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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Do Your Sales Contracts Have An "I Love Selling" Clause?


This is an unusual sales management blog post from me because it will be short. It is short because, this morning, I’m short on time. I am scheduled for a meeting at the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank at 8:00am. From there, I go to the airport to fly to Hershey, Pa., where I will be presenting 3 Keys to a More Productive Sales Force and then I’ll be on my way to NJ. Not that you care - you're here to talk about selling.

I Love Selling

What I wanted to share this morning is two thoughts from a speech I recently listened to.  These thoughts are from Michael Jordan’s acceptance speech when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I’m going to go back and listen again as I am sure there are even more great nuggets of information that apply to living, sales and sales management.  However, here are the two biggies for today:

  • Motivating People: There are two things here; 1) Sales managers are consistently asking me, “How do I motivate and keep my people motivated?” I have always answered that the best way(s) to keep sales people motivated is to a) hire motivated, passionate, committed sales people and b) create an environment where personal goal setting is part of your sales managed environment. Michael added a new angle on this for me. He named a long list of people and events that had motivated him. Maybe the most important motivator was when he did not make his high school basketball team. He was bound and determined to prove to the coach AND the guy who made the team in his place that a mistake had been made.

  • Passion for the Game: This one is really cool. The owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, had asked Michael to NOT play basketball during the off-season as Michael was too valuable to the franchise to risk injury.  Michael’s response was, “Did you read the ‘I love basketball’ clause in my contract?”  He said that Jerry responded, “What ‘I love basketball’ clause?”  Michael said, “I have an ‘I love basketball’ clause in my contract that says I can play basketball anywhere, anytime, anyplace simply because I love basketball.”

My points in bringing these two items up today are this:

  • It is your responsibility to find multiple ways to find sales people that are motivated for various reasons, and it is your responsibility to find out what those motivators are/how they are motivated so that you can keep them that way.

  • Put an “I love selling” clause in your contracts and tell your new hires that you expect them to love selling and to sell anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

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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Assets Under Management – A Sales Leaders Job!



I hate calling people “assets” or “human capital”.  They are people that take on careers to help them and their families achieve very specific personal goals. They do not take on careers, professions and jobs to further the growth of the company that hires them.  However, I was reading an article in Fast Company today about a diagnostic tool to help determine problems of the heart.  Not love problems of the heart, but functional problems of the heart. 

In 2002, Marie Guion-Johnson’s 41-year-old husband, Rob, died after going into cardiac arrest while swimming. That experience led Guion-Johnson to start the company Aum Cardiovascular and invent the CADence, a small device that doctors hold over a patient’s chest to detect blockages often missed by other tests.  At the end of the article, the interviewer asked, “What does the company’s name mean?”  Aum is an ancient Sanskrit symbol that refers to a low humming sound.  It’s the same sound that you hear from a diseased coronary artery. But, when potential financial backers ask her, she tells them it means “Assets Under Management”. That got me thinking about sales managers and their assets – people.

As a sales VP or manager, people are your only asset.  You don’t own equipment, buildings or other capital.  You really don’t “own” the people, but the company has put its trust in you to manage the asset that they have invested in.  And, believe it or not, some of the “assets” have put their trust in you!  So, how are you doing?

If you were to look at the assets as an investment portfolio, are you getting the ROI that you expected or must expect based on the investment of time, money and effort?  As an asset total, you maybe exceeding your objective, but how about the individual assets?  How are you doing with each of the holdings that you have recruited, hired and/or on-boarded?  Unlike your personal investments where you probably have an investment manager/money manager, YOU are the one managing the portfolio.  Are you doing the things you should be doing to maximize the return?

Here are 5 MUST DOs to maximize the Assets Under Management:

  1. Honest assessment of the individual holdings:  First, don’t treat them all the same. The bond isn’t supposed to perform like your growth fund or equity holding.  But, is it performing as expected?  If not, why not?

  2. Assess the “why not?”  Looking at the return (pipeline or sales results) is not enough.  You have to get beyond the symptoms – not calling enough, not converting effort to opportunity, not closing – and get to the underlying root causes for lack of performance

  3. Have the fierce conversation (not aggressive, not punitive) about current performance against what was expected and agreed to.  You must use data and your recruiting file to have this discussion:  This is what I'm getting (show the effort and results outcome data) and this is what I thought I hired (show the resume, the interview notes and the contract).   Then ask the question – “Did I make a hiring mistake?”

  4. Agree to what the problem is by asking them questions rather you telling them what you see is missing in their effort or execution.  Just like in selling, if you get the prospect to recognize and verbalize the issues, challenges, problems, then they own them.  When the discussion is finished ask them, “Is this where you want to be?” The answer will be “no.”  You ask, “Are you sure?” The answer will be “yes.”  And finally, “Does this mean you are willing to do everything possible to succeed?”  They will say “yes.” (assuming they pass the intelligence test).

  5. Develop a disciplined approach to get them back on track, either in their effort or execution.  Design a plan that has specific times to perform activity, specific behaviors you will be inspecting, details about joint work and coaching meetings.  All this is designed to get the person that you hired thinking they want to be and will be a superstar on track for success.

Here is the kicker – you must recognize this problem as early as possible and address it then.  Do not be satisfied with excuses of making progress, trending the right direction, haven’t met their stride yet…  Don’t make excuses for lack of effort or execution. Find the problems early, address them, take corrective action… or do like you would with an underperforming asset – sell.

Additional resources

Hire better sales people  - email Tony to have a discussion

Perry Marshalls 80/20 calculator - Identify the untapped potential of your sales team

Workshop – 5 Keys to more productive sales teams

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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Sales Managers - Are You Thinking Presidentially?


Not the Obama, Bush, Lincoln, Washington kind of presidential.  More like the presidential thinking of Larry Ellison, Alan Mulally, and Beth Mooney.  All are or were chiefs, and, at one time, were also presidents.  But, prior to that, at some time in their careers, they were managers of something.

What separated them, I’m guessing, is that they thought presidentially - they looked at the role of manager through the eyes of a president.  In other words, I’m sure they thought, “If this were my company, what would I do?”

Think Presidentially

In a conference I attended earlier this year, there was a break-out session on the second day just for “partners”.  It was a chance for owners of companies to sit and discuss the challenges they are having with building, growing or sustaining their businesses.  As I was looking through my meeting notes from that day, I came across a list of items necessary for growth and sustainability of a business.

  • Diverse Revenue Generation (products) – Are your people selling only one solution to your clients? OR are they developing multiple financial relationships through multiple solutions?
  • Diverse Revenue Streams (people) – As a manager, are your numbers (or is your success) dependent upon the few? (The 80/20 rule may be a rule, but your numbers can be killed if you lose 1 or 2 sales people from the 20% side of the equation.)
  • Systems and Processes – Think dashboard, not just odometer.  Knowing how much has been sold and how much is in the pipeline is a look back. What systems and processes do you have in place to help you predict?
  • Reasons to Stay – If you have only 2 or 3 people keeping your sales numbers healthy, what are their reasons to stay?
  • Management of The Firm – If something were to happen to you, what would happen to the team?  If the answer is “nothing changes,” is that because you are having that little of an impact on the outcomes or because you have built a structure that allows for sustainability?
  • Financial Predictability – This is tied to systems and processes. If your president asked you what you thought would be in the pipeline in 6 days/weeks/months from now, what could you tell her?
  • Cash Flow – How do the presidential numbers look? In other words, the “sales numbers” are just part of the equation.  You have business contracted for, you have realized revenue, and you have profit.  Ultimately, it isn’t contracts sold or just top-line revenue - it’s also “How much are we keeping?” and “When is the money going to be realized?”
  • Risk Management – Where are you at risk today?  Competition, losing key sales people, pricing, economy, investment in bad hires?  Are you aware of the risks and what are you doing about them?

When I saw the list this morning, I felt comfortable that, as president of Anthony Cole Training Group, we are addressing many, if not all, of these items. Some of the items we’ve looked at for years; others we have just recently been spending time on as a result of my attendance at that conference. 

More importantly, however, I read this list and thought, “Wow, this has to get into the hands of our clients, prospects and networks. This is critical thinking for anyone that is leading a team or managing a team.” 

Now is a great time of the year to work on your business.  If you are a September/October fiscal company, then you are done for the year – pretty much.  If you are a December/January business, then you are closing out your year very soon. 

Take a look at the list and do an honest evaluation of where you are/how you stack up. This maybe not be the end-all list of things to consider when building or managing your sales team, but it’s a great start.

Additional Resources:

Personal Goal Setting & Work Plan Development – Schedule a workshop

7 Keys to a More Productive Sales Team

Minimize the Impact of 80/20 – Hire better sales people

Email me directly to talk

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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The Selling Process – Do We Have It Right?


I just finished reading a chapter from the book – Harvard Business Review on Strategic Sales Management.  The chapter is “Understanding What Your Sales Manager Is Up Against” by Barry Trailer and Jim Dickie.  I enjoy reading HBR publications even though some of the research findings they provide are way over my head. The various contributors always get me thinking and re-thinking about what I think I know about sales and sales management.  This article was no exception, especially when they were writing about the sales process.

Wrong Way

According to Wikipedia - A sales process is an approach to selling a product or service. Reasons for having a well-thought out sales process include seller and buyer risk management, standardized customer interaction during sales, and scalable revenue generation. Approaching the subject from a "process" point of view offers an opportunity to use design and improvement tools from other disciplines and process-oriented industries.

There is an “engineering” view of the sales process. In closing their comments, Trailer and Dickie clearly state that selling is both a science and an art.  I agree that the approach to selling and the skills required for effective selling require a mind that leans towards the science/process part of the profession. And, to execute the science/process requires a bit of the right brain art skill set that requires creativity and flexibility in order to develop relationships and negotiate through the steps of the buyer/seller relationship.

What really caught my attention though was the discussion around the buyer in today’s market and how the buyer has hi-jacked (my term) the selling process from sales people.  The reality is that we, sales people, are no longer in control.  With all the information available to the buyer and with so many more companies competing for the same buyer, the buyer pretty much calls the shots.  (VERY IMPORTANT - See, download this article from Google Research – ZMOT).

With that premise in mind, this article caused me to wonder if we shouldn’t re-examine our sales process at Anthony Cole Training Group.  The reason for this:  Based on research conducted by Trailer and Dickie, it is clear that the sale takes place at the pace of the buyer and the seller has less and little influence.  One of the long-held beliefs about closing a deal was that you had to get to the decision maker.  In one of their studies, they evaluated over 100 deals both won and lost and discovered that getting to the decision maker was not a key factor in the outcome.

Several years ago, my good friend, colleague and business associate, Dave Kurlan, wrote a book titled Baseline Selling.  It is an excellent book that helps the reader(s) build a systematic approach to identifying suspects, prospects, qualified buyers and closable opportunities.  He has taken these identifying steps and placed then around a baseball diamond.  I liked the idea.  I liked the idea so much that I asked Dave if he would be okay with us using a baseball diamond to describe and teach our sales methodology to our clients.  He said, as long as I gave him credit for the idea, he was fine with our use of a baseball diamond.

I will be looking at our effective selling system now from a new perspective.  For years, we’ve taught about the things we must do as sales people at each base.  I’m wondering today if what we really should be doing is mapping out the buyers’ buying process on the baseball diamond and trying to figure out where they are and what we can do to facilitate them crossing home plate to get what they want, how they want it, when they want it?

More to follow.

Resources:  In the meantime, here are some things that will help your sales team:

Disqualifying Buyers – An audio postcard that you can send to your team
Why Do Buyers Buy – An audio postcard discussing why compelling issues rather than "needs based selling" is a more effective qualifying approach.
Call to Action
– Hire us for a 1-day workshop to help you help your team become highly motivated to achieve extraordinary results.  This is the best time of year to conduct personal goal setting and business plan development sessions.

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   LinkedIn   Facebook   Sales Brew

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"American Icon" Has It Right for Sales Managers


Alan Mulally was an unlikely hero in American Industry when he took over Ford in 2006. Not unlikely because he was unqualified, but because he wasn’t a car guy. If you read the book, American Icon, you will enjoy a great story about guts, determination as well as unbelievable leadership and management.

I started reading the book about 18 months ago, but then got sidetracked by other books and my own business needs. Recently, while in an airport waiting for my flight, I happened to have my Kindle with me. I opened it up, turned it on, clicked to books and BAM! American Icon opened up right where I left off. Great stuff, this technology thing.

American Icon Book Cover

54% through the book (Location 3908 vs. page number), I read the following regarding negotiations between Mulally and the UAW union negotiator, Ron Gettelfinger:

“Like everything else, labor relations were all about teamwork for Mulally. He rejected the traditional adversarial relationship between companies and unions. To him, both sides were in it together. Both stood to lose if the company failed. Both stood to gain if it succeeded.”

I stopped reading, highlighted the passage and made the following note: “This pertains to sales managers and sales professionals in their relationship AND should also be applied to sales professionals and buyer relationships!”

How does this fit in sales and sales management? I have a couple of thoughts.

  1. I believe, in many cases, the sales and sales manager relationship is adversarial. Sales people believe that the sales manager is representing the best interests of the company and not the best interests of the sales people. Sales managers feel caught between meeting the sales objectives of the company and developing strong relationships with the sales team all the while attempting to “manage” the team to meet and or exceed goals.
  2. Although they may not consciously believe or think this, I believe that many managers act as if managing sales people has elements of being nice or being mean.
  3. I am convinced that sales people really do want to succeed, and they come to an organization hoping that THIS is the place where they can make personal dreams come true.
  4. I am also convinced that many sales people, with more than 5 years of experience and a modicum success, feel like they don’t need to be “managed” - “Just get me good products, good pricing, good service and stay out of my way.  And for good measure – How about good leads?”
  5. Finally, I believe what Alan Mulally believes: This requires team work. In order to make informed decisions, everything has to be put on the table so that everyone knows what the situation is. I am convinced that when you have a team of people that realize that they succeed or fail together and they decide that they would rather succeed together, then you can have an unbelievable winning sales organization.

My reason for addressing this and referencing American Icon is I thought the timing was good. Timing relative to this time of year - August, 2014. The summer is about to close out, the third quarter is in its last month and companies of all sizes have already begun to think about next year. Budgets are being discussed, business plans are being reviewed and evaluation of talent is taking place. With all of this happening, why not take a different view of how “it works”?

Years ago, I was working with Dudley Fulton who is now President and CEO of Towne Insurance Brokerage.  In one of our meetings, Dudley asked the question: “Tony, couldn’t we just take this whole thing (sales, sales management approach), break up into pieces like a puzzle, put it in a bag, shake it up, pour the pieces on the table and start over again?”  I said, “Yes, we could do and SHOULD do that.”

If the idea sounds good, then let me make one final suggestion: Follow Alan’s lead - Reject the traditional…

Additional resources:

Workshop / Keynote - 5 Keys to a More Productive Sales Team
Sales Managed Environment Video

Survey - Do We Have What It Takes To Grow?

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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twitter   linkedin.jpg   facebook   Sales Brew

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What is YOUR High Payoff Sales Activity?


Today is the first day of my renewed focus on High Payoff Activities (HPOA) - those activities in sales and sales management, that when done well and done consistently, drive sales results to our company. 

There are just 5 steps to making this process of “focus” work and work well. 

  1. Recognize that the problem exists.
  2. Identify the HPOA (High Payoff Activities) and the LPOA (Low Payoff Activities). 
  3. Decide you will do the first and stop doing the second.
  4. Implement time blocking.
  5. Become a slave to the schedule (See, Paul, you’re not the only one with the problem.)

I was practicing my tennis yesterday.  Specifically, I was working on my follow through for my forehand, my two handed backhand and my serve.  My serve has been giving me pains in my elbow (recovering from triceps surgery last year) and pains in my a** (I keep double faulting).

Tennis Serve

I finished my practice with serving.  I had planned on hitting 100 serves.  My primary focus was to keep my toss hand (right hand for me as I am left handed) up in the air.  I have a tendency to drop it too soon thus hitting the ball into the net.  When you hit the net, you have no chance of getting points.  If you miss, miss long.

After several serves and several over exaggerations of keeping my toss hand up in the air, I noticed that I had not hit the net (served short).  I started to keep track.  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.  I hit 8 serves over the net.  On #9, I dropped my hand too soon and hit the net.  Damn!  #10, hand up, ball over the net.  I will note that not all of the balls that went over the net fell into the service area, but I did calculate that 2 of every three balls over the net were VERY good serves.

I kept serving and kept counting.  The numbers held true.  Every time I kept my toss hand up, the ball went over the net.  I did this about 8 out of 10 times.  Don’t ask me why I messed up twice, I just did.  And about 66% of the 8 balls over the net were solid good serves – 5.28 serves out of 10.  I realized that, if I kept this up, I would still get beat.  Hmmm.

What to do?  Keep the toss hand up 100% of the time, convert that number 66% of the time and now we have a chance to win 26% more points.  That is huge!

Now, what is it that you can be doing with your sales team that is a HPOA?  You know, the one thing that every time you do this activity, something good happens, sales get made, people close deals, company makes money?  What do you have to do to make sure that you do this one thing better and more consistently?

Bill Eckstrom, President/CEO of EcSell Sales Institute tells me that when sales managers “coach,” then sales happen.  He knows this because he’s done the research.  His research shows two very important things:  1) Sale reps feel that the most important thing a sales manager can do is help them achieve their goals.  2) Sales reps feel that the most important skill that a sales manager needs to have in order for them to reach their goals is coaching!

What we have found out through our years of examining the skill sets of numerous sales managers is that less than 5% of sales manager have 65% of the skills required to be an effective coach.

What does your research tell you about what you do that drives sales?  Don’t have any data?  Shame on you; that is a problem that should not exist in today’s world of technology. 

With data, you have business intelligence.  With business intelligence, you can duplicate what works and stop doing what doesn’t!


Additional Resources:

Ecsell Institute – Article on Top 10 Coaching Behaviors

Hubspot Article – A Failed Sales Manage Could Cost Your Company $4 Million

Email Tony Cole to discuss time blocking:

Sales Tracker – Sales Activity Tracking application

Distance Learning – Free Coaching Session Signup

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!

0 Comments Click here to read/write comments

Is Your Sales Customer Experience Twice As Good?


I don’t remember how old I was. I couldn’t have been more than 9 or so, but I remember I asked my dad for a quarter to buy some candy. He gave me the quarter. We were at my brother Ray’s football game and so I went to the concession stand, looked at the prices of candy and bought 5 – yes, count them – 5 Three Musketeers candy bars. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same!

5 Cent Bars

I don’t know what made me think of this story… well, wait… yes, I do. I was driving by a gas station and they were advertising 2-12 packs of cola for $7. That made me think of the cokes I used to buy at a machine back on the farm for a dime. This made me think of business and sales and pricing and competition and, somehow, I ended up thinking about this. A Three Muskateers bar today costs anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar depending on where you are shopping for one. A coke in a machine in most hotels today is EASILY a dollar. And here’s what I began considering: Have either one of these consumables changed or improved from the time they cost a nickel and a dime? Obviously, I had to test them both to find out and the answer was clearly, “Nope! Not a single improvement. They’re still good – but they’re not any better. “

As a result, I thought of you and me and possibly our businesses. As you deliver price changes (normally higher) what has changed about your product to justify the increase? Other than inflationary pressures of your costs and goods, what have you done to justify the increase or what have you planned on doing… or changing… or improving?

It’s an interesting time that we live in, but as I think about how long I’ve been in sales, sales management and consulting, it seems that for the last 25 years we’ve been on a steady climb to charge more for essentially the same product. And in the end, YOU are the product. You are the difference maker. You are what someone buys when they buy your product or service. And you are why someone would be willing to spend more for the same widget, product or service.

So, what are you doing to improve? Are you twice as good and twice as fast as you were eighteen months ago at half the price? No? The micro-technology that you use is. Somehow, someone has figure out how to deliver a product and a solution to problems that improves twice as much and reduces costs about every eighteen months.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you reduce your costs by half. That would be ludicrous. However,  I AM suggesting that you continue to be twice as good. I appreciate that you take the time to read these messages every week. This is an example of your fine commitment to improve. But, what ELSE are you doing? How much are you serving your clients so that -  at the end of the day, week, month, quarter, year or contract - they think of you and your product or service as a BARGAIN because you delivered twice as much as you promised, twice as good as anyone else.

By the way, I ate all 5 candy bars and was sick for at least a day.

Have a perfect day!


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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14 Lessons From My Dad, The Sales Manager


In case you missed my previous blog post, I talked about words of wisdom I learned from my dad, Ray Cole Sr. In that post, I covered:

  • He’ll only do that once.
  • Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and again.
  • He’s too dumb to pour piss out of a boot even if the instructions are on the bottom.

I started that post with the comment that I thought my dad could have been a good sales manager. He had a very good understanding of human behavior and how the world actually works. He was a little rough around the edges and would not have survived current HR and political correctness constraints… BUT he would have had a highly productive sales team. 

Tony Cole & Dad

After I posted that article, I thought more about my dad and some of his lessons and words of wisdom. I thought I’d pass some of them on to you with my perspective on how they apply to managing sales people and, in some cases, life in general. 

  1. God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason. I think He knew what He was doing:
    Lesson: Dad said this to me as I was heading out to my very first football practice. It means shut up and listen; you’ll learn more.  When you are trying to coach your people, listen first to what they did and why they didn’t do what needed to be done. Listen for what they aren’t telling you.

  2. Anthony, you know why you have 2 hands?  So, you can catch a football. 
    Lesson: I have everything I need to be successful. YOU have everything you need to be successful: 26 letters, 9 digits, 3 primary colors, 7 musical notes. All the resources needed are there. Get them in the right sequence and then coach, motivate and train your people.

  3. You can try and polish a turd… but, at the end of the day, it’s still a turd. 
    Lesson: You cannot fix or change what cannot be fixed or changed.  Don’t try to change everything in your world. Work on what you can control. Also… don’t hire turds.

  4. When all else fails, hard work works.  
    Lesson: This is one of my favorites. It’s the Puritan work ethic at its best. But, be careful. Hard work isn’t always the right answer. It’s a good answer to get you started towards success… but, sooner or later, you have to work smarter.

  5. “Dad, what are we going to do today? It’s raining.” Anthony we’re going to do what they do in Germany when it rains. “What’s that dad?” Let it rain
    Lesson: You are going to have rainy (difficult) days in your life. Do the best you can on rainy days… eventually, the rain will stop.

  6. Fair? The only fair I know about is where they hand out blue ribbons
    Lesson: Life isn’t always going to be what we think is fair. It just is what it is. You just “gotta” live with it. Also, in sales situations, sometimes your sales people ask a prospect about budget and the prospect says he/she wants to be fair. Tell your sales people to say, “Great! Give the numbers to everyone.”(See next lesson.)

  7. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. 
    Lesson: As a sales manager, sometimes you are “handed” your team and you just have to go play with what you have. It’s your job to make the team better one way or another. Don’t complain about it.

  8. Pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
    Lesson: Be real about the value of what you are asking people to do.  If it’s a $15 an hour job, pay them $15 an hour; don’t try to go cheap and hire someone just because you can get them for less.

  9. Success before work… only in the dictionary. 
    Lesson: It won’t come easy, it won’t fall in your lap.

  10. If you are going to dance, you gotta pay the piper
    Lesson: If you want the rewards of getting a scholarship to go to college and play football, you have to pay the price of blood, sweat and tears. There isn’t any other way to do it. As a sales manager, that means you have to work hard and do everything possible to get the outcomes you need. You need to coach, motivate and inspire your people. You have to set the example of investing time, money and effort into getting better at what you do if you expect them to do the same. Also, there is a cost to everything; nothing that is worthwhile is free.

  11. The reward in having done something is having done something well. 
    Lesson: My dad always took pride in doing better than expected.  He was an hourly worker so he didn’t get paid any more or less if he had a 1000 crates of blueberries per acre or 1200 crates per acre. But he prided himself on getting more per acre than other farmers. His greatest reward came from getting a job done well.

  12. If all you have is a hammer, then you treat everything like a nail. 
    Lesson: My dad wasn’t really good at this one – his response to almost everything was “Hit it harder!” Be aware that if you only have one way of approaching the development of your sales people, then you cannot be surprised if the team, as a whole, doesn’t respond. They are not all nails.

  13. Only right is right; you know the difference
    Lesson: He wasn’t talking about right or left of the political/morale aisle. He just meant that we all know right from wrong.  It’s not a question or a debate. You know right from wrong; do right.

  14. Any day you wake up on the right side of the dirt, it’s a good day. 
    Lesson: My dad didn’t talk about this until he was destitute and living on government assistance and had spent a month on a canned beans diet. My kids still remember this. It’s a great lesson about putting things in perspective. Many of us have upper class problems like my lawn mower blades need sharpening or the pool at the club is closed for cleaning. And we complain or grouse about those inconveniences in life. But, reality is, if you are reading this, it’s a good day.

Thanks for your indulgence in this post. I love my dad and I miss him. He is with me everyday, he is part of who I am. I hope I make him proud.

May I ask of you:

What are some of your favorite lessons from mom, dad, favorite teacher, coach, aunt or uncle? Comments welcome!

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Don't Pet The Sales Snapping Turtle!!


Snapping Turtle

I think my dad would have been a good sales manager, not a great one, a good one.  In today’s world, he would have been a little too harsh with the coaching and discipline and certainly he would have struggled with political correctness.    

Raymond Fredrick Cole Sr., would have been 83 this past Monday.  He died almost 7 years ago.  I still miss him.  My dad was a foreman on a blueberry farm in Hammonton, New Jersey.  He pretty much ran the day to day operations for Joe Testa, the owner.  He organized work crews, ordered supplies, fixed equipment and occasionally dolled out wisdom that still works today.

I was coaching a sales professional the other day when I thought about my dad and the “words of wisdom” I learned from him.  Ray was fond of the phrase, “He’ll only do that once.”  When someone did something that resulted in a negative outcome, he was certain that they would only do the behavior once before they learned the lesson of “Don’t do that again.”  E.g. My mother, Geri, once asked my dad to keep my younger brother, Michael, from petting a snapping turtle.  My dad replied, “He’ll only do it once.”

I think this is very wise.  When you do something that has a severe negative outcome, you would think that a lesson is learned – DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!  But, for many sales people, that is not the case.  When that happens, the sales manager MUST step in and assist in the learning because sometimes your sales people just don’t get it!  (Another gem from dad – “He’s so dumb he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot even if the instructions are written on the bottom.”)

Case in point: when I review the outcomes of sales presentations that ended in a “think it over” or a “no”, this is what I hear:

  • My contact wasn’t the decision maker
  • My costs were too high
  • They had to review the numbers
  • They had to compare, they were waiting for other proposals
  • They didn’t want to make a change

This happens more than once to your sales people, doesn’t it?  Why? Why aren’t they learning the lesson?  Why do they keep petting the snapping turtle?

Because you LET them keep trying to pet the turtle. Because – time for another piece of dad’s wisdom – “even the blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then”.  And getting luck once in a while is good enough.

We believe that selling is a numbers game.  We’ve bought into Al Grannum’s 10-3-1. Talk to 10 people, present to 3, one will buy.  Expand that number by 10 and you have 10 out of a hundred.  In baseball terms, that’s batting 100.  This now becomes a matter of luck instead of a matter of skill and professionalism. 

As a sales manager, you have the awesome responsibility to help your people become as successful as you thought they would be when you hired them.  You have an awesome responsibility to protect the resources of the company and to uphold the integrity of the firm.  You are NOT a quote factory!  So, here you go, this is how you help your people “only do it once.”

  • Conduct pre-call sessions to discuss what has to happen in the early stages of the sales process so that they can clearly DISQUALIFY the prospect.
  • Conduct post-call debriefing sessions to make sure your sales person did everything they were supposed to do to DISQUALIFY the prospect.
  • Repeat these steps until the final meeting is set for the solution presentation.  When your people get ready to present, they should have already:
    • Uncovered the compelling reasons the prospect has for buying or making a change
    • Clearly identified all the investment of time, money and resource criteria and has an agreement on what these need to be in order to make the purchase from your sales professional.
    • Has met with the decision makers prior to presenting.
    • Has an agreement that a decision will be made at the closing of the presentation.
    • Has confirmation from the prospect that they will indeed fire the incumbent if your rep can deliver on the promises made.
    • Sent an “as we agreed to” letter and followed that with a phone call.
    • Has practiced the presentation and is ready to present a solution that solves a problem, within budget, and is ready to ask for a decision.

If you work with your sales people to do this, then it is now safe to pet the snapping turtle.

I would love to hear about some of the words of wisdom you have heard from your mom, dad, teacher, favorite aunt or uncle.

Additional resources:

Pre call worksheet

EPAS – Emergency Pipeline Analysis System

Formula for Success – Audio File

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What Can I Learn From A Sales Fail Tale?


A guest blog by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert

Welcome to the final in the series, Tale of the Fail.  Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Well, he was right. Welcome to my train wreck. If you have been following the last couple of blogs posts, you have seen Tony and Mark talk about the reasons we let one get away from time to time. So, as I prepared for this I thought, “What can I learn from them and how can I go back and re-trace my steps to see where it went bad for ME?”

Man Looking

So, I went back and asked myself:

   - “Did my prospects have enough severe mental anguish?” My answer at the time of the presentation was yes.
   - “Did I talk about the time, money and resources that they would have to commit to move forward?” Yes, again.
   - “Was I talking to the decision maker?” Yes.
   - “Was my pipeline where it needed to be?” It was OK, but when is it ever there.  
   - “Did I do a pre-call plan?”Always.

So, what happened? What did I miss? Why did I fail to get the sale? Well, two things come to mind.

  1. When the decision maker said yes, but handed the implementation of the solution to someone else, I neglected to go back and maintain enough contact with him. I just sat there on the tracks.
  2. I did not do a good enough job of asking him if the problems he thought they had were compelling enough to fix or that he HAD to fix them.

Over the last twenty-seven years, I have made virtually every mistake known to sales. The good news is they are less frequent than they used to be.  One thing I have learned is this: when I come back from a sales call, I always call somebody on our team to debrief the call. I encourage you to do the same. It will really help you be better the next time out.

I don’t know who said it, but the phrase, “Lead, follow or get out of the way,” comes to mind. Don’t just sit there, or you’ll get run over.  

Thanks for stopping by. Now, have a great day.


Read more by Walt Gerano on his blog, Selling For Life

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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