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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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Who is Your Sales Competition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The #1 Reason Why Sales People Underperform - Taking Responsibility

  
  
  
  
  

starts with you

Without a doubt, Sales and Sales Management is an art and a science.  On January 13th, I posted the first article in the Series:  Why Isn’t Your Sale Team Selling As Expected?  In the 7 posts for the series, I’ve covered the following:

  1. The Pareto Principle & Perry Marshall – 80% (approximately) of your sales results come from JUST 20% of the team.   The 80/20 markers can slide to 60/40 but, in my recent research, I haven’t seen it move beyond that.  If this is true in your organization, then that means that 20% of the results are coming from 80% of the team.  Somewhere in that mix people are underperforming.
  2. Expectations – Sometimes people are not meeting expectations because the “setting expectations” process is flawed.  Were they reasonable?  Did your sales person “accept” the expectations?  Is there an opportunity for minimum acceptable standards?
  3. Desire – Could it be that you have people failing to perform as expected simply because they no longer have the desire to continue the grind of selling and acquiring new business accounts?
  4. Root Causes – Maybe the treatment for underperformance has been to treat the symptom and not the root cause.  As long as the root causes exist, the outcomes will be the same.
  5. Commitment – Having a team of sales people that will do everything (assuming legal, ethical and moral standards) to succeed will get you a team that meets or exceeds expectations.
  6. The Challenger – Do your people have enough of the “Challenger” DNA to qualify opportunities and close business?
  7. Performance Management – Specifically, I addressed the system of how success is defined.  Too often, companies describe a “good” year as a year where a sales person either improved over last year performance, is making progress, is getting close or trending in the right direction.  None of these describe meeting expectations – hitting the goal that was set and agreed to.

As I started the series, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to take it.  (Notice I didn’t say I had a “good idea” of where I wanted to take it.  When you have a “pretty good idea” of the outcome, then almost any outcome will do.)  I knew I wanted to address some of the major contributing factors, but what always happens to me when I get started is that new ideas and thoughts come into play.  Or… I read an article and decide to add that to the series.  However, my ultimate goal was to give you enough information so that you could determine the following:  “Do I have a problem?  Is it a problem that I have to fix?  Where should I start?”  With this last post, I will accomplish that.

8.  Responsibility – You must have a culture of responsibility, of ownership of outcomes, of not making or allowing excuses for lack of effort or execution.  Once you establish that as your culture, then you will definitely see a change in outcomes.  If you allow excuses, you will hear:

  • Our companies standards for underwriting are just too tough now
  • The new competitor in town is buying the business
  • The incumbent came in and matched our deal
  • The economy in this part of the country just isn’t strong – people aren’t buying.
  • Obama care
  • Paperwork
  • Service work
  • Technology
  • Support

Allowing all of this to take place undermines effort and execution.  It lowers the bar of performance and keeps people from working on the skills and behaviors that need to be improved in order to improve outcomes.  As long as people say “It’s not my fault” and excuses are allowed, then there is never going to be a reason for the sales person to figure out what they would have done or could have done differently to get a different outcome.  They just shrug their shoulders and hope that the moon and stars align on the next sale.  It becomes a matter of luck rather than a matter of effort and execution, matter of self – improvement, a change in behavior or improvement of a skill.

Finally, this is your responsibility (see article on Shadow of the Leader) as the sales manager or sales executive.  As long as you allow this to continue in your culture, then you can continue to count on underperformance.

Additional Resources:

HBR – Help! I’m an Underperformer – article

TQM – Total Quality Management – Dr. Edward Deming Institute blog post

SEIA – Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis – 19 questions you must know the answer to

 

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 Sales Team Isn't Performing As Expected (Pt.7) - Sales Management

  
  
  
  
  

To all those sales executives I work with, here is a topic near and dear to my heart - Managing/Leading/Motivating sales people to success by setting standards and expectations. Normally, this isn’t such a challenge for sales people to understand. If they sell more, they make more money, leverage the comp program or qualify for the "President's reward" trip. 

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BUT... how about other aspects of performance and other sales people that have to perform in your company?  Time and again, I see organizations put together evaluation programs to determine the following: an employee's progress towards objectives, increases in compensation, allocation of bonuses or earned incentive compensation.  But, if there is not an objective formula (the assessment is subjective and not tied to facts and numbers), then arriving at a fair and equitable decision of any kind is difficult at best.

Do you follow the typical evaluation/assessment definitions of exceeds expectations, meets expectations or does not meet expectations?  If so, I think you are missing something. I believe that the measures are too subjective if you don’t tie numbers and percentages to arriving at those three levels of assessment.  I’m convinced if something moves (paper, applications, processes, etc.), then it can get measured.  If it can get measured, then performance can be evaluated against an accepted standard.  

Finally, I am convinced that the definitions tied to each of the categories are too arbitrary, too wide for interpretation, and in the case of "does not meet expectations", too mild, too forgiving and too mis-leading. If a company wants to be fair, equitable and accurate, then it needs to have and use a process of assessment and evaluation that looks something like:

Extraordinary performance = exceeds expectations by ____%

Excellent performance = exceeds expectations by ____% and _____ %

Good performance = met expectations (100%)

Failed performance = below 100% of goal

I understand and accept the notion that we should allow some level of variance for the last category. There are instances where variables beyond anyone’s control can influence the outcome and that should be taken into consideration. With that in mind, you might want to widen the scope of "Good" performance.

Good performance = 95% - 100%

Poor Performance = 90% to 94%

Failing = 89% and below

Raising the standard of what is acceptable in your organization will raise the outcomes in your organization. Continuing to accept mediocrity allows your core (average) performers to stay at that level thus never adding to the growth of your organization.  It isn’t their fault if this is what you allow to happen. Poor performance should not be tolerated; failure is grounds for dismissal, and finally a "good" year should not be "close to goal", but should only be "good" when the goal is actually hit.  It should not be considered an excellent year or an extraordinary year UNLESS there were extraordinary circumstances such as those that existed in 2008 and 2009.  Excellent and extraordinary must be tied to a number that exceeds 100% of the goal AND fits the definition of EXCELLENT or EXTRAORDINARY.

Raise the standards, raise the results.

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Reasons Sales Teams Perform Below Expectations #6 - The Challenger?

  
  
  
  
  

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My purpose for bringing The Challenger Sale into this series is to tie the concept of "Challenger" Sales People to this overall discussion of reasons why sales people do not perform as expected.  I read about The Challenger Sale book a couple of years ago in a Harvard Businss Review article and had forgotten about it until I "rediscovered" it recently. I remember finding it interesting back then, and I again find the book interesting now. I know that doesn't sound like a resounding endorsement, but I've read all the way through the book and, to be  honest, my purpose here isn't to argue for or against the premise, findings and suggestions of the book. My purpose is to add this to my original list of "reasons".

The Challenger Sale by Dixon and Adamson is based on research covering hundreds of worldwide companies (Big companies covering all types of sales in all types of industries).  I point this out for one reason only - I am convinced that, when "normal" sales organizations look to publications based on research, they should make sure that they fall into the catagory of those companies being researched.  For example, if your sales team isn't normally engaged in sales that are international in nature, go through 8 stages of RFPs, committee meetings, procurment vetting and finalist presentation and are sales that generate millions or billions of dollars, then just maybe the research about those types of companies isn't relative to your situation.  However, contrary to that specific type of research, I do believe that the profile of the Challenger Sales person is applicable no matter what kind of sale your salespeople are involved in.

Aside from the reseach findings of identifying this type of person -The Challenger - as being the most successful in any market, the other 4 types are as follows: (Link to challenger assessment)

  • Relationship builder
  • Hard Worker
  • Problem Solver
  • Lone Wolf
I asked my team about their thoughts regarding the book and the idea of the Challenger sales person and one of our sales development experts, Walt Gerano, responded with, "I think it's more about recruiting."  I agree with Walt in that what a reader should get (what a sales manager ought to get) out of the book is this:
  • Do I have any of these people?
  • Of the people I have, who can become a "challenger"?
  • Why is it that I still don't have any challengers even after I had them read the book?
  • If this is important to me, how do I make sure that I hire one?
  • If someone is a challenger, does that mean they are a hunter?
  • Does the challenger have the skills I need to deepen the business relationship or do challengers make a sale and move on to the next?
My point is that I think the concept fits nicely into what contributes to transforming a sales team from underperforming to performing as expected, but it isn't the only answer or the only piece of the puzzle. Certainly, if your team already consisted of the right combination of challenger, farmer, hunter, account manager, consultative seller, then you wouldn't be reading this article or series.
What needs to be considered is what makes the challenger a challenger? After years of assessing sales people in all types of industries involved in all kinds of B2B sales with the worlds #1 sales assessment (Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation), I believe I know that the makeup is for someone that can execute what Susan Scott calls "Fierce Conversations".
  • Someone that makes decisions
  • Consultative sellers who listen AND understand
  • Qualifier - asks direct questions, challenges until they qualify
  • Won't accept put-offs
  • No need for approval
  • Won't get caught up in the moment - get excited or frustrated
  • Understands and executes an effective sales process
  • Is skeptical and curious
  • Sells/positions value of the relationship instead of selling price and product
  • Quotes only qualified buyers
  • Understand how a prospect will decide
  • Will find a way to close
  • Unlikely to accept a "think it over" because they eliminate that as an option
  • Motivated to be successful in selling
  • Committed to doing everything possible to succeed
  • Accepts responsibility for outcomes
Now, it could be that I just haven't read far enough into the book yet and maybe the authors eventually cover the necessary DNA to be a challenger. If not, then consider the qualities above when trying to figure out why your sales team isn't performing as expected.
Additional Resources:
Video of Susan Scott at Vistage event - You Tube
Contact Tony directly - tony@anthonycoletraining.com.  Subject Line: I need challengers.  Or text "I need challengers" to mobile:  513-226-3913
Understanding Your Salesforce - Sales Achievement Grader

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

  
  
  
  
  

commitment

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.

Solution:

  • 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 tony@anthonycoletraining.com. 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!

Connect with ACTG!

Twitter ACTG       LinkedIn Tony Cole       Facebook ACTG       Sales Brew

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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: tony@anthonycoletraining.com

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 .http://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/best-prospecting-book-ever/

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 -->  http://anthonycoletraining.com/free-tools-ebooks-and-assessments/ 

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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 dictionary.com:  verb (used with object), desired, desiring.

1.to 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:

 

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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 tony@anthonycoletraining.com 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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