Sales & Sales Management Expertise

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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Do You Have Sales Growth Problems?  Solution #3: Do Something with Your Pipeline

Tags: Pipeline management, coaching salespeople, qualified leads

Of course you have sales problems. If it’s not a production problem, it’s a productivity problem. If it’s not a productivity problem, it’s a servicing problem. If It’s not a service problem, it’s a sales/sales support turnover problem. In the words of Rosanne Rosannadana,“It’s  Always Something”

Most companies, if not all companies have some method for keeping and tracking sales pipeline activity and progress. We use Hubspot’s CRM because it ties very well with our inbound lead efforts, the pricing is extraordinary, the reporting is as good as anything on the market and getting up to speed is fast and easy. But putting data in the CRM and keeping an eye on it is not enough. You have to gain business intelligence and then act on what you know.

Conduct an Emergency Pipeline Anaylsis (EPA) for a simple but effective way to determine what stays in the pipeline and what goes to the pipedream (delete folder). EPA originator, Dave Kurlan, wrote a blog that goes into detail about the 16,000+ proposals presented to unqualified buyers by B2B salespeople every day. This data comes from the 1,000s of Sale Evaluations and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) done yearly by our firm and others around the world. In the SEIA we analyze the state of the current pipeline. Figure 1 identifies the quality of the pipeline assessed for a large sales organization. When assessing for closable opportunities the green area at the bottom should be much larger than the blue area at the top if the opportunities are truly qualified. If your closable opportunities are not really qualified you end up with a similar pipeline configuration to the one you see in the chart.

inverted pipelien.jpgFigure 1

The process to get this information is simple but effective: Create a number of qualifying questions that are based on the steps in your qualification checklist. Those questions may include but are not limited to:

  • Is there severe mental anguish to make a purchase/change and is it personal?
  • Did I attach value or monetize the problem or failure to leverage the opportunity?
  • Did I eliminate the incumbent?
  • Did I ask, “Is this a have to fix or want to fix problem” and did the prospect say ‘have to fix’?
  • Did they agree to invest the appropriate amount of time, money and resources?
  • Due I have a date of execution, purchase, contract?
  • I have met with the decision makers (not I will be meeting with decision makers at time of presentation) and they have agreed to make a decision when I finish my presentation.
  • I rehearsed the prospect on what they will do when the incumbent returns to beg for the business, fix the problems and match our fees, structure, contract.

Answering/scoring these questions simply requires a 1 or a 0. You add up the scores vertically for the opportunities in your pipeline and then make a decision to either;

  1. Call your prospect and deal with the open items
  2. Reconcile that you have asked these questions and didn’t get the right answers and therefore make the ‘go, no-go’ decision to present.

There is a world of difference between managing the pipeline and looking at the pipeline and reporting the results. Managing is an active process. As a manager you must constantly and consistently evaluate the opportunities in the pipeline for:

  • Quality – are they true opportunities
  • Quantity – the number and value volume must match each individuals success formula
  • Movement – based on your buyers’ buying cycle you should be able to predict movement from one step in the process to the next
  • Measure the conversion ratios from one step to the next to evaluate effectiveness of the sales person’s execution of the process
  • Evaluate for credibility and validity
    • Credibility – did the projected close volume actually close
    • Validity – did the accounts in the pipeline actually close and account for the volume forecast and actual sales

This will take time but it’s important for you and your salespeople to do because it will ultimately result in closing more business, more quickly at higher margins.

CALL TO ACTION

Set up a 1-on-1 coaching call with one of our Sales Development Experts to discuss how to effectively build and manage a credible and valid pipeline report, regardless of the CRM you are using.

EMAIL: traci@anthonycoletraining.com

Subject line: 1-on-1 coaching call

Trouble Growing Sales? Solution #2: No More Bad Prospects

Tags: coaching salespeople, effective sales management

I’ve been working on growing sales for over 30 years. First with Nautilus Exercise Equipment, then in the insurance business and for the last 23 years with Anthony Cole Training Group. It’s been at least 25 years since I heard David Sandler, on a cassette tape, say; “there’s no such thing as bad prospects, just bad salespeople.” Not bad as in character, morals or integrity- just bad a selling.

But as I read Dave Kurlan’s blog this morning about choosing between bad salespeople and bad sales management it got me thinking about what Sandler said those many years ago and what we continue to hear from salespeople today when discussing opportunities won and lost. Let’s take a look at what’s happening or not happening. 

List of reasons for not getting the sale:

  • They had a long-term relationship/incumbent matched our proposal
  • The decision maker wasn’t involved 
  • Out pricing wasn’t competitive/ we didn’t have the right products
  • The timing wasn’t right

There are many, but in a nutshell the overall question to a salesperson would be; “When you asked them about, discussed, made sure that...(fill in the blank with any of the reasons listed above) What did they say?  What was their reaction?”  

As you read this as a sales person you might be thinking one of a few things: 

  1. I’m not asking those questions 
  2. Those are good questions to ask
  3. I should be asking those questions 
  4. I would never ask those questions 

If you are thinking #4, then your reasons for not getting the business are never going to change! That is what Sandler and Kurlan are talking about when they discuss bad salespeople. You cannot blame the prospect for having objections to buy. Heck you have your own set of objections/reasons every time you decide not to buy or change. 

But what about the sales manager? Where does that person fit into the equation? Simple: at the beginning, middle and end of every sales opportunity, sales meeting and coaching session. 

6698425_xxl meeting debrief people.jpg

Solution #2: Pre and Post Call Sessions and 1-on-1 Coaching

Pre-call coaching sample questions:

  • What buying process questions will you ask? (These are questions about compelling issues, stage in the buyer’s journey, options they are exploring, others solution providers they are exploring and solution selection criteria.) 
  • What answers do you anticipate?
  • How will you handle those answers?
  • What questions are you anticipating?
  • What will your response be?
  • What objections, delays or stalls should you anticipate?
  • What is your response?

Unfortunately, what we do know from the 1,000s of sales managers assessed for coaching skills is that less than 10% of them have adequate skills to be effective at developing sales people. 

What does this all mean?

  1. To eliminate bad prospects - which really don’t exist - eliminate bad salespeople. 
  2. To eliminate bad salespeople- eliminate bad sales management/ lack of sales coaching
  3. To eliminate bad sales management- hire people that have the skills to be effective in the role 
  4. Don’t use sales management as the next step in the career path for successful salespeople
  5. Provide the training, development and coaching your managers need to be effective

Need further assistance with the post-call session? Click HERE or the button below to view our Post-Call Debrief Analysis Worksheet.

Post-Call Debrief Worksheet

Do You Have Sales Growth Problems?  Solution #1: Coach the team you have.

Tags: Sales Growth, Sales Manager, coaching salespeople, effective sales management

In a remarkable show of grit, the University of Alabama clawed back from a 20-point deficit against the University of Minnesota, though they eventually lost by 5. Most of you are probably thinking 1 of 2 things:

  1. I don’t care about Alabama basketball – that's just something that happens between football season and spring football practice.
  2. They still lost so why is this relevant?

It’s relevant because of a detail you wouldn’t know about unless you watch college basketball or follow sports shows regularly. For those totally out of the loop, in basketball each team has on the court at any one time 5 players. Due to an injury, a player fouling out and several players being ejected from the game Alabama played the last 10+ minutes of the game with just three players on the court!

Avery Johnson, the head basketball coach for Alabama, was asked to explain how he believed his three guys managed to pull off the most amazing loss in NCAA history. His response was that they practice a lot of defensive 5 on 3 basketball. There is no reason to go into the details of that here other than these two important things:

  1. Understanding the situations you know you are going to be in at some point during the game is imperative.
  2. Coaching your players on how to react and what to do in those situations is crucial for your success.

How is that any different than sales? The short answer is that it is not. So why doesn’t it – coaching the team that you have - happen?

  • Hiring managers believe they are hiring people with the appropriate skills and know how.
  • Most managers don’t believe that their salespeople need practice of basic fundamental sales skills – if they did, more sales training and 1-on-1 coaching would be taking place and more people on the sales team would be hitting their goals.
  • More time is spent on crafting the ‘deal’ then on practicing what to do when:
    1. The decision maker doesn't’ show up for the presentation
    2. The company hasn’t committed to leaving their current supplier, relationship, banker, insurance broker
    3. The prospect wants you to ‘sharpen your pencil’
    4. The prospect wants to ‘think it over’
  • Most sales managers – yes this might include you – haven’t been trained on effective coaching, don’t schedule time for coaching opportunities, don’t demand role-playing in sales meetings and confuse performance management with coaching.

Our assessment and research of dozens of companies with dozens of sales managers tell us that less than 10% of sales managers have the appropriate coaching skill set.  As you can see from this Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis snapshot of this sales organization the sales managers who are employed there have 44% of the required skills and are 59% effective when coaching. 

OMG.png

In addition to effective coaching (Download Keys to Effective Coaching E-book) a Sales Managed Environment requires performance management, effective recruiting, motivation that works and upgrading the sales team.

Here are a couple of ideas worthy of consideration and implementation:

  1. Carve out time and be a slave to your schedule for 1 on 1 coaching to specifically improve skills and change behaviors
  2. Make sure that in every sales meeting you have a segment on sales skills improvement that includes drill for skill and role-playing
  3. Every week in your schedule you should have time for the ‘situation room’. This is the opportunity to conduct pre–call strategy sessions and post meeting debriefs
  4. Instruct and demand your sales team schedule joint calls with you once a month. 
  5. Make documentation of ALL activity in your CRM a requirement to get reimbursed for business expenses. 

In a 1,000 word blog we cannot solve all the sales problems outlined in the beginning but tackling coaching is a great start. For another step in that direction take action NOW. For a free sample of the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis click the botton below.

Free SEIA Sample

Pipeline Management – Why Monitor If You’re Not Going To Fix It? 5 Steps to fixing instead of just monitoring.

Tags: Pipeline management, setting sales goals, increase pipeline

My wife Linda and I were recently in Columbia Maryland visiting family. While having a mid-afternoon lunch at Clyde’s I happen to see a “LifeLock” commercial on the bar TV. All I caught was the following caption:

“Why Monitor If You're Not Going to Fix It”?

Forbes contribution editor, Will Burns, writes about the absurdity the Lifelock ads point out. He even does us the favor of including the Dentist, Robbery and Pest Control ads in his article.

Many companies, probably including yours, have for many years monitored pipeline opportunities. The idea is to have information about the opportunities being created by the sales team. Companies want to know: 

  • What stage in the sales process is the opportunity
  • What the next steps are to move the opportunity through the pipeline
  • The likelihood of winning the business based on a probability % either calculated or assumed based on the sales stages
  • The future sales revenue of all the opportunities in the pipeline.

There are normally at least three problems with the use of CRMs and pipeline management:

  1. Validity - The true accuracy (validity) of the predictive nature of the CRM is dependent upon making sure that a milestone centric sales process has been mapped and made to be part of the CRM being used.
  2. Credibility – Even if you have the right sales process mapped and documented there is still the element of GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. If your sales team is entering opportunities into the pipeline to keep management off of their back and assuming that the opportunities have met the criteria for each step in the sales process then you still have a predictive problem with your pipeline.
  3. Lack of helpful business intelligence – It’s one thing to enter data and get raw numbers of what has happened and what we think will happen. It’s another thing to build your CRM so that you get reporting that tells you how sales people are performing against the sales success formula developed for each individual. Without comparative data then truly all a company or manager is doing is monitoring activity without identifying if in fact there are any problems.

What a company should be looking for, so that it’s in a position to ‘fix it’, are critical numbers and ratios so that a sales manager can clearly and more accurately identify choke points in the sales process for each individual.  Additionally the data can and should tell the manager and the organization if training and coaching is required or if the current training and coaching is having the intended impact: Improving the effectiveness and results of the sales team. 

Let’s assume the following sales effort and effectiveness performance model: 

Action Plan.png

  •  The sales person that is failing to hit sales targets is supposed to:
    • Create 10 new leads a month
    • Convert 50% of those into opportunities
    • Convert 50% of those into presentations
    • And get 50% of those presentations to turn into sold business
    • Additionally the average size sales is supposed to be $10,000.00 
  • Lets assume the following actual sales effort and effectiveness:
    • 9 new leads are being created but we don’t know why 9 instead of 10?
    • 50% of leads are being converted to opportunities
    • 50% of those opportunities are leading to presentations (but keep in mind over time there will only be 90% of the planned for opportunities because of failure to hit the lead goal)
    • 45% of the presentations turn into sold business instead of 50%
    • And, the average size sale is $9,000.00 instead of $10,000.00

If this is monitored and NOT ADDRESSED/FIXED then this sales person will be short of their goal in access of 25%. This will be a gradual event because unless the CRM is built to provide this information pro-actively no one will notice. No one will notice because the numbers are either: Not being monitored. Not being addressed because they are ‘close enough’ (9 instead of 10. Management sees this as being 1 off of target rather than 10% off target). Or, the coaching to fix the problem falls into the category of ‘do more’ instead of let’s coach you on how to do ‘better’.

Does any of this look or sound familiar? It may not especially if you have enough of the right people (about 33% of your sales group) doing enough of the right things. With 33% of the team carrying the load you will still end up with about 90% of your goal and all you need is a few of the remaining 67% of the team to contribute something to the production number. You will be close enough.

“Fixing” it has to be part of the investment when investing in sales enablement tools, systems and technology. Fixing the problem requires the following 5 steps:

  1. Building a milestone centric sales process that is part of the CRM
  2. Creating sales success formulas for each sales person based on their historical actual performance and agreed to sales goals
  3. Timely monitoring and updating of sales effort and sales execution data so that you can ‘catch them early’ in real time when their performance is a negative variance from the plan
  4. Using the data to develop intentional coaching strategies to help your sales people deal with the specific challenges they are having in either effort or execution. No more ‘run faster’ coaching
  5. Use metrics to determine your success:
    • % of sales people hitting effort target increases to 100%
    • % of people hitting conversion ratios improves
    • Production from each of the sales team segments (1/5s) improves year over year
    • The 80/20 rule starts to shift to a 70/30 > 60/40 rule
    • Validity and credibility in your pipeline prediction improves
    • Adaption of your CRM is at 100%

Call To Action: 

Request a 30 minute live Emergency Pipeline Analysis Session to evaluate current opportunities in your pipeline. What you will get/learn.

  • Complete instruction on how to more effectively evaluate the validity and credibility of your pipeline opportunities
  • How to more effectively identify choke points in the sales process
  • A method of intentional coaching to improve the probability of closing current opportunities.

Email:  tony@anthonycoletraining.com

Subject Line: EPAS Demo

 

Fishing for Prospects

Tags: Prospecting, Qualifying leads, coaching salespeople, create & convert leads

I’m sure majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).

Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t and shouldn’t rely on them as their main resource for potential business. They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities. If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given, won’t try and uncover other opportunities and in the end, you, the sales manager, and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

And it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video. Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identifies. After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform? Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salespersons job, though difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components: go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities, qualify those opportunities and close for the business. Don’t let your salespeople get by on just your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job.

Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”. This book is packed with practical information that you can put into practice today to immediately increase your sales. Also, listen to the recorded live broadcast of Anthony Cole Training Group’s President and Chief Sales Officer, Mark Trinkle, covering “How to Create, Cultivate and Convert Sales Leads".

Listen to the Recording Here!