Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Busting 5 Myths (Secrets) of Successful Selling

Tags: close more sales, managing salespeople, assessing sales talent, getting consistent sales performance

Ok, let’s start here - there are no secrets!  The Internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated ignorance and secrets to success in sales... and about how to do almost anything else.  All you need is a mobile device (could even be a watch) with access to the internet and you can find just about anything you want to know.

car-duct-tape.png

Myth Busters used to be one of my favorite shows.  I searched google to find the Discovery Channel episode about lifting a car with duck tape. Here is the link (but, unfortunately, you won’t get the complete show).

With facts and strategies being so readily available, why do most salespeople (about 80%) still struggle to be successful? A lot of it has to do with beliefs and myths. What about you? Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Since I short-changed you a little on the video, I will share a list of some other common myths:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon – Pink Floyd led us astray (Here you go, rockers!)
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

THE BEST METHOD - GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

As many of you know, Anthony Cole Training Group has specialized in providing specialized sales growth solutions for banking, investment advisory and insurance.  Primarily, those growth solutions include:

  1. Hiring better salespeople
  2. Executing an effective sales process
  3. Sales Management certification

During our years of developing and delivering content to hundreds of sales organizations, we have used the #1 sales assessment tool on the planet.  Not only is the accuracy of the sales inventory assessment tool unbelievable, but the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis has been game changer for every one of the clients in our niche:

“The Sales Person Skills Assessment Tool has enabled us to discover some interesting information about our sales process, current sales capabilities as well as potential opportunities for growth and improvement in sales competencies. This assessment tool has also changed how we go about hiring for our sales force.”

President & CEO
F&M Trust

One of the most interesting segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs.  Each of us has personal beliefs that dictates our behaviors and thus determines our outcomes.  This holds true for all areas - sales, sales management and sales leadership.  Whether aware or not, we all have beliefs about what we do that impacts our opportunity for success. 

5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE

Here are the beliefs that many salespeople hold near and dear to their hearts that simply are not true:

  1. People buy from people they like – Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you liked, but the “liking” didn’t drive your decision. What drove your decision was your confidence and trust in the person, the product and the company behind the product.
  2. People make buying decisions based on price – Staying with you and your purchasing habits for a second, let’s talk automobiles. According to autobyel.com, the cheapest car available today is the Hyundai Accent SE with a MSRP $15,580.00.  If you own one, then you are a rare breed.  The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2016 was only .38% of all vehicles sold in the U.S.  If people simply bought on lowest price, this would not be the case.
  3. Closing skills are the most important – This might be surprising to you, but in the last three studies I personally conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers and private bankers severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right – Actually, the customer is rarely They are more right today than they USED to be when it comes to product knowledge, availability, options and pricing as a result of information available on the Internet; but to assume they are right about everything is just SO wrong. However, this in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is this: if salespeople believe this, then they will never be gutsy enough to execute the challenger sale, the value-based selling system, the SPIN System or our Effective Selling System.
  5. Prospects are honest – 95% of respondents in all of our studies believe prospects are honest. That is… until we conduct our first meeting with our clients and go through the process that buyers to go through when executing their buying process. g.  If a prospect was completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who just cold-called them that they just got a renewal that they think is too high and they want some competitive bids to keep the incumbent honest.  We all know that doesn’t happen!

TRAINING ALONE DOES NOT GET LASTING RESULTS

Time and again, companies spend money on sales training to introduce them to a new…

  • sales language
  • sales approach
  • prospecting method
  • time management process
  • cross-selling strategy

What happens is that the company spends a lot of time, money and effort and yet, at the end of the event or training, they cannot point to any discernable difference in outcomes.  Behaviors stay the same, problems that existed before are still there, effort changes for a while but soon returns to pre-training levels and salespeople still blame the economy, the company or the competition for lack of success.

Top people still are performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are still “at leasters” and your bottom 20% are not performing any better than the bottom 20% you had the year before.  Why?  Because the root problems associated with beliefs were never addressed.

I grew up on a farm.  I know about planting things and making them grow, and if it’s a fruit tree or bush (blueberries), I know that there is a time to harvest.  What I also know is that you can buy the best plants and trees in the world, but if you don’t take care of the root system with good soil, fertilizer and water, they will not produce.

GIVE ME A CALL - I WILL HELP

For more about growing blueberries, peaches and salespeople, call me! This is your call to action to get more productivity out of yourself or your sales team, so call me NOW at 513.791.3458.

Additional Resources

  • # 1 Sales Assessment in the world
  • Identify Your Systems and Processes – The Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample (SEIA)
  • How do my salespeople compare to industry standards – Get 3 people on your team (the best three that do the right things, have the right fit and blow out their numbers consistently) to take the sales skills inventory assessment and compare. Be prepared to take a call from us, discuss the results and answer the question: Do you want our help?

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Is Motivating Salespeople What It Takes To Drive Sales Results?

Tags: close more sales, motivating salespeople, getting consistent sales performance, effective sales management

tony_boy_run.jpg

I have done many workshops over the years and, normally, in the very beginning, I ask:  What is it that you want to leave here with that would make this a great investment of your time?  One of the top 3 answers in every situation is the question:  How do I motivate or keep my sales team motivated? (Dan Pink – Ted Talk on Motivation – a great 18 minute investment!)

IT HAS TO START INSIDE

My response 100% of the time is this: “You cannot motivate your sales team.  All you can do is recruit motivated people or create an environment where they motivate themselves.”  I then share with them what I heard Mark Victor Hansen say many years ago at the Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting: “Motivation is an inside-out job.”  In other words, it’s something that has to start inside of someone; you cannot motivate them from the outside.  I believed that then and I still believe it now.

IT HAS TO BE THERE FROM THE BEGINNING

As some of you know or may recall, I grew up on a blueberry farm in the blueberry capital of the world, Hammonton, NJ.  My dad, Ray, was the foreman on the farm.  I’m sure that if dad hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant.  Does that give you a picture of the type of guy my dad was?  Dad was a no B.S. ”you want to make more money then work more hours, when all else fails hard work works” kind of guy.

You may also recall that I graduated from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on a full scholarship.  Working towards earning my scholarship didn’t start when I entered high school in the 9th grade.  It didn’t start my junior year when I earned the starting position of center.  It didn’t start when I was named co-captain along with Patrick Gazzara my senior year.  No, I started earning the scholarship when I was 9 years old.

That summer of 1963 was uneventful until I made the comment to my dad that I’d like to play football.  He asked me why? I said, “It looks like fun.”  He asked, “Are you sure?” and, without hesitation, I replied, “Sure.”  He pressed on saying, “It’s going to be hard.”  I said, “Okay.”  Finally, he said, “I’ll get you the name of the coach, Matt Gazzara (not related to Patrick). You call him and tell him you want to play.”  I said okay.

[Jumping ahead to the end of my first practice] I came off the field and dad asked me, “What did you think?”  I said, “I loved it - I'm going to go to college someday and play football!”  He asked me, “Are you sure?” He went on to tell me that college football players are in great shape, so I would have to work hard to be in great shape.  I said, “Okay.” 

I took off my helmet. He helped me take off my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then said, “Start running laps around the field.”  I asked, “How many?” He just said, “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

I stopped 13 years later when I finished my career on the field of Holy Cross where we had just lost the game 40 to 41.  I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again played the game that I loved so much.

That is internal motivation.  I didn’t know about scholarships when I was 9.  I hadn’t thought about the education I would get.  I had no idea that I’d get a chance to fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18.  I didn’t know I’d get to travel along the Middle Atlantic and New England region visiting places like Bangor, Maine and The Military Academy in Annapolis.  All I knew was I wanted to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to succeed.

DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

  • Do you have that?
  • Do you have people – salespeople - on your team that have that?
  • When you think about all the things you’ve tried to motivate people, has anything REALLY had a long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or significantly moving the results needle?
  • When you look at performance, how many people do you have that are just “plug and play” - the few you know you can count on day in and day out to do the things they need to do and you know they will perform?
  • When you look at those that don’t perform, how fatigued are you just thinking about the effort you have to put in just to get them to come to meetings on time, use your CRM, and do the activity to get the results?

IS IT EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL?

What we have learned over the last several years by assessing sales organizations using the Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis is that motivation has changed. There was a time when salespeople were primarily externally motivated, but now there is data that tells us the primary motivation of salespeople is internal!  Let me show you: 

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Table 1

This table represents the top ten performers in a recent assessment of 100 sales people in the financial services/banking industry.  These findings are consistent with all assessments done in this space over the last 3 years.  By the numbers:

  • 8 of 10 are motivated by winning
  • 9 of ten are motivated by self-rewarding performance
  • All ten succeed and are motivated when self-pressure is applied
  • 9 of the 10 successfully self-manage
  • Competition against themselves or others is evenly split 50/50
  • Self-satisfaction motivation has a slight edge 60/40

NOW, here are the bottom 10 findings: 

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Table 2

SO, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS...

So, after looking at the evidence, let's go back to our original question – Is motivating salespeople what it really takes to drive sales results?

NOPE!

Additional Resources:
How do I get this information for my sales team? LINK

DOWNLOAD FREE eBook -  How to Hire Advisors Who Will Sell More

Assessing Why Performers Perform and Non-Performers Fail – The Impact on Revenue, Profit and the Ability to Grow

Tags: pareto principle, close more sales, assessing sales talent, 80/20 Principle, effective sales management, consistent sales results

IT STARTS WITH UNDERSTANDING PERFORMANCE

Let’s start with the problem that you have seen me write about again, again and again. 

Perry Marshall’s book – The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing created a major shift in how I think and go about talking to prospects about their sales team and its ability or inability to demonstrate consistent and predictable sales growth.  Everything, and I MEAN EVERYTHING, starts with an understanding of how your sales team is performing. 

BOB_80-20.png

 

IS THERE A PROBLEM?

This exercise identifies if there is a problem or not.  It really IS that simple.  All you have to do is a little simple math and then answer the question – Is this a problem?

I recently reviewed the productivity of a group we are in discussions with.  Nothing is final yet as the company is in that early step of the process – trying to determine if there is a problem.  To help them in the process, we sign the NDA and ask for their production numbers.  I get the numbers, stack rank them and start applying the 80/20 rule.  I don’t follow the exact procedure; instead, I just take the number of people on the list and break the group into fifths.  If I have 100 salespeople, I end up with 5 groups of 20.  Then, I just do the math.

  • What percentage of the total is being produced by the top quintile?
  • What percentage of the total is being produced by the middle quintile?
  • How much is being produced by the 5th quintile?

 

ACTUAL NUMBERS MAY BE DISTURBING

The findings were not startling in and of themselves because the top two fifths closely resembled what you would expect from the 80/20 rule.  What was interesting (and what would interest you) was the discussion about the bottom two fifths.  When we discovered that the bottom two fifths generated less than 5% of the total revenue, we then got into the compensation/revenue discussion. 

  • How much is 5% of the total revenue?
  • How much in compensation alone is it costing to generate that 5% of revenue?

 

TIME FOR THE “LET’S PRETEND” EXERCISE

I won’t go into all the details, but when we played “let’s pretend”, then everyone in the room got real serious.

  • “Let’s pretend that we fired all of those people in the bottom two fifths, how much would that save in compensation alone?”
  • Subtract the revenue
  • What’s the profit?

I assure that in most, if not all, companies (I suggest you stop reading and do this right now) the profit is significant.  So much so that it starts a really good debate that starts with the question:

Why in the heck are those people still with us?

 

GET RESULTS WITH AN ESTABLISHED PROCESS

The discussion was robust, honest, helpful and productive. And, yes, they all agreed that they have a “have to fix” problem. But my post today isn’t just about getting to a point where you can determine a problem and the severity of the problem, but more about the cost of the approaching the solution the right way.

Understand we don’t get to close all the opportunities we engage in.  We don’t get them all because, at the risk of sounding arrogant, not everyone qualifies (We just failed to make the cut on a recent opportunity because of our commitment to the process).  Our process, just as yours should be, follows a fairly strict set of guidelines. We follow these guidelines because we know we can guarantee results when they are followed. We have experiences from early on in our business when we didn’t follow the guidelines – we didn’t get results and we didn’t keep the relationship.

 

INVALUABLE DATA FROM THE RIGHT ASSESSMENT TOOL

The primary step in our approach is the use of an assessment tool.  Specifically, we use the Objective Management Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA).  It gives our new clients and us everything we need to impact revenue, profit and growth.  Let me explain by using one of the tools we get from the SEIA.  (see chart below)

SEIA_Data.png

 

This chart represents those people in a sales organization that are succeeding and failing the most.   Assuming for a minute that you don't understand the meaning of the headings, just look at the colors:  Green is good, red is bad, high numbers good, low numbers bad.  The first column identifies if the people are performing to goal or not.  The only anomaly in the group is the third person from the top.  I inquired about this and there are two pieces of information that are good to know. 

  • The data we collected on performance was based on the previous years sales.
  • The manager answering the question “Is this person performing as expected” answered the question for the current year.

So, what we have is someone that performed exceedingly well in one year and is now failing.  What the graph helps the manager do is have a very significant discussion on “why” there is a change.  I won’t go into all the details as to what that discussion should sound like, but now the manager has some interesting data to look at and digest in order to help frame the narrative of the required intentional coaching session to be scheduled. 

 

TIME TO GET REAL - THE BOTTOM LINE

What I believe is most important is to get arms around the total picture provided by hard data and assessment data.  What we know is the following:

  • Coaching the top group will be effective because they are coachable and have the will to sell
  • Investing in the bottom group will bring little or no return:
    • They lack desire
    • They lack commitment
    • They have a poor outlook
    • They won’t take responsibility
    • And they are not motivated to succeed in selling
  • You can assume (because I did further analysis) that at least one of the other fifths in the organization looks like the top group and one looks like the bottom group.
  • The one fifth that looks like the top group may not hit the top ranking because they lack tenure in the company or in the business.
  • There is at least one other group that looks like the bottom quintile. They may or may not be new.  In this case, the bottom quintile we are illustrating is NOT at the bottom of the ranking because they are new. They are at the bottom because they suck at what they do!
  • The question(s) you have to ask about the entire team is:
    • Did I hire them this way?
    • Did I make them this way?
  • This applies to every quintile that you look at.

 

So, getting back to the title – The Impact on Revenue, Profit and Growth - consider the following:

  • What is it costing you to carry those that are failing to perform – in real dollars and lost opportunity? You MUST calculate the cost as if you were reporting this to the board!
  • What would the impact be to the bottom line if you fired them all today? Certainly, sales would not suffer.  Also, you have to consider that if they are this bad at selling, what else are they bad at and what is that costing you?
  • What is the financial impact of those that looked like your worse performers but have exited over the last 12 to 24 months? Those that you fired or exited? What did that cost you in time, training, recruiting dollars, on boarding, compensation AND lost opportunities?
  • How many training dollars will you pour down the rat hole attempting to fix people that are un-trainable or un-coachable? What impact could you have if those resources were redirected to sales management improvement, more focus on developing new hires with skills and true potential, recruiting talent that mimics your current top performers?
  • What is the impact of keeping non- and low performers on the team? How do those in the middle react to the stack ranking knowing that those on the bottom are not at risk of losing their jobs? Why should they worry?

 

Okay, so maybe I’ve beat this drum enough – you got the point.  What’s the solution, what am I getting to, how do you (as the person responsible for revenue and growth) make sure you are making wise decisions when it comes to hiring, managing and developing talent?

 

DON’T GO IN BLIND

Think “doctor”.  I just completed an abdominal biopsy.  Prior to the procedure last Friday, I had a CAT scan, a Pet Scan, Ultrasound and another CAT scan plus results from the same test taken a year ago. 

I’m glad Dr. Max didn’t go in blind.  It was tough enough even with all the data he had.  Without it, there would have been virtually no chance to get it right.  That’s the point. Don’t go in blind.  Assess your talent, assess your new candidates, know what makes your current successful people successful and know why those that are failing are failing – DON’T REPEAT.

 Request a Free Demo or Sales Assessment Sample

Additional Resources:

What Great Sales Meetings, Massages and Colonoscopies Have in Common

Tags: sales meetings, close more sales, building effective sales teams, top sales performers

START WITH "WHY"

Let’s look at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Formula and go right to the heart of the issue – “why”. (If you have not watched this video on Ted Talks, do so; it is a must for anyone in leadership, management AND sales.)

Golden Circle.png

“Why” is the most important thing to uncover when…

  • attempting to alter behavior,
  • move towards a specific outcome or
  • understand why someone would be willing to go through the pain of change when it is so much easier to deal with the status quo.


PAIN... IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR

Years ago, when I heard Tony Robbins speak in Cincinnati about Pain and Pleasure, he stated:

“People will do whatever it takes to avoid the pain they have today,
the pain they foresee in the future or to arrive at a pleasurable outcome. 
Avoiding pain will always trump pursuing pleasurable outcomes.”

Sales meetings, great massages and colonoscopy visits – when conducted and executed well - change behavior, improve skill and impact future outcomes.  However, yes, they can be painful. 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND TO GET THINGS ROLLING

This week, I had a massage… as well as a colonoscopy (although I realize that is more information than you wanted to know…).  During the massage a couple days ago, they found a pressure point in the middle of my right shoulder blade that was tense with stress. When the masseuse applied pressure, there was definite pain.  But, once I got through the pain, I was rewarded with less stress and now the impinged shoulder isn’t as painful.

Today, I had my colonoscopy.  Now, if you’ve done this in the past, you know the drill and the “pain” of it all.  The pain or discomfort isn’t so much with the procedure, but with the prep. That god-awful stuff you have to drink, the endless hours on the commode, the cramps in your intestines as well as all the good-natured ribbing you get at work (What? You don’t share this moment with co-workers?).  And then, you have some definite discomfort at the end when you are trying to relieve the pressure while in the post-op “GAS CHAMBER”.

HOW ALL THIS RELATES TO SALES MEETINGS

So, after laying all that as a foundation, I’m sure you are wondering, “Why is Tony talking about sales meetings, massages and colonoscopies?!?” Well…

  • Too many sales meetings are conducted like a great massage:
    • Soothing
    • Relaxing
    • No tension
    • Positive environment
    • People leave without any kind of stress or care

  • Too many sales meetings are also being conducted like colonoscopies
    • People that have been to them before don’t want to do them again
    • The prep for both is critical for success
    • Often, if the environment isn’t controlled, there ends up being a lot of gas expelled
    • Sometimes, depending on the doctor, the anesthesia and/or the meeting, people are put to sleep or, at a minimum, in “twilight”
    • Everyone is starving for something productive to happen during the “meetings”, but too often they come to “the table” hungry and leave hungry
    • Everyone is thrilled that they only have to go through all that once in a while

Do you see any correlations? You might find yourself agreeing to many of the bullet points above.  You might also be able to relate to some of the things that aren’t too good about the sales meetings you have attended or conducted.  The purpose of this writing is to help shed some light on the right combination of things in a meeting that should happen so that:

  • Meetings are productive
  • No one wants to miss your meetings
  • People learn and grow their practices as a result of the meetings
  • They don’t have to sit through painful re-enactments of each salesperson’s pipeline discussion (Truly, this is like multiple colonoscopies on the same day!)

WHEN THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE PAIN 

Here are the correct procedures for sales meetings, massages and medical procedures that will result in a clean bill of health:

  • At a certain age, colonoscopies are non-negotiable. Effective sales meetings are not negotiable any time for any company of any age.
  • Preparation is required to have a great outcome
  • You know you have great outcomes if: (These are in BOLD because they are IMPORTANT!)
    • People never miss, leave early, or arrive late
    • Your people learn something that they can implement right away to help them grow their business
    • The meetings are all about selling and driving sales growth
      • No ops discussions
      • No underwriting discussions
      • No business strategy discussions but “foot soldier” discussions on strategies to gain entry into markets
      • Anything that can be communicated via email should be done so
    • People should leave the meeting re-invigorated, but also mindful of what it takes to maintain a stress-free existence in the organization
      • Activity and production requirements must be met
      • Mediocrity is unacceptable
      • People will be coached with a disciplined approach for improvement if they begin failing at activity or production
    • And finally, just like after a colonoscopy, people may not always want to return for another one; but the upside is that benefits (health and sales success) outweigh the pain of the procedure!

WHAT I GAINED FROM THE EXPERIENCE 

During my exam, they found 5 polyps and removed them all.  Don’t panic; the doctor did not indicate that I had a problem. It’s just when you get to a certain age, you find little skin things hanging off of your body all over the place. Why should the colon be exempted? (Again, too much information? Ha ha) 

Here are my other massage and colonoscopy outcomes:

  • I learned from it: keep doing the right things – exercise, diet and sleep
  • I am now stress-free for a while because I have a clean bill of health on my colon
  • I feel 5 pounds lighter, which is always a good thing
  • I came home and slept soundly for another 5 hours after only getting 3.5 hours of interrupted sleep the night before. Admit it, you would all like to sleep like that once in a while and you KNOW it would be good for you
  • It brought my wife and I closer together. We both had the chance to be supportive because she also went through this; hers was last week.  It was an opportunity to put the world outside for a while and just focus on each other.

 WHAT YOU CAN GAIN FROM THE EXPERIENCE

Positive outcomes of a great sales meeting:

  • Unsuitable opportunities (that actually create an unhealthy approach to prospecting) are jettisoned from the pipeline
  • Something is learned that can have a positive and dramatic impact on sales success
  • Salespeople, who are getting the right results and doing the right things, get recognized
  • Sales skills are improved because upcoming sales or prospecting calls are role-played and practiced
  • People left the meeting feeling like part of a successful team – where everyone cares about one another and knows they are all fighting for the same successful outcomes

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Additional Resources:

3 Reasons Why Sales Get Stuck – And 3 Steps to Keep Them from Getting Stuck

Tags: close more sales

sales-funnel-stuck.jpgEven if you are not in “sales”, you’ve actually been in sales your whole life and you’ve had sales get stuck in the pipeline. No? You don’t think so. Well, let me provide a few examples to clarify.

  • When you were 5, you spent an entire 30 minutes of shopping time at the grocery store asking your mom to buy you the shiny toy, and after asking please 100 times, you worked down the “buyer” and you got the toy.
  • When you were in high school, you wanted your own car and, after asking mom and dad 25 times, promising to do better in school, working part-time on weekends and getting all A’s and B’s on your report card, you finally drove your date to the prom in your own car.
  • Let’s be candid on this next one – how many “attempts to close” before you had that first “intimate moment” with that person you are now engaged to/in love with/married to?
  • Asking for the promotion
  • Asking for a raise
  • Asking to be transferred to another department
  • Asking for a shot at being partner

Every one of these situations requires some “selling”, and in every situation, you had to make a case for why the outcome you desired was a good outcome.  That, my friend, is the essence of selling.  So, why do sales get stuck?

saleseq.png

I’m working on an opportunity right now that has hit a snag. Coincidentally, at the suggestion of Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group, I’m reading SALES EQ by Jeb Blount.  Based on the 29 pages I’ve read so far, I think I’ve figured out why we - the stakeholders and I - are stuck.

SITUATION:  The stakeholders were looking for a solution to a management problem. They, based on PEAR (Previous experiences/Education/expectations Appearing Real), had a vision of what that solution would and should look like – Sales Management Coaching.

WHY WE’RE STUCK:

  1. I succeeded in uncovering the emotional motivation for taking action, BUT I have also introduced additional factors they have to consider because these new factors help solve the root cause of the problem(s) they face.
  2. These additional factors have created cognitive dissonance for the stakeholders and they are now in a pattern of trying to reconcile 1)what they initially thought they needed with 2) this “shiny new object” (this new solution that makes sense to them but something they weren’t prepared to deal with from a functional or investment perspective).
  3. I failed to meet with one of the money decision makers. This isn’t always a problem, but in this case, I believe it is a problem because he has no emotional attachment to the “new” direction regarding the solution.

cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance noun PSYCHOLOGY

noun: cognitive dissonance 1.the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

3 Steps to Close More Deals More Quickly (To Keep Deals from Getting Stuck)

  1. You must create cognitive dissonance (show them the “shiny new object”). This is done when you can express a value proposition, a brand promise, a catalytic mechanism that sets you apart and keeps you from looking, sounding and acting like everyone else selling anything else.
    1. NOTE: This is important!  Keep in mind that your prospects face lots of salespeople in lots of different aspects of their life.  They’ve been inundated with sales pitches and so are numb to the same old same old.
  2. You must find a way to connect your pitch to their experience. Mitch Anthony and Scott West do a great job of helping sales professionals do this in their book – Story Selling for Financial Advisors
    1. NOTE: Don’t let the title fool you or discourage you.  The principles of right brain selling work and make a difference in even the most left brain world like engineering and technology.
  3. You must “rehearse” their decision-making. What I mean by this is that, no matter what the situation…
    • Go to committee
    • Work with other trusted advisors
    • Talk to partners
    • Run it up the ladder
    • Think it over
    • Talk to spouse

The buyer(s) will go through a process of:

  • Remembering their original intent and have difficulty reconciling that original direction with the new information/potential solution you help them discover.
  • Then, assuming for a minute that your solution expanded their thinking and may require they expand their wallet, your prospect will start left brain thinking (logic). Depending on their finances, they may default to their original plan with someone else (they trust) simply because of the money involved.
  • **NOTE: “Rehearsing them” simply means that you must take them through the process of their thinking. Ask them what they will do when someone on the committee challenges their thinking.  What will they do when the current provider sharpens their pencil?  How will they deal with a partner who doubts or challenges a solution that differs from the original objective(s)?

Additional resources:

The 2 “MUST TAKE” Steps for Guaranteed Sales Results

Tags: close more sales, how to improve sales results, no excuses

In many cases, here’s the problem: Sales results are not what you expected.  Regardless of your role - sales manager or salesperson - you are looking at your sales results YTD and you are:

  • Not ahead of last year’s production
  • Not on pace to hit this year’s goals (personal or corporate)
  • Not keeping pace with those in your peer group (those you should be able to compete with based on experience and previous success)
  • Not up to par with your efficiency (conversion ratios aren’t the same, average size deal isn’t the same, you’re not getting the leads you used to)
  • Taking longer to get sales closed
  • Running out of time at the end of the week to get your prospecting done

 

Those are just a few of the symptoms observed by me, my staff and the many companies we work with when attempting to get our heads and arms around driving sales growth.  I have discovered that there are 2 “MUST TAKE” steps to address this; but, first…

I’m shooting in my first ever National Field Archery Association Indoor Nationals Tournament.  My brother, Michael, and his wife, Gwen, owners of Insight Archery in Binghamton, New York, have participated in this tournament for years.  This year, it is in Cincinnati, so I thought I’d enter.  The first round is today.

Yesterday, we went to the Duke Energy Center where the tournament is being held.  We registered, stored our bow cases and made our way to the practice venue.  I’ve been practicing some, but not enough, in the basement of my house.  My wife, Linda, is not thrilled with this, but I'm a pretty good shooter and honestly, there is very little down there for me to damage. 

The range I have in my home is about 11.5 yards long. The scores I am shooting (25 points per end) are really not a good indicator of how I’m shooting because the distance is too short.  The other night I shot a 244 out of a possible 250 and one floor joist when my release strap broke from my wrist and the arrow in the bow got away from me.

(Nice Shot!)

basement arrow.png

Yesterday, we practiced awhile and I realized that the shooting regulation distance – 20 yards – is a WHOLE lot different than the 11.5 yards I’ve been shooting at home.  The main problems, of which there are many, are

  • I can not see very well out of my right eye due to recent surgery.
  • The vision in my left eye isn’t nearly what it used to be.
  • Wearing glasses is not an answer because I haven’t figured out how to see around the frame of the glasses.
  • I shake a little more than I used to when I get up to about 50 shots because I haven’t had the time to practice to build up my endurance.
  • When I shoot by myself, I'm by myself. When you shoot in a tournament, there is someone right behind you and right in front of you creating a heck of a distraction.

When we finished practice, we walked over to another practice range and met up with Hilda, a friend of Mike’s and Gwen’s, who is also shooting in the tournament.  Right next to her was an older large gentleman with his bows and arrows… who  only had one arm.  He’s shooting at the same type of target I am …but minus his right arm.

I’ve seen videos of people doing this and I’ve heard stories about this, but I had never before witnessed it live.  He placed the bow (to rest on the stabilizer) on the floor between his knees.  He notched his arrow and lifted the bow with his left hand to bring the bow string close to his mouth.  He grabbed the release with his teeth and pushed the bow out to full draw with his left hand. He steadied his left arm, sighted slightly with his head and, finally, released the arrow by opening his mouth.

Then and there this article hit me!  I realized that the solution to sales success, sales growth and sales results really comes down to 2 basic fundamentals.  Sure, the man has skills, strength and stamina to do this, but he has 2 other things that trump everything else:

  1. Effort
  2. No Excuses

 

You don’t just show up at a tournament and NOT put forth the effort to compete... and then expect to compete.

AND… You don't allow excuses to get in the way of the effort (like I did - see above).

Sir, I don't know who you are. But I hope I see you again today, so I can say hello and let you know what an inspiration you are to me and maybe to anyone else who might read this article.

Additional Resources:

The What Works for Biz Interview (Greg Miller interviews Tony Cole): Peak Sales Performers ARE Out There

Master the Sales Managed Environment® with the SME Video Practice Center

Are You Owning Your Sales Results? Listen here

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

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Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting in Sales

Tags: Sales Strategies, close more sales, asking sales questions

A guest post by Mark Trinkle, Chief Sales Officer, Anthony Cole Training Group

Hello, darkness, my old friend.

I’ve come to talk with you again.

Because a vision, softly creeping,

Left its seeds while I was sleeping.

And the vision, that was planted in my brain,

Still remains…

Within the sound of silence.

 

So, that is the answer, courtesy of Simon & Garfunkel…And the question is this: “What song, released by a duo over 50 years ago, can help salespeople today?”

Yes, the unmistakable sound of silence. Wait a minute…does silence make a sound?  If you are a professional salesperson, you would say it absolutely does.  Susan Scott, the author of the wonderful book, “Fierce Conversations”, offers up some great advice when she suggests making your conversations more impact-ful by allow the silence to do the heavy lifting.

I think what Susan could have in mind are the hundreds of thousands of salespeople who treat silence like it is the Zika virus…they instantly run away from it.  But, what if silence was good within the context of having a powerful conversation?  What if silence led you a deeper level in a conversation?

Most salespeople are afraid of silence because they perceive it to be a) awkward or b) a sign that the prospect has checked out on them.  But, remember that you can speak much faster than people can listen…so sometimes they just need to be given time to allow their internal processor to catch up.

Here’s one more thing I have observed with salespeople.  They ask a great question….a killer question… the prospect goes radio silent…and then our salesperson ruins the moment by collapsing like a poorly dug prison tunnel.

Let the silence do the heavy lifting. I know it will be a strange feeling at first, but sometimes strange is actually a good thing.  Give your prospect some space to process the questions you ask them.

Thanks for listening. Now, go do some heavy lifting…actually, let the silence do the heavy lifting for you…and sell like a champion today.

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Close More Sales with AWATL

Tags: close more sales, effective sales process

A guest post by Jack Kasel, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

“What we have here . . . . is a failure to communicate.” 

You may recognize that line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Cool Hand Luke.  If you get nothing else out of this Sales Brew, do yourself a favor and go rent that movie.  You will be glad you did. 

Struther Martin’s character in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, makes that statement when the prisoner’s don’t do what is expected of them.  This same execution problem can occur during the sales process and it can cause problem with moving the sale to a timely close.  It usually manifests itself when something like this occurs . . . . . I think I know what you are going to do and you think you know what I’m going to do, but neither one of us really knows for sure what the other one wants or needs.  Thus, the need for the AWATL.

The AWATL stands for “As We Agreed To Letter”.  It is a brief correspondence that the salesperson should send out to clearly indicate what the expectation is (for both parties) on what is needed and expected.  It can be used early in the process or during the middle and is also extremely effective just before you present your solutions to the prospect.

The AWATL process is pretty simple, but it can be very effective.  It is a bullet-point letter or email which spells out the go-forward expectations for both the salesperson and prospect.  It also contains date-specific deadlines to make sure the process doesn’t get stalled or delayed.  Everything works better with deadlines and that is especially true when closing sales.  As mentioned previously, it can be VERY effective just before your closing presentation. 

The important elements of the AWATL includes:

  • The problems you have uncovered that your prospect NEEDS to fix
  • The budget you need to stay within
  • All the decision makers who will be present
  • Finally, and most important, the agreed-to and anticipated date when a decision will be made.

As sales professionals, we should try to control as many aspects of the sales process as possible.  We believe the AWATL can help you help you accomplish that goal… or at least help eliminate any misunderstandings that may hinder you from closing more business. 

In closing, please remember this, someone needs what you do . . . . make sure you don’t “fail to communicate” with them.

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Effective Selling - Are You a Good Pitcher?

Tags: close more sales, effective sales process

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

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

beetle.png

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

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

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

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

Additional resources:

Ted Talk – Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle of Why

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

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