ACTG Sales Management Blog

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What the Numbers Tell Us about Salesperson Readiness

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Aug 22, 2016

We recently delivered a webinar specifically for one of our clients – BISA (Bank Insurance and Securities Association).  The topic was The Customer-First Advisor: How to Help Your Salespeople Survive and Sell in the Coming DOL Environment – regarding the recent Department of Labor ruling outlining the fiduciary responsibilities of financial advisors giving advice to prospects or clients. (Click here to listen to recording.)

NOTE:  This post doesn't just apply to investment advisor salespeople.  Salespeople in all industries continue to face changes in economic, competitive and company climates.  As a sales leader, it is important to recognize that those salespeople that got you where you are today probably won’t be the same ones that will get you through the other side of change unless you get them ready.

Up until this year, advisors had to satisfy a “suitability” standard when providing advice.  The problem is that sometimes “suitability” also was conflicted advice. It was “conflicted” apparently because some of the products that were “suitable” were also the ones that paid the advisors the most commission.  I have strong feelings about this and why the DoL would stick its nose in this… but that discussion is for another day and time!

As a result, one of the issues at hand is how advisors actually conduct themselves now that there are new regs in place.  During our webinar (click here to listen to recording),we asked a couple of poll questions.  Here are those questions and responses:

Survey-responses.png

What does this tell us – you?

  • Skills to be successful – If you look at your sales results in a 80/20 power curve, you always see that about 36% of your team represents close to 90% of the sales results. What does that tell you about the rest of the team?  Answer: They either fail in effort or execution of the process, or they lack skills.  Question: Did you hire them that way or make them that way?
  • Pipeline – The question applies to anyone selling anything but ESPECIALLY if you are selling products and services of higher dollar amounts and selling B2B. Not everyone that fogs a mirror is a prospect.  Yes, people may call you out of the blue, walk into your office and ask to buy. Sell them!  But, day in and day out, your salespeople need to be looking for and talking to Zebras. (click here for book)
  • Depending on how your salespeople go to the market, the first contact has to be compelling. One of our rules is this: “Don’t look, act or sound like a salesperson.”  If your people open up with how good the company is, great pricing and unbelievable service, then they are bringing nothing to the conversation that is compelling.  REMEMBER THIS from Verne Harnish in Scaling UP – People are distracted.  Prospects have lots of other people looking to take their time.  You must have a compelling message in order to get people to keep listening.
  • Tracking is the name of the game when it comes to performance management. Lots of companies talk about performance management, but normally all that means is that there is an arbitrary line that someone has to cross before they go on a PIP – Performance Improvement Program.  By then, it’s normally too late. The key to performance management is to have systems and processes in place so that you can “catch them early”.

What does this mean?  It means the following:

  • Regardless of the levels of success in your organization, you should constantly invest in your people so that they continue to improve important skills and learn new ones.
  • Make sure that your salespeople clearly understand the ideal client in your organization and make sure that you have a process to “inspect what you expect” in terms of what segment of the market you are capturing.
  • Review your go-to-market messaging and ask yourself – “Does this really differentiate us from the market or are we trying to sell the same message everyone else is?”
  • Identify your sales steps. Have a process in place to calculate exactly how many of each step each salesperson has to execute in order to succeed.  Make sure that you have assumptions about the conversion ratios from one step to the next step.  These ratios will vary from person to person. Collect actual performance results.  Compare actual activity and effectiveness to target activity and effectiveness.

Additional Resources:

Building a Sales Formula for Success – Link to success formula

Tracking – Sample output of data collected

Topics: DoL regulations, building successful sales teams, sales competencies, sales management

Sales Inspiration from an NBA Legend and His Coach

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, May 26, 2016

The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don’t like doing.”  

This is a quote from Dave Kurlan’s blog post about Bill Walton and John Wooden (see Additional Resources below).  Dave uses role-playing as an example.  I see this all the time!  Ask someone to role play in front of the group and they shut tight like a clam.  How can you possibly get better at pressure situations if you don’t practice under pressure?

Bill has published and is now marketing his book, Back from the Dead.  I read a couple of lines froman interview with GQ and immediately went to my Amazon add-in and downloaded the book with my 1-click.

Here was my amazing buying experience:

  • I read an article that got my attention.
  • I clicked on a button in my Firefox ribbon at the top of my page.
  • I searched Amazon for “Bill Walton”.
  • The book popped up.
  • I clicked on the little thing on the right side of the page that said, “Buy Now using 1-click.”
  • I wanted the Kindle version so I could read it on the plane without carrying a big book, so when Amazon asked me if I wanted it downloaded to my iPhone, I clicked “yes.”
  • This all took less than a minute.
  • And that, my friends, is today’s sales cycle.

In your sales world, it might not take as many steps or it might be more.  In your sales cycle, it probably takes more than a minute… maybe 30 days, maybe 120, maybe a year.

Bottom line: There is something that stimulates the buyer. The buyer gets the information they want and then… when they want to buy… they want to make the process easy and they want options.  If you are not doing those things (stimulating the buying response – providing information to make a buying decision – giving them options – making it easy), then you are going to lose the sale to those that do those things.  Not only will you lose occasionally, but sooner or later, it will become a permanent condition.

Now, my favorite Bill Walton and John Wooden story.

johnwooden.pg.jpg

Watch the video to get the whole story, but in short, the lesson for the Sales Leader is this:

  • You’ve been hired to do a job – drive sales growth/win market share
  • Part of that responsibility is to put the best team in the market.
  • As the coach, you establish the culture for winning; you set the team rules.
  • You can lead people but you cannot make them do something – players have free will.
  • If someone violates the rules, something has to be done – bend the rules, keep the rules
  • If a salesperson wants to exert their independence, let them. But let them do it somewhere else.
  • They have to want to play for you and win more than compete against you and lose.

Additional Resources:

Dave Kurlan’s blog:
The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Unless you have strong leadership, the money you spend on sales training is wasted. Stop wasting money.  In addition to great players, the key to a sales team built for growth is great sales management Leadership and Management. Read more about our Sales Management Certification.

Make sure you get great players who are committed to winning for you – Hirebettersalespeople.com

Get insight on the 9 Keys to Successful Sales Management 

Topics: sales management, selling in today's market, building successful sales teams

Is it an Expense or an Investment?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 01, 2016

thoughtful.gif

I just returned from the 2016 Bank Insurance and Securities Association annual convention. As always, it is a great event where competitors come together to discuss processes and strategies to deal with the challenges of growing financial institution-owned investment (broker) programs.

I believe this is actually my 7th conference: the first one being 2009.  As you can imagine, that year was quite a conference as banks and investment firms/companies were in the throws of a financially disastrous economic downturn.  This year, there is a new challenge on the horizon - the impending DOL (Department of Labor) legislation regulating fiduciary responsibility of advisors when discussing, presenting and offering solutions to retirement funds.  Although there was way too much information to get it all a single post, the topic did leave me with much I would like to share with my readers.

So, this is my thought for today - investing in success.

This is going to sound self-serving.  However, I assure you, it is not.  As a company, we have probably invested $40,000.00 in real dollars to learn about the industry the BISA represents as well as learn more about the problems and challenges facing those that are responsible for leading and managing sales teams to meet the investment program goals.  This year alone, and I just finished tallying just my expenses for the trip, we will have invested very close to $20,000.00 so that we can better understand AND service our target market. 

Understand that when I say "our company" I really mean my wife, Linda, and me.  It is our company.  It is our money.  So, every dollar we spend in and for our company that is a dollar that we don’t invest in our own family and future.  It really is our money. The point is that we look at it as an investment and not just an expense.  It's an investment that will return future dollars to the company.

As I was flying back yesterday, I was thinking about that and thinking about those that attended and those individual salespeople (thousands of them) represented by the firms/companies in attendance and I realized a couple of things:

  *  There are people there just like me that are taking money out of their pocket and investing in a future.

  * There are people there that are using company dollars BUT they are using personal time away from their family and investing that time to invest in their future.

  * The investment, either way, is substantial.

  * The investment of time alone is close to three 14-hour days.

My point and suggestion today is this - in order to become all that you can be, you need to personally invest time, money and effort to learn.  It’s more than an investment of the 40 to 50 hours a week working in the business.  It is an additional investment of time working on your business necessary for future success.

Topics: building successful sales teams, sales management, Sales Coaching, increase sales

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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