden feature that allows you to punch in about 10 digits and you can actually speak - LIVE - to anyone - anywhere - on demand.  It is SO COOL!  And the device will remember those numbers so that you don't have to punch them all in again.  Amazing.

Free Demo!

And for a limited time, I can provide you with a demo of how this works.

Go to your device, find the application called PHONE, and tap the following 10 digits in the field provided:  800-221-6337.  Press the green button.  You will hear a sound to indicate that you have initiated an attempt to reach me.  There is a very good chance that a live person from Objective Management Group will answer your very first ping.  I'm going to provide you with a promo code that will give you direct access to me.  When they answer, say, "Dave Kurlan, please" and the live person will actually reroute your ping directly to me!  And if I'm speaking live with someone else at that moment, I have a digital clone that will answer and you can tell my clone exactly what you wanted to tell me, leave any kind of message you want, and I can actually listen to it later and return your ping.  It's truly amazing, friends, and will revolutionize the way selling takes place in the future.

I'll bet that you're thinking that this entire article is a joke - that I wrote it with tongue-in-cheek.  Wrong.  I am dead serious.  Do you know how many phone calls I received today?  One.  Nobody uses the phone anymore and that's what makes the phone such a perfect and obvious choice for building your pipeline and accelerating sales growth.  Web-based tools are awesome for marketing and generating interest, but most of us have to sell!  And trust me when I tell you this:

It is a lot easier and much more powerful to sell on the phone, via video conference and face-to-face than it is hiding behind your computer screen.

Please take advantage of my limited time offer to demo this new technology.  Try it for yourself!  Call me now - 800-221-6337 ext 212.  Remember the promo code: Dave Kurlan

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Why Aren’t Your Sales People Selling as Expected? (Part 3)


Years ago, I contacted David Kurlan, President of Objective Management Group, to discuss contracting with his company to become a distributor of his sales evaluation product.  Dave, (Dave, correct me if I’m way wrong) had developed this product and had been working on distributing it for about 5 years.  My distributor # is 64 which means that I was not in the initial group of distributors in his network.  So, Dave, on our initial call did not want to contract with me because he already had a distributor in Cincinnati… and that person had an exclusive contract.

Not to be denied, I met with Al Strauss (one of his distributors in Cleveland) and worked out a deal to get access to the product for a client I had in Cincinnati.  As part of the evaluation, we had the client – including the top executive and all 4 sales managers – answer a series of questions that would help us address two questions:

  1. Why weren’t sales people performing as expected?
  2. What would it take to get their sales people (all of them) to perform at a higher level (sell more, or sell more more quickly, or sell at higher margins?

OMG’s evaluation product is top of the line and has been selected as the #1 Sales Evaluation Tool in the World for 4 years running. And although the product has changed multiple times and become very sophisticated in its approach, very broad in its coverage and more detailed in the findings it provides, one of its findings has remained consistent for the entire 20 years we’ve been using the tool:

The Crucial Elements For Success

Desire, Commitment, Outlook and Responsibility

Desire Success

What struck me then, and still holds true for me now, is that these 4 crucial elements are important for anyone in any role in any profession where success and performing as expected is, well… expected.

Desire as defined by  verb (used with object), desired, desiring. wish or long for; crave; want.
Noun: 3.a longing or craving, as for something
that brings satisfaction or enjoyment.

Seth Godin - "Desire is full of endless distances"

Just one more level on this game, she says. Once I get to level 68, I'll be done.

Just one more tweak to the car, they beg. Once we bump up the mileage, we'll be done.

Of course, the result isn't the point. The point is the longing.

Desire can't be sated, because if it is, the longing disappears and then we've failed, because desire is the state we seek.

We've expanded our desire for ever more human connection into a never-ceasing parade of physical and social desires as well. Amplified by marketers and enabled by commerce, we race down the endless road faster and faster, at greater and greater expense. The worst thing of all would be if we actually arrived at perfect, because if we did, we would extinguish the very thing that drives us.

We want the wanting.

Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons that some of your sales people are not performing as expected is “lack of desire”.  Maybe if we peeked under the tent of their motivation tent, we would find not a great big blazing bonfire of passion and emotion for success, but rather we would find a small 1 or 2 log fire,  just enough to roast some marshmallows. Or even worse… maybe we would find just a couple of burning embers.

I consider Napoleon Hill one of the founders of personal improvement and success.  In his book, Think and Grow Rich (Download PDF), he declares that in order to be successful you must have a “white hot burning desire for your stated objectives or goals.”  Failing to have that “state of desire”, then you can count on failing to successfully achieve that which you say is important to you.

A quick aside – “Rich” doesn’t have to be just defined as monetary rich and “success” doesn’t just mean professional sales success; HOWEVER…

There is a very strong connection between what someone wants to have in their life and how they achieve those personal objectives through professional success.  My very good friend, Tim Mackey, in our very first meeting over 20 years ago, described money (wealth) this way - “Money is a resource.  A resource just like water, food and air.  It is needed so that we can enjoy freedom.  Freedom of time and freedom to choose.”

If you have people on your team that have stopped dreaming or no longer have something internally or externally to motivate them such as:

  • More time to travel
  • More free time for family
  • More money to move into a better school district where housing is more expensive
  • Plans to have a retirement lifestyle that is limitless instead of limited
  • Community passions that require contributions of time, money or resources

…then you have people on your team that will not perform as you expected them to when you hired them, inherited them or evaluated them when you acquired them.

Unfortunately, you cannot motivate your people.  You cannot inject them with passion or motivation or inspiration.  It’s something that they have to bring to the game.  Several years ago, I was with a crowd of insurance agents in Cincinnati and heard Mark Victor Hansen say, “Motivation is an inside-out job.”

Fortunately, there are two things you can do:

  1. You can create an environment where, once again, your people can look into the catalog of life and become inspired internally to aspire to something that is greater than they are.  You can provide an opportunity for them to stop working in their business and work on re-kindling the fuel for the fire that, at one time, made the business of selling exciting and worth pursuing.
  2. You can make sure that everyone that comes into your organization brings that white hot desire to succeed. Desire to succeed at something that requires them to succeed at being an extraordinary sales person for you and your organization.

Be bold, be brave and have a passion for success in your business!  Be passionate enough to now decide to do something important for them, for yourself and for the organization so that you can once again look out onto your sales team and see a room of people that absolutely love what they do because there is something else great in their life that they want to achieve because it is their hearts desire.

Additional Resources:


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!

Connect with ACTG!

Twitter ACTG   Tony Cole LinkedIn  ACTG Facebook   Sales Brew

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Why Are Your Sales People Not Selling As Expected? (Part 2)


 The Free Dictionary:  fail

  (fāl) v. failedfail·ingfailsv.intr.

1. To prove deficient or lacking; perform ineffectively
or inadequately: failed to fulfill their promises;
failed in their attempt to reach the summit.

Call it Version 1.0

Why are the people that you hire, train, coach, pay and invest in, failing to perform at levels that are less than expected?

Generally, when you hire someone, fold them into your organization or acquire a team of sales people, what you think you are getting is:

People that have a track record of success

  • Those that know how to sell
  • Those that execute effectively
  • Those that will produce numbers to justify and exceed the cost/investment of buyout, the bonus and the elevated compensation needed to steal them away from a competitor or to compete with others looking to grab the new bright college grads.

You expect them to perform better than those people that are not performing on your team today.  Before we get into all the “whys” of why they are not performing as expected, it is very important, in fact, very VERY important to address the “expected” part of the question.

This needs to be addressed because sometimes it is the expectation that is the root cause of the problem of “not meeting expectations”.  There are at least a couple of considerations:

  • Were the expectations reasonable?
  • If so, is that based on fact, perception or debatable information?
  • How well were the expectations discussed?
  • Did the new hire accept the expectations? Did they say “Yes, I WILL do that”?
  • Did you define – from your perspective and based on the systems and processes you have in place to identify and measure success – what success is and how it was to be achieved?
  • IF you did that, did your new hire say, “Yes, I will do that and all those things necessary to achieve that level and all those things that are consistent with your sales culture (i.e. training, meetings, reporting)”?
  • IF they did that, did you then ask your new hire to explain back to you what they just heard? AND…
  • Did you ask them to describe how they were going to structure their day,  manage themselves and overcome challenges and obstacles to make sure that they could accomplish what you have both just agreed to?

Wow, in just a couple of minutes while I'm flying from Phoenix to Atlanta I thought of these “few” considerations. Given a longer flight, I might have come up with a couple of more, but this is a good start.

If you haven’t done this/don’t do this/haven’t thought about this, then maybe this is the first “why” you have to address when trying to find the other answers as to why your sales people are not selling as expected.  It could be as simple as – They clearly don’t know what you expected, did not fully buy into what you expected, really didn’t think through what it would take to sell at the level you expected AND really didn’t think you would hold them accountable to such a level of expectation.

The last point is worthy of discussion because how you manage success and failure in your organization communicates what your real expectations are.  Let’s go back to the first article where I briefly discussed Perry Marhsall’s Power Curve and the 80 20 rule.

I would argue that you might be able to alter the 80/20 to 70/30 or even 65/35.  That would mean that you have a much larger percentage of people pulling the weight of the entire team.  Not a bad thing, maybe not a great thing, but certainly it evens the load.  Regardless of how the revenue/contribution split occurs, it doesn’t justify people not hitting goal!

The reality has to be that – based on the tenure of your group, the make up of your group, the experience of your group AND the culture of your organization - you may, in fact, have a revenue budgeting process in place that allows for people to perform at different levels. That makes sense.  I would not expect a newbie in your sales team to perform at the same level as a 15-year veteran who is in the prime of their career.  Depending on your culture, you may not expect a 30-year veteran towards the end of their career to perform like the 15-year professional in their prime.  BUT, when you add up all of the numbers (let’s just use new business sales numbers as an example), you might end up with 70% of your new business coming from 30% of your people.  If your organization has 10 sales people, then 3 will most likely generate 70% of your new sales.  Remember, that is NO EXCUSE for number 10 not hitting their lower goal. AND if you are developing your people, growing your people, hiring better people, and exiting non- performers, then #10 next year ought to be/must be a better performer than #10 this year.

So, before we get into all the other contributing factors as to why they might not be performing, tackle the 1st issue first.  Expectations – did you win the bet on the first tee?

Additional Resources:

  • To talk more about winning the bet on the 1st tee – call me directly 513.226.3913 or text me (but be sure to include your name since I won’t know the phone number).  Or you can email with the subject line: 1st tee.
  • Goldilocks and Setting ExpectationsGREAT Blog Post for Managing, Raising Expectations and Raising Performance.
  • What if You Gave Your Best? – Changing Standards and Expectations – Tony Cole Video


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!

Connect with ACTG!

 ACTG Twitter  Tony Cole LinkedIn   ACTG Facebook   Sales Brew

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8 Steps to Becoming an Extraordinary Sales Closer



Ok, so where do we begin? Let’s begin with this.

We did another video on Laying the Foundations for the 8 Steps to More Effective Closing so that we can close more business more quickly with higher margins. And we talked about the foundation. Today we are going to get into the actual 8 Steps of Becoming an Extraordinary Closer.

This is Tony Cole LIVE once again from the world-wide headquarters of Anthony Cole Training Group with another issue of Tony UPLUGGED.

I can tell you that the best deals I have ever put together and closed were deals where someone almost literally asked me, “Tony, how much do we write the check for?” There was never a formal presentation. There might have been a bit of pitch or some sort of discussion around our capabilities, but they just closed and never asked for anything formal. Understand, though, that those are the outliers. (Tony holds the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell up to the camera). “Malcolm, I want a cut of all the books that you are going to sell as a result of this wonderful video. Here, Jeni, catch! Ahhh, there you go, she caught that one. Alright!”

But once you do the foundation, the other types of sales require these 8 Steps and they are this:

1)      Be prepared – And I don’t mean just go through the technical aspects of the sale to make sure you have the right coverage, and the right provisions and all those sort of things…But I want you to be prepared to be DAZZLING. That’s an entirely different level of preparation.

2)      Review - When you are at the meeting, the first thing you do is review. Review everything as to what brought you to this point. In other words, you kind of go back to the as-we-agreed-to letter. Make sure nothing has changed.

3)      3-Page Presentation - This might startle you and knock you off your chair, but your presentation should be a 3-page presentation and that’s only IF you have a cover page.  The second page should be a list of the problems or benefits that they want to take care of and the third page is all about the solutions. That’s it! Now you might have a box on the side with all the backend stuff that you’ll go through, but they don’t get that. All they get are those 3 pages.

4)      Ask Where To Start: Then you say to them, “Ok, on that list … on that paper there...” and then you begin. On a sheet of paper, they’ll see a list of problems they said they want to get solved. You ask them where THEY want to start. That’s a HUGE difference because you don’t know. Maybe they might be thinking about item #5 and you want to start at the top. You’ve lost them already.

5)      Discuss Your Solution: So, you go through the solution to that problem.

6)      Get a Score: When you’re finished with the solution to the problem, you have to get a score as to where they are.  So you ask them, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how do you feel about that solution? If you get a 7 or better, you’re in pretty good shape. Anything less than 7 you’ve got trouble. And when you get less…don’t get a 10, you’ve got to ask the questions, “What did I miss? What questions haven’t you asked me yet that you need the answers to so that you feel comfortable with a 10?”

7)      Address all Solutions: Go to the next solution until you are finished with all the solutions.

8)      Find Out What’s Next: When you’re finished, this isn’t a big dramatic part to try and close the business. You can do one of two things. You can simply ask, “What would you like to do now?”

OR... Dave Kurlan, one of my mentors, closes this way. He asks three questions: 1) Do you feel like I understand the problems of your business? 2) Do you feel I can help you with the problems of your business? And 3) Would you like my help? Not terribly complicated. Very effective.

Aside from the foundation and these 8 Steps, probably the single most important key to becoming a more effective closer is to be willing be willing to hear a “no”.

So, here is your action item. We offer monthly, sales related webinars and for just $250 you can have a seat in those webinars and have access to our staff of sales development experts. Go to the link ( you see here and sign up so that you can start getting better at closing. As always, this is Tony Cole. Thanks for being here today. Have a perfect day.


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Why Are Your Sales People Not Selling As Expected? (Part 1)


Some of your sales people are selling as expected… and some of them are not.  If we buy into the theories of Italian economist, Pareto, then we buy into the idea that 80 percent of the wealth is owned/managed/held by 20% of the people.  Occasionally, someone (me) writes about this principal as it applies to selling and sales teams.  My purpose over the next several blog posts will be to answer the question:  Why are Your Sales People Not Selling as Expected?

    The Pareto Principle

In your role as Senior Sales Leader in your company, you probably have asked this question of your sales manager or asked it of yourself in some variation.  And I'm sure, just as often, you have not come up with an answer or solution to solve the problem.

I won’t claim to solve your problem here, but I WILL provide you with some answers in this newsletter and over the next several posts (see my blog for the continued series).  I feel it is important to give you an idea of what is coming and what to expect.

Let’s deal with the question posed earlier because it is very important to do so.  When I deliver this topic as a workshop, it is titled, Why Aren’t Your Sales People Selling?  I almost titled this series of articles the same way, but I recognized that it is a bit arrogant for me to do so because some of your people ARE selling.  So, as I thought further about this, what I concluded is that you have SOME people not selling as expected.  I think that is a better title and really addresses the real issue – Why are Some of the People that You Hire, Train, Coach, Pay and Invest In Performing at a Level That is Lower Than Expected?

Certainly, you did not hire them with that intention.  When a potential new hire is brought to you by someone in your organization, they are typically described as:

  • Highly successful
  • Carry themselves very well
  • Interviewed great
  • Really like them
  • Can be a top producer
  • Has a great resume
  • Has an awesome network
  • Will fit our culture really well
  • Will be tough to hire, they are happy where they are
  • Will cost us more than we budgeted, but worth it
  • Etc…

Never once did someone say to you that the person should be hired because: 12 months from now, they will be performing solidly in the middle of the pack.  Nope, that wasn’t the intention, but it happens, alot.

This won’t be seminar speak.  It won’t be pretty or nice or always politically correct.  That kind of information hasn’t helped sales organizations get any better ever and so I owe it to you to give it to you straight – and no chaser!

I’m going to ask you to roll up your sleeves up and get a little dirty.  I'm going to ask you to answer some questions that you may not want the answers to but will be game changers when you do.

I will provide you lots of resources from our library of content as well as from other experts in the field of sales growth development.  These other subject matter experts are the tops in this field.  Some of them I know very well and have worked with over the years.  Others I have met only through their writings, articles and speeches.  You deserve multiple frames of reference not just one “mad man’s” ravings

Finally, I will challenge you to take action. Do something about the things you can do something about.  You don’t have to accept the status quo. 

Summary of upcoming discussion:

  1. The root causes for failing to succeed:  Desire, Commitment, Outlook and Responsibility
  2. The factors that inhibit the execution of skills and techniques that you have spent $$$$ trying to get sales people to execute
  3. The role of your sales manager
  4. The required skills of your sales manager
  5. The required strengths and priorities of your sales manager
  6. Systems and processes needed to build a consistently performing sales team
  7. Recruiting the right people

For today, let’s attempt to get our arms around the current state of the sales team.  If your numbers are like most numbers we get the chance to look at, then your sales team adheres to the 80/20 rule (Go to LINK:  Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Power Curve.) In other words, 20% of your team is generating 80% of the revenue.  20% of what your sales people do generates 80% of their revenue.  20% of each individual’s book of business generates 80% of the revenue.  Get the point?

Your first step is to get your arms around your numbers and figure this out for your company.  You have to ask yourself several questions:

  • If this is true, then why do I have the other 80% of my sales team? I'm sure you have a very good answer and I'm not suggesting you get rid of the other 80%, but your reasons for having them and paying them and investing in them better be darn good reasons.
  • If this is true, then why is 80% of my team only generating 20% of my revenue? What are they doing or not doing that is getting that result?  What is my sales management environment/sales manager doing or not doing that is contributing to this outcome?  How long has it been this way and why?
  • If this is true, then what should we be doing to begin the process of correcting the problem?  Is it a goal problem?  Is it a hiring problem?  Is it an on-boarding, training, development problem?  Do we have a process in place to help people succeed at the level we thought they would when we hired them? What is the role of marketing, HR and training when it comes to fixing this problem?
  • If this is true, is this a have-to-fix problem?

Once you get your arms around the data, you will gain some business intelligence and insight as to where the problems are and why they exist.  Failing to do this is akin to trying to diagnose a medical problem without going through diagnostics on the systems responsible for good health!

Additional Resources:

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Our Funniest Sales Stories


So, I was talking to my sister-in-law, Jeni, and she was telling us a story about when she went to Macy’s department store and a cicada flew up her skirt.  She immediately jumped out of her chair and began wildly jumping and flapping her skirt up and down to get the cicada out of her dress. And …get this… she STILL got the sale!

Hello, this is Tony Cole, President of Anthony Cole Training Group and welcome to the first ever, Tony Cole Unplugged. Our objective with these videos, these short videos, is to help keep your sales mind fresh with sales ideas, thoughts and stories.   

The data from our following tells us that our number #1 topic since we started blogging several years ago is about funny sales stories. So, here’s mine…

I was calling on a client in downtown Cincinnati in January or February of the year.  I left early in the morning because the session was scheduled to start at 7 o’clock in the morning. It was  dark. I was running late so I grabbed one of my wife’s great chocolate chip bran muffins and my coffee mug and I headed downtown.

I was driving along and fighting traffic. I took a bite out of the bran muffin and I sensed that something dropped. I didn’t know if it was a crumb of the bran muffin or a chocolate chip. So, I got to the building where I had to go and I parked the car. I went up the elevator and into the office. I was the first one there so I jumped into the men’s room. I looked around and everything’s ok. And then I looked in the mirror and … I had a really dark brown spot... in an inappropriate place, so to speak. And I thought, “Wow, what do I do now?” because the people I was calling on know that I stand up, move around and put up lots of stuff on flip charts.

So… I can’t cancel the appointment, so I just go in it and sit down. I sit down for 2 hours and I never move. And when they get up to leave, I shake their hands and they leave. I make it through but I can tell by the looks on their faces that they are thinking, “What’s wrong with Tony?”

So, they leave and I jump in the car and go home....quickly!

That’s the story.  And it’s maybe one of the funniest things – unfortunate things – that’s happened to me. But, here’s the lesson.

You have to learn to stay focused on the objective. You can’t get emotionally involved when something great happens or something unexpected and not-so-great happens. And the key to being able to do that is this: if you count on something happening that is going to be unusual, then you will be better prepared. That’s our message for today.

So, here’s your action step. I’d like for you to tell us YOUR funny sales story. Just click on "Comments" to Post Your Funniest Sales Story below. 

Thanks for being with us today. And as always, have a perfect day.

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Determining Sales Success: There’s Hot... and Then There's HOT!


I find ways to relate events in my life to my primary professional focus – Developing Highly Successful Sales Organizations.  At Anthony Cole Training Group, we do this by focusing on 1 VERY important CEO/President question – How do I grow sales?  We get the answers to that question and then we go to work.

I was cooking this past week during the holidays.  I love to cook.  I am not a gourmet cook; I find something in a magazine or see something on the Food Network and I give it a shot.  I don’t do fancy; I just prepare good basic meals that my family generally likes to eat.  They make me feel like a great chef.  I was cooking turkey – a 23-pound bird.  I normally season the bird, roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes and then slow cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of about 170.

Hot Match

I was using both ovens when I realized that I could only use the one with the temperature probe – the upper oven.  So, I turned that one off – so as not to waste energy - until the turkey had finished browning in the lower oven.  After about 20 minutes, I went to turn it back on so that it would be at the right temperature when I transferred the bird.  It was then that I noticed that I was going to have to remove two of the racks in order to get the roasting pan to fit.

I reached into the open oven to get a feel for how hot it still was.  Based on the heat in the oven, I probably could have left my hand in there for about 30 seconds before it would have become uncomfortable.  I reasoned that it had cooled down enough for me to grab – without an oven mitt – a rack to remove it.  There is hot and then there is HOT.  My reflexes were fast enough and I was almost smart enough to not REALLY grab the rack.  I just kind of… “tested” it. It was HOT!  I could not have put my fingers on the rack for even a second without receiving a significant burn.

When you are evaluating your sales people for success, there is success and then there is SUCCESS.  Too often, when I sit down with a CEO, president, sales executive or sales manager to discuss sales results and success, I get a description for success that has a great deal of variability to it. In any one discussion, the descriptors for sales results/success can sound like this:

  • Hitting the ball out of the park
  • Right on target
  • Pretty close
  • Making progress
  • Trending in the right direction
  • Border line
  • Not sure they are going to make it
  • We’re going to have to let this one go

This is a problem.  In many cases, this is THE problem that has to be addressed before any kind of training or development takes place for sales people and sales managers.  If a company doesn’t aspire to peak performance, then it shouldn’t expect it.  (Click to see article about Pete Carroll)

We have a program called SME – Sales Managed Environment.  It has 5 components and one of the most important, if not THE MOST IMPORTANT, is titled: Setting Standards and Accountability.  When we begin to address the question, “How do I grow sales in my organization”?”,  often it has to start with addressing the metrics used for success and the standards for success in each one of those metrics.   Assuming for a minute that one of your metrics for success is new business sales, then you must clearly and definitively define what success means in your organization!

I will tell you that there should only be one definition for success when it comes to sales:

Meeting or exceeding the agreed-to sales goal!

That’s it!  Nothing less is success.  You can define what you will tolerate but even that standard has to change.  One of the most important things you can do in 2015 to raise the performance of your sales team is to raise the accepted standards.  When we deliver our Extraordinary Goal program we discuss five levels of performance:

  • Extraordinary
  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Poor
  • Failing

You should do the same!  And just to be clear – a good year is a year in which a sales person hits the goal.  Now, I’m not going to stick my head in the sand and pretend that there aren’t some things that could impact that outcome for a producer, so I’m okay with giving them a range for good. But, not a big range – say between 95% and 100% of the goal.  A poor year is a production year where they achieve somewhere between 90 and 94% of the goal. 

FAILING is falling below 89% of the goal.

This is just the start of the process.  To make this work, you must also implement processes and systems that include success formulas, huddles, consequences for failure and rewards for success.  You must have a process that inspects the sales activity that leads to sales results and you must have a mentality, system, process, culture that thrives to “catch them early” when they are heading towards an outcome that is anything less than 100%.

Additional Resources:

Can we grow? Evaluate your sales teams ability to grow sales

Setting Standards Video

Call Tony Directly at 513.226.3913 to discuss what it takes to get the answer to the question How do I grow sales?

Schedule a meeting with Tony – Email Tony at tony@anthonycoletraining.comSubject line:  I need answers

Recommended BookWho by Geoff Smart

Hiring: Check out our Hire Better Sales People workshop and pre-hire evaluations


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