ACTG Sales Management Blog

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What Makes a Sales 'Hall of Famer'?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 15, 2018

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Assuming for a second that when you think about hiring for a position in your organization, you are thinking about hiring the best, especially in the early rounds of looking for talent. No one reasonably goes about writing a job description like this:

“ABLE Sales Company is looking for the most unbelievably average salespeople we can find. We already have enough top producers and those that are failing. What we really need are some people to bump up the middle of our bell curve. If interested, show up and you’ll get a job.”

No, you are not looking for average- you are looking for people who can get your organization to the next level. You’re looking for the best of the best.

Which leads me to today’s story: I was listening to ESPN radio and tuned into The Golic and Wingo Show. They were sharing stories about the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that a reporter had heard from each during his time as a sports reporter.

I would like to share 3 of those stories with you today and how they are great analogies for recruiting the best of the best.

Vladimir Guerrero: Vladimir is a Dominican born in 1975. He arrived to his first professional baseball try-out on a bicycle. He was wearing baseball shoes that didn’t match and one was so big he had to stuff it with socks so that it wouldn’t slip off. He was on the field for 5 minutes hitting, throwing and catching when the scouts told him he was finished. They signed him to a contract and now he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, how does this relate to recruiting talent?

  • When you got it, you got it
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover

Trevor Hoffman: Trevor was born in Bellflower, California in 1967. When he tried out to play professional baseball, he did so as a shortstop. However, after a few minutes of taking the infield, somebody told him he was terrible as a fielding shortstop and he was a weak hitter. They said if he was going to make it in the pros he might want to try pitching. He did and now he’s a Hall of Famer. What’s the hiring lesson here?

  • When interviewing people don’t be afraid to push a button that might upset them. It’s going to happen in their sales career anyway so you might as well find out how they are going to react. Will they absorb the challenge or get emotional?
  • Every candidate you interview and eventually hire is going to come with some warts. What you want to know is – are they coachable?

Chipper Jones: Chipper was born in 1972 in Deland, Florida and played his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Chipper was the #1 MLB draft pick in 1990. As the story goes, the Braves were ready to make him an offer but his dad was encouraging Chipper to hold off because he could probably get more money from another team. Chipper told his dad that he wanted to be the #1 draft pick and that the money didn’t matter. He knew that he was going to be successful and that he would earn his ‘big’ money based on his performance rather than what another club thought he was worth today. Again, why is this important when hiring salespeople?

  • You have to be patient. Just because it’s hard to find the right person, doesn’t mean you should hire one that is close. Close enough isn’t good enough (you already have some of those on your team and you don’t need more).
  • Hire people that are willing to bet on themselves. Often recruiting managers, HR, and recruiters shy away from those that don’t exactly fit the pedigree. When interviewing and working the compensation into the hiring contract, be bold enough to challenge the candidate to put some money at risk. If they are as good as they think they are they will make up for it in spades in the long run.

There is nothing easy about hiring. If you listen to the stories of these recent inductees you will find that there was nothing easy about getting into the Hall of Fame.

Need more help hiring the best of the best? Download our free Recruiting Success Formula document and Interview Questions guide to improve your recruiting process today!

 

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Topics: building sales team, sales stories, things to do for sales success, sales growth and inspiration, solving sales issues

7 More Sales Core Competencies

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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In 2008, I posted two blogs covering 14 of the 21 core competencies identified by the Objective Management Group Sales Person Assessment.  Between then and now, much has taken place that I've written about, and as I fly from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon, I have some time to write about the remaining 7 core competencies.  I know that you've been waiting with baited breath.

1.  Establishes early bonding and rapport:  The ability to quickly establish confidence and trust in the first meeting, rather than taking several meetings to develop a strong relationship.

2.  Uncovers actual budgets:  The skill and the consistency in knowing what the investment parameters are going to be so that you eliminate money, time or resource objections at time of presentation.

3.  Discovers why prospects will buy:  As elementary as this sounds, most sales people do not find out exactly "why" a prospect will buy. They know what is important, they have an idea of what a prospect will consider or look at, but that is entirely different than knowing exactly why someone will buy.  You know that you have this competency when you get decisions instead of "think it overs".

4.  Qualifies proposals and quotes.  Those that have this competency and execute it consistently will make sure that they will get a decision or, at a minimum, a very clear future once they present.  Those with this competency only make proposals and quotes when they know that the prospect is committed to buying.

5.  Gets commitments and decisions:  This competency manifests itself prior to making presentations.  It needs to happen once you have uncovered the compelling reasons someone will buy, you have their commitment to buy, you know the budget issues and you know that you are talking to the decision maker(s).  Once these items have been covered, a great sales person simply asks the prospect to make a decision, yes or no, when the presentation is completed.  More importantly, they make the commitment to decide stick.

6.  Possesses a strong desire for success in selling:  this is defined as being passionate about your success.  It is someone that enjoys selling.  Someone with the appropriate desire is someone that looks forward to generating new relationships and is passionate about pursuing and achieving their goals and the goals of the company.  They don't just set goals; they achieve them.

7.  Commits to succeed in selling:  I have identified three types of commitment:  1) WIT: Whatever it Takes.  2) WITALAIITU:  Whatever it Takes as Long as it Isn't Too Uncomfortable.  3) Coast to Coast: When they are just going through the motions and coast from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.  However, there is only one level of commitment that contributes to extraordinary success:  WIT.

Think about these 7 core competencies and how they relate to your ability to execute an effective sales process.  These 7, along with the other 14, should be considered the "root causes" of your sales issues.  If you are to continue your improvement in sales, then you might consider working at the correct end of your problems:  Theses 21 core competencies of selling.

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Topics: sales competencies, improve sales, OMG assessment, sales improvement

5 Really Important Sales Concepts - Today's Lesson - Be Unique

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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In our sales training classes, we spend a great deal of time on the appropriate "attitude" required to be successful in selling. With the right attitude, you can count on consistently executing the required conduct and sales techniques to be successful.  I once heard another sales development expert explain that "sales technique is just a change in language.  You already have a sales language; it just may not be as effective as it could be."  (If you want additional information on "attitude", you can find more posts in our blogs.) 

Today, and for the next 4 days, I am going to focus on 5 really important sales concepts.  You can also call them "techniques" but sometimes problems occur when someone tries to duplicate the exact technique that a trainer uses.  For example, if your facilitator is from the northeast part of a country where the communication style is a little more direct, faster paced and some would describe as "aggressive", but you are a mid-westerner, then you may find yourself failing to bond well with prospects, not because of what you have said, but more because of how you said it.  So, for that reason, we'll focus on the concepts and let you develop your technique. However, with that in mind, don't let your "record collection" or "need for approval" get in the way of executing the concepts. (There I go again- back to attitude)

Today's lesson:  Be unique.

You have your elevator speech, your 15-second commercial, your value proposition, your positioning statement, etc.  It doesn't matter what you call it.  The concept is this:  Have a concise way to describe to someone what you do when you first meet him or her.  Here's the problem.  Everyone in selling has been taught the elevator speech, the 15 second commercial, the value proposition and the positioning statement, etc.  You know it's supposed to describe what you do: 

"I help companies like yours manage their insurance risk." 

"I sell customized clothing to busy executives."

"I own a CPA and tax consulting practice specializing in the needs of companies that generate between 5 and 10 million dollars in revenue".

Sound familiar?  That's the problem.  There is nothing unique about the approach from any one of these statements. Here's the rule about the concept:

What you say should cause the person with whom you are talking to respond either verbally or mentally in one of three ways.  You have to give the prospect a compelling reason to keep listening. When you deliver whatever it is, they should respond with either:

  1. "That's me".
  2. "How do you do that?"
  3. "Tell me more."

Examples:

Insurance:  "I provide people buckets of money in the right amount, at the right cost and at the right time." (How do you do that?)

Banking:  "My clients are companies that discovered that working with a bank should be more than just a place to get money or leave money." (Tell me more.)

Accounting:  "I'm in the business of helping small businesses that are sick and tired of sending the government more money and keeping less." (That's me!)

The idea is to think about what people or companies have chosen to do business with you or your company or why they buy the product and service that they have bought from you. What problem was it that they wanted to go away or solve?  Or what benefit were they looking for that they weren't getting?  Take that information and create your "unique sales approach" (usa).

The technique:  Before you deliver your "usa", you may want to start by telling the person that you are talking to that it is easier to describe what you do by asking a couple of questions. "In a nut shell, what I do is...(deliver your usa)" and close by asking, "May I ask you a question?"

By the way, I work with presidents and CEOs that have at least 10 sales people, generate more than 10 million dollars a year in revenue and want more consistent and predictable sales revenue growth.  If you know anyone that might say, "that's me", send them my way.

Thanks in advance.

DOWNLOAD our FREE eBOOK -   Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?

 

Topics: sales attitude, improving sales, sales prospecting, sales techniques

What’s Your Funniest Sales Story Ever?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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I'm heading to a sales training session about 12 years ago.  It's a client in downtown Cincinnati and I've been working with them for two years.  They know me as a high energy, enthusiastic and entertaining sales trainer.  In other words, I stand up, I move around, I'm engaged, I role play, we learn a lot and people make more sales.

I'm running late this one particular day, so I grab a chocolate chip bran muffin (These are the best bran muffins made in the world and they are made by my wife, Linda.) and a bottle of Gatorade then off I go.  It is early, about 6:45, and it is dark, mid January.

As I am driving and eating, I sense that something has fallen from my muffin onto my lap or more accurately under the crotch of my pants.  My best hope is that it is a piece of the bran muffin.  My worst fear is that it is a chocolate chip.

I get to the office early. Thank goodness no one else is there yet, and so I sprint to the men's room only to discover my worst fear.  As I turn around and look at my "disaster khakis" (They are called this because it seems that I always come home wearing some food on them somewhere), there in exactly the right spot on the back of my pants is a notable brown spot that will easily be seen by anyone behind me.

I get to the training room, set up my flip chart with my notes, the white board with further information and then firmly plant myself in the chair at the head of the conference table and I do not move again for the next 3 hours.

Now, I don't know what the participants thought.  Surely they had to find this strange as I never sit down during a session.  Certainly, I was polite as I shook hands with them as they left.  Then and only then did I find a way out of the office with my spot undiscovered by any of my participants. I immediately go home and rid myself of the disaster khakis once and for all.

So, what is YOUR funniest sales story ever?  We know that you have one!  What we're looking for here is a little fun over the next several weeks.  We would love for you to share with all those that view this blog your funniest or most embarrassing sales moment, sales call or selling situation.  After 30 days, we will announce a winner for this years' "Funniest Sales Story".

Come one, come all, let's have some fun.  As a matter of fact, I will call on our CMO, Jeni Wehrmeyer, to share her story.  It may be one of the funniest of all!

 DOWNLOAD our FREE eBOOK -   Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?

Topics: sales people, sales techniques, training sales, inspirational, sales problems

The Getting Introduced Methodology

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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From our 5 Keys to Coaching series: 

Are you asking for introductions from your current clients?

You'd be surprised by how many salespeople are not asking.

It is essential that you as a sales leader take time to sit down with your salesperson and establish an action plan – what are the specific prospecting and networking activities that they must do in order to reach their goals? 

This will undoubtedly include utilizing LinkedIn, attending association meetings with the intent to meet the right target profile client, etc.  This action plan should include getting introductions from current clients. 

This is the #1 strategy that successful salespeople use to build their business.  The steps in this video show you how to coach your salespeople to gain introductions from their advocates.

 

 

 

Topics: sales advice, sales skill, sales growth and inspiration, effective sales coaching

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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