Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Driving Sales Growth and Asset Management – A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious Part II

Tags: Sales Growth, effective sales management

In my previous blog article, I discussed the importance of looking at your sales production in terms of the 80/20 rule and flipping it so you can see the impact your bottom performers are having on your overall sales growth goal. If you have not already done so, click here to read the article.

With all of that said, here are some analytics of organizations we work with.  Before we begin our engagements I ask for production reports so that I can get a feel for how the team is actually performing. This starts the process of gaining an initial ‘augmented view’ of the sales team. The more in-depth augmented view comes when we complete the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.

Note: Company B:  Investment Advisory (Above 300,000 is considered above goal)

3rd quintile chart

4th quitile chart

Note:  Many, if not all, of those in the bottom quintile were reassigned to a different business unit of banking that was more consistent with their skill set and level of expertise within their newly assigned market. In other words, they had good people on the bus but they were just in the wrong seats. But aside from that, it’s difficult to ignore the rest of the data. 

If we eliminate the bottom quintile as a relevant factor, we still need to look at the 3rd and 4th quintile and wonder what is happening with this group. They are being outperformed by the 1st quintile 4.67 to 1 and 10.42 to 1! Normally, in banking, what I hear is that the most successful lenders are the most experienced-- as you can see here that is not the case. The years of service is insignificant other than the 3rd quintile which has almost as much experience as the first four quintiles.

Here is a final note on this group before I get into the actions taken to begin addressing the sales growth opportunity. The top 1/3 of the group is responsible for 83.6% of the loan production and the bottom 1/3 is responsible for 6% of the production. If you were on my board and I made this announcement to you about my sales team, what would be your reactions, questions or comments?

Suppose this was reflective of your team as well?

If you haven’t already done so, download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?" If you need additional information, check out our e-book on "Why is Qualifying A Prospect So #%&@ Hard?"

Driving Sales Growth and Asset Management – A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious

Tags: effective sales management

Velfredo Perato -- the 15th century economist -- demonstrated time and again the 80/20 rule. Yes, sometimes it's a 70/30 rule or a 60/40 rule. That is the obvious. There is nothing blinding about that. The blinding glimpse – the glimpse that causes you to blink like you are being blinded -- is when you look at the opposite end of the 80/20 rule. 

Producers/ quintile = 9

% of Total Revenue

Average Production

Performance % to Goal

1st quintile

51%

737,612

118%

2nd quintile

25%

352,607

82%

3rd quintile

16%

229,366

65%

4th quintile

6%

90,109

36%

5th quintile

2%

25,144

10%

Company A:  Insurance Brokerage - Commissions

These are real numbers from a real company.  As you can see, and when you do the math, the 80/20 rule here looks more like 76/40. The second quintile is being outperformed by the top quintile 2 to 1. The top quintile is performing at 118% of goal and every quintile after that is under performing. If I were to do this analysis for your group, you would probably shrug your shoulders and not be too surprised by this. But this is just the beginning of the blinding glimpse.

  Click to Survey your Sales Force!

As you look at the bottom 2 quintiles, you see that 40% of the sales team is responsible for 8% of the revenue. The compelling questions become:

  • Why?
  • Did you hire them this way?
  • Did you make them this way?
  • How long have these people been a part of your organization and allowed to stay at this performance level?
  • Who in the organization is in denial when asked “Does your company accept/allow mediocrity?”
  • Why is the bottom quintile being out performed by the middle quintile 9 to 1?
  • If we want to assume that the 5th quintile consists of primarily new hires (it doesn’t but I’ll be generous) and look at just the 1st and 3rd quintiles you have to ask the same question: “Why is the 3rd quintile being outperformed by the 1st quintile 3.21 to 1"?
  • Did we use a different hiring process to hire the 3rd quintile?
  • What would the monetary impact be if we got the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quintiles to perform to 100% of their goal but didn't attempt to make them as good as the top quintile?

Here is the answer to the last question:

Quintile*

Average Production

Production to Goal %

Production if 100% of Goal

Variance

Increased Revenue for Quintile (x9)

2nd

352,607

82%

 430,008.54

 77,401.54

 696,613.83

3rd

229,366

65%

 352,870.77

 123,504.77

 1,111,542.92

4th

90,109

36%

 250,302.78

 160,193.78

 1,441,744.00

 Total    

 

 

 3,249,900.75

*9 producers per quintile

Let's change your title from Market Leader or Sales Manager to Manager of Assets. Your Assets Under Management results are a reflection of hiring, onboarding, training and development, coaching and performance management.

Wikipedia defines asset management as: “any system that monitors and maintains things of value to an entity or group. It may apply to both tangible assets and to intangible assets. It is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets cost-effectively.”

That would be you and your role in your company. The key sentence here I believe is "a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading and disposing of assets cost – effectively."

I’ve been researching our client data in search of how well companies are managing their assets, specifically the assets of the sales team.  A sales force has a singular responsibility – bring in revenue to pay the bills. Think about the sales team as an investment an insurance policy or a bank loan. With an insurance policy you pay a premium. In exchange, you expect growth from the investment and insurance coverage to reimburse you for covered losses. If you are in banking, you lend money and expect it back with interest. Failure to get that money back is considered an under-performing or non-performing loan. With salespeople you pay them compensation, benefits, social security taxes and probably a match for their retirement contribution. In return you expect them to sell. You expect a substantial return on that investment. 

Are you getting the return you expected when you hired quintiles 3, 4 and 5?  If not, why not? In the next couple of articles, I will further detail what the data is telling us and will cover how to transform your current sales team into a high producing, no-limit sales team in 18 months.

If you haven’t already done so, download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?" If you need additional information, check out our e-book on "Why is Qualifying A Prospect So #%&@ Hard?"

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!

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

What You Don’t Know Can Kill Sales Growth

Tags: developing sales talent, how to manage salespeople, effective sales management, predictable sales growth

I had a conversation this week with 3 executives that run bank-owned investment programs.

seia-chart.png

  • The first executive is restructuring his program to go from $3 million to $8 million in revenue and will do that via a team approach to the credit union membership.
  • The second executive is looking to improve the effectiveness of junior advisors and improve the quality of new hires. He is the president/program manager and sales manager.
  • The third executive has sales management executives, and is part of a very large bank that has a robust training department, several leadership programs, a very tenured group and a full calendar of training programs scheduled for the balance of the year.

WHERE TO BEGIN FOR SALES GROWTH

If any of these rings true for you, consider the following:

If you’ve read any of my posts over the last 10 years, you know that our initial step in any engagement is to first assess the current state of the sales organization.  In our initial conversation with any prospect, we attempt to explore…

  • What’s happening
  • What’s not happening
  • What the objectives and expectations are
  • The gap (money) between where they are and where they need to be; Attempt to uncover the symptoms that indicate the “why”
  • If the problems are “have to fix” or “want to fix”

If we arrive at a “have to fix” state, then we discuss the process required to “fix” it.  To help paint the picture, I normally describe a situation where someone has a “have to fix” problem.  I choose improving my golf game as an analogy because I’m in a constant state of saying that I want to improve my golf game.  (Apparently, improving my game isn’t that important because I always fail to take one really important step – I don’t take lessons.  But… that is another story…)

I go on to ask, if my prospect was my new golf coach and we were in our first lesson, what would the golf coach do in our first lesson?  Almost everyone (over 90%) replies, “Ask you to take a few swings with a club.”  I ask why would the pro want to do that.  Again, almost everyone responds with, “So they can see what might need to be fixed.”  I respond with, “Perfect - that is exactly what we have to do.  We can’t go about fixing the problem unless we know the root cause.”  We have to have some insight into:

  • The skills of your salespeople
  • The strengths and weaknesses that support or hinder effective selling
  • The systems and process that exist
  • The skills of the sales manager, their tendencies and where (in the 4 functions of sales management) they are most effective
  • The actual performance of the entire team
  • Answers to 19 critical sales growth questions

A TALE OF TWO MANAGERS

As an example of what we find out, look at the chart below that describes the leadership and sales management skills, tendencies and effectiveness of two sales managers.

skill-chart.png

The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the data has not been altered.  Here is just one example of one of the findings from the assessment that companies find so useful when attempting to analyze the “why” of productivity and sales outcomes:

#1 – The score tells you how well Gene and Paul scored in their skills for the various data points evaluated as sales managers and sales leaders.

#2 – This helps us understand what a manager’s “go-to move” is when there is pressure to drive performance.

#3 – This tells us how effective the manager is when executing to a skill (recruiting, coaching, motivating, performance management, strategic thinking)

Looking only at the sales manager’s skills - performance management, recruiting, coaching and motivating - you can see that there are problems with motivating and recruiting effectiveness for Gene.  Both of these are his strongest tendencies, but he lacks the skill and perhaps has a problem with the make-up of his sales team (not coachable). Therefore, he is not very effective.  You would want to know this prior to implementing any type of sales management coaching program.

Paul, on the other hand, is average at best at 3 of the 4 sales management skills needed to effectively drive sales growth.

 

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER

I once heard Tony Robbins declare that “Knowledge is NOT power.”  He went on to say that “Knowledge in Action is Power.”  That is the purpose of this post.  Too many companies create budgets for training and development without good intelligence.  Too many companies believe that training salespeople on the latest sales process concept is the way to drive sales.  Suppose you have people that lack desire?  Suppose they are un-coachable?  Suppose you have managers that don’t have the skills to support the dollars and effort you spend on training your salespeople? 

Before investing time, money and effort to train and develop your sales managers or salespeople, strongly consider doing a study - an x-ray, if you will - of the team that you have. Find out why they perform the way they perform, how coachable the team is , what the opportunity for growth is and if you’re going to help them with those contributing factors that support effective execution.

Supporting information:

Root Cause Analysis Training Video

Find out Why Selling is So $#$%! Hard?

Talk to Tony about the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis – 513.226.3913 (Text:  SEIA – provide your name)

How Do I Grow Sales? – An article that answers that question

Request a Free Demo or Sales Assessment Sample

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: 

motiv-table1.png
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: 

motiv-table2.png
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

Ghostbusters I Predicted the End of the Sales Professional

Tags: closing more sales, buying process, effective sales management

THE DIGITAL AGE SIGNALS AN END TO TRADITIONAL SELLING

If you’re not worried about losing your job as a salesperson, an investment advisor, an insurance broker or a banker, think again.  It’s already happening and it will continue to happen. 

This is not a bold statement coming from someone trying to create hysteria to create more business for his own business solutions practice (Anthony Cole Training Group). Think of this as someone who is reporting today’s weather and attempting to tell you that the current weather patterns are predicting with some certainty that tomorrow will be cloudy with a 50% chance of severe thunderstorms with hail and rain coming down like cats and dogs.

gbmurray.png

(Click HERE for the MUST watch prediction of the future of salespeople…)

THE LIMITATIONS OF COMPUTER INTELLIGENCE?

Dan Sullivan, co-founder of Strategic Coach and author of The 21st Century Agent, attempted to warn salespeople (agents) about what they needed to do to secure their future. These three keys to professional security were based on the known capabilities of the microchip in 1995.  At the time, Dan stated that the microchip was incapable of:

  1. Finding and creating new relationships
  2. Providing creative solutions
  3. Helping people make the decision to buy

But, how accurate are those comments today?  Not very!  Mobile technology, big data, sophisticated algorthyms and search protocols allow for anyone selling anything to:

  1. Reach out, find and attract potential buyers
  2. Digitally collect the appropriate data and apply that data to provide solutions for the buyer based on the purchase preferences of the buyer (For instance, I now buy most of my shoes on Zappos.)
  3. Provide a “1 click option” (like at Amazon) for people to purchase nearly anything in less than a minute

“So…” you reply, “this technology only applies to shoes, books and low cost items.”

Not so fast. Think about the last time, either at home or while in your car, seeing or hearing Flo from Progressive or the reptile from Geico telling you that you could get insurance from them cheaper and faster.  What about State Farm and Liberty Mutual who also consistently tell you that, not only can you get better coverage, but they will also pay your claims quicker and reward you for safe driving?

The technology and AI of today has replaced sales jobs – make no mistake about it!

HOW AI CHANGES THE GAME

You think that your type of selling is really that sophisticated? Alec Ross recently spoke at the Bank Insurance And Securities Association (BISA) meeting at the beautiful Diplomat Resort and Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.  He provided a harsh look at reality to all of the advisors in the room when he candidly answered the following question:

“Alec, what is the one question that this audience (Presidents, program managers, advisors, sales managers, VPs of sales, Investment Product Companies and Broker Dealers) should be obsessing about?”

Alec:  You should be obsessing over ‘disintermediation’. You should be worried about the question – Will the future need financial advisors to help people with their financial independence and retirement planning? Given the state of artificial intelligence and the speed at which data – big data – is becoming available, you should be worried about the role you currently have.  You should be worried about being replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) that is so sophisticated that it functions as well, if not better than, any human advisor would and it does so at a lower cost and a higher level of productivity and effectiveness.

I have Alec’s book and am reading the first chapter about robots.  Quite clearly, he states that if your job is defined by

  • Collecting data and…
  • Applying that data to known information in a data base and then…
  • Providing information back to your prospect…

Then you CAN BE REPLACED by the microchip (artificial intelligence) that…

  • Doesn’t need a vacation
  • Won’t require medical leave
  • Won’t need health insurance or a 401(k)
  • Will work 24/7/365
  • Will never complain about management, competition or compensation

All companies will need to do is keep the machine in a cool room with fresh air, update the components every 18 months at a fraction of the cost 18 months earlier and you are set to go.

THE CAR BUYING EXPERIENCE

My current Ford explorer has just less than 100,000 miles on it.  I received a notice on my notification band (a wrist accessory that used be called a watch) that 1) it was time for a trade-in to maximize the value of the trade-in and 2) the market conditions were going to be perfect over the next 30 days.  The market was going to be perfect because of these 3 factors:

  1. The anticipation of a new trade agreement was going to provide tax incentives to manufacture more power alternative vehicles domestically
  2. The previous year models were going to be discounted or would have to be shipped overseas – the discount was a better economic alternative for the auto makers
  3. There would be a reduction in price due to the redistribution of labor cost

I’ve always dreaded the buying process when it came to buying a new car.  It’s not that I don’t like getting a new car; my family can tell you how excited I get as my vehicles close in on the 100k range.  I start thinking about and ogling cars for at least 6 months in advance. 

My good friend, JB, just bought the latest Lexus SUV… and I’m jealous.  JB is a habitual car buyer and an easy mark.  He takes his car in for service, they lend him a new one to drive around, he does his errands, gets seduced by the latest technology, fuel efficiency, et cetera… and, the next thing you know, he’s taking his golf clubs out of the old SUV (only 2 years “old”) and putting them in the new one.

AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE - BUYING FROM BILL

Every time I search for anything on my laptop, my mobile connection device (MCD or notification band; no longer just a watch, phone or fitness monitor) begins popping up with small ads to notify me about the closet auto distribution center and the “best” deals in a 20-mile radius.  Honestly, I’ve never been one to shop for the best deals.  I’ve purchased cars from Bill for several years now and Bill is the one I will buy from again.

It’s Saturday. I just finished my workout and then headed over to see Bill… but Bill wasn’t there. As a matter of fact, it was hard to find anyone there. The service bays were open so I walked over there and asked to talk to someone about buying a car  - specifically, I was looking for Bill.  Joe, the service manager, told me to head over to the main entrance and I would find “Bill” inside.

I did as I was instructed.

I walked through the sliding glass doors and in front of me were a series of kiosks -   very similar in appearance to what you might see in airports or grocery stores.  They all had names on them and one of them was named “Bill”.  I walk over to Bill and looked at the screen, which welcomed me to the King’s Auto Distribution Center.  As I moved closer, Bill, the kiosk, began speaking to me:

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  • “Hello, Tony, welcome back! It is great to see you again.” (I'm amazed that it even sounds like my old friend, Bill). Bill continues, “How have you been?”
  • I stood there, not saying anything. Eventually, Bill asked, “Tony, are you here to talk about buying another car? I got a notice that your Ford was closing in on 100k miles and I know from your history with us that you like to maximize your trade-in value and buy at just the right time in the market.  How can I help you?”
  • The screen instructs me that it’s okay to talk to Bill and that I should put on the headset and talk to Bill.
  • “Bill,” I say with some hesitance, “I'm here to look at some cars, SUV’s specifically. You’re right; I have 97,000 miles on my car, it’s got new tires and up-to-date maintenance.  I’ve been look at some other SUVs.  I still like Ford, but would like to see last year’s Lexus XL26.”
  • “Excellent, Tony. I'm glad you’ve come back here to let us help you with your transportation choices.  The Lexus xl26 also comes in the Lexus xlndr (NDR – No Driver Required) model.  May I ask you a couple of questions?”

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Bill continued to ask me questions about my driving habits, preferences and skills.  He was very cordial and non-offensive with the delicate questions especially the ones about my ability to navigate now that I’m a bit older.  He knew that I’ve had a few vision problems for some time now and wanted to know how that impacts my driving in poor conditions like evening, rain, fog or snow.  He wanted to know if I always drive alone or if I have someone with me like my wife, Linda, my golfing friends or perhaps grandchildren.  He wanted to know how concerned I am about my own safety and the safety of others.  He wanted know if I'm planning on any long trips and if a sudden rise in traditional fuel prices would have a negative impact on my budget.

Once we got through this discussion, Bill informed me about the cars that match my profile that were available now or in the next 7 days. If I wanted to test drive a couple of the vehicles, then all he needed me to do was confirm my driver’s license number on file and to select a payment option as a security deposit.  I could now test drive each car for up to 12 hours with a limit of 3 cars over 5 days or 5 cars over 7.

I selected 3 cars over 5 days and I received a receipt telling me which parking spaces have the cars I’m interested in and codes had been sent to my MCD so that I can start the cars I choose to test. 

Bill wanted to know if I had any other questions. He sent me a notification that provided me with information on how to contact him while I’m on the road.  I can contact him directly from any vehicle or my MCD.  He thanked me for coming to Kings Auto Distribution Center, told me to give my family his best regards and said that he looked forward to talking to me again soon.  He hopes that I find a car to my liking.

BUYING NO LONGER REQUIRES FACE-TO-FACE

No, this really didn’t happen, but as I prepared for writing this article, I spent a lot of time playing the “what if” game.  Given that today you can actually do a lot of car shopping online AND dealerships already have kiosks that have taken over various duties, it isn’t a far stretch to think that the auto industry will soon have a sales model that won’t need “a salesman on the lot”.

Several years ago, my wife and I bought a houseboat at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.  We went to the lake, visited several marinas and looked at a dozen boats or more before settling on “Light’n Up”.  What I didn’t have to do is speak to someone about financing. I had already been approved for the boat loan… without even talking to anyone.  That was 12 years ago. 

It’s just a matter of time before someone can get a $1,000,000-dollar loan that way!

HOW TO SECURE YOUR FUTURE IN SELLING

I know this article might seem harsh, but the situation is not hopeless. In summary, here are the things you can do to secure your future in selling. Be good, and I mean really good, at the items on this list:

  • Passion and commitment to success in selling
  • Taking ownership of outcomes
  • Finding high value, sophisticated opportunities in the marketplace
  • Deciding that you will only work with people that have a need and understand the value of what you bring to the table
  • Being masterful at a Discovery and Stewardship based sales approach.
  • Being able to recover from rejection anytime during the process
  • Being able to connect with people via social selling modalities and not be afraid of providing information to help people in their decision-making process.
  • Following a specific sales process and executing it flawlessly
  • Demonstrating that you are a great investment for a company because you know how to express their value proposition. You represent the company to their target market(s) and you drive revenue growth.
  • Being a self-starter
  • Having a great figure-it-out factor
  • Taking risk, failing, learning, growing
  • “Owning the room” when you present solutions

This list represents about ½ of the characteristics and skills demonstrated by elite salespeople as identified by the research done by Objective Management Group. Keep in mind that the top performers today are the ones who will have sales jobs in the future.

Additional resources:

Alec Ross' Book – Industries of the Future

Assessing Your Top Talent – How well will your salespeople perform in the future world of selling?

 Request a Free Demo or Sales Assessment Sample

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. 

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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:

7 Effective Sales Management Steps to Take NOW

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

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

By now, you should have:

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

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

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

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

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

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