Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Tony Cole

Recent Posts

Go for the “No” Early in the Sales Process

Tags: qualifying prospects, dealing with objections

There are multiple keys to successful selling. In a blog from last July, I discuss 5 very important activities that drive sales success! Any discussion about successful selling has to include your productivity and effectiveness as well as closing more business. But working harder isn’t always the answer to selling more. Being more productive and effective in your work will lead to more sales and more profitable sales.

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stop in the name of love

One of the keys for more effective selling is going for the ‘no’ early in the sales process. I learned this concept years ago especially when I was vulnerable to ‘think it overs’ (TIO). I would get ‘think it overs’ at several stages in the sales process and maybe you get them as well:

  • On the initial phone call when you’re trying to get an appointment – “Let me think it over, give me a call next week.”
  • At the end of your initial meeting – “This sounds really good and something I should consider. Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days.”
  • When you finish your presentation and you ask for the sale. “You made a very compelling presentation and we are impressed with your depth of knowledge and your very creative solutions to our problems. Let us meet as a group and go over this one more time and crunch some numbers.  Let’s plan on talking next week.”

Sound familiar?

Of course it does and these ‘think if overs’ are what is keeping you from being more effective in your sales process. That’s nice to know or consider but the question becomes, “What do I do about it?” (click here to listen to a 3-minute audio clip on eliminating TIO)

As I learned early on is to get ‘no’ as soon as you can. What is important to understand about getting ‘think it overs’ is the mindset of your potential buyer. Your potential buyer will tell you that they need to think it over because:

  • They really don’t intend on making any changes but you impressed them with some information that they want to take to their current provider and see if they can do what you can do.
  • They have a need for approval and instead of telling you they are not interested they want to let you down easy. Telling you they want to think it over gives you hope and get’s them off of the hook until the next time you talk.

To fix the problem, eliminate ‘think it over’ as an option. Let your prospect know that when you finish the next meeting, next conversation, the final presentation, they will have everything they need to make a decision. You can tell them that you will be prepared to answer all of their questions and when you are finished, they will be in a position to make a decision- yes or no. Then simply ask what objections they have to that process.

This one key will help you close more business, more quickly at higher margins.

For more tips on how to uncover a prospects real reason for wanting to 'TIO' watch our Sales Guy Unplugged video on the "Question Behind the Question".

Prospecting or Selling: Which One Really Drives Sales Growth?

Tags: introductions, Sales Growth

I’m stuck this morning. I’m reading “Building A Story Brand” by Don Miller and I'm looking over my own book “The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written”.  Don points out in chapter 7 that in order to get a prospect to push the ‘buy now’ button they have to trust that everything is going to turn out okay. That means that they have to trust you and everything you’ve said and presented to them. That’s a tall order if you are selling high-ticket items.

In my book, I just read the intro to Chapter 11 where I recount a meeting with Ron Rose at a Cincinnati GAMA meeting. I was a rookie in the Insurance business where Ron, on the other hand, was a 30-year veteran and multi-year MDRT (Million Dollar Roundtable) agent. I asked him what his best method for gaining prospects was and he took me through a series of questions that started with: “If I had your family locked up in a closet with a bomb, that was going to go off in 24 hours if you didn’t make a sale, who would you call on first?” I said, “somebody I already know”.

And that’s how I got stuck. 

Over the last 25 years, I have literally spent thousands of hours learning more and more about how to; build a sales practice, craft a strong sales message, present solutions to get people to say yes and more effectively guide my prospects through their buying process. Having said that, there are very few books, articles or presentations I’ve read that didn’t address prospecting. I’m in the middle of writing a script for our Instructor Lead Training Session on Getting Introductions. In the process of writing the script, I googled ‘Getting Introductions-- Tony Cole’ to see what else I may have written about the subject and that search took me to my book.

And that's where I got stuck.

7125889_xl shaking hands

You see, in Don’s book he points out that in order to help someone with the trust issue you have to provide your prospect with a plan. A plan that helps them arrive at the ‘buy now’ button on their own. Or a plan that helps them feel more confident after they’ve pushed the ‘buy now’ button. He used the analogy of putting down stones for the prospect to cross a creek.

That lead me to think about you and your sales approach. It caused me to stop and ask this question – what is your test drive? How do you help people get comfortable enough with you and your process so that the anxiety of making a mistake is minimized?  Imagine you’re buying a $50,000.00 vehicle without a test drive. Now put the number at $500,000.00.

And that is where I got unstuck.

Imagine how much easier it is for any prospect of yours to make a decision if you made it a habit of getting introduced to the person that is eventually going to ask you to write a check for $500,000.00. Doesn’t getting introduced eliminate some of the anxiety and stress because someone you already trust and have confidence in has taken the test drive?

If you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company’s Sales Growth Opportunity Gap“.

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G2- Two Requirements to Close the Sales Opportunity Gap

Tags: Sales Growth, reaching sales goals

There is a sales production target out there – somewhere. It’s different for every person and every organization but it’s out there. And for every person and every organization there is the actual sales production result that is being achieved today. That is the Sales Opportunity Gap. 

If you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast

The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company’s Sales Growth Opportunity Gap“.

As I have mentioned in recent articles, How Do Extraordinary Financial Planners Close The Sales Opportunity Gap and The Gap Analysis Between Your Best Sales People and the Rest, the Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis is the guide that makes you the hero to close the sales growth opportunity gap. Those findings clearly lay out the current status of the sales team in these areas:

  • Will to Sell and Will to Manage Sales
  • Sales DNA, Sales Management DNA
  • Sales and Sales Management skills
  • Systems and processes that support sales growth
  • Alignment of sales, marketing and business strategies between the senior executive and management
  • Consistency in value proposition, elevator pitch and brand promise
  • Recruiting systems
  • Pipeline management and forecasting

These items are critical to understand if you ever hope to strategically and intentionally grow sales in your organization (or for yourself).

But this alone is not enough. Goals and Grind (G2) are also 2 requirements to get you from where you are to where you could be.

I'm reading Bob Rotello’sHow Champions Think in Sports and In Life”. I am in the middle of the chapter: Goals, Plans and Process. Lots of people talk about goals, goals setting and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an accountability system in place to make sure you execute the plan. But the thing that struck me about Bob’s chapter is the discussion about the GRIND.

grinding

 from Getty Images

GRIND: The grind isn’t tricky and it’s not talked about enough when it comes to discussing how to achieve a goal. The grind is the day-in and day-out stuff that you have to do to leverage your God given talents. The grind is the hard stuff, the stuff where we have a tendency to procrastinate.

The grind in Sales?

  • Making the prospecting effort
    • Email – easy
    • LinkedIn connections – easy
    • Making the call and face the rejection – the grind
  • Pre–call strategy sessions
  • Post-call debriefing sessions
  • Practicing your presentations over and over again
  • Improving your product knowledge
  • Going to training classes to improve your sales skills
  • Practicing your sales skills
  • Inputting data in your CRM
  • Going to sales meetings
  • Having 1-on-1 coaching sessions with your manager

This is the grind. This is the stuff day-in and day-out that when executed properly leads you to your definition of success. This is what leads you to accomplishing your goal. Without the grind your goal is just a dream.

Register Me for the Live Broadcast!

Coaching for Sales Success

Tags: Sales Growth, coaching salespeople

We spend a great deal of time with our clients teaching and coaching them about how to drive sales growth. The process for them is rarely easy. The reason(s) being:

  • They have their own set of beliefs about how things should or shouldn’t be done.
  • They’ve had ‘some’ success doing things the way they do things.
  • If they have a need for approval or believe that the best way to get their salespeople to perform is to get those salespeople to like them then they are not very likely to do things that might cause discomfort.
  • In many cases they’ve never been taught how to teach or coach. They’ve been taught to be great bankers, insurance brokers or investment advisors.
  • Their strengths lie in the administrative and operational duties of sales management rather in the development of people.

IF you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast "The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company's Sales Growth Opportunity Gap".

tedtalks-1

 

I was watching this Ted Talk that my friend Bill Eckstrom delivered at the University of Nevada. The title and subject of his talk was “Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life”. I hadn’t thought about the connection of comfort and coaching until I watched the video just after delivering a full day workshop to a group of bank market and sales managers.

In the session, our topics were:

In our previous sessions, we covered:

We’re covering the same content for another bank’s investment advisory group and I'm observing the same reactions and results to what we are teaching/coaching in both groups. And as I think about all of the other companies we’ve worked with over 25 years the reactions and the results are the same. 

  1. The group normally gets very uncomfortable about how and what we are teaching and coaching.
  2. They get better at what they are doing and as a by product their teams perform better.

I can say without reservation that there is a connection between discomfort and growth. If your organization is in the need of sales growth, or there is a sales growth opportunity that you have to take advantage of or leverage, then those two outcomes won’t happen unless you cause some level of discomfort.

As the Canadian Olympic coach, Peter Jensen suggests, the levels of discomfort, or the passion to pursue the opportunity, have to be extreme. If not, you remain, your people remain in the comfort zone and remaining in the comfort zone means that change/growth will not happen.

How Do Extraordinary Financial Planners Close the #Salesgrowthopportunity Gap?

Tags: consultative selling, how to improve sales, building sales team

What prompted this article was a post from Jeff Ferraris, a program manager for CUSO Financial Services in Austin,Texas. The article – "Leading With Planning: Master Financial Planning With These 6 Steps" – takes investment advisors through a best practices process to have success implementing financial plans for high net worth clients. Aside from the ‘know how’ and the licensing required, what else do your advisors need in order to be successful in their role? 

There are many answers to that question but generally speaking they need to have these sales capabilities:

  • Hunting
  • Qualifying
  • Being a Consultative Seller
  • Presenting
  • Closing
  • Farming or account managing

Need to know how your team measures up against the
best in your industry?
Click here to access Objective Management Group's Stat Finder.

I’m going to focus on the skills required for success when qualifying and selling consultatively. Below are two charts of the competencies necessary to be successful in these two capabilities.

The Qualifier Skill Set

qualifier skills

 

The Consultative Seller Skill Set

consultative skills

As you can see there are multiple skills that make up the competencies for Qualifying and Consultative skill sets. In this scenario, and not unusual in general, of the 55 salespeople evaluated, 22% of the group had enough consultative skills to be effective and only 30% had enough qualifier skills to be effective.

What impact does this lack of skill in these two areas have on investment advisors and the ability to successfully execute a strategy of using financial plans? Broker dealers that are attempting to help clients improve both the quantity and quality of their plans must get to the root cause of the problem.

Here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Qualifier Competency:

  1. Talking to the decision maker: if your investment advisor fails to meet with the decision maker– UP FRONT– then it will impact the sales cycle duration and the closing ratio.
  2. Uncomfortable talking about money: Investment advisors often don't have to worry about discussing money. If you think about the challenges your advisors face when presenting a financial solution, many don’t close opportunities for risk products because they encounter a money objection and aren’t comfortable talking through price.
  3. Self–limiting beliefs: If your advisors don’t have a financial plan, if they don’t own individual disability or long-term care insurance, if they are way under insured for life insurance, how committed do you think they will be recommending it to a client?

And here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Consultative Seller Competency:

  1. Ask enough questions– Executing the financial plan process is more than asking how much. The effective IA must ask a ton of “why” questions.
  2. Demonstrates patience– The very nature of most advisors is to close the sale they have in front of them– the transaction for the IRA roll-over. How does that support the 90-day process of financial planning? It doesn’t.
  3. Maintain healthy skepticism– If your IA believes everything the client is telling them then they will never ask about other advisors, the other assets, the real decision-making process, etc. So instead of a 6x multiple from doing plans they will pick up the easy money from the next maturing CD.

To find out more about how to effectively identify those advisors ‘wired’ for fee-based sales and financial planning, email alex@anthonycoletraining.com, subject line "tailored fit", to create your own case study by evaluating your top advisors.

What Does It Take To Be A GREAT Sales Coach?

Tags: Sales Growth, Effective Coaching, sales managed environment

Email jeni@anthonycoletraining.com to request a sample of the Coaching Findings form from the Objective Management Group’s Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis. 

Mark Trinkle, our President and CSO, suggested I read a book by Seth Davis titled “Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams.” If you are a sports fan, or a fan of stories about how athletic coaches achieve success, this is a great read for you. But what really matters about this book are the stories around how these coaches achieved success and how they continue to do it today.

Syracuse

By “do it” I mean- how do they take a collection of people and get them to sacrifice individual objectives and come together to achieve great things? You will find that there are similarities in all of the coaches when it comes to drive, passion and an obsession with the game they love. They all have their own styles, quirks and mannerisms. But the ONE big thing they all have in common? COACHING!

They all believe that in order to get talent to perform at it’s very best, to perform at the level expected of them, regular coaching is required. One coach in particular caught my attention when it came to the coaching aspect of their success. That coach is Jim Boeheim – head basketball coach at Syracuse. In the book, he makes a comment that at Syracuse they don’t have the same draw to get those McDonald's All American kids that Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Kansas have. And so, with the kids he does have, he really has to ‘coach them up.’

COACHING COMPETENCY

coaching competency

What does it take to be a great coach? First it takes managers that have the coaching competencies you see above. All 12 of these skills/behaviors are critical to effective coaching but the competency listed at the very top is the most critical! If a manager has ALL the skills but doesn’t coach and debrief consistently, then the rest doesn’t matter.

Second, you have to have a GREAT coaching environment. As you can see below, 80% of the team is coachable but only 12% of the managers believe they are respected, trusted, and have strong relationships with producers.

coaching environment

And finally, you have to have coaches that are focused on the right things:

  • Opportunity coaching
  • Coaching to challenge
  • Tactical sales
  • Strategic sales
  • Sales process

Absent coaching in these areas creates an environment where salespeople are prone to repeat mistakes over and over, fail to improve skill or change behaviors.

To reference back to Coach Boeheims' story about Syracuse- your situation is probably similar. You don’t get the chance to recruit the McDonald's All American sales dudes or dudettes. You get good people but they need coaching- and lots of it! Having said that, keep this in mind—even though Michigan, Kansas, Kentucky, UConn (Women's Basketball) and Duke get the best of the best- guess what? They still require coaching!

If you need to figure this out, to grow and reach your sales growth opportunity, sign up for our free live broadcast on "The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company's Sales Growth Opportunity". We will be sharing a research based methodology to sales management that you can execute on immediately!

Register Me for the Live Broadcast!

The Gap Analysis Between Your Best Salespeople and the Rest

How does your sales team compare to others around the world and in your industry? Click HERE for a free analysis.

Imagine being in an executive committee meeting for your company and you’re having the budget discussion. Part of that budget discussion includes revenue. Assuming that the company you are part of is a growth-oriented organization, there will be a discussion about revenue growth – part of that being organic sales growth. Our sweet spot is organic sales growth, so let’s focus on that.

Using the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA) from our partner, Objective Management Group, we help companies identify where the sales growth opportunities are within their company. The SEIA consistently answers 4 critical business questions:

  1. Can we be more effective?
  2. How much more effective can we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

SEIA chart

The findings here answer several questions. One of which is: What are our current sales capabilities? The chart above identifies two important findings. 

The RED area identifies the current sales competencies and the GREEN area represents the potential for improvement in sales growth if a company focused their improvement efforts on these areas. Understand that these are symptoms and not root causes. Treating/training the system will maintain the current status but will do little to nothing to drive growth. Identifying the root cause for the current sales capabilities still need to be addressed!

As I have said to hundreds of sales executives and sales people over the years – “Your organization, your business, is perfectly designed for the results you get today.”

So imagine for the remainder of this article that this one chart represents your company. 

The sales competencies of the sales team are 1 of 13 different factors that contribute to a company that generates the $15M in new sales to your company. You might be thinking – “Tony, given some time to think about this I probably would have arrived at the same conclusion(s) that your evaluation has. So we need to get better at hunting, qualifying, consultative selling, selling value and closing?” Yes, that is true- you might be able to arrive at the same information we did but that begs a question doesn’t it?

If you could have come to the same conclusion then why is consistent and predictable sales growth still a persistent challenge for your company?

Sales growth today requires science and research. A leader of an organization needs to be able to find a reliable way to expose the exact framework of how your sales organization is built and how it operates. The leader needs an in-depth look at the people, the process, the culture and the systems that are contributing to results. Then based on those findings, develop a more strategic and intentional approach to building, developing and training a high-performance sales team.

Need more assistance identifying what makes your top sales performers the best? Click here to register for an upcoming Live Broadcast on The Role of Benchmarking, EEOC Compliance and Predictive Sales Selection in Hiring Great Salespeople for Your Company. 

The Whack-A-Mole Approach to Sales Management

Tags: Effort in Sales, effective sales management, building sales team

Before reading this article, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Dave and Busters establishment. There was a time when I would go at least once a year. When I was younger, my source of entertainment was hanging out at sports bars with pool tables, shuffleboards and basketball games. About 25 years ago, that entertainment became watching my kids enjoy the arcade games Dave and Busters offered.

It was there that I learned about Whack–A–Mole and sales management. I really didn’t tie the game to sales management immediately. That is a more recent realization I have come to over the last 10 years as I’ve visited with executives who are trying to figure out sales growth (SGO) within their company. 

What I learned about Whack–A–Mole is that it did not require any specific talent. It did require effort – which requires no skill. And, it did require a couple of strands of specific athletic DNA:

  1. Hand/eye coordination
  2. Fast twitch muscle fibers

The same holds true for managing salespeople relative to effort. Putting forth the effort to coach and motivate people, as well as hold them accountable to performance, requires no skill. Let me repeat – THE EFFORT requires no skill. Therein lies part of the problem with growing your sales team.

With Whack-A-Mole, I never got a sense there was a systematic way to approach the game. The moles did not appear to be popping their little heads up in a particular sequence. They appeared randomly much like they used to in my back yard when I lived in Blue Ash, Ohio.

39860632_s

This is exactly what I observe and hear when talking to executives about identifying the sales growth opportunity within their sales team. Specifically:

  • What is the ideal model being used to eliminate hiring mistakes?
  • What is the coaching routine and methodology?
  • What is the culture that helps foster motivation?
  • When performance management discussions take place are they; consistent, punitive, additive and predictable based on exact metrics and standards?

The answers to these questions are what reminds me of Whack-A-Mole. There isn’t a consistency within the organization let alone consistency between one organization and another. To be clear, we do NOT work with broken companies. We work with companies that recognize there is greater potential within the organization and they realize that they need to figure out:

  • What is our sales growth opportunity?
  • What would it take go from where we are now to where we could be?
  • How does our current team, systems and processes help or hurt our ability to close the gap?
  • How long will/would it take?
  • What would need to be invested to close our sales growth opportunity gap?

The problem of not realizing full sales growth potential exists for many reasons. Too many to cover in one article so I will go about the process by writing a series specifically dedicated to help you identify what it would take to close the sales growth opportunity gap.

If you haven't already done so, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

Click HERE to download  our free e-book!

Recruiting Better Salespeople: The Make-Up of Hall of Famers

Tags: hire better salespeople, building effective sales teams, recruiting sales talent

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 (I didn’t catch the name but it might have been Tim Kurkjian) 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.

2018 hall of famers

(Image from Getty Images)

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 it’s 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. Congratulations to the 2018 MLB Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees: 

Chipper Jones

Vladimir Guerrero

Jim Thome

Trevor Hoffman

Jack Morris

Alan Trammell

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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Also, click here to complete the Objective Management Group Hiring Mistake Calculator

Do You Have Sales Growth Problems? Solution #4: Create a Selection Criteria Checklist

Whitey Kollmeier, my friend and greatest center of influence, told me a story about Coach Scolinos. In January of 1996 he was a speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association. His topic: Stay at 17 Inches. He approached the stage with a home plate hanging from his neck. The short version of his message was this:

  • What do you do with a pitcher that can’t throw the ball over the plate?
  • What do you do with your best athlete that breaks the rules (outside the plate)?
  • What is happening inside our schools, businesses, and government institutions when people are breaking the rules (widening the plate)?

This message alone is powerful and one that you should read, digest and think about as you build and lead your company, sales team, family, or community organization. I’m taking the concept of ‘staying at 17 inches’ and applying it to your sales process to help you and your company achieve your sales growth objective by closing more business, more quickly and at higher margins. Sound good?  If you respond with a yes then I’ve thrown a strike!  Hitting it is up to you. 

Solution #4: create a “strike zone” to help you select the right prospects to target and attract to your business

The “strike zone” is a list of criteria you establish to identify what type of prospect is right down the middle, a little inside and a little outside of your core target market profile. The criteria for the type of business you want might look something like this: 

homeplate graphic.png

In addition to that checklist, you also need a process to determine if the potential prospect qualifies to do business with you within your framework of how you do business. For example, asking yourself questions like:

  • Is the decision maker involved and invested in the process?
  • Are they willing to provide all needed information in a timely fashion?
  • Have they agreed to make a decision in timely manner?

With this approach – staying within your ‘home plate’ you can now:

  • Focus your attention more specifically on the needs/problems/challenges of your target market and build your lead generation efforts to attract the right prospects
  • Build a reputation as the ‘go to’ source for your services within your target market
  • Build better solutions and relationships with partner providers as well as make better decisions on what opportunities to work

Also as a producer/manager, you must pay close attention to what is actually going into the pipeline and be courageous enough to not swing at those pitches that are low, inside, high or outside. This is where your CRM system comes into play. Not only should your CRM system have your mapped sales process but beneath each step in your sales process there should be further qualifying points that need to be checked or clicked. Here is an example for ABC Company.

Step 1: Qualified Appointment – Prospect has a compelling issue to address or an opportunity to leverage:

  • Met with decision maker and they have a significant risk management problem
  • Company fits our profile for sales revenue and potential revenue
  • We will have access to all information in a timely basis
  • Prospect has acknowledged a ‘have to fix’ problem

Step 2: Qualified Prospect- Prospect has determined capacity to invest time, money and resources to ‘fix’ the have to fix problem

  • Have discussed and monetized the existing or potential problem
  • Prospect has confirmed that price is important but solving compelling issues within a monetary range is more critical
  • Prospect has agreed that a change in current relationship will happen providing we can solve the problem per specs within budget

These are just two examples of how your CRM process has to support staying within the strike zone. If you, as a producer, or your salespeople cannot ‘check the boxes’ then this begins to help you see the pitch more clearly and identify if this prospect is ‘over the plate’.

For more information on Selection Criteria or other services that can help close your sales growth gap, go to our website and download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard".

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