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


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Sales Fail Tales - Asking "Is It Over?" Can Lead To Sales Success


A guest blog by Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert

As the quote says, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

My blog post today is another in the series of posts about The Tale of the Fail – sales lessons we can all learn from sales that we have lost. One of the most distinguishing traits of successful sales people is that they always learn from the mistakes they make in selling. And, generally speaking, they will not make the same mistake twice.

Sales Bulldog


One of the mistakes that I observe sales people making is they fail to ask what I have termed, “The Animal House” questions. You do remember the 1978 movie, Animal House, don’t you? Of course, you do. It is a cinematic classic. Think of the scene near the end of the movie when the Delta fraternity members are being kicked out of school where Bluto says, “Great… 7 years of college down the drain. Over?!? Did you say it’s over?!?!  Nothing is over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Now, while Bluto was just a little off in his recall of history, he DOES give us an excellent reminder that there are times when we need to simply ask our prospect, “Hey, is it over? Are we done here?”

Perhaps they’ve promised you some information and you still don’t have it. Perhaps they’ve promised to set up a meeting but it still hasn’t been set. Or maybe they’ve promised to make a decision and now we’re two weeks past that deadline. Do yourself a favor. Sell like Bluto. Muster the courage to ask the Animal House questions, “Is it over? Are we done here?”

Find out, and if you are done, move on and control the selling cycle.

So, what is your Tale of the Fail?  Or your Tale of the Sale? We would love to hear your experiences. Share your stories in the comments below!

Additional Resources to AVOID the Fail

Is it a Trick or a Treat?

Some Will. Some Won't. So What? NEXT!


Read more by Mark Trinkle on his blog, Sales Force One

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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Your "Sales Fail Tale" Can Lead To Sales Success


The Tale of the Fail - I have to give credit to Ron S. for this phrase. Ron was a senior sales management executive for one of our clients. It was his responsibility to make sure that his sales people were always improving and it was his belief that sales people improved by reviewing their experiences and the experiences of others. So, when he conducted post-call debriefs with his sales people, he wanted to hear about 2 things - the Tale of the Sale AND the Tale of the Fail.

Tale of the Fail

As professionals, we are eager to talk about our success. However, it is a lot tougher to talk about our failures. But true growth occurs when we are willing to look at our mistakes and learn from them. As I analyze my own personal sales fails from over the past 12 months, I feel like they each have their own story. But if I think about my entire history of sales fails, I can see that they normally boil down to these 3 most common errors.

  1. Not Getting to The Right Person – I was talking to a PPO provider here in Cincinnati. I had met with my point of contact, met with his management team, and we had an agreement that we would move forward starting in March. March came and went.  And so did April, May and June. Finally, I got a return phone call and discovered that the senior partner in the firm said no to the project. I DIDN’T get in front of the person.

  2. Not Getting Budget – A few years ago, I was engaged in a discussion with a benefits group from Louisville. I had worked with this group before and had a VERY good relationship with the influencer/decision-maker. I asked about budget and got a budget to work with. But, I failed to double check to make sure he was willing to spend that kind of money. At time of presentation – you guessed it – the objection was, “I just can’t spend that kind of money right now.”

  3. Being Desperate – As a sales person, I’ve been there before and I’m sure someday I will be there again. You know that, when your pipeline is low, you have a tendency to propose solutions to people that just don’t qualify. And, normally, they don’t qualify because they don’t have a compelling reason to take action or to make a change. Such was the case with my group in New York City. The initial meeting was a good one, but I failed to ask the question, “Are these problems that you are talking about and associated costs compelling enough to take actions?” I DIDN’T ask the questions, I still made a proposal… I didn’t get the business.

I promise you, it is not easy to admit my Tales of the Fails to you. But, this is one of the most important keys to becoming more successful. You have to be gutsy enough to say that you screwed up. Then find out what you need to do differently and learn from your mistakes.

One more thing - Make sure that you work on the right end of the problem. If you’re failing to execute, you need to do a quick self-assessment as to why the problem is happening.  In my case, it isn’t a need for approval. And it’s not a money issue nor a lack of a selling system. The issue is that I did not follow an effective pre-call process. I should have talked with one of my other in-house experts. Bottom line is I was not as prepared as well as I needed to be. The result – a failure to sell. And that is MY Tale of the Fail.

So, what is your Tale of the Fail?  Or your Tale of the Sale? We would love to hear your experiences. Share your stories in the comments below!


Additional Resources to AVOID the Fail

Pre-Call Planning Process

Post-Call Debrief Process

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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Tennis & Selling - What Do Your Top-Ranked Players Need?


Early evening on Mondays, I play tennis with some guys who I also play league tennis with.  I started playing with this group 3 years ago.  At one of our matches recently, I was in the men’s locker room getting ready when a player from the other team came into the room. We started chatting.  I don’t remember much of our conversation except for the parting comments - “Good luck, have fun, and let’s not forget that it’s old man tennis.”

Really, we’re not that old, but I'd have to say that most of us have more days behind us than we have in front of us.

Last night, we played indoors because of the threat of rain.  And the threat turned into reality.  So, about 30 minutes into our doubles play, some other, younger/more athletic players entered a play area one court away from us.  From the very first forehand shot, you KNEW these guys were really, really, REALLY good.  It didn't take us long to realize that they were players in town for the Western Southern Open Tournament being held at the Linder Family Tennis Center.

tennis racquet and balls

We didn’t recognize the players as any of the well-known top players.  But, it didn’t matter. They were fun to watch and, to some extent, distracting because of their high level of skill and the loud noises they made when they struck the ball.  Their shots sounded like rifle shots, ours more like BBs. 

Sometimes, a couple of guys on our team take an occasional lesson. But, the players on the other court - two of the top players in the world – THEY had full-time coaches.  As they all practiced, it appeared that there were two pro players, 2 coaches and one other participant whose role was difficult to identify.  Did you get that?  Ranked tennis players have coaches.

And their coaches coached. They did NOT make suggestions; they didn’t politely say, “You might want to try…” They told these players exactly what they needed to do. At one point, one of the coaches began demonstrating exactly what he wanted done. Both coaches carried racquets, by the way. And so, armed with his racquet, the coach instructed the player across the net to feed a ball to his backhand and the ground strokes began in rapid fire like an automatic rifle.  As the coach was playing, he yelled instructions to his player to do this, do that, like this, like that, and when he was finished, he pointed to the player and indicated that the player should now do what he had just demonstrated.

It was fascinating to observe and it inspired this post today.

Your people need coaching.  No matter their experience level, no matter how successful they are, no matter what the “sale” is.  In order to get the most out of your talent investment, you MUST coach them. 

Here are the 5 keys you need to coach your team. You MUST:

1) Gain insight to what they are doing.  You do this by observing them when they are in the sales arena and when they practice.  You look at the data and gain insight from ALL data points. 
2) Provide feedback based on your observations and insights.
3) Demonstrate what you need for them to be doing to get better outcomes.
4) Role play to make sure they get it right.  Role play means each of you take on the roles and perform what is expected in the sales call.  NOTE:  The most common error in role playing is allowing the sales person to say, “I would do this, do that.  I’ll probably ask this question and will tell them that…”  NO! MAKE THEM DO WHAT THEY SAY THEY ARE GOING TO DO!
5) Develop a plan. Set action items and a time for follow-up to make sure that the sales person is executing what you coached them to do.

Coaching performers at any level of success is critical.  To be truly effective, you must have a bias towards coaching – in other words, you must have an intrinsic motivation to help others succeed.  You must have the right skills - (see links below).  And… this is very important… you must be spending at least 25% of your time coaching your people to improve their skills and change behaviors.

Additional resources:

Coaching Skills –  What does it take to Coach for Success?

5 Attributes of Successful Sales Teams

Assess Your Sales Group – Can they grow? What will it take? How long would it take?

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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Sorrow and Joy – Life and Selling


This morning, I was sitting at our kitchen table reading some headlines to my son, Anthony, as he waited for the transportation van to take him to the Goodwill CARE program that he participates in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I said goodbye to him as he left for the day… and then continued to browse through Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer.

Louisville Slugger

I forget who the comedian was, but I remember the line, “I read the obituaries every day.  If my name isn’t in there, it’s a good day.”  Sounds like something the late Rodney Dangerfield would have said.  I’m flipping through the paper, come to the obituaries and I instantly recognize a face, a young face.  Joe Rippe, Jr. passed away on July 30th after his long battle with brain cancer.  It startled me, saddened me and frightened me.

You don’t expect to see a picture of someone you know in the obits.  Joe and I knew each other a long time ago, and though I hadn’t seen Joe in years, I considered him a friend.  It’s startling to read that he is no longer alive.  I am saddened for his family.  Loss is never easy no matter how you try and paint the picture of “now he’s in a better place.”  Yes, Joe is in heaven.  That has to be better than battling cancer. That doesn’t mean he won’t be missed and that there won’t be sorrow this year and every year around special dates and holidays.

It definitely frightened me.  I’ll be 60 in December.  (Now, THAT is out of the bag, let’s move on – save all your smart comments for later... ha-ha)  My very good friend, David O’Dell died of brain cancer when he was only 40.  Another great friend and business client, Jay Irwin, died of a heart attack between the 9th and 10th hole of a golf course when he was only 55.  I admit this isn’t a LONG list, but it’s a list.  I’ve had polyps removed, had radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer and, two years ago, had an eye biopsy to check for ocular cancer.  It’s frightening to think about all the things that can take us from this world.

In the same paper, in the sports section of USA Today, there was an article about Paul O’Neil - formally of the Reds and the NY Yankees.  In a ceremony on Saturday, they placed a plaque with his likeness in Monument Park behind center field of Yankee Stadium. He will be there with other greats like Ruth, Demaggio, Gherig, and someday, Mariano Rivera.  This honor must have given him and his family great joy.

I met Paul 14 years ago when we were sharing a small gym coaching elementary school basketball.  I was coaching my daughter’s team and I assume he was coaching his son’s.   My son, Anthony, was about 15 months post-cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injury.  Before his health ‘accident’, he loved sports.  He thought Paul O’Neil was great!  I approach Paul one evening at practice, I told him about my son’s condition and inquired if there was anything he could sign that I could give to him.  He said he had the perfect thing and he would bring it next week to practice.

I missed the follow week’s practice due to illness.  I returned the following week.  As we were beginning practice, Paul walked into gym, saw me and came right over.  He said, “I brought something for your son last week but you weren’t here. I have it at home I’ll be right back.”  I didn’t even have time to tell him it could wait till next week, when he was out the door. 

15 to 20 minutes later, he came in with a signed baseball bat.  I brought it home to Anthony, told him the story, and he smiled.  He hadn’t regained his ability to talk yet, so he just smiled.  Not just any old smile, but a great big smile of real joy.  He was grateful that I had thought of him and that Paul O’Neil thought enough about him to provide him with this bat.

Reading this article I felt joy for Paul.   Not for what he did on the field or in the clubhouse, although I’m happy for his accomplishments, success and this recognition.  But, reading the article brought back a memory of joy for what he did for a family he didn’t even know.  I still see Paul drive through the neighborhood.  When I do, I wave and he waves back politely though I’m sure he has no idea who I am. And that is okay.

This is a sales management blog… so you must be wondering, “What is the connection between Joe Rippe’s passing, a baseball bat from Paul O’Neil and selling?”

Selling and managing sales people is similar to these events in that they can startle, frighten, sadden and bring joy all in a matter of minutes.  The key here is that the world doesn’t stop and wait for you to recover from any of these events.  The world just turned a couple of more clicks as you read this today.  The world will keep on turning as you deal with something that startles you, saddens you, frightens you or brings you joy.

Take them all in stride, keep an even pace.  Don’t get too frightened, too sad or too joyous.  Life is life, selling is selling.  When it is all said and done, you will not be remembered for the sales you made or the ones that got away.  You won’t be remembered for the failed sales people or the successful ones.  You will be remembered for the impact you had on people’s lives.  You’ll be remembered for the time you took, the caring you had, and the effort you put into doing your best.

You get the chance every day to influence.  How you do that will eventually show up in the papers.


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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Check Your Selling Gauges


Back a few years ago, when I was teaching my daughter how to drive, I tried to teach her good driving habits. One critical habit that I tried to help her recognize was to read the gauges, or what they call in aviation, complete a radial scan.

I explained to her that, prior to taking off in a car, you’ve got to make sure that there isn’t a light on telling you that your air pressure is low or that there’s an engine problem. There are several critical things that are often overlooked, but probably the most common mistake people make is failing to check the gas gauge.  They go out on the road and then when they’re 10 miles from the closest gas station, the computer tells them that they’re low on fuel. Not a good position to be in.


How does this relate to selling? Well, let’s assume for a second that you know how to uncover what we describe as severe mental anguish – you know, motivation to take action, or what some people call pain. Let’s also assume for a moment that you are really good at this part. But, for some reason, when you end your presentation, you’re still getting think-it-overs.

Often the think-it-over is a result of budget – budget for time, budget for money, and budget for resources needed to fix the problem that you uncovered in the initial interview. So, what happened?

What happened is that you have not developed the habit of checking your gauges and completing the radial scan. You’ve not developed the habit of making sure that they have enough “fuel”; you haven’t determined if the resources needed to fix the problem actually exist. You either assume that they’re there – always a problem to assume – or you’ve been taught that checking for budget isn’t that important because they are already spending money on your product and your job is just to get them to spend it with you.

This is a huge problem. Huge, because if you are doing your job well at uncovering problems, your solution may actually require additional resources – not just the same or less.  This is also a huge problem because, if you are in the habit of selling based on saving the client money, then every year you’re going to have to work twice as hard to find savings in order to keep that business.

So, the solution?

Develop the habit of scanning the gauges. The resource gauges in selling are time, money and resources. Resources could be people, technology or facilities. If you don’t check these gauges, I can almost guarantee you that, when you close for the sale, you’ll get a message that sounds like your car computer: NEED TO LOOK AT THE NUMBERS.  CHECK FUEL. FUEL IS LOW. In other words, your client may not have the resources to solve their problem. You’ve got to “check the gauges” and make sure that they do.

Have a perfect day.

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3 Critical Rules of Prospecting


Today, let’s talk about effective prospecting. At Anthony Cole Training, we have a program called The Rules and Gottas of Prospecting.  I must honestly tell you that there is a fine line between a rule and a gotta and it gets a little fuzzy sometimes. But, that’s a whole other discussion.

Hating the phone

Today, I want to talk with you about 3 of the 5 rules that we cover in that session.  

1) You don’t have to LIKE prospecting; you just have to do it. – I learned this rule from David Sandler. It comes into play every day when you go to your office and there on the desk is the 800lb gorilla – your telephone. And very rarely in my career as a trainer have I found people that just LOVE to prospect. But, like I said, you don’t have to love it, you don’t have to hate it, you just have to do it.

2) If you learn to like prospecting, you WILL do more of it. – Now, I know that I just stated in Rule #1 that you don’t have to love it or hate it, but what I have also experienced is that, if you learn to like something, you will have a tendency to repeat that something over and over again. Anything else that you do come to mind that fits into that category? Well, the same thing happens with prospecting. And the best way to learn to like something is to have fun. This isn’t life or death, so go out and have a blast with it.

3) Don’t look, act or sound like a sales person. Here’s a test. If you were calling you, would you recognize your call as a call from a sales person? If the answer to that is “yes”, then guess what? You sound like one and you probably would hang up on yourself. So, don’t look or act like a sales person.

If you would like to find out about the other 2 rules, then call our office at 513-791-3458 and we will be glad to help you. Thanks for joining us… now, have a perfect day. 

Additional Resources

Pre-Call Planning Process

Post-Call Debrief Process

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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How To Increase Your Sales By 67%


As sales people, we are always looking for the same thing – increased revenue. So, here’s a question for you: How do you get a 10% difference to equal a 67% return on investment?

Let’s start with the easy answer – you must put in 10% more effort. That does not mean that I am accusing you of not working hard or not exerting great effort. However, by observing many over the years, I have seen sales people who in reality have already “retired” and just haven’t told anyone. At least, not yet.

Increase ROI

Now, having thrown THOSE people under the bus, I will now address the REST of those sales people who DO work hard. The sales people who really DO want to improve and increase their revenue - the ones who hunger for success and eagerly want to know, “How DO you get that 67% increase?”

What I’m talking about today is putting 10% more effort in prospecting. That means increasing your efforts in asking for introductions, meeting with centers of influence, and turning association meetings into new suspects. It does NOT mean you have to cold-call more; so, go ahead and eliminate THAT objection from your thinking.

Now, with only a few minutes to work with, I will keep this very simple.

Actually, the steps for improving really ARE simple; they just take consistent and persistent application. You don’t have to invent a whole new way of doing things, you just need to improve on the things you are already doing by just 10%. Here is the list of things you need to improve:

  1. EFFORT: 10% more effort will result in 10 more appointments - even if you DON’T improve your skills.
  2. PHONE SKILLS: Improve your phone skills by 10% and convert just 10% more contacts to appointments.
  3. QUALIFYING SKILLS: Improve your qualifying skills by 10% and now you pick up 10% more opportunities.
  4. CONVERSION RATES – Even if you simply maintain your current conversion of opportunities to presentations and maintain your current closing ratio, you will increase your results simply because you’ve added more to your pipeline dramatically over 12 months.
  5. INCREASE AVERAGE SALE – Increase your revenue per sale by 10%. Instead of $10,000 deals, get $11,0000 deals. Now, don’t complain about price sensitivity. Now is the time to ask yourself: Are you a professional or a low cost provider?

Let me finish with a quick clarification about effort because I have heard the protests before. I want to address two things:

1)    GETTING NAMES: Once again, I’m not talking about cold-calling. I don’t care how you get the names. You still have to pick up the phone and call them. Just increase your effort to get names.

2)    “I DON’T HAVE TIME” MYTH: I want to eliminate the “I don’t have time” myth. We all know that if you attempt to call ten people a day, you will not talk to 8 of them. So… the question becomes, “How long does it take you to NOT talk to 8 people?” And the answer is…?

I guarantee you that if you increase your effort, improve your skills, and increase your average size deal, you WILL end up with a significant multiple of 10% improvement.

If you want to discuss this or any other questions you have about selling, Take a moment and leave a comment. Or, better yet, call us - 877.635.5371.

In the meantime, here are some additional resources:

−     Developing Your Success Formula Worksheet

−     Improve prospecting by phone - The 8-Step Process Worksheet

−     The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written

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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How to Avoid a Sales “Choke”


Guest Post By Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert

When working with prospects and clients, I’m generally a couple of moves ahead; I think well on my feet and I know what to say next. But, I must admit, that sometimes, I get excited or upset during a sales call because I get caught off guard by with a question or response from a prospect.

When was the last time you asked yourself, “Why did I do that? Why did THAT happen?”

Upset Sales Person

Do you know how to respond to critical sales moments… or do you choke? The moments I described earlier are what we call “choke situations”. You know, situations where we tend to get emotionally tangled and taken off-course by our prospect.

Have you ever felt or thought any of the following:
          - Frustrated?
          - Worried?
          - Intimidated?
          - Lost for words?
          - Stumbling over words?
          - Found yourself talking too much?
          - Wished they hadn’t said something or asked you something?
          - Wondered what you should be saying next or didn’t exactly know
            what you should do next?
          - Felt like the think you just said could have been the wrong thing?
          - Gotten back in the car and say, “Why in the world did I say that?” or
           “Why didn’t I say that?”

Well, the answer is, of course, that we all have.  The next question is, “What’s the impact on your business?” I’ll let YOU answer that one.

Ok, so if that’s part of the problem, what’s the cure? Well, I’m going to give you 5 steps to follow to avoid “choke situations”:

  1. Be sure to maintain what we call “clinical detachment”.  In other words, don’t get emotionally involved. By the way, that DOESN’T mean you need to lack enthusiasm.
  2. Sometimes in the course of an interaction with a client or prospect, they’re going to throw you a curve ball. You can hit a curveball IF you know it’s coming… so be ready. 
  3. Listen intently to what they say. Listening does NOT mean that you aren’t talking.
  4. Don’t think ahead - stay in the moment. Pay attention to what’s going on. Observe their body language, what they say and how they say it. 
  5. Have good pacing.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid to allow silent pauses in the conversation.

Now, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify 3 situations where you find yourself getting emotionally involved, i.e. choking.  And decide how you will respond differently the next time it happens. Be patient; it’s a process. Remember, your main job is to qualify the prospect and you need to have a pipeline of enough qualified prospects so you can execute your strategy from a position of strength, not out of fear.

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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Smart Numbers & Success Formulas Drive Successful Sales Plans


Guest Blog By Mark Trinkle, Sales Development Expert

How smart are you? Actually, how well do you know your smart numbers?

I’m always amazed at the number of sales people I meet who either have no idea what their key indicators or smart numbers are or who have no idea why tracking them is important to begin with. By smart numbers I mean those activities that are essential to your sales success and that, when done consistently, predict new business.

SMART Numbers

While there are only a few critical tasks in a sales person’s world, it is shocking how few of us actually know our numbers. That would be analogous to a baseball player not knowing the back of his baseball card or maybe the conductor of a symphony not knowing how many rehearsals are needed for each section of the orchestra leading up to a performance. But, how DO you figure out your smart numbers?

Let’s start with your sales goal. Then divide that number by your average size win which will give you the number of times this year someone will need to tell you yes. For example, if you have a $200,000 sales goal and your average win is $10,000, then you will need to hear 20 yeses over the course of the year.

But, to hear 20 people say yes, how many people will you need to see in a closing presentation? If you are a 50% closer, then you will need to be in front of 40 people so half of them can tell you yes.

Let’s keep going. How many people will you have to have an initial meeting with to get to the point where you will have 40 closing meetings? Obviously, not every first meeting gets to a closing meeting. Let’s assume that your first meetings become solid opportunities about… 1/3 of the time. That means, to have 40 closing meetings, you will need 120 first meetings, so about 10 a month.

And what kind of prospecting activity is required to have 10 prospect meetings every month? How many introductions do you need? How many times do you need to meet with your centers of influence? How many times - dare I say it? - do you need to dial your phone looking to speak with a prospect? Figure out many calls you need to make to get a first meeting and then you will know how many calls you will need to make to get to your $200,000 sales goal.

Here’s the deal. Successful sales people always know the back of their baseball card. They know their smart numbers. Those who struggle -  those who use hope as a strategy and see it maybe coming together for them someday - see this as micro-managing and not necessary. Which are you?

Additional Resources:

Sales Formula Worksheet

Are You on The Right Track?


Read more by Mark Trinkle on his blog, Sales Force One

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

Why Success Formulas and Sales Plans Fail


If you have followed my blog, read our sales newsletters or listened to our audio sales brews, then you’ve heard me talk about success formulas.  The concept that is, if you follow the steps and execute the required activities to the required standards, you will be successful. Well, guess what? It doesn’t always work that way... if you are missing critical pieces of the process.

Success or Failure Sign

For most people, the success formula is a new exercise designed to create a logical and systematic approach to their sales process. It requires that one has clearly mapped the sales process and has some idea of what the conversion rates are from one step of the process to the next step of the process. It also requires an exercise where personal goals are identified and there is a financial or monetary value attached to the identified goals.

But… goals aren’t enough. There are a couple other critical criteria you must meet.

1. The goals have to be non-negotiable, AND...

2. The sales person has to be willing to do everything possible to succeed.

Without these criteria being met, then the success formula becomes just an exercise to complete rather than a fundamental business process that will increase the opportunity for success.

Once non-negotiable goals and a “whatever it takes” attitude have become established, then you can go about the process of building a success formula. This leads us to the next challenge and that challenge is data. Unless you’ve collected data on your sales results, then you won’t know the conversion rates or the amount of activity required to be successful. The success formula then becomes a “guess at success”. And that can be the problem with success formulas.

If you have gone through this process and you aren’t at the level of success that you had predicted, then you’ve got to back to the drawing board and re-calculate your formula. If you aren’t successful, it can be attributed to one of the following 3 things:

1.  Lack of performance of the required activity – In other words, just a flat-out lack of effort.

2.  The formula was wrong because the assumptions of conversion ratios or average size accounts were wrong or…

3.  The goals were actually negotiable and you, the sales person, are not doing everything possible to succeed. Not just in effort, but also in those steps in the sales process that are difficult or contrary to your personal belief systems, your buy cycle, or your need for approval.

The sales formula was never designed to be a perfect solution to cure poor or failing sales performance. The intent again is to provide a sales professional with a logical and progressive way to approach selling. If you are executing your formula at 100% and you aren’t getting the results, review the goals, the assumptions and the conversion ratios. Make needed adjustments and go back to work. One important thing to keep in mind: If you are not performing as effectively as you thought you would, then you must examine what it is that you’re failing to do to get the appropriate conversion rate. Your course of action will always be one of two actions: work harder or work smarter. The choice is yours.

Additional Resources:

Personal Goals Worksheet

Non-Negotiable Goals Worksheet

Sales Formula Worksheet

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