Sales & Sales Management Expertise

What to Stop, Start and Keep Doing to Drive Sales Growth (part 2 of 3)                       What to Start Doing:

Start focusing on helping people get more of what they want: I don’t remember the time or place but I remember the message; “If you help more people get what they want you’ll get more of what you want.” Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay on compensation alludes to the law of the universe. The law of the universe fundamentally means that you can neither add nor take from the whole of the universe. If that’s the case and you spend time and energy trying to get more out of the universe then start putting more into it.

Start spending more time on recruiting: One of the reasons managers end up with the wrong people (this is just one of the many reasons) is that they are reactive instead of proactive. When you are reactive you feel desperate, you cut corners, you allow for a wider margin of error and you take on the belief that a warm body is better than no body in the seat.

Start effective performance management: Gathering data in Sales Force or any other database is not performance management. Sending out reports on pipelines and production results is not performance management. Having and implementing a PIP process is not performance management. Performance management is having multiple data points to assess behavior, skill and performance. Then using that data to develop business intelligence for intentional coaching. Performance management is about helping people succeed rather than processing their exit.

Start coaching: Coaching is getting the sale pushed through the pipeline to closure. Coaching to change behavior and improve skill is what builds the foundation for long-term growth and success of your people and team.

Start making your bottom better: Assume for a minute that you have a sizable sales team; one that has more than 10 people. If you break the group down into quintiles you have 5 groups of 2. Each of the groups performs at a certain level. Understand that you will always have a top quintile and a bottom quintile. All the Jack Welch ‘fire the bottom 10%’ in the world will not actually eliminate the bottom 10%. If you have 10 people there is always going to be someone who is number 10, or last in the ranking. However, each quintile this year ought to out perform the quintiles of last year. Manage to that objective and you blow your numbers away.


Start accepting responsibility for results and start making your people do the same: On the stop list was “stop making excuses”. It’s only logical on this list I would include “start taking responsibility”. Own your outcomes. Make your salespeople own their outcomes. If they have no one to blame they will find a solution or be forced to leave.

Start getting your people to think ‘extraordinarily’: The standard in too many organizations for too many managers and too many sales people is this: ‘Just enough is good enough’. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) proves this. Implement a goal setting and work plan development strategy.

Start planning and executing effective sales meetings: Did you attend sales meetings that were boring and ineffective? How good are yours today? Do people miss or find excuses/reasons to not be there, come late, and leave early? Do you find that the sales meetings are having ZERO impact on attitude, activity, performance and results? If they are not having an impact then just stop doing them. If they are something that you are committed to doing then act like they are more important than any meeting you have. Prepare as if your job depended on it!

Start each year with individual ‘work’ plans already in place: Time and again I hear sales managers working with their sales people on business plans in December. This makes sense ONLY if you have a 30-day sales cycle. For most B2B sales the cycle is a bit longer. If your cycle is 90-days then the business/work plan for the coming year should be completed in September.

Start: Already I’ve given you the STOP DOING list. That is easier to execute. Watch Bob Newhart YouTube video Stop it! START DOING is tougher because there are a lot of things to start doing. Take this a bite at a time but start today.


Additional resources:

Personal goal and work plan development – Workshop

Where’s WaldoPerformance Management Power Point

Are my people motivated?Sample Sales Force Evaluation


What Would You Do with a Non-Performing Stock?

Tags: sales management, sales metrics

Suppose… you had a non-performing stock (salesperson).

If you had a stock that hadn’t performed as expected, how long would you hold onto it? Six months, a year, 18 months? Maybe it’s performing like the rest of the stocks in a similar portfolio but not growing as you expected. What do you do with that individual stock? What do you do to the entire portfolio when it’s under-performing?

The answer is simple – you manage it!

As portfolio manager, you:

  • Set metrics for success and standards for each of those metrics.
  • Conduct research/due diligence to make sure that you are adding investments to the portfolio that are consistent with your investment and long term financial goals and risk standards (Cash, Income, Income with growth, Aggressive growth, International growth or a Hybrid)
  • Determine your strategy on buy, hold or sell
  • Establish a method of inspecting what you expect
  • Gain intelligence from the information you gather from quarterly reports and you determine next steps
  • You either buy, hold or sell based on the information you have and the impact that an investment is having on your ability to achieve your goals

What can be accepted as true is that every portfolio is perfectly designed for the results it generates. There is cause and effect. If you are not happy with your results, you change your objectives or portfolio management strategy, right?

Well then, how about the portfolio of investment advisors you have on your team? As program/sales manager you have objectives that you have set out for the entire team/portfolio and when you added investments (people) you had performance expectations. Based on performance, what has to change if anything? Are individual performers pulling their weight or are they a drag on the performance of the team? When you assess your investment in each of the individuals on the team, where do you need to buy, hold or sell? Finally, when you assess the managers managing the portfolio, how effective are they?

You have the awesome responsibility to the stakeholders to put together the best portfolio in order to maximize return on investment. Failure to do so creates a failure in fiduciary responsibility.

See you tomorrow.

What to Stop, Start and Keep Doing to Drive Sales Growth (Part 1 of 3)

Tags: managing sales people, Sales Growth


What to STOP Doing:

Stop Worrying About Sales Production!

You can stop worrying if you do the things you should be doing as a sales executive/sales manager. Understand that “doing” doesn’t always mean “start doing”. It does mean that you should stop doing certain things. Bob Newhart in this YouTube video clip coaches this concept very well. Start the start doing by watching this video. Go ahead… I’ll wait…

Stop It!

Stop Recruiting the Wrong People: You know what they look like, act like and sound like. You see it in the current team you have today. Take a look at performance records, daily activity, improvement in skill and you know which people you have that are/were hiring mistakes.

Stop Collecting Data: You are probably collecting data and one of two (maybe three) things is happening: 1) You are doing nothing with the data. In other words, you aren’t taking the time to derive business intelligence from the information. 2) You are only collecting lagging indicator information – pipeline and sales. Neither accurately predicts the future success of an individual performer or the team as a whole. 3) Your coaching from the information is ineffective. Telling someone they need to make more calls, see more people or increase their average size sale isn’t coaching. It’s reporting the weather.

Stop Assuming You are Hiring Nothing but Skilled/Experienced Sales People that Can Get the Job Done: Yes, they might have the experience and they might have a track record. Remember this: sales people are like mutual fund investing – past results are no guarantee of future results. AND even the best require some level of performance management and coaching.

Stop Thinking that “Coaching the Deal” is the Same as Effective Coaching: I come from an athletic background. I played and coached football from the age of 9 to 22. I can probably figure out all the competitive games I played, but I cannot count the number of practices and time outs. Practice is where you coach to improve skill and change behavior. Time outs are for coaching in the moment – to help move a deal or close the deal. They are not the same – don’t treat them that way!

Stop Making and Accepting Excuses: Excuses are the answers to the performance questions of why or how come. When you are attempting to find out from a sales person why the results are not as planned, an excuse maker will blame you, the company, the economy, the pricing, the competition or the dog that used to eat their homework. Stop lowering the bar of acceptable behavior and stop accepting excuses. ALSO stop taking bullets for those that are not performing. Simply admit that you are not developing, coaching, or motivating them appropriately. Or admit that you made a hiring mistake.

Stop Setting Goals from the Top Down: It is not motivational; it doesn’t create ownership and it actually sets up a discussion somewhere over the next 12 months that sounds like – “It wasn’t my goal to begin with” or “I never agreed to that goal.”

Stop Conducting Sales Meetings that People Miss or Want to Miss: Sales meetings should be about selling. Effective sales meetings have 3 rules: 1) Make it a meeting that no one ever misses or finds reasons to miss, show up late or leave early. 2) Focus on nothing but sales –such as ops meetings or emails for ops and administrative issues. 3) Provide  ideas or information that they can leave the meeting with and use RIGHT NOW to drive more sales.

Stop Accepting Mediocre Performance: How do I know you do this? I know this because you probably have a performance chart that looks like a bell curve. You have 3 to 4 standard deviations from the median consisting of people that are underperforming. Your sales results probably resemble the 80/20 rule. But that isn’t unusual. As a matter of fact, it would be expected. You have people on your team that are close to retirement, so their goals may not be as high as middle career sales people. You have new hires that are to the left of the bell curve. But, my guess is that you have others populating the middle of the bell that are simply failing and continue to fail because you let them.

Come back to see the next step – START DOING!

Why Sales Practice is Important

Tags: sales practice, highly successful sales people

Sales managers, why is it important to practice sales skills?

I watched two field goal kickers kick the ball in the closing minutes of two different games this past weekend. If you’re not a football fan, you probably don’t care about this but you may have heard about it. One kicker kicked a 35 yard winning field goal with 14 seconds left in the game. The other kicker missed a 27 yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the game. One team moved on the other went home.

I don’t know anything about the habits of these two kickers. I can only speak to the kickers I saw practice when I was at the University of Connecticut, the University of Cincinnati and Iowa State University. Greg Sinay, Rich Karlis and Alex Giffords. All three of them spent HOURS on the sideline during practice kicking. Kicking down the sideline, kicking into nets, kicking over goal posts. At the end of practice we would practice ‘special teams’ where the kickers would come onto the field and kick in ‘game like’ situations.

They were prepared to do their best when they were needed the most.

Unlike other position players kickers are called on maybe 3 to 6 times depending on the game. Also sometimes they are called upon to make a play that decides the game. Very rarely are other players ever put in that position.9723670_xxl_team_hands.jpg

How often are your sales people put in a position where they need to be at their very best? How often do you have them practice so that when that moment comes they can perform at their very best? How often do you create ‘game’ situations so that they are prepared for anything a prospect ‘throws’ at them?

Effective selling is a combination of:

  • An effective, consistent approach to the market
  • A strategy to conduct sales calls that focuses on
    • Uncovering the ‘have to fix’ problems of the prospect
    • Providing a solution that fits the requirements of the prospect
    • Presenting a solution so that the prospect values the value proposition
    • Asking for and getting a decision
  • Sales skills
  • Sales DNA

With the right sales DNA, a solid approach to the market and a strategy that is proven to be effective the only piece to the puzzle left is the set of skills piece.

Like all physical and mental skills, sales skills can and will deteriorate over time if not honed. Borrowing from president Lincoln who when asked what he would do if he had 4 hours to cut down a number of trees he responded that he would spend time sharpening the axe. Abe was known as the ‘rail splitter’. He knew how to wield an axe, but he realized that occasionally the axe needed sharpening.

To improve the productivity, the effectiveness and the efficiency of your sales team make sure you spend 1 on 1 time with the and time during sales meetings to practice perfecting sales skills.


Additional resources:

On-Line Library Demo - On Demand Sales Training Content

Talent AssessmentOn-Line Sales Evaluation

Sales Management ResourcesSales Management Environment Certification

Call / Text Tony – 513 226 3913

How Did Your Sales Year Start?

Tags: sales management, improving sales results, achieving sales success

For many sales managers, the year end came to a sudden stop last Thursday as they closed the books on 2015. Yesterday, January 4th, you were back at the office kicking off a new year of sales. Depending on the type of sales you and your team are in, January results are a result of what you did at the tail end of 2015. With that in mind, how is your March, April and May shaping up?

Was your Monday a “Black Monday”? The Monday following the final game in the NFL is known as Black Monday because many head coaches lose their job for failure to manage, coach, recruit the team to success. (8 coaches lost their job.)


If you don’t know - or you’re not sure - then you’re in trouble. In most B2B sales (Dismantling the B2B sales cycle HBR article), there is at least a 30-day sales cycle. If that is the case, then December determined your January and you may have closed out last year excited about your start to 2016. Did you enjoy the last week of the year knowing you were off to a great start… or were you were worried, mad or frustrated about where you might be headed?

If you are in B2B sales, then January 4th was about making sure your Q1 was going to be on target and you were looking at leading indicators like sales activity, pipeline opportunities, sales in process and presentations scheduled for the next 30 days. If that is not what your Monday looked like, then there are a few things to consider:

If your sales cycle is 90+ days, then:

  • By the end of October you knew how good January was going to be.
  • The first week of January tells you how good April is going to be
  • If you didn’t know how good January was going to be, then there is something missing in your sales managed environment.
  • If, by the end of this week, you cannot tell your president, executive committee, CFO or board what the first quarter will produce or how April is setting up, then now is the time to put in place the right systems and processes.

Effective sales management is a combination of 5 crucial functions:

  1. Recruiting
  2. Performance Management
  3. Coaching
  4. Motivating
  5. Upgrading

Each one of these functions has associated systems and processes that allow the effective sales manager to run the operation, manage the people and provide valuable business information to those who need it. Performance management is the function we are addressing today.

An effective performance management system allows you, the manager, to accurately predict the future sales health of the organization. Unlike a mutual fund that cannot promise future results by looking at past performance, you should be able to promise future results because your systems and processes provide you real time information about what you team is doing or failing to do. With the billions of dollars being spent on CRMs (BASE Sales CRM – Better ROI than, you should, at the push of a button, get reports for leading indicators of sales:

  • Current sales activity
  • Current sales ratios
  • Reliable pipeline sales projections
  • Who is heading for failure
  • Who is on target or ahead of goal

This is what you should be getting out of your CRM. You’re not? If not, then you are always managing from behind. You are always playing catch up. You are always at a loss as to what is really going on with your sales team and you are always a bit surprised, disappointed or frustrated when the sales report comes in at the end of the week, month or quarter.

This should not be happening!

Now what? Now is a good time to take stock of 2015. Take a half-day and analyze what happened or didn’t happen. Who succeeded and why? Who failed and why? When it comes to those that failed (anyone less than 95% of goal should be considered as “failed”), my question to you is this: “When did you know?” Building the right sales managed environment and then managing that environment are keys, not the only keys, but critical keys to your 2016 success.

As you do your analysis, you must ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What am I doing or not doing that contributes to these results?
  • What must I start doing?
  • What must I keep doing?
  • What must I stop doing?

You're the head coach. The responsibility is yours. Take a look at what’s happening, make adjustments and tough decisions… and then implement the right systems and process that will drive your sales success in 2016.

Additional Resources:

Sales Management Certification

On Demand Learning and Training for Sales

The 5 BEST New Year’s Resolutions for Sales Management

Tags: sales management, managing sales, new year's resolutions

I stopped doing a formal list of New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. I don't remember when exactly… I just know that I did. Maybe I just got tired of the process of knowing that, in the end, some of the things I wrote down would get done and others were just wishful thinking.


As a sales manager or VP of Sales, I’m sure there is a long list of things you could come up with that, if committed to and executed, would lead you to great success in 2016. But what is really going to be different this year from last year? My guess is that some of the problems you need to go away in 2016 existed in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Why are they still on the list?

Here are my suggestions for resolutions in 2016 that, if and when executed, will solve most (if not all) of your sales problems.

  1. Performance management - Simply inspect what you expect and what you expect will get done.
  2. Eliminate excuses – Stop making them for your people and stop accepting them from your people.
  3. Coach your people – Focus your attention on the training and coaching that improves skills and changes behaviors.
  4. Apply the 80/20 rule to yourself – If there are 20 things you do week in and week out, there are probably only 4 to 6 that really matter. Those 4 to 6 activities generate 80% of your results. Spend 80% of your time doing those things.
  5. ABR – Always Be R You have at least 20% of your team that is not performing and are not going to perform. Fire them. In order to do that, recruiting has to be on the list of 20% of the things you do that impact results. Spend at least 20% of your time finding the right talent to do the right job.

Additional Resources:

Hire Better Sales People – Link to a program to eliminate hiring mistakes

Sales Management Certification – Become a better sales manager

9 Keys to Successful Sales Management – A primer on sales management success

Text me for help – 513.226.3913 – Text “HELP” and provide your name.

Are Excuses Affecting Your Sales Success?

Tags: sales excuses, sales accountability

  • The traffic was backed up.
  • The client hasn’t gotten back to me with the information.
  • My support staff hasn’t prepared the documents yet.
  • I’ve been here less than a year, I inherited the current sales team.
  • The leads I get from my internal partners are not very good.


Today, I’m addressing the salespeople and the sales managers who follow us in social media and listen to our weekly audio postcards.  There continues to be an epidemic, a virus if you will, that has a negative impact on results and productivity.  The symptoms are those that I stated in the beginning of this message.  The “reasons” given for lack of results are too often thrown about and accepted as reasonable explanations.  The problem is, though the conditions may exist that make it difficult to accomplish a task or reach a goal, the explanations are just excuses for failure.

A friend of mine, Whitey Kollmeier, president of the First National Insurance Agency, gave me a audio book titled, The Hard Thing about the Hard Things.  One of the comments made early on by the author is the following:

“The first tragedy of failure is truth.”


I get what Ben Horowitz is saying. I see it and hear it day in and day out when talking to my clients and prospects.  Everyone seems to want to blame someone or something when goals, ambitions or objectives are not achieved. The bottom line though is that - instead of finding a way over, under, around or through the obstacle - people just throw up their hands and say, “not my fault”.

The problem with making and accepting excuses is that the barriers to success never get broadened or broken.  The excuses become kind of like the invisible fence for pets.  The pet wears a collar that provides a slight correction when they get to the electrified underground wire.  They stop just short of the invisible fence, never willing to go through the pain of reaping the reward of what might just be on the other side of the fence.  You may want that for your pets, but do you really want that for yourself or your sales team?

You may not realize this, but that is costing you and your family or company a lot - a lot of time, money, energy and or resources.  It’s costing your freedom of choice and freedom of time.  It’s costing your dreams.  Instead of accepting the “reasons” as real, properly address them as excuses and ask yourself this:  If I didn’t use that as an excuse, what would I do differently?

As always, thank you and have a perfect day.

Are You on the Right Track?

Tags: meeting sales goals, setting sales goals

A guest post by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Let’s talk about getting on and staying on the right track.

If you are like most of us, at the end of December, you evaluate your results and then built a success formula for the type of year you need to have next year. My question is, have you built a success formula that is destined for failure?

Of course, none of us start out with the intention of failing; we just never looked to see if the train was coming!

Success formulas are great because they force us to identify certain behaviors that we need to execute week in and week out to achieve our goals. But, they cannot exist in a vacuum. Things change, and when they do, we need to change as well.

I want to share a few ideas on small changes to your success formula that can make a big difference at the end of the year.

First of all, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are doing the minimum activity on the front end, so this isn’t a call more/run faster conversation.

    • Consider prospecting for an account size that is 10% above your current target.
    • What if you improved your qualifying so that you converted just one more meetings into an opportunity each month?
    • What if you made one more telephone call each day? That’s over 200 more calls per year. Even if your technique didn’t improve (but it would), how many more opportunities would that create?
    • What about skill development? Getting better at asking for introductions, your compelling reasons for someone to do business with you.

You should evaluate every month not just how you are doing (results) but what you are doing (behaviors). Every month, answer these four questions.

    1. Do I have the right metrics? In other words, am I tracking the right behaviors that support my revenue objective?
    2. Am I performing with the right frequency? This would involve enough calls, 1st base meetings and asking for introductions.
    3. Am I performing at a high skill level? Is my message compelling? Am I asking questions that help the prospect to discover some compelling issue? Am I listening or just waiting until it’s my turn to talk? Do I prepare a pre-call plan with each prospect in mind?
    4. What do I need to stop doing? Do I confuse busy with a sense of accomplishment? We can all find things to do in order to avoid what we must do.

Just a few of the right changes could make all the difference when you get to next December. All aboard for a great new year!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tags: managing sales people, meeting sales goals, setting sales goals


Time to Make Sure that You have Set Your Goals for 2016!

When asked, most sales managers say that one of their greatest challenges is their ability to motivate their salespeople. If a sales manager can figure out what makes his people “tick”, he can better help them hit their goal numbers. Motivation seems like hard work because salespeople often value different things. There are however, several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating environment.

The first step is to recognize that motivation is an “inside-out’ job. When the topic of motivation is discussed, we typically think about incentive compensation, sales contests and recognition programs. All of these certainly encourage sales teams to focus on generating new business because these are rewards. However, you will gain true engagement and enthusiasm if you create an every-day environment which encourages each individual to identify and visualize his own internal motivation.

Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid? The bottom two largest tiers are Physiological and Safety because these are the most basic needs of every individual. This same concept holds true for new salespeople. Hopefully they will make their way up to self-actualization at some point, but they must first have income for food, shelter, safety, etc. Only once they realize they have attained all of these basic necessities and have established a cushion, can they turn attention to the higher tiers of Self-Actualization and the bigger dreams and goals to which they might aspire.

To put it another way, salespeople do not care about corporate shareholder value unless they are shareholders themselves. What they care about is food, shelter, clothing, recognition, paying for college education or wedding, buying a vacation home, etc. These are personal desires and make up the vast majority of things that are important to people. So the solution is to create an environment where this internal motivation can take place. See The Dream Manager book by Michael Kelly.

This means that it is up to you to help your salespeople identify what is important to them. Make the effort to set up time off-site that is dedicated to planning and spend time developing each individual’s dreams and goals. This is time that you will spend ON your business instead of in it. Take a day or two that will help you and your team take a giant step forward to plan for the future.

Create a process where people can establish personal goals because this is where true motivation, passion and desire are born. Hence, it is from this process that each salesperson’s business plan must evolve.

You might position this process as though you are the coach and the salespeople are players on a competitive baseball team. Each of you has a part to play so that the whole team wins. When someone objects to the dream building exercises by saying something like “You are just going to provide a goal for me anyway so why do I have to do this?”, tell him that, as with a baseball team, each player must excel at his job so that the team can win and go to play-offs.

Say to him or her “Pretend that you are my ace shortstop and you want to be the best shortstop in the league. As coach I will do everything I can to help you attain this goal. But understand that I too have goals and my biggest is that we get to the World Series. We are working together, heading in the same, not different directions, to accomplish the same goals. This is a win-win for both of us.”

Salespeople will understand this. If someone does not get this, he or she may not be suited for selling. Selling requires desire, commitment and a need to win. Selling is a competition.

Create an environment where people get a chance to unplug, sit down and outline their goals and dreams; a time when both of you can establish timeframes and attach financial values to these items. Once you have attached financial values, you will know what level of prospecting and selling activity is necessary for each salesperson.

Reward yourself and your people when they have a success. Many years ago, when just my wife and I were running ACTG, we celebrated every time we sold a new account. But over the past 20+ years, selling new accounts has become business-as-usual. We stopped celebrating our successes along the way. So, as your people go through this process and identify their goals, as you sit down and establish your own personal goals, be sure to specify how you will reward yourself and your people as each of you achieve these goals.

Download Tony Cole’s eBook The Extraordinary Sales Manager

Addtional Resources:

Need help setting goals? Get YOUR copy of our Goal Setting Toolkit!

Effective Selling - Are You a Good Pitcher?

Tags: closing sales, effective selling, sales pitch

Great closing pitchers get batters out. They always don't get people to strike out. Sometimes runners get on base, but then the next batter hits into a double play and now there are two outs and no one on base. The third batter hits a fly ball to the outfield, the outfielder catches the ball – ballgame. Another save for the closer.

Everything started with the pitch; the same is true in effective selling. Take a look at the cartoon from the Cincinnati Enquirer in November of this year:


Lt. Fuzz is the salesperson. Imagine you are Lt. Fuzz and you are calling the general on the phone instead of face-to-face. Or you are meeting someone on the chicken dinner tour and you are introducing yourself and what you do. Your initial “pitch” is “I have some nifty ideas that will do -, I’d like to come by and show you/tell you more about how this can save you money, improve effectiveness, reduce risk…”

Until you identify a benefit that benefits the prospect directly – something that has personal impact/appeal - then your pitch will miss the mark.

Several years ago, I heard Matt Hogan talk about the concept of “thinking presidentially.” I have often shared this concept with sales people and sales managers over the years during training sessions and keynote speeches. The idea is to think like the president of the company you are calling on.

Think about the things that matter most to the president. Yes, saving money is important, but why? Yes, reducing risk is important, but why? Yes, managing cash flow is important, but why? If you understand the why and address the why when you initiate the call, you are more likely to get the “I’m all ears” response rather than “I’m not interested.”

Additional resources:

Ted Talk – Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle of Why

Tony Cole Youtube Video – What’s Important to Your Prospect

Sales Process Grader – Is Your Sales Process Being Executed Effectively?