Sales & Sales Management Expertise

How Great Salespeople Continue to Learn and Earn

Tags: sales attitude, desire for sales success, achieving sales success, sales motivation

When I Googled ‘Keys to Great Sales Success’ here are some of the links I found interesting:

Each of these are good articles with great suggestions and there is nothing written or stated that a reasonable person would argue about.  There is no shortage of information about how to become a great sales person. But if was that easy then why do so many, apparently talented sales professionals seem to stagnate or completely struggle with improvement? With that question in mind I want to share with you what I’ve Learned when it comes to being successful in any profession, not just sales.

Yearning and Learning Leads to Earning.

As a boy watching TV with his dad, I became enamored with football.  At the age of nine, I asked my dad if it would be okay to go out for football.  He said “sure”.  He gave me the phone number for Matt Gazzara – coach for the local Pop Warner football team – The Hammonton Hawks – and told me if I wanted to play I needed to call Coach Gazzara and ask if I could come to a practice.  I called, went to practice and fell in love with the game.  I finished the first practice and announced to my dad that I would one day go to college to play football.

I didn't say I would like to go to college to play football. I said I would go to college to play football.  For the next eight years I did everything I had to do to put myself in a position to accomplish this goal.  My senior year I signed a full scholarship commitment letter to play football at the University of Connecticut.

The unseen aspect of this story is what I had to do in the classroom.  I played ball with other talented, faster, larger football players but they didn’t hit the books the same way, get the same grades to qualify for college.   When college coaches came knocking on Head Football Coach Joe Cacia’s door, not only did I look the part of a college football player on film, but my grades allowed me to qualify for the academics.

What I didn’t think about at the time but now realize, is that the yearning and Learning led to my Earning that scholarship. The Earning didn’t stop there.  I Earned a college degree at little cost to my parents and me.  The yearning earned me an opportunity to work as a coach at UConn, at the University of Cincinnati and at Iowa State University.  This Yearning Earned me the opportunity to meet Ralph Grieser who helped me land a great job with Nautilus Exercise Equipment that paid me my first real income of $47,000 as a sales person.  This was good money in 1983.

This story goes on but I want to cut the story short so I don’t lose you.  The shortened version is this:  I went into the insurance business in 1987 after relocating. I didn’t know anyone and selling insurance is all about who you know.  I Yearned to have a better life for my family and so I hired a coach and paid him with a credit card because I didn’t have the cash and didn’t want my wife to worry.  That decision – to Learn more about the art and science of sales - lead to Anthony Cole Training Group and where I am today.

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Linda and I own Anthony Cole Training Group. We employ eight people and we serve clients across the country.  Over our 25 - year history we’ve developed long- lasting relationships with our clients, product providers and business advisors.  Our family has been well taken care of.  We contribute to our community. We love the people we work with and the clients we serve.

So how about you and your team? Do you and your people continue to Yearn, Learn and Grow? If so, what do they have in common?  What is it that they Yearn for that keeps the fire burning and drives them to do the right things more consistently then those who don’t?

Think about your best people and their willingness and ability to Learn and adapt to ever changing circumstances.  You will probably find that they don’t make excuses. My guess is that they take the time to Learn and assimilate new information, adopt new thinking and strategies and implement tools and systems to keep themselves in-the-game and top of your stack-ranking reports.

And what about their Earnings?  Not just the money but also the client relationships they’ve Earned and retained over the years; The respect they have in your company and in the industry; the satisfaction of knowing they’ve done a good job; the recognition of their peers as leaders and top performers.

Finally think about the talent you have and the gap between those who are succeeding and those who are not performing at the level you anticipated when you hired them. What is missing? The Yearning or the Learning? Think about any new candidates you are looking to hire. What do they Yearn for?  Are they coachable (have desire to Learn)?

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How to Eliminate the Rollercoaster and Anemic Pipeline Syndrome – 5 Sales Management Best Practices

Tags: Pipeline management, Effective Coaching, sales management, Sales Coaching

Why are rollercoasters and anemic pipeline syndromes important?  They aren’t important if:

  • You have validity and complete confidence in the credibility of your pipeline report.
  • Your CFO never asks you about solid sales forecasts.
  • You are ok with the unpredictable ups and downs in your team’s production.
  • Your top performers don’t mind carrying the load for the other 66% of the team--who typically generate 10% or less of new business sales. (Get more out of your non-performers)

The rollercoaster/anemic pipeline discussion is important if you need to know the answers to these important business questions:

  • How many new leads are we really generating?
  • How many of those new leads are converting to new opportunities AND what is that conversion rate?
  • What is our real average size account?
  • What is our closing ratio from new opportunities to closed /won accounts?
  • What is the dollar volume or number of new opportunities on a rolling 90 day time frame throughout the year?

Knowing the answers to these questions helps you have better predictability from your pipeline. The answers also helps you develop a more intentional coaching strategy; one that allows you the intelligence to coach your sales people on their specific choke points.

Instead of telling them they need to “See more people”, “Do a better job of closing” or “Increase your average size sale”,  you will have the ability to show the data so that they understand where they are lacking and must increase efforts and/or learn skills. 

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Here are 5 Sales Management BEST PRACTICES to eradicate the rollercoaster anemic pipeline problem, ALTHOUGH you must have a CRM system that does more than just allow your sales people to enter data about leads.

Your CRM tool must have a milestone centric sales process format that collects information about leads every time they go to your site, read an email, or look at your LinkedIn profile.  Your CRM must produce and display a dashboard with all the pertinent information that answers the questions asked above.  And your CRM must have a library of content you can use to help coach your people.  (Ask about about CRM – email mark@anthonycoletraining.com)

BEST PRACTICES:

  1. You have established for each sales person on your team a “Success Formula”. You can go to this link to download a template.  The individual Success Formulas puts you and your sales people on the same page which outlines effort and effectiveness required to meet and exceed extraordinary goals.
  2. You have a Huddle Process to collect real time information on effort. The entire sales process hinges on one step – effort to generate leads.  It is nothing more than effort.  While skill is required, true effort in the form of necessary behavior is critical .  S.  If you don’t have true “hunters”, recruit and replace.
  3. Read and understand what the data for business intelligence. Sales people know when they are not performing well. What they need help with is the “Why?”  The business intelligence you gain from your CRM will point you in the direction of the answer to the question “What should I be doing differently to improve sales?”
  4. Establish coaching plans for those failing (even just 5% off of target requires coaching).

**Side note:  Failing is failing.  Don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security with comments like, “He is close. He is trending in the right direction. He is one deal away from hitting goal.”

  1. Each coaching session must end with an action step: eg. “Mike, what I want you to do now is to call ABC Company and talk to your contact.  Have the discussion we just role–played and report back to me by the end of business tomorrow.”  Without action steps your sales people will leave these 1-on-1 coaching sessions and promptly forget the discussions. Unfortunately by next week you will be wondering what they did differently, if anything at all.

These 5 Best Practices are not meant to be the all-inclusive list of steps required by sales managers to drive sales productivity.  You must still have steps and strategies to motivate your people, recruit more of the right talent, have great sales meetings, develop teams that work together etc.  But focusing on these 5 Best Practices will help you develop a more credible, valid and consistent pipeline.  This is important to you, your people and the company.

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Additional resources:

CRM best practices-An article by Izzy Witts at Bablequest.com

9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success  Are you a great coach?

Beware Sales Team!

Tags: hiring sales people, building sales teams, building sales team

Despite how good a high powered team looks on paper, there are always “skeletons in the closet”.

This post was prompted by an article from Bank Investment Consultant: Why Advisors Will Feel Freer To Make Career Moves in 2018 by Mark Elzweig.

It's not that I'm against sales teams leaving one company for another. But over the past 25+ years, I've seen too many of these moves fail-- Fail to work out for the hiring firm and fail to work out for the team.

sales growth team.jpg

Here is what you should be cautious about if your company is considering this tactic:

  • The book of business the team says they control is never really under their control. Just like your company’s business belongs to the company, the revenue the team plans to bring actually belongs to their current employer company.

So ask yourself:  What would you do in this situation? Of course, you would fight your *ss off to keep the clients and the revenue and chances are, you would keep at least some.

You would probably involve lawyers, an expense in time and money. This means delays in the high powered team’s production. In the meantime, clients are being contacted by the employer company and they are being seduced into staying where they are.

  • These people come from a culture with systems, processes, and procedures that are different than yours, perhaps considerably different. Often this is not an easy fit and in some cases, it is quite difficult. If this team is truly high-powered, these people probably got away with some things that you wouldn’t tolerate. You may not tolerate certain behaviors to which they have become accustomed.
  • At some point in the future, the acquired team inevitably forgets that they said “Yes”. “Yes” to how they would be managed, “Yes” to the goals set, “Yes” to the business processes and “Yes” to the compensation package. They will have selective memory and problems will arise when they remember promises they thought they heard/wanted to hear.
  • You may discover that they really aren't as good as they indicated. Unless you do a deep dive into how they actually generated all the revenue they boasted about, you might find out that some of the revenue was inherited, or that their former company had certain products and services that gave them an unfair advantage which you don't have. Maybe the production came from a couple of major accounts that grew on their own and these individuals were more account managers/ farmers and not the hunters you needed and thought you were getting.
  • If they came from a 'brand' organization and you are a solid, but second tier organization (not a well known brand), you may discover that this team succeeded because of the logo, name and reputation of the brand.
  • If your company is like most, it may oversell the team. Pride in one’s organization is common and is positive, except when hiring. Selling the positives and minimizing the negatives will come back to haunt you when the new talent recognizes they traded one unsatisfactory situation for another.

Recruiting talent, poaching teams, and growing your organization by increasing talent numbers is difficult. Despite the method you choose, there are always risks.

Below are the keys to minimize the risks of bringing in a team from a competitor:

  • Develop your own team to be high performing. Make sure you have a Sales Managed Environment that has a keen focus on performance management, intentional coaching, and recruiting.
  • Recruit the best talent for the specific role. Everyone is competing for "A" players, but you don't need "A" players to grow your business. What you need is...
  • Recruit people who are better than those you have today!
  • Don't be desperate. Have a process to grow sales. Follow the process. Hold people accountable to behaviors and numbers. Be proactive in recruiting.

Should you decide to risk acquiring a high-performance team from a competitor, make sure that they are clear on all aspects to which they are agreeing prior to hiring.

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What Does It Take to Create & Convert Leads (and also Hire Those Who Will)?

Tags: Prospecting, sales leads, generating leads, how to prospect, create & convert leads

What does it take generate and convert leads and hire sales people who can consistently perform this ultimately necessary job?  

Lead Generation Equation:  Effort +Effectiveness = Leads

Hiring the right sales people who can perform this job requires:

  1. Knowing what skills and behaviors to look for in a new candidate
  2. Having a system and process to find these special people
  3. Assessing and interviewing for the critical ‘hunting’ skills

But it’s not that simple.  Every president and sales manager I’ve talked to over the last year, tell me that the biggest challenge their sales people face is creating enough leads, converting those leads to opportunities and then converting the opportunities to revenue.

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If you’ve read my posts in the past you may have stumbled across one that talks about growing up on a blueberry farm in Hammonton, NJ.  Little did I know at the time that my early life would help me better understand the world of selling.  Growing up on a farm is about surviving.  Our family survived season after season, year after year.  We were never rich, never had extra money, were never able to save for a rainy day much less put money away in a retirement account.  Surviving then (and probably now for most of those who work in farming) required three important skills and behaviors and discipline to be successful.

I assure you that none of the following three “lead generation and selling” activities were easy.  These activities required a commitment to succeed, a not-an-option mindset, specific skill sets and a vow to do everything possible to succeed.

  • Hunting – my dad hunted, had to hunt, to put food on the table for six of us.
  • Farming – we grew blueberries, peaches and strawberries. Mom and dad sent hours canning peaches and freezing strawberries and blueberries so mom could make pies in the winter.  They also bartered for tomatoes from neighbors and other local farmers and canned jars and jars of tomato puree.
  • Trapping – Years after I left the farm my dad started trapping muskrat and fox to make money from the pelts and had a garden that supplied their winter supply of canned vegetables. He also had a friend in one of the local rangers who would casually mention when there was fresh deer meat nearby.

 Growing sales requires lead generation.  Today’s lead generation activities are different than those of a few years ago, different because today’s prospects are different.  They are different because technology, the amount of information and the mobile ability to access information, has been a game-changer that favors the buyer

Today’s sales person can no longer rely solely on traditional prospecting skills and behaviors to generate leads.  Today’s successful sales person must have the hunting DNA but must also diversify efforts AND become more effective.

When we assess sales talent within an organization or screen sales candidates, we help our clients minimize the high costs of hiring ‘ghosts' with findings in several important areas that help determine if the sales person or sales candidate has the aptitude and skill to develop new business.

Hunting

As you can see from the exhibit below, very specific skills are needed to be a successful hunter. A hunter must be able to get past “gatekeepers” to reach decision makers, attend networking events and consistently prospect. 

But look at all the ‘stuff’ that you may not have known are critical to generating enough leads.  Generating leads today includes additional skills and aptitudes, as well as traditional people skills and aptitudes. Examples include: Uses sales 2.0 tools, gets referrals from customers/network, has no need for approval, WILL Prospect! 

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Increasing Lead Generation to Opportunity Ratio -  Several Steps Required!

Tags: sales prospects, sales leads, generating leads, how to prospect

We’ve been doing a fair amount of research into lead generation through our primary source, Hubspot.  We’ve had a long business relationship with them because they provide a great platform for all things that are digital marketing and associated data.  One thing we will begin to take better advantage of is their CRM application.  This will allow us to tie our marketing efforts directly to a client management AND pipeline management system.

Why is this important?  Because without a coordinated system that links marketing and sales:

  • Sales and marketing will probably not be in sync
  • There will be duplicates of effort attempting to generate helpful data regarding the impact of marketing efforts
  • The ability to clearly see the conversion of marketing lead generation to sales opportunity is compromised due to user error or lack of participation (not entering data)
  • Failure to coordinate the lead generation with a milestone based sales process makes it difficult for managers to effectively manage performance and conduct intentional coaching. (The manager will find it difficult to determine if the sales person has an effort problem or an execution problem)
  • Predictability of future sales revenue is dependent upon knowing exactly what is going into the pipeline – lead generation – and the conversion of those leads throughout your sales process.

How well aligned is senior management, including those leading the marketing effort, with sales management and the sales force?  Our data, using the Objective Management Group Sales Force Evaluation, tells us that there is usually a significant disconnect between leadership and management when it comes to the following strategies:  Business, Sales and Marketing.  Below see the findings from a bank with three managers.  Their overall alignment with senior leadership is 69%.  A series of questions are asked of the president of the bank and his three market presidents.  The percentages indicate how often the answers from each of the market presidents match with the bank president.

As you can see below the marketing area is where they are least aligned at 53%.  This isn’t the end of the problem.  We also asked all of the relationship managers (16) to write out the bank’s value proposition, brand promise and elevator pitch.

 

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Overall results (not shown) indicate that less than 50% of the relationship managers in the group were able to express the value proposition with any consistency and only 25% responded with the correct brand promise.  On the other hand, there was a 75% consistency in the elevator pitch.

Solutions:

  • Assess your sales management team to identify the variance in strategy alignment and the messaging being communicated by the sales team.
  • Communicate, train and coach sales managers on how to effectively deliver the brand promise, the value proposition and the elevator pitch.
  • Get sales management and marketing to work with the relationship managers to make sure they know the promise of the organization and can effectively communicate it to one another and to the market place. (Training sessions that include drill-for-skill and role-playing are useful.)
  • Have sales managers perform joint calls with relationship managers so that they can observe and critique delivery of the message.
  • Create and embed email templates within your CRM system that RMs may use when communicating to suspects, prospects and clients.
  • Overstate the brand promise in sales meetings.

The First Moment of Truth isn’t what it used to be. I’ve quoted this research before, The Zero Moment of Truth (ebook), because it helps companies understand that the buying process has changed dramatically.  The first moment of truth in the selling/buying process used to be initiated by a sales person.  That is hardly the case anymore because sales people simply cannot get to influencers and decision makers any more.  The buyers are either out or busy! Buyers today begin the buying process when they are stimulated by something they have seen, heard or read via the dozens of access points they have via the digital / technology / internet age.

The first moment of truth for your sales people today may in fact be the first time they’ve had the chance to talk to a suspect but what they don’t know, probably never knew, is if the buyer is an active or inactive buyer and has already begun the process.  This person may already be in the ‘Awareness’ stage of their buying journey and maybe in the middle of their “Assessment Stage’ of their buying journey.  Identifying the stage is more important then finding ‘pain’ in this first moment of truth.

Solutions:

  • Stop thinking about your sales process to improve converting leads to opportunities
  • Identify the buying process of your market place and match your approach to working with them to that buying process
  • Understand that in order to get someone to move your sales people from the assessment stage to the buyers decision stage they have to be more informative. Informative about things that they buyers doesn’t already know.
  • This doesn’t mean ‘pitch’ them on the features and benefits of your products or solutions.
  • This does mean that your people have to be better at providing useful information, becoming a resource for business solutions and guiding prospects through their buying stages

The world of buying has changed.  It’s time to change the world of selling.

How well does your team measure against your industry?  Assess your salespeople on the 21 core selling competencies.

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You Can't Handle the Truth

Tags: sales prospects, sales leads, generating leads, increase sales leads,, how to prospect

At some point that title won’t make me think of the great Jack Nicholson and his role as Colonel Nathan Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men” … but it is safe to say that point in time is a long way off for me. It is one of my all time favorite movies.  For now, that famous line from Colonel Jessup has me thinking about how selling has changed so dramatically even within the last few years.

So, if you can handle the truth, here is the truth:  selling has changed…but salespeople have not.

There are two significant changes that have swept over the sales landscape:

  1. The buyer is initiating the sales process…what HubSpot refers to as the buyer’s journey.
  2. The buyer is further along in their thinking than ever before.

The first change brings to mind the 2011 Google eBook titled “ZMOT”.  ZMOT is an acronym standing for the Zero Moment of Truth and is defined as the exact moment in the sales cycle that is between the stimulus (how the prospect became aware of a product) and the first moment of truth (a P&G term referring to the decision to make a purchase).  In short, ZMOT refers to the point in time where the buyer is researching a product or service offering and the seller is completely unaware of the buyer’s actions.

Here is a quote from the Google book:

“If you’re available at the Zero Moment of Truth, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying.” (ZMOT, 2011)

So, it all comes down to three simple questions:

  1. Is your company winning or losing at the Zero Moment of Truth?
  2. How do you know that?
  3. What are you going to do about it?

It is inarguable that more and more buyers are finding and researching options online before they ever talk to a salesperson.  Some estimates have YouTube doing 3,000,000,000 searches each month and uploading 100 hours of video every 60 seconds.  And if they can’t find you…when they are looking for you…even if you don’t know they are looking are for you…. you are losing the Zero Moment of Truth.

As Colonel Jessup would ask “We live in a world full of prospects…who’s going to call them?  You?  They may have already passed their Zero Moment of Truth."

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Hitting Your Sales Goals – 3 Challenges to Overcome

Tags: Prospecting, sales goals, sales prospects, qualified leads, sales leads, generating leads

In the last 30 days, I’ve talked to more than a dozen company executives, sales people and sales managers.  I’ve asked them “What is the #1 constrictor to hitting your sales goals?”  The answer every time was: getting more qualified leads.  I know this is not a large sampling and I would be concerned about the validity of this finding if only 25% of them said that getting more qualified leads was the main problem. But that isn’t the case.  The consistency of answer in this survey indicates a trend to focus on.

There is further validation of the current finding:

During training discussions over the course of more than 20 years, I’ve asked sales executives, presidents and sales teams to complete the following statement:  I (we) would sell more, be more productive, more effective if only I (we) …  The #1 most common answer consistently over the years has been “If I had more / better prospects to call on.”

In order to address the problem of gettin more qualified leads, sales leaders and salespeople need to first understand these three challenges:

  1. Will to Sell
  2. Sales DNA
  3. Sales Skills

Let me use an example to explain.  We are currently working with a financial institution that is hiring a new private banker in an expanded market.  Using the pre-hire assessment from our partner Objective Management Group, we created a ‘tailored fit model’ based on the performance of the top and bottom current private bankers and then assessed the 5 candidates they were still considering.

Take a look at these findings:

Figure 1 – How well did the candidates match the clients’ work history criteria for success?  The client created a profile that indicated that the non-negotiable sale success criteria where: 1) must be competition resistant (successfully sold in a competitive environment), 2) Successfully sold value rather than price, 3) Sold to executives, 4) Has successfully hunted and sold new business (this addresses challenge #3 sales skills – specifically skills for hunting/ prospecting), 5) Is an entrepreneurial seller.  As you can see all the candidates being considered marginally met the client criteria for success with 3 of the 5 having an 80% match.

But when we look at the other findings, we find the 3 challenges most common to organizations that are trying to consistently hit / exceed their sales goals.

Figure #2 -When we look at Challenge #1 – ‘Will to Sell’ we find the following:

Only 1 candidate meets all the criteria for Will To Sell. The question becomes:  How important is the will to sell when attempting to overcome the challenges of finding qualified prospects to talk to? If 1/3 of your current team lacks the will to sell what is the likelihood  - despite all the ‘prospecting’ training you provide them – that they will actually execute?  Also note that one of the candidates with strong desire, commitment and outlook will still be prone to making excuses for not prospecting, asking for introductions and networking. (Desire for Sales Success)

Figure #3 – Sales DNA (Sales DNA Audio) findings for the 5 candidates looked like this:

This post won’t go into the definitions of all the criteria you see here but understand that green is good and red is not so good.  If you look to the right of the graph and look at the Total Sales DNA the scores in green and red told our client what they needed to know.  If everything else is equal in the equation then your people with strong sales DNA are more likely to do the activity of prospecting and will be more successful.

*Candidate #2 meets the criteria of the client, has a very strong will to sell and has the highest sales DNA score.  How many of the people on your sales team measure up to this ‘elite’ candidate?

The world of selling is certainly different today than it was just 5 years ago.  Your prospects in the market place have more ways to find more information about you, your products and services. They have more ways to compare you against your competition and all of this happens without you or your sales people even making contact.  (See ZMOT – Google Research – Zero Moment of Truth).

To meet the challenges of today, you need a sales team with the right stuff.

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How Do You Turn “Old Farts” Into Sales Legends?  Not So Easy 1, 2, 3

Tags: Effective Coaching, sales tips, getting better sales results, sales producers

I doubt that you, in public, have a group of producers that you call ‘old farts’ or some other term of endearment.  But what I really wonder is this; Do you have a group that you consider ‘Sales Legends’.  My guess is that the answer is no.  There are reasons for this.

producers, sales legends, sales strategy, top producers

Before I provide suggestions for a solution, let me explain the title:  I recently played in a member guest golf tournament at Triple Crown Country Club with my good friend Jerry Barron.  I’ve known for a long time that since his retirement Jerry plays a lot of golf with his buddies on a regular schedule throughout the golf season. What I didn’t know is that for many years this group was known as the “Old Farts’ gang.  Apparently some people thought that this was a bit insensitive so the pro decided that the group would become known as “The Legends”.

This got me thinking about many of the sales teams we work with and the problems associated with growing revenue when a segment of the sales population isn’t motivated to or can’t grow their book.

The problem associated with the ‘old fart’ team really isn’t about age but rather about three very distinct phases in a sales person’s career.  These phases include but are not limited to those that have been with you a long time and are survivors. Those that do manage a large book of revenue and spend a great deal of time ‘managing the book’ and either cannot or will not grow the book.  And finally you have some people that really are ready to retire but haven’t told anyone yet. Let me clarify these 3:

  • The Survivor: Those who have been with your organization for a long time and who have survived the ups and downs of economic swings and changes in your (re-engineered / right sized) company. These people have stayed just off the radar and when ever talent discussions come up they survive the discussion:  “What do we do with…?”
  • Large Account Managers: The next challenge is with those in the sales population who handle a couple of key accounts or control a large book of revenue that you really don’t want to lose. These people hold you “hostage”.  Your rationalization is that you are afraid that the business will go with them if they leave or you justify keeping them while saying ‘They cover their compensation so they really aren’t costing me anything.”
  • Retired On The Job: Finally you have people who are in fact in the later years of their careers and don’t have the same ‘fire in the belly’ that they did when they first started.  They are empty nesters, have a solid retirement plan, generate a comfortable income from the incentive comp plan and also conveniently may hold the opinion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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Case Study:  Why Retiring on the job is a problem for sales companies.  An insurance agency had a group of mature producers who controlled a revenue block of 5,000,000 dollars in revenue.  The holding company of this agency set a growth goal for this market as well as it’s other markets around the country at 20% gross growth per year  (The company made assumptions of 5% unknown losses in revenue and 10% known loses – non-recurring revenue streams.)  This group of mature producers had stopped producing new business and had no motivation to do so.  That meant that the 1,000,000 dollars of growth on the 5,000,000 dollars had to be produced by the rest of the group who struggled to grow their own book!).

Let’s look at some outside-the-box ideas to build a plan to have a team of legends who leaves a legacy of desire and commitment to excellence and a team of rookies who has the right stuff to grow your sales.

Do This 1 Thing: Eliminate sales goals for them and in exchange, change their comp model to one that is appropriate for managing accounts plus an incentive. 

Do These 2 Things:

  • Take the top 1/3 of their book and make it clear that in order to qualify for the maximize incentive comp as an account manager they will be responsible for maintaining their newly assigned book of business at 100%. (1/3 of their book, 33% will equal approximately 90% of their revenue.). 
  • To maintain the book at 100% they will have to engage organizational partners, look for opportunities to discuss other product offerings AND ask these BEST of the BEST for introductions.

This is something that institutions and agencies have attempted to do for years but have failed.  (See data and resources below.)

Do These 3 Things: 

  • Hire a ‘junior’ producer, officer, or advisor and assign the remaining two thirds of the original book to them. The balance of their compensation comes from an incentive formula associated with new sales and cross selling. This person has the responsibility for growing the remaining book and supporting the “Legend”.
  • Establish metrics and ‘high’ standards of performance that will be used to determine success for both parties (entire organization).
  • Implement a performance management culture where mediocrity is not accepted, excuses for lack of effort will not be tolerated and data will be used to gain business insights so your sales manager can conduct 1-on-1 intentional coaching sessions.

I recognize the potential fatal flaw in these steps:  Your high producer might be tempted to take an offer from a competitor that is poaching top talent by offering attractive financial packages to lure them.  The questions you have to ask are:

  • How well has that strategy worked for you in the past?
  • What problems do you inherit when you’ve hired a high priced producer?
  • Does the book of business and list of clients they promise ever show up?
  • How well have you treated your top people all along?
  • When people have left you for greener pastures have you ever heard stories that the promises made to them didn’t come true?

Extra Help – From HBRGiving Top Performers Feedback – A Key to Keeping That Talent With YOU!

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The Power of Sales Stories

Tags: sales stories

Guest Post by Mark Trinkle, President & CSO

Now that my daughter has reached her teens, our daughter-dad relationship has changed quite dramatically.  Yes, I knew it was coming.  Yes, I wish I could go back and get back some of that time again when she thought I was more of a superhero than today when at times she thinks I can be a super dork.  And yes, I was not prepared for the drama that surrounds teenage girls.

But I digress. One of my fondest memories of her toddler years was her request at bedtime that I tell her a story.  Some of them I read to her; but the ones that she loved the most were the ones that I made up.  Those stories captivated her attention…and, on occasion, actually made her fall off to sleep.

The same thing happens with salespeople…and with prospects…when sales stories are told.  One of the most powerful advantages to storytelling is that stories provide what Peter Guber described as emotional transportation.  Stories captivate attention.  Stories, when properly told, are capable of moving prospects from their current state to a preferred state down the road.  Perhaps you have heard it said that if you are telling, then you ain’t selling.  But, of course, we know at Anthony Cole Training Group that telling is the default mode for most salespeople.

I still remember the immortal words of Walt Gerano, one of our sales coaches in our organization.  Walt once said, “Weak salespeople prefer to tell what strong salespeople prefer to ask.”  He was speaking of the supreme importance of asking questions. Not just any question, but fierce questions – questions that are courageous and direct…questions that help the salesperson paint a story instead of data dumping a bunch of facts.

So, think about that next time you go on a sales call.  What kind of sales story could you tell?

Remember, if you huff and you puff, you can blow the house down.

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.  And let us know if we can help your team with an upcoming workshop.  We will go deep on the subject of how important sales stories are in selling.

Find Out More about our Fall Sales Workshops

Motivating Salespeople Involves Knowing Them

Tags: motivating sales people, sales motivation

How well can you relate to the following situations: producers not meeting sales expectations, there aren't enough opportunities in the pipeline, too few of the people are carrying the sales production load for the entire team? In almost every sales organization, these three situations exist no matter how many sales meetings are held, what CRM system is used or how closely the sales team is managed- these problems persist.

Now, why does this happen? Is it because your salespeople aren’t armed with the right tools to go out, find and close business? Nope. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the required skills? Possibly yes. Maybe they just don’t care about their own success? Or maybe it's because YOU don't care enough about their success.

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That seems harsh, I know, but let me explain. According to the article "You Can't Lead People You Don't Know", written by Jim Bouchard, creator of Black Belt Mindset Productions, less than half of the leaders they work with report knowing the people who report to them. They obviously know the role that they play and the features of their job, but they admit to not knowing them on a personal level. So, my question is this: how can you expect to motivate someone to meet sales expectations, generate opportunities and produce results when you don’t know them? You don’t know what drives them, what gets them out of bed in the morning. Your salespeople don’t care about shareholder value and year over year growth of the division or the department. They care about their kids in school, paying off college debt, building a deck on the back of the house, saving for the wedding, the vacation home and the retirement years. That is their sales motivation. 

Our partners at Objective Management Group believe that there are three ways people are motivated- altruistically, intrinsically and extrinsically. Salespeople who have altruistic motivation are those who care more about the success and well-being of those around them. They are more relationship focused and they thrive off of doing great work for the benefit of others. Intrinsically motivated salespeople find motivation in the praise that they receive for a job well-done. And those that are extrinsically motivated are considered the “original salesperson”- they’re motivated by making money. The point is you obviously need to know your salespeople personally in order to understand what motivates them to succeed.

So, what do you do now?

First, watch this short video featuring Tony Cole on the importance of motivation and personal goals. Next, create an environment where your salespeople believe their dreams can come true. You foster the ability to pursue those things that are near and dear to their heart. You create a recognition program (or incentive process) that recognizes the things that are important to them. You find a way to mesh what they want, with want you want (more sales) and what is required in their role. Motivating your salespeople is crucial for the success of your organization, so go out and meet your team. Learn what is important to them. Discover what drives them so you know how to drive their success.

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