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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March Madness Thursday and Selling

March Madness (c)

This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.

  • Prospecting > games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
  • Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
  • Assessing the Opportunity to win > selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
  • Presenting > The Madness begins on Monday night in the play in gams and then on Thursday the real fun begins with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out and let the ball bounce where it may
  • Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins – Villanova. In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (overtime) before a victor is declared – Ohio State and Cincinnati! (Both WINNERS). In some cases an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 13 seed beating a 4 seed and the favored winners Iowa State and Baylor are going home.
  • Get a decision > The loser goes home, the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge – Cincy vs. UK and OSU vs Arizona. Xavier is still in the hunt, but they play the upset winner - 14 seed Georgia State.

And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”

Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, you have the bench strength, you have had great coaching, you’ve prepared, you have presented to the prospect what you said you would but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale. What happened?

  • The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
  • I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
  • They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
  • They said it was too expensive
  • They are thinking it over
  • Etc. etc. etc.

And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State – (You have to watch the video!!!).


But, when the coaches that lose review the game video with their team, they point out to their team that there were several opportunities during the game that, if the team had performed better/differently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.

The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:

  • Matching price – you should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
  • Changing covenants – you should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
  • Decision making – you should know the decision making process before presenting.
  • They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
  • Think it overs – you must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
  • Etc. – uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.

As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:

  • Put the best possible team on the court.
  • Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
  • Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
  • Practice what you expect them to perform.
  • Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill

Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Environment – Building the structure to improve your chances for winning.

Sales Talent Acquisition Routine – Hire Better Sales People - Get the right people to come to your team to play and WIN against the opponents in your market.

Goal Setting and Business Plan Development – Build a foundation so that your team has the required internal motivation to win in all market conditions.

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Who is Your Sales Competition?

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

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 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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Sales, Goals & Life... and Lauren Hill


Once again, I’m flooded with stuff happening around me that has nothing or very little to do directly with sales… and I cannot help myself but to connect these thoughts and events to what I love to do – coach and teach sales and sales management.

I think it was 1992 when Pat Riley, as part of a speaker’s event, came to Cincinnati and spoke at the convention center.  I don’t remember a thing from his speech other than his comment about being taken to the cleaners by the media after losing the 1984 NBA championship to the Celtics.  He said (paraphrasing):  They [the media] just don’t understand that the NBA Championship is in the Toy Department of Life.

Lauren Hill Layup

For reasons unknown to me at the time, that line has stayed with me all this years.  As I approach the completion of my 60th year, I think I understand that what I thought Coach Riley was saying is that basketball - and in fact, any sport - is just a game.

At the same conference, Steve Palermo spoke.  In July of 1991, after umpiring a MLB game between the Rangers and the Angels, Steve and a couple of other umpires were dining at a local Dallas restaurant when they heard a couple of waitresses being assaulted in the parking lot.  They rushed out, a shot was fired, and a bullet struck Steve in the spine.  After surgery, he was told that he would never walk again.

The day that he spoke in Cincinnati, he approached the podium using two crutches. He stood there, talked to the crowd and, when he finished, he took questions.  Someone in the crowd asked, “When do you think you will be able to walk well enough to umpire another MLB game?”  Steve responded, “I don’t know; maybe today.”

It was more than just a hopeful response; it was a response of commitment and conviction that, if he continued to do the things he needed to do to walk, then maybe, just maybe, today would be THE DAY.  I thought he was saying that pursuing your professional career is something that requires constant vigilance and work.  But, I was wrong.

So, in walks Lauren Hill. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. She isn’t just making the news on ESPN and other sports media outlets.  She’s being seen and heard everywhere.  She’s a freshman basketball player at Mt. Saint Joseph, here in Cincinnati, Ohio.  But, she’s a freshman with a difference; Lauren has an inoperable brain tumor.  It was diagnosed in her junior year of high school. They told her at that time that her life expectancy was 2 years.  Last year, she played basketball her senior year in high school. This year, she enrolled in Mt. Saint Joseph and joined the basketball team.  An updated MRI earlier this year changed her prognosis.  She was told that her life expectancy was now December of this year.

Originally, this season’s first game was not scheduled to be played until December.  However, Mt. Saint Joseph, working together with the NCAA and Hiram College (their first opponent), made arrangements to get the game played this last Sunday.  As soon as the game day was set, news spread like wildfire and everyone wanted to come show their support for Lauren. Normally, the Lions play in front of about 100 fans, but the amount of interest in tickets for the game required a change of venue. Xavier University stepped forward and provided the Cintas Center which was sold out in less than an hour. Local and national stations made arrangements to televise the game to include thousands who were unable to get tickets.  All of the workers who normally help stage events at the Cintas Center volunteered their time for the game.  So, instead of just a few family and friends, over 10,000 people in the Cintas Center and millions nationwide watched Lauren’s dream of playing college basketball come true as she stepped out onto the court and, in the first seconds of the game, shoot a left-handed lay-up to score.

How does all this come together for me and what can the message be for all of us?

Selling and managing sales people isn’t a lot different than playing and coaching.  You recruit the best you can find.  You coach them, you practice the strategy, you go into the market and find people to play/sell to and, when it’s over, you either win or you lose.

I thought Pat Riley was saying that winning the NBA championship was in the toy department of life.  I was wrong.  I believe that he was saying that losing the NBA championship was in the toy department of life. Winning is important.  Winning sales is important.  But losing one?  No one will ever remember the ones you lost.

Steve Palermo wasn’t talking about working hard to walk again because of his pursuit of his professional career.  He was talking about working hard, having a “can do” attitude, and an attitude of “MAYBE TODAY’ because he was in pursuit of doing something he loved to do.  Aside from his wife, baseball was the love of his life.  He could not imagine a life without baseball.  Steve later became a supervisor of MLB umpires. 

For Lauren, there will be no championships or second chances.  This is her life.  Playing in a college basketball game was her dream and eventually her dream came true.  For Lauren, playing basketball was/is in the toy department of life.  At age 18, it’s supposed to be.  Everything else pales in comparison to the fight she now fights – to keep breathing.

I ask you to stop and think a moment when you read this.  Not for me, but for yourself… and for Lauren.  Pat and Steve, no reason to worry about them, they are fine.  But for Lauren and her family, there is a very rough road ahead. For you?  I don’t know what your dream and goals are.  I don’t know what you aspire to, but I would suggest the following:

  1. Make sure you are waking up every day and getting a chance to do what you love to do
  2. Make sure that you put losing in perspective – it’s never fatal or final.
  3. Winning is fun; it’s exciting. In sales, it pays the bills and helps you accomplish the dreams and aspirations you have come true.
  4. Ask yourself everyday – What’s Important Now (WIN) – and then go do what’s important now.
  5. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to pursue what appear to be insurmountable goals and achievements.  You never know what you can achieve if you don’t give it a shot.

Don’t miss these!

Tony Cole video: Someday
Mark Trinkle audio:  What is Your Dream?


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Do You Have a Recipe for Sales Management Success?


I’ve been trying to find a way to tie cooking to sales management.  I love to cook (and eat) and I love selling and coaching sales management.  I often tie sports stories, analogies and themes to sales and sales management, and I generally have at least one in the crowd that doesn’t/cannot relate because they have not played sports or are just simply not into sports.  Thus my attempt to find another way to explain concepts of sales management:  COOKING!


When you cook, assuming at sometime you cook something for someone (even if it’s just a hot dog for you), how do you determine success? 

  • I didn’t ruin the cookware
  • I didn’t burn the food
  • The house is still standing
  • No one got sick
  • Everyone loved the steak, but the steak fries were a disaster
  • I got a standing ovation 

Aside from preparing a good meal, what else are you trying to accomplish? What is the final outcome you desire?  Is there more to successfully preparing a meal than just providing something for someone to eat?  I think so… and I think the entire process requires a “recipe” for success.

Let’s think about your relationship with your sales people. Those are the people that are dining at your table of sales management.  When the day, week, month, quarter or year is finished and your sales team says, “That was a great year (meal)”, what has to happen AND how do you make it happen?  What are the different metrics/determining factors that your sales people will use to decide if the year with you was a great year?  Assuming you can arrive at that answer, then just like any cook, you must have a recipe for success!

Success factors – let’s start with those.  If you are like most sales managers, you came from sales and you were successful. This is the generally accepted practice (though not a very good practice) for selecting sales managers.  What did you want/need/expect from your sales manager?  If you let your ego get in the way, you say, “I didn’t need anything except for them to stay out of my way, let me out of meetings, provide me with a great support team and bail me out when I got in trouble when I didn’t follow procedure.” Those are not good performance metrics, but they will do for this discussion. Suppose you have people, or at least one person, on your team that thinks that way? What is your recipe for success for that one person?

But, let’s imagine for a second that your sales team isn’t all like that.  Let’s suppose most of them need motivation, mentoring, encouragement, coaching and accountability.  They all need something slightly different in each of those categories, but they all need them just the same.  What is your recipe for success for delivering what THEY want and need?

Assuming the ingredients are, in fact, coaching, motivating, accountability and mentoring, then how much of each will you need, for how long and when?  Just like one recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of salt and another calls for ½ cup, your people have varying needs relative to amounts. Also, another example: when you prepare a frozen pizza, you bake it between 18 and 25 minutes, depending on the type of crust you want.  Some of your people need 5 minutes of your time every week, some of them need 15 minutes every other week, and some work very well if they get you an hour a month.

In building your “recipe”, consider this:

  • Regardless of their tenure or success, they all need something.
  • They all need to be coached – unless they are converting 100% of every step in the sales process, then they all have room for improvement.
  • They all fall off the wagon. Even the very best suffer from ups and downs of sales cycles and moments of great prospecting effort and moments of zero prospecting.  You must ALWAYS provide a measure of accountability.
  • Coaching is about changing behavior and improving skill.  Changing behavior and improving skill is about not just teaching, but also spaced repetition.
  • Motivation is an inside-out job.  In other words, recruit highly motivated people and motivation gets easier.  But having said that, occasionally the very best also need motivation.  (Check out Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame acceptance speech)
  • Finally, check in with them to find out what they want, how will they determine success, and what will make this a great year for them.  When I prepare family Sunday dinner, I have to remember three really important things  (*Note: I do consider them, but don’t always alter plans for the meal): 1) Uncle Fred doesn’t like poultry.  2) My mother – in – law, Pat, loves “Tony Burgers” in the summer and 3) my wife, Linda, is gluten intolerant.

Additional resources:

Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame Speech  - Youtube Link – sorry I couldn’t resist the sports connection.

Best wings – Guy Fieri wing recipe

Sales Management Workshop – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales Teams

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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!

Connect with ACTG!

ACTG Twitter   Tony Cole LinkedIn   ACTG Facebook   Sales Brew

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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.


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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

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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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