Sales & Sales Management Expertise

The Art and Science of Cooking Up a Sales Team Built for Growth

Tags: responsibilities of sales manager, predictable sales growth, business sales development

At Christmas, my wife, Linda, bought me a cookbook – The Science of Good Cooking.  She gave it to me because I really do love to cook. I love to cook because I love to eat.  I’m not a foodie who is into exotic or gourmet types of recipes.  I’m a basic meat, potato, soup, pasta, BBQ, stew and sandwich kind of guy.  You’ll notice the absence of veggies in that list.  With the exception of ratatouille, steamed broccoli and sautéed French green beans, I don't do veggies.

Last night was meatloaf night.  I hated my mom’s meatloaf.  She put ketchup/tomato paste on it!  I hated ketchup as a kid and I am still not super fond of it even now.  Tomato paste is supposed to be used for just one thing – Dad’s tomato sauce for spaghetti and meatballs!  However, a couple of years ago, Linda and the family wanted meatloaf, so I found a recipe from www.allrecipes.com and I’ve been in love with meatloaf ever since.

Originally, what I didn’t know about cooking was the science that makes a dish work or makes a dish a disaster.  Over the years, I have learned that…

  • Low and slow allows the proteins in meat to breakdown and make most, if not all, “tough cuts” of meat more tender. I followed the practice in smoking meats but not with the Thanksgiving turkey until this last year – WHAT a DIFFERENCE!
  • The most important cooking purchase you can make is an instant read thermometer.
  • And, for my meatloaf recipe, you can substitute gelatin for veal.we are.png

Once you understand the science, what you do next becomes your ART.

The food is your canvas and you get the chance to paint it any way you want.  I like food with a little zing, so I tend to add cayenne pepper and/or red pepper chili flakes.  In chili or soup, I like to add Tabasco.  In my mashed potatoes, I’ve been known to add way too much butter, half and half and jalapeno peppers.

Another example of art and science is exercise and fitness.

If you want to improve your strength or endurance, two things are required - effort and execution.  Effort is the science (math) part of the equation.  Hypertrophy (growth) of muscle and increases in endurance both rely on the SAID Principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.  Simply stated:  if you want to improve, you must impose a demand on the system. i.e.  Lift weights for strength; exercise aerobically to improve cardio-vascular capacity. (This ties into my Nautilus years!)

Failure to impose demands on your physical systems results in atrophy – diminishing capabilities of the muscles to work or the lungs to supply oxygen.

The “art” of exercise is when you decide what you want to do to impose the demand.

  • Lift weights
  • Pilates
  • Swim
  • Bike or run long distance
  • Martial Arts
  • Cross country skiing

As long as you stress your systems, you will become more fit.  You muscles or lungs cannot distinguish one kind of load (training) from another.   All the systems know is that they are being taxed and so they respond with growth/improvement.

What Makes Up the Science of Sales Growth – Activities that Lead to Results

What is the science of sales growth then?  The science is the activity that leads to results.  This can be a long list, but it all comes down to this:

EFFORT

  1. Networking face-to-face in the community of your target market
  2. Making phone calls to the people whose names you have come into possession of (regardless of source)
  3. Active social selling using LinkedIn
  4. Meeting with internal partners who have access to people in your target market
  5. Providing an exceptional client experience so your clients become advocates and introduce you to others
  6. Directly asking clients for introductions
  7. Spending time with and being a great partner with other business partners so that they can refer business to you
  8. Writing articles, speaking and presenting to become the subject matter expert in your target market so that people seek you out.

EXECUTION – THE ART (HBR Video)

  1. How well do you ask questions?
  2. When you are making a point, do you weave in metaphors, analogies and stories or do you simply quote data and statistics?
  3. How high is your emotional IQ?
  4. Are your questions the type of questions that provide meaningful insight to the emotions of action or ones that uncover “just the facts”?
  5. How memorable or forgettable are you when you call to talk to someone on the phone for the first time?
  6. How well do you “own the room” when you present?
  7. When you present, do you look, act and sound like everyone else?
  8. Are you emotional, passionate and willing to do whatever it takes (assuming ethical, legal and moral standards)?

ARE YOU GROWING? (Growing Sales Article Part I)

  1. What demands have you put on your behaviors to stretch your thinking and your abilities?
  2. What training or coaching have you undertaken that makes you uncomfortable, stretches your thinking and broadens your scope of conversation?
  3. How comfortable are you with having presidential, far reaching and/or vision creating discussions with decision makers who are resistant to change?
  4. In the last 18 months, how many books have you read, workshops or webinars attended, or speakers have you listened to on TED Talks or YouTube?
  5. Are you twice as smart about your business and the art and science of selling than you were 18 months ago?
  6. How indispensible are you to your company and clients?
  7. What do your numbers reflect:
    1. Personal income
    2. Sales goal increases year over year
    3. Your sales goal achievement compared to the best in class
    4. Your personal wealth
    5. The things you have, achieve, go, become
  8. How secure is your future financial wellbeing?
  9. If something happened to you today and you could no longer work, how well would your family be cared for financially?
  10. Would your company enthusiastically hire you again?

As a manager of salespeople, these are the questions you need to be asking. These are the points that you need to be thinking about/considering when discussing the building of a sales growth oriented sales team.

How Sales Leadership Establishes “The Science”

The Science:  My guess is that, in your organization, you have a CRM that provides you some math to help you with the science part.  CRMs are sales enablement tools.  They are only designed to collect the data; sales leadership has to do the rest.  The rest – is the science:

  • Identify the right metrics – data to collect
  • Have standards applied to those metrics that force your people to grow
  • Connect the metrics in a milestone structured sales process
  • Create success formulas for all producers
  • Compare actual performance to goal performance (including conversion ratios)
  • Obtain business intelligence that is predictive of future performance
  • Compare predictions to actual

The Art Needed for Growing Your Sales Team

The Art: The art of growing your sales team combines the data that you have with your coaching opportunities. There are skills required to be an effective coach.  Your ability to artfully execute these skills is what makes it easier to recruit top talent and keep the talent you have.

  • Having deep relationships based on confidence and trust
  • Understanding what really motivates your people
  • Asking great questions that help your salespeople discover what they should be doing
  • Not accepting mediocrity
  • No need for approval without being aggressive
  • A coaching bias – it’s more important to see your people succeed than for you to succeed

Additional Resources:

Download our Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard ebook

Watch our Sales Guy Unplugged Videos

Read more about Setting Standards

Growing Sales and the Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich

Tags: pareto principle, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, salesforce evalutation

pbj_sand2.jpg

Okay… so I know you might be thinking, “What the heck does growing sales have to do with a peanut butter and jam sandwich… AND why jam and not jelly?”

Not “jelly” because… well, I really don’t like jelly. I grew up with my Mom’s homemade strawberry jam.  And, for years, I would just eat jam sandwiches because I didn’t like peanut butter. But then…

THE SALES GROWTH & PB&J CONNECTION

In 1973, I was offered a full scholarship to play football at Boston University. I accepted and signed my letter of intent but, later in the year, that coaching staff left BU and went to UConn and so I followed. 

As a senior offensive lineman at Hammonton High School in New Jersey, I was 6’4” and 170 lbs. on a heavy day.  I was instructed to consume more calories, lift more weights and ingest lots of protein to build muscle.  Peanut butter was now part of my dietary intake.  During the summer leading up to my freshman year at UConn, I would consume 10,000 calories a day.  That included breakfast and then 5 peanut butter and jam sandwiches between breakfast and lunch.  So, there you go.

As any peanut butter and jelly/jam aficionado knows, when making the perfect sandwich, you want to spread both ingredients all the way to the edges of the bread.  No bread uncovered.  You spread peanut butter on one slice, jam/jelly on the other slice and then smash the two slices together so that the combination of ingredients oozes out of the sides of the sandwich.  Then, just cut in half and eat!

The first time I heard the expression, “Let’s not spread our training program dollars around like peanut butter” was from George Emmons, then president of the community bank at Key Bank.  I asked him what he meant by that.  He said, “Tony, we have limited resources to get this done and so we have to be judicious in how we use our dollars.  We have markets like Seattle that are our highest potential growth market and then we have a market like Vermont.  Vermont is a great market for us - very strong - but we already enjoy sizable market share there, so our ROI isn’t going to be as great.   We need to invest our dollars where we get can get our greatest return.”

And there, my friend, is the connection between building a sales growth sales team and making a peanut butter and jam sandwich!

Now, on to growing sales …

“PEANUT BUTTER” AND YOUR SALESPEOPLE

When you think about your sales team, the collective book of business and the market pool, you have to be more intentional in your investment of time money and effort.  Not all of your salespeople are equal, not all of the clients represented in the book of business are equal and not all of the businesses/people/prospects that are available in the market place can bring you the same revenue, value or profit.  Given the variability, you cannot (and should not) spread your resources like peanut butter.

In my previous articles and blog posts, I’ve talked about the 80/20 principle - the simple concept that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  You can substitute efforts with people - salespeople, client people, people in the market, etc.  Having said that, I highly recommend you follow Perry Marshalls process of the 80/20 of the 80/20.  Simply stated:  Do the 80/20 math again with the remaining salespeople, clients and prospects.  See below as an example of how to segment a revenue book.  (click here to read the detailed article about the 80/20 of the 80/20).

pbj-chart.png

I believe the chart is easy enough to follow.  The key things here to recognize are:

  1. About 96% of your results are coming from just 36% of your team
  2. That 36% isn’t tapped out – the top 3 might be, but if you add admin and support staff, you can probably get them to double productivity – spend “peanut butter” differently for this group than for the rest of the group.
  3. You have great opportunity/potential in the 2nd group of 80/20 – the next 3 salespeople (next quintile). Lots of “peanut butter” (intentional coaching) here in training, development, management, marketing/lead generation resources.
  4. The last quintile - the bottom 3 people - are not going to get you to the mountaintop based on their current productivity. Unless they are brand new, they not only get zero “peanut butter”, but they also get the opportunity for alternative employment.
  5. Some of the people in the bottom quintile might be there because they are new to the organization, so don't’ abandon them; however, make sure you have a very intense on-boarding program to make sure they climb into the next quintile and beyond quickly. Lots of “peanut butter” here.
  6. Your middle quintiles - salespeople in the middle 33% of the company - need to get lots of attention (“peanut butter”) for a short period of time because they have to demonstrate that they can actually produce the way you thought they would when you hired them… or they unfortunately validate that you made a hiring mistake.

WHEN TO USE A LOT OF “PEANUT BUTTER”

Follow this same process when analyzing the individual books of business for each salesperson.  Your salespeople should not be treating them all the same. The top 33% of the book brings over 90% of the revenue – treat them that way – with LOTS of “peanut butter”.

And, finally, when approaching the market place, use the information/data from the analysis above when looking at the individual books of business.  Identify the common characteristics in the top 33% of the book of business and then look for new opportunities that look like your top 33%. Stop spending time, money, effort and peanut butter pursuing anybody in the market place that doesn't (or have any chance to) look like your top 33% of your current clients.  (There us a great book on this concept, Selling to Zebras)

Additional Resources:

NO MORE HIRING MISTAKES - Hirebettersalespeople.com

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part III

Tags: sales leadership development, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, predictable sales growth, sales management responsibilities, sales motivation

obstacles-money.jpg

In my series (see previous posts) regarding the constraints to growing sales, the two remaining topics are:

  • Ineffective motivation of the sales team
  • The “just enough is good enough” approach to hitting setting and hitting goals

THE POWER OF THE “RIGHT” MOTIVATION

Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my sales people motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?”  The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play football.

My dad - my manager - knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track.

 

“JUST ENOUGH” IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH

“Just enough is good enough.” THIS MINDSET DRIVES ME CRAZY!  How do you know that this is your culture?

  • Year over year growth is one of the metrics you use to determine if you are getting better
  • Comparing one unit in your organization against another is the way you communicate to the teams about which ones are having success – stack ranking and comparing the rank of one team against the others as a way to explain, “If they can go from #22 to #15, then so can you!”
  • Hitting sales goals on the backs of the few
  • You have people on your sales team who - month after month, quarter after quarter and year over year - fail to hit their sales goal.
    • I don’t mean those that are at 99% one year and 101% the next and then 95% the third
    • I mean those that consistently perform in the low 90’s or high 80’s.
    • Those people that fail to perform still earn incentive comp, are not subject to any disciplined approach to improving skills or changing behaviors
    • There is never a discussion that sounds like, “What happened to the superstar sales person I thought I hired ____ number of years ago?”

I understand how this happens. There is so much pressure to just hit the numbers that, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you hit the numbers; you just have to hit them.  But what are the long-term consequences of this sales environment?

  • Turn over of really good producers that are tired of carrying the load
  • Producers who are close to being really successful manage themselves downward instead of upward.
    • They witness that there are no consequences for failure
    • They become “at leasters” – “I’m not as good as Julie, but at least I’m not as bad as John.”
  • Recruiting top talent is difficult because, when they talk to your top performers, they tell them that there will be a lot of pressure to perform because nothing happens to the slackers and the company depends on the top producers to make up the difference.
  • When goal setting time comes around, people at the top get more heaped on them and those in the middle to bottom of pack argue that the goal you give them was never one they bought into.

 

SETTING THE BAR FOR SUCCESS

Bottom line is:

  • Organizations have to have a mind-shift first about what it means to be successful in the organization.
  • There have to be systems and processes in place to catch failure before it happens rather than when it actually happens. Failure never happens all at once. It’s gradual; however, instead of addressing the issues when they appear, managers put salespeople on “double secret probation.”
  • The metrics used to determine success have to include diagnostics of the improvement of quintiles year over year. (See chart below for a snapshot of quintile performance.)  The idea is that when you take the snapshot next year, the numbers for each quintile have to be better than the previous quarter, year, etc.
  • A willingness and commitment to set the bar higher for success and then hold people accountable to actually DOING the THINGS required to be successful rather than just looking at training data.

quintile-chart-2017.png

I will continue to explore and discuss these constraints to consistent and predictable sales growth.

Additional Resources:

The 80/20 of the 80/20 - What it means for your company and next steps

Get a FREE TRIAL of the #1 Sales Candidate Assessment

 

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part II

Tags: hire better salespeople, find salespeople, predictable sales growth, hiring top salespeople, sales management responsibilities

In the previous post, I identified 8 clues that would indicate that your sales organization has a sales growth problem (CLICK HERE to read the article and review the 5 clues).  In that article, I identified (in some detail) 2 of the 5 constraints to sales growth:

  • Weak or lacking performance management
  • In-the-moment coaching rather than coaching that changes behavior and improves skill.

I received some feedback that the previous article was tooooo long and so, instead of covering the 3 remaining constraints here, I will present them one at a time (and hope I keep you coming back for “the rest of the story!”).

Constraint #3 - Hiring salespeople based on the wrong criteria with the wrong processes and systems

hbsp logo cut.pngTo Hire Better Salespeople, you have to have a better way to attract better salespeople and a better way to eliminate those 90% that will not do 100% of what you need them to do.

As in the previous article, let’s first determine “IF” there is a problem (check all that apply):

  • You have trouble finding enough candidates to choose from
  • The candidates you interview all look and act the same
  • When you interview candidates, you…
    • Spend time establishing rapport
    • Sell them on the company, the position and the opportunity
  • Your turnover rate of salespeople that don’t work out is at least a 6-figure problem or 2-comma problem (#,000,000)
  • When you evaluate the performance of the current sales team, there are people in the middle of the bell curve that are not performing like you thought they would or expected them to
  • You feel desperate to fill seats
  • Your recruiting is usually reactive

If you answered honestly and have 3 checks or more, then let’s agree there is a problem.

Several years ago, my son, Anthony, and a good friend of mine, Dave Zimmerman, went with me to NYC to watch the Bengals play the Jets.  We were guests of then general manager, Terry Bradway.  We met up with Terry the evening before the game just to catch up and introduce him to Anthony.  While we were in his hotel room, I asked him what was the most difficult part of his job. Without hesitation, he replied, “Player personnel - that’s the most difficult part of the job.”

He went on to discuss how he and the scouting staff spent Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays all over the country watching college games. Sometimes they attended two games a day just to find the talent they needed to compete and win on Sundays.  Unfortunately, Terry lost his job with the Jets in 2015. Terry is a great guy and a personal friend, but I cannot imagine the pressure and small window for success in drafting NFL players.

In the 2016 NFL draft, there were 256 players drafted.  There are roughly 15,588 student athletes playing on college campuses through out the US.  Two hundred and fifty six is 1.6% of all the college seniors.

I’m not suggesting that your hit percentage should be the same, but Geoff Smart, author of Who and Topgrading, suggests that it be at least 1 out of 20, or in other terms, 5%.

You may or may not notice the intentional use of the phrase “a better way to ELIMINATE those 90%” in the opening paragraph, but one of the keys to hiring better is to get better at disqualifying candidates!

In our approach to helping companies hire better salespeople, we find that it is critical to first change the mindset of the process and then change the process. The mindset that has to change from “find candidates that qualify” to “disqualifying candidates.”  If you work hard at disqualifying, then those that are left are more likely to be successful candidates.  Using this approach to hiring - in conjunction with using a predictive sales success assessment - will help you eliminate hiring mistakes!

I won’t go any further into the details about the process of eliminating mistakes here today except to mention one critical component – scorecards.  You should have in your possession a scorecard to evaluate talent based on the competencies that are required to succeed.  Specifically, that means the competencies, skills and behaviors needed to complete 100% of the job at an extraordinary level. The challenge here, of course, is to sort through the 90% of candidates that are incapable of executing what you need done 100% of the time.

Additional Resource: 

Download our free eBook - How to Hire Bankers Who Will Sell

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part I

Tags: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, how increase sales, predictable sales growth

I’ve written on this subject, talked about it at workshops/keynotes and presented it to our clients in our Sales Managed Environment® Certification program for over 20 years.  But, here I go again and for good reason – it’s still a problem.  It’s still in the news.  It’s still something that we get asked about when we present at the Community Bank CEO Network and other venues.  It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to have a solution.

Wrong!

Let’s take a minute first to analyze the problem or to help you identify if you have a problem.  (This will be kind of like Jeff Foxworthy’s “You know you're a redneck if” routine.)

foxworth.png

You know you have a sales growth problem if…:

  • You cannot consistently and accurately predict future sales GROWTH
  • You recognize that most of the sales (90% or so) are being generated by 33-45% of the sales team.
  • Less than 10% of the sales are being generated by over 50% of the team
  • You have salespeople in the middle of the sales performance bell curve that are not performing as you expected. (Did you really hire those people to only perform like the average sales person on your team?)
  • Your new hires are not ramping up fast enough
  • Your cost of “ghosts” (people that you hire and are no longer there) is a 2-comma problem
  • You seem to be coaching the same stuff over and over and over again
  • Your people continually make excuses for lack of outcomes, performance results.

I could go on, but why?

I first recognized the sales growth problem in sales organizations many years ago when I was working with Anthem Blue Shield and Blue Cross here in Ohio. I was meeting with Jim Barone, who is currently the National Vice President – Business Development for Lincoln National.  At the time, he held a regional sales management position for Anthem and he and I were scheduled to meet in Cleveland with his sales team for a training session and sales meeting.

In preparation for the meeting, I reviewed the production report year-to-date for the team (about 25 reps). I had not yet read any Perry Marshall material on The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing (The book hadn’t been published yet…) and, though I had heard of the Pareto Principle, I really didn’t understand it like I do today.  When looking at the numbers, I discovered that roughly 20% of the reps were responsible for about 80% of the results.  That was startling. But, not nearly as startling as what I discovered next.

The bottom 20% of the team – about 5 reps – were responsible for less than 1% of the results and the bottom 33% of the team was responsible for less than 10% of the results.  The first question I was going to ask Jim was, “Why are these people still with you?” (CLICK HERE here to get rid of the 80/20 in your organization.)

Over a year ago, I did the same type of analysis for a large nationally-based broker dealer specializing in serving the credit union market.  We looked at 100 advisors.  What we were looking for was data to support the position that, in order for a financial advisor to break through the upper limits of their productivity, they had to segment their book. 

As I looked at the collective data, it became very obvious that every advisor in every quintile had a book that had a similarity – 36% of the clients represented in their client base (as many as 1,000 clients) were responsible for 94% of their total AUM (assets under management).  Furthermore, when we analyzed the bottom 36%, that group only represented less than 5% of the total revenue.  Taking one more step, we uncovered that it would take 16 sales from the lower 36% to equal the average AUM from the top 20% of the book.

We thought we knew this, but now we had the data to prove it. 

Just for fun, I looked at the AUM from the 100 advisors for the broker dealer and guess what I found?  You guessed it – 36% of the advisors were responsible for over 90% of the total AUM.  Again, the questions have to be – Why do you have the other 64% of the advisors?  Why do they perform so poorly?  Were they hired this way – to perform at this level?  What was missing in the on-boarding, training and management of those advisors?

One of the easy reactions to the data is this – “Tony, you have to understand that some of the advisors we were looking at don't have the same tenure as those in the top 36%.”  Okay, I will buy that.  But, are you telling me that is the case from #1 all the way to #100?  The answer is no.  In the mix of the top 1/3, there are less tenured advisors, and in the bottom 1/3, there are very senior advisors. 

The tenure argument doesn’t work. The economy argument doesn’t work. The competition argument doesn’t work. The compensation argument doesn’t work and, finally, the DoL regulation or regs of any sort argument doesn’t work.  In every instance, the numbers hold up.

So, what is the problem?  What are the constraints to sales growth? Why is it so $%^&* hard to solve the sales growth problem?  There are five reasons I want to discuss, but first, let’s agree to some assumptions:

  • Your organization has a solid strategic plan to gain market share. (If not, contact Gazelles.  Verne Harnish is a genius and the concepts in his book, Scaling Up, will change your business.)
  • Everyone is either rising or sinking with the economic tide.
  • Your company’s compensation plan fits with in the suggested range of the industry. (Contact Peter Bielen or Scott Stathis to discuss compensation.)
  • You have access to the products and services that the ideal prospects identified in your strategic plan want and need
  • Your support partners provide you the backend client services that you need.

Again, the list can go on – in general, let’s assume that the basics to start and sustain a business are in place.  But, something is missing year in and year out that makes sales growth so difficult.  Here are the 5 constraints to consistent and predictable sales growth:

  1. Weak or lack of Performance Management. Understand what performance management is NOT – setting goals and then telling people that they have to work harder if they are not hitting the goals.  It is NOT using PIPS as a way to get people to perform.  A solid performance management structure and strategy requires a couple of steps, systems, and processes.
    1. Identifies the right metrics to measure success
    2. Creates benchmarks that force salespeople to work harder and better
    3. Holds people accountable to the THINGS they need to do to get sales growth results
    4. In addition to the items listed above, the executor (sales manager, sales coach, sales leader) needs to have the right sales management behaviors and skills
  2. Any coaching is in-the-moment coaching rather than Coaching for Success. Coaching for Success is intentional/planned coaching.  It is based on what the data identifies as choke points in executions or lack of effort.  In-the-moment coaching does not focus on changing behavior and improving skills. It’s kind of like what happens in a time-out in most sports.  There is a situation in the game that requires some additional thought and strategy.  The coach calls a time-out to discuss the strategy and lay out a plan to execute “in the now.”  That type of coaching is designed to solve the in-the-moment problem, but it virtually does nothing to change behavior or improve skill overall.  Coaching for Success requires:
    1. Data points established as a result of the performance management success formula (The metrics that define success identified in your performance management strategy)
    2. Data collection
    3. Reporting that identifies the variance in actual performance from goal performance
    4. Gaining business intelligence from the data report
    5. Effective coaching skills http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.bisanet.org/resource/resmgr/onesource/9_skills_to_coaching_success.pdf, systems and processes
    6. A consistent process of disciplined coaching designed to help the advisor get on track and stay on track because behaviors change and skills improve.

The remaining constraints are:

  1. Hiring sales people based on the wrong criteria with the wrong processes and systems. To Hire Better SalesPeople, you have to have a better way to attract better people and a better way to eliminate those 90% that will not do 100% of what you need them to do.
  2. Ineffective motivation via culture, sales meetings and recognition. Most sales managers don’t know what motivates their people.  If you are going to Motivate for Success, it is important to know what motivates them.
  3. Inadequate hiring. When just enough is good enough, the sales organization fails to regularly Upgrade the Sales Force.

Pass this article on! http://bit.ly/2jPOGFO 

Contact us – 513.791.3458

Contact Tony Directly -  tony@anthonycoletrainingcom or text 513.226.3913 with the message “Call me”

Additional Resources:

 

4 Steps to Create Client Advocates

Tags: exceeding customer expectations, creating advocates, solving sales issues

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

advocate_checklist.jpg

Today's question is this: “What are you doing to keep your clients coming back... and telling their friends?”

Can you think of a place where you go, wait in a long line, spend a lot of money and yet can’t wait to tell others how great it was and go back again?  Well, that could describe a number of places, but the frame of reference I want to use today is the Disney experience.

No one would argue with the success that Disney has in exceeding expectations and creating advocates. When you go there your first time, it is more beautiful than you ever imagined.  You have such a magical time that you forget about how much things cost or how long the lines are for almost everything.  In his book, Inside the Magic Kingdom, author Tom Connellan shows us (in story form) the seven keys to Disney’s success and how they work to create a dazzling experience for all of their guests.  As you read the book, you can only imagine what would go into building and sustaining that kind of relationship with your customers.

In order to achieve “dazzling”, you must have a process that is consistent and predictable.  People need to know what they can depend on when they trust you with their business.  In other words, it’s not a once-in-a-while thing; it is just the way you do things.

Keep in mind that it does not have to be the same thing for all of your clients.  The way you support your top 20% needs to be different from how you support your bottom 20%. But, at the heart of it all, everyone gets the basics.

So, how DO you create advocates?

  1. You have to find out what they want.How do you do this?  Ask!  Give them a list of things to choose from with the option to add things that might not be on the list.
  2. Next, prioritize critical areas. The key here is to find out what they won’t tell you.  How many times have you left a restaurant after you told your server everything was fine when they asked… then you  get back to your car and vow to never go back?  Some of your clients may do the same thing.
  3. Identify performance levelsand find out where they are setting the bar; don’t assume you know.
  4. Negotiate expectations. Now is the time to deal with anything you are not willing to agree to. Sometimes we say “yes” because we think it’s a deal breaker; just ask and then decide.  If it is outside your process, then you are better served to move on because, unfortunately, it will always be a struggle and they will never become an advocate anyway.

The only way to exceed your customer’s expectations is to know what they actually are, not what you think they are.  Start by having that conversation first and soon you will have them coming back for more and telling their friends.

Additional Resources:

Solving Problems for Prospects

Developing Rapport Quickly with Sales Prospects

Tags: Sales Strategies, close more sales, rapport with sales prospects, asking sales questions, initial sales meeting

sales-rapport.gifA guest post by Jack Kasel, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Rapport can be the fertilizer to help develop relationships quicker and with deeper roots.  However, most salespeople confuse rapport with having things in common.  Hello, everyone, this is Jack Kasel bringing you the latest Anthony Cole Training Sales Brew—Developing Rapport.

Most salespeople, upon entering a prospect’s office for the first time, become Robo-Salesperson – scanning the room for something to make a witty and insightful comment about.  When they hone in on a picture on the desk, they ask, “Is that your family?”   The prospect may answer differently, but is thinking “No, that’s the family of the person who had this office before me.  I liked his family better, so I kept the picture.” (Pause) “Of course, it’s my family, Captain Obvious.”

Don’t get me wrong; making those observations are helpful, but needing to be mentioned at the right time and mentioning it “right off the bat” isn’t the right time.  Why?  Because 10 out of the 12 previous salespeople who called on your prospect did the same thing.  You don’t want to be like all the other sales people; be different, be memorable.

Our definition of building rapport is this:  Prove you belong at the table.   You prove you belong at the table by the way you conduct yourself, the questions you ask and how you manage the interaction with the prospect.  That includes how you open the call.

We suggest two things when opening the call:

  • Don’t thank them for the meeting
  • Ask a great opening question

The opening statement could sound something like this: “I’m glad we could coordinate our schedules; I’m looking forward to our conversation.”   If we give the impression we are just a lowly salesperson, it doesn’t create “Equal Business Stature.”  They are professionals, we are professionals; we are going to have a professional business discussion.  IF we give the impression we are so grateful they could fit us in to their busy schedule, that doesn’t get the conversation started correctly.  Remember: our time is just as valuable as theirs, so act like it.

Asking a great opening question may sound like this, “Mr./Ms. Prospect, What do we need to discuss over the next 40-45 minutes that would make you say, ‘I’m glad we scheduled this meeting’  OR  ‘This was a good use of my time today’?   That forces them to talk about things important to them and gets the meeting started correctly.

As I mentioned earlier, discussing things on a personal level (sports, interests, hobbies, etc.) is best saved for when you are closing up the meeting.   That can bring a personal touch to the conversation; just make sure it’s done at the proper time – which is the end of the meeting, not the beginning.

Additional Resources:

4 Steps for Creating a Dazzling Client Experience by Walt Gerano

subscribe-to-blog.png

5 Sales Activities that Lead to Success: Are Your Salespeople Assertive Enough?

Tags: sales competencies, sales management, sales prospecting, Sales Strategies, asking sales questions

success_work.gif

 

Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others.  They care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the deal in order to make sure the prospect or client makes the right decisions.  Does that describe your people?  Are they assertive?

When we say assertive, what do we mean?  What sales habits do assertive and successful people do day in and day out?  In 2010, I wrote a blog entitled 5 Direct Sales Activities That Lead to Sales Success that has been one of my highest readership blogs.  I went back and reviewed and here are the five steps:

  1. Activities that lead to getting names - networking, speaking engagements, sponsored seminars, meeting with centers of influence and/or asking for introductions
  2. Calling a suspect on the phone for an appointment
  3. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  4. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  5. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

Steps 1 and 2 have changed dramatically in the last 6 years.  Social selling and the evolution of the buyer’s process utilizing all of the multiple channels of information has completely changed the process of prospecting for business.  Step 2 - getting a suspect on the phone - is virtually impossible with voicemails and phone trees.

Our Own Prospecting Case Study

Earlier this year, we decided to test the waters for our hiring business solution, www.hirebettersalespeople.com.  We had some initial success right off the bat with our launch in January of 2016, but then activity seemed to cool down.  We purchased a local lead list based on company size and title and I began calling.  Here are the calling results:

  • 66% of the dials took me directly into a recorded phone tree
  • 25% of the calls took me to a receptionist who was very helpful and informative but transferred me to voicemail
  • Of the remaining 9%, I had in depth conversations with 3 people, met with one and generated one sale from that contact

3 people fit our profile; I met with 1 and sold that one… but not to help them hire better salespeople, but rather to help them test, train and track some of the salespeople that were not “hitting their weight”.  The second was not interested at the time and the 3rd introduced me to someone in the home office. That contact has put us in the middle of negotiations for a 5-figure initial engagement.

I tell you that story to make the following points about step #2:

  • Calling prospects on the phone doesn’t work like it used to.  
  • It requires more attempts and effort than ever before - you have to have a different tactic and message to differentiate yourself.
  • Once you make contact, you have to be extremely good at what you do and have a compelling reason for people to listen and stay on the phone. THAT is where being more assertive makes a difference.

Steps 3, 4, 5:  How to be More Assertive at Qualifying, Presenting and Getting Decisions

In our primary markets of financial institutions, investment services and insurance brokerage, we ARE the resource for sales growth solutions.  We coach our clients on the fact that the reason for either their sales growth or loss is due to their peoples’  1) effort or 2) execution.  But what does assertiveness have to do with Effort and Execution of steps 3,4 and 5?  In a word, EVERYTHING.

Steps 3,4, and 5:

  1. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  2. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  3. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

In each one of these steps, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time is critical.  In our selling system, we explain that -  in order for a prospect to qualify - they must:

  1. Have compelling reasons to buy, make a change, do something different
  2. Have the capability and willingness to invest the right time, money and effort required for the purchase/change
  3. Be in a position of decision making and be able to make the decision to find a solution to the compelling (have to fix) issue,  can make the money decision, can leave a current or add to a current relationship, and say yes or no.

There are lots of questions that need to be asked in order to find out if the prospect qualifies in these three areas.  Some of these questions require a sales person to be assertive.  Questions such as:

  • How will you go about telling your current broker/banker/relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?
  • If you don’t have the money, how will you solve the problem?
  • The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?
  • What will you tell your partner when they say they don’t want to make the change?

Additionally, sometimes statements are required that would be considered counter-intuitive to selling, gutsy and risky.

  • Based on our experience and deep domain knowledge about your business, your best action to take would be this: ________.  If that doesn’t seem to work for you, then there’s a possibility that we won’t be a good match.
  • If I treated my clients the way you’ve been treated, then I would expect to be fired.
  • When we finish our presentation, solve all of the problems you’ve asked us to address within your budget and answered all your questions, I’ll need for you to be in a position to make a decision on whether we’ll do business together or not.
  • Maybe the most important thing for you to consider is “fit”.  If there isn’t a fit between our two companies, then our products and pricing really don’t matter.

Imagine for a second that you had salespeople that were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. What would happen?  You might fear that you would lose more business. But… suppose that wasn’t the case.  Suppose by being more assertive and gutsy, your salespeople eliminated tire kickers earlier.  Suppose this lead to the elimination of “think it overs” and actually got people to decide.  Imagine for a second that your salespeople stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes”.  What would happen?

Your people would sell more, more quickly, at higher margins.  They would stop wasting time, stop getting delays, stop being shopped by a prospect that was just trying to keep a current provider honest.  

Here’s How Sales Managers Can Get Their Salespeople to be More Assertive

Sales managers must hold their salespeople accountable to the right level of sales activity.  To do this, you must have a success formula and a well-defined sales process so that you can identify where the choke points are for individuals when they fail to close “sure thing” opportunities.  You must also have a pipeline tool that actually helps you predict the possibility of an opportunity closing rather than a tool that just reports that there is activity in the pipeline.  And, finally, you must have a full pipeline – an anemic pipeline makes cowards out of salespeople. These are the tools you will need to help your salespeople be more assertive and close more business, more quickly, at higher margins.

subscribe-to-blog.png

7 Effective Sales Management Steps to Take NOW

Tags: success formula, managing sales teams, effective sales management

Luck-not-strategy.png

Sales management, sales leadership and sales presidency require special diligence this time of year. Actions taken now will assure successful sales results in the coming year. In order to transition smoothly, here are 7 sales management steps that should be completed before the end of the year.  

By now, you should have:

  1. Evaluated the individuals on your team for the year. Unless you have anomalies at the end of the year, your team’s individual outcomes and results are pretty much set.
  2. (Based on the evaluation) Begun to have meetings with all your people. The meetings are similar to performance reviews, but they’re not the corporate type of review that gets put in the HR file.  These reviews put your team members in 1 of four groups. You then have a discussion about what group they are in.
    1. Met or exceeded sales goal and sales activity requirements group
    2. Met or exceeded sales goal but currently not at sales activity targets group
    3. Met or exceeded sales activity targets but failed  to hit sales targets (below 100% is failing)
    4. Has not met sales or sales activity targets

(If you would like information on what the conversation should sound like for people in each of these groups, call me or text me at 513-226-3913.  If I don’t answer, just leave a message with your name, mobile number and email requesting, “Where’s Walter?” information.  You can also email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com.)

  1. Reviewed performance, actual effort and execution effectiveness results against targets for the year.
  2. Assessed where the choke points are for people on the team who are not succeeding. To do this, you look at the conversion ratios in your sales success formula that was built last year and reviewed every quarter.  (Don’t have a success formula?  Click here –> Success formula download)
  3. Revised the success formula for 2017 based on each person’s commitment to performance via the “extraordinary discussion”. (Haven’t had that discussion? Ask Jeni at Jeni@anthonycoletraining.com to send you that information.)
  4. Conducted an offsite where your salespeople identify personal goals, translate the personal goals into a personal income requirement and translate that into a work plan that you will follow up with every quarter. (Yes, we have information on what that offsite should look like.  Even though it’s late to be doing that now, conducting the session in January would be better than not conducting one at all.  Let us know if we can help: 513-791-3458)
  5. Talked to your HR department about additional FTEs for the coming year to grow your sales team and replace the people that are not performing. Think about this: Suppose you had to hire better salespeople (3) but can only grow your sales team by 2 – who would you let go?

These 7 things are the minimum functions for sales management at this time of year.  Failure to execute on these 7 steps will pretty much guarantee that your next 12 months will look like the past 12 months:

  • Only a few people will meet or exceed the goal
  • Most of the people will miss the goal by at least 10% and some as much as 20%
  • The bottom 33% of your sales force will represent less than 5% of your new business revenue
  • Salespeople that fail will continue to make excuses
  • The salespeople that had a “one-off” great year will coast in the next year and live off the laurels of this year.
  • Your top performers will continue to be frustrated by lack of attention, support and recognition for their outstanding contributions.

subscribe-to-blog.png

28 Sales Traits to Identify When Hiring Better Salespeople

Tags: Sales DNA, managing sales teams, managing salespeople, top sales performers

So, what are you looking for in your next great sales person?  I guess the most important question is this: Are you really looking for the next great sales person or are you looking for a sales person that will fill the FTE allocation?  Will you settle for someone that is “at least as good as” your average sales person?

No one in their right mind would say “yes” to those questions, but if your sales organization is large enough, the data would support that your hiring practices are getting you exactly that.  According to Geoff Smart (Topgrading), 75% of the hires made are not as good as or only as good as the person they are replacing.

If we were to look at the 80/20 power curve in your organization, we would probably find out what we normally do – that about 36% of the sales force is responsible for over 90% of your sales results.  So, what is the other 64% doing?  How did they end up on your sales team?

In order to get the right people, you have to know what you should be looking for.  In conjunction with Objective Management Group, we have studied our clients.  We have evaluated their top performers and non-performers.  Looking at over 100 data points, we know what separates those who will sell from those who won’t sell.  Do you?

quality-chart.png

Ignore the words and numbers.  Just look at the sea of green which is representative of performers and compare that with the sea of red representing non-performers.

Here is the list we’ve come up with after analyzing the sales teams of 5 of our clients in the financial services/banking business:

  1. Strong desire for success in selling
  2. Strong commitment/motivated to do everything possible to succeed in selling
  3. Trainable
  4. Has a strong figure-it-out factor
  5. Possesses Sales DNA Competencies
  6. Has no need for approval
  7. Controls emotions
  8. Has supportive beliefs
  9. Comfortable discussing money
  10. Handles rejection
  11. Hunter
  12. Sales posturing
  13. Consultative seller
  14. Qualifier
  15. Closer
  16. Follows consistent sales process
  17. Compatibility with top performer profile
  18. Prospects consistently
  19. Schedules meetings
  20. Reaches decision makers
  21. Recovers from rejection
  22. Does not need to be liked
  23. Comfortable talking about money
  24. Has a strong self-image
  25. Loves to win
  26. Motivated by recognition
  27. Loves competing with others
  28. Rejection proof

What I find interesting about some of the items is that there are a few that have a significant variance between the performers and non-performers:

  1. Commitment – The commitment to succeed in selling is 77% GREATER in performers than in non-performers.
  2. The trainability in performers is 34% HIGHER.
  3. The hunter skill in performers is 112% HIGHER.
  4. Performers have a 48% HIGHER figure-it-out factor.
  5. Performers score 119% HIGHER in handling rejection.
  6. Those that hit sales goals score 87% HIGHER in sales posturing
  7. This one blows me away – neither group is particularly strong in closing: non-performers have only 13% of the closing skills required.  Even though top performers OUTSCORE their counter-parts by 150%, they still only have 33% of the required closing skills.

How do you explain that last item?  Look at the others strengths:  Desire, commitment, trainability, hunter, figure-it-out qualifier, consultative, posturing… they are REJECTION proof! 

The purpose of this post is to get you to think more seriously about what it is that you really know about the candidates you are looking to hire as well as what you really need to know before proceeding with the interview and hiring steps.

Any questions? Please call or write:
513.226.3913 tony@anthonycoletraining.com

subscribe-to-blog.png