ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Eliminating Prospects Who DON'T Fit Your Business

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Jul 16, 2018

You may recall hearing in one of our videos or reading in one of our blogs the importance of identifying your zebra to build your business. In the unlikely event you did not, the purpose of identifying your zebra is to bring focus and clarity to your prospecting efforts so you don’t end up chasing or pursuing opportunities that aren’t the best use of your most asset . . . your time.

Of equal importance is to know, and clearly articulate, what isn’t a Zebra for you. If you know that as well, it helps to bring clarity and specificity to your network and prospecting efforts. I can think of one instance in my 3.5 years of selling with Anthony Cole Training when I had success working with an account that wasn’t a zebra for me. Here are some reasons why knowing what isn’t a zebra is so important:

6460646_xxl introduction

It Eliminates Ambiguity

  • If you aren’t specific it’s hard to get introductions. When I’m trying to make introductions for people and they are vague about what they are looking for, it makes it difficult for me to think of someone to make the introduction.

It Reduces Frustration with Your Centers of Influence

  • If you aren’t crystal clear on what you are looking for and what you are NOT looking for, your COI’s might make an introduction for you, only to find out you can’t help the person they introduced. When working with my introduction partners, I say “This is what type of business I’m looking for”. “Of equal importance, I really can’t help these types of businesses . . . and here’s why.
  • That brings clarity to the conversation.

It Reduces Your Opportunity Cost

  • Your opportunity cost is simply this . . . If you called on Company ABC, that means you AREN’T work on Company XYZ. Your opportunity cost is what you aren’t working on that might be more viable for you and your organization.

So, in closing if you know what you don’t want and the reason why, it could reduce the quantity of opportunities in your pipeline, but the quality should increase dramatically.

Watch our Sales Guy Unplugged video on "Calling Quality Over Quantity" to help further understand the concept and importance of identifying prospect zebras. Also, visit our website for additional tips, tricks and tools. 

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Topics: qualified leads, qualifying prospecting

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

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 05, 2018

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

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

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

inverted pipelien.jpgFigure 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CALL TO ACTION

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

EMAIL: traci@anthonycoletraining.com

Subject line: 1-on-1 coaching call

Topics: Pipeline management, coaching salespeople, qualified leads

Hitting Your Sales Goals – 3 Challenges to Overcome

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Sep 06, 2017

In the last 30 days, I’ve talked to more than a dozen company executives, sales people and sales managers.  I’ve asked them “What is the #1 constrictor to hitting your sales goals?”  The answer every time was: getting more qualified leads.  I know this is not a large sampling and I would be concerned about the validity of this finding if only 25% of them said that getting more qualified leads was the main problem. But that isn’t the case.  The consistency of answer in this survey indicates a trend to focus on.

There is further validation of the current finding:

During training discussions over the course of more than 20 years, I’ve asked sales executives, presidents and sales teams to complete the following statement:  I (we) would sell more, be more productive, more effective if only I (we) …  The #1 most common answer consistently over the years has been “If I had more / better prospects to call on.”

In order to address the problem of gettin more qualified leads, sales leaders and salespeople need to first understand these three challenges:

  1. Will to Sell
  2. Sales DNA
  3. Sales Skills

Let me use an example to explain.  We are currently working with a financial institution that is hiring a new private banker in an expanded market.  Using the pre-hire assessment from our partner Objective Management Group, we created a ‘tailored fit model’ based on the performance of the top and bottom current private bankers and then assessed the 5 candidates they were still considering.

Take a look at these findings:

Figure 1 – How well did the candidates match the clients’ work history criteria for success?  The client created a profile that indicated that the non-negotiable sale success criteria where: 1) must be competition resistant (successfully sold in a competitive environment), 2) Successfully sold value rather than price, 3) Sold to executives, 4) Has successfully hunted and sold new business (this addresses challenge #3 sales skills – specifically skills for hunting/ prospecting), 5) Is an entrepreneurial seller.  As you can see all the candidates being considered marginally met the client criteria for success with 3 of the 5 having an 80% match.

But when we look at the other findings, we find the 3 challenges most common to organizations that are trying to consistently hit / exceed their sales goals.

Figure #2 -When we look at Challenge #1 – ‘Will to Sell’ we find the following:

Only 1 candidate meets all the criteria for Will To Sell. The question becomes:  How important is the will to sell when attempting to overcome the challenges of finding qualified prospects to talk to? If 1/3 of your current team lacks the will to sell what is the likelihood  - despite all the ‘prospecting’ training you provide them – that they will actually execute?  Also note that one of the candidates with strong desire, commitment and outlook will still be prone to making excuses for not prospecting, asking for introductions and networking. (Desire for Sales Success)

Figure #3 – Sales DNA (Sales DNA Audio) findings for the 5 candidates looked like this:

This post won’t go into the definitions of all the criteria you see here but understand that green is good and red is not so good.  If you look to the right of the graph and look at the Total Sales DNA the scores in green and red told our client what they needed to know.  If everything else is equal in the equation then your people with strong sales DNA are more likely to do the activity of prospecting and will be more successful.

*Candidate #2 meets the criteria of the client, has a very strong will to sell and has the highest sales DNA score.  How many of the people on your sales team measure up to this ‘elite’ candidate?

The world of selling is certainly different today than it was just 5 years ago.  Your prospects in the market place have more ways to find more information about you, your products and services. They have more ways to compare you against your competition and all of this happens without you or your sales people even making contact.  (See ZMOT – Google Research – Zero Moment of Truth).

To meet the challenges of today, you need a sales team with the right stuff.

 Find Out More about our Fall Sales Workshops

Topics: sales goals, sales leads, qualified leads, sales prospects, generating leads, Prospecting

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    About our Blog

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

     

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