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?"

Prospecting or Selling: Which One Really Drives Sales Growth?

Tags: introductions, Sales Growth

I’m stuck this morning. I’m reading “Building A Story Brand” by Don Miller and I'm looking over my own book “The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written”.  Don points out in chapter 7 that in order to get a prospect to push the ‘buy now’ button they have to trust that everything is going to turn out okay. That means that they have to trust you and everything you’ve said and presented to them. That’s a tall order if you are selling high-ticket items.

In my book, I just read the intro to Chapter 11 where I recount a meeting with Ron Rose at a Cincinnati GAMA meeting. I was a rookie in the Insurance business where Ron, on the other hand, was a 30-year veteran and multi-year MDRT (Million Dollar Roundtable) agent. I asked him what his best method for gaining prospects was and he took me through a series of questions that started with: “If I had your family locked up in a closet with a bomb, that was going to go off in 24 hours if you didn’t make a sale, who would you call on first?” I said, “somebody I already know”.

And that’s how I got stuck. 

Over the last 25 years, I have literally spent thousands of hours learning more and more about how to; build a sales practice, craft a strong sales message, present solutions to get people to say yes and more effectively guide my prospects through their buying process. Having said that, there are very few books, articles or presentations I’ve read that didn’t address prospecting. I’m in the middle of writing a script for our Instructor Lead Training Session on Getting Introductions. In the process of writing the script, I googled ‘Getting Introductions-- Tony Cole’ to see what else I may have written about the subject and that search took me to my book.

And that's where I got stuck.

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You see, in Don’s book he points out that in order to help someone with the trust issue you have to provide your prospect with a plan. A plan that helps them arrive at the ‘buy now’ button on their own. Or a plan that helps them feel more confident after they’ve pushed the ‘buy now’ button. He used the analogy of putting down stones for the prospect to cross a creek.

That lead me to think about you and your sales approach. It caused me to stop and ask this question – what is your test drive? How do you help people get comfortable enough with you and your process so that the anxiety of making a mistake is minimized?  Imagine you’re buying a $50,000.00 vehicle without a test drive. Now put the number at $500,000.00.

And that is where I got unstuck.

Imagine how much easier it is for any prospect of yours to make a decision if you made it a habit of getting introduced to the person that is eventually going to ask you to write a check for $500,000.00. Doesn’t getting introduced eliminate some of the anxiety and stress because someone you already trust and have confidence in has taken the test drive?

If you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company’s Sales Growth Opportunity Gap“.

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G2- Two Requirements to Close the Sales Opportunity Gap

Tags: Sales Growth, reaching sales goals

There is a sales production target out there – somewhere. It’s different for every person and every organization but it’s out there. And for every person and every organization there is the actual sales production result that is being achieved today. That is the Sales Opportunity Gap. 

If you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast

The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company’s Sales Growth Opportunity Gap“.

As I have mentioned in recent articles, How Do Extraordinary Financial Planners Close The Sales Opportunity Gap and The Gap Analysis Between Your Best Sales People and the Rest, the Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis is the guide that makes you the hero to close the sales growth opportunity gap. Those findings clearly lay out the current status of the sales team in these areas:

  • Will to Sell and Will to Manage Sales
  • Sales DNA, Sales Management DNA
  • Sales and Sales Management skills
  • Systems and processes that support sales growth
  • Alignment of sales, marketing and business strategies between the senior executive and management
  • Consistency in value proposition, elevator pitch and brand promise
  • Recruiting systems
  • Pipeline management and forecasting

These items are critical to understand if you ever hope to strategically and intentionally grow sales in your organization (or for yourself).

But this alone is not enough. Goals and Grind (G2) are also 2 requirements to get you from where you are to where you could be.

I'm reading Bob Rotello’sHow Champions Think in Sports and In Life”. I am in the middle of the chapter: Goals, Plans and Process. Lots of people talk about goals, goals setting and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an accountability system in place to make sure you execute the plan. But the thing that struck me about Bob’s chapter is the discussion about the GRIND.

grinding

 from Getty Images

GRIND: The grind isn’t tricky and it’s not talked about enough when it comes to discussing how to achieve a goal. The grind is the day-in and day-out stuff that you have to do to leverage your God given talents. The grind is the hard stuff, the stuff where we have a tendency to procrastinate.

The grind in Sales?

  • Making the prospecting effort
    • Email – easy
    • LinkedIn connections – easy
    • Making the call and face the rejection – the grind
  • Pre–call strategy sessions
  • Post-call debriefing sessions
  • Practicing your presentations over and over again
  • Improving your product knowledge
  • Going to training classes to improve your sales skills
  • Practicing your sales skills
  • Inputting data in your CRM
  • Going to sales meetings
  • Having 1-on-1 coaching sessions with your manager

This is the grind. This is the stuff day-in and day-out that when executed properly leads you to your definition of success. This is what leads you to accomplishing your goal. Without the grind your goal is just a dream.

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Coaching for Sales Success

Tags: Sales Growth, coaching salespeople

We spend a great deal of time with our clients teaching and coaching them about how to drive sales growth. The process for them is rarely easy. The reason(s) being:

  • They have their own set of beliefs about how things should or shouldn’t be done.
  • They’ve had ‘some’ success doing things the way they do things.
  • If they have a need for approval or believe that the best way to get their salespeople to perform is to get those salespeople to like them then they are not very likely to do things that might cause discomfort.
  • In many cases they’ve never been taught how to teach or coach. They’ve been taught to be great bankers, insurance brokers or investment advisors.
  • Their strengths lie in the administrative and operational duties of sales management rather in the development of people.

IF you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast "The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company's Sales Growth Opportunity Gap".

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I was watching this Ted Talk that my friend Bill Eckstrom delivered at the University of Nevada. The title and subject of his talk was “Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life”. I hadn’t thought about the connection of comfort and coaching until I watched the video just after delivering a full day workshop to a group of bank market and sales managers.

In the session, our topics were:

In our previous sessions, we covered:

We’re covering the same content for another bank’s investment advisory group and I'm observing the same reactions and results to what we are teaching/coaching in both groups. And as I think about all of the other companies we’ve worked with over 25 years the reactions and the results are the same. 

  1. The group normally gets very uncomfortable about how and what we are teaching and coaching.
  2. They get better at what they are doing and as a by product their teams perform better.

I can say without reservation that there is a connection between discomfort and growth. If your organization is in the need of sales growth, or there is a sales growth opportunity that you have to take advantage of or leverage, then those two outcomes won’t happen unless you cause some level of discomfort.

As the Canadian Olympic coach, Peter Jensen suggests, the levels of discomfort, or the passion to pursue the opportunity, have to be extreme. If not, you remain, your people remain in the comfort zone and remaining in the comfort zone means that change/growth will not happen.

What Does It Take To Be A GREAT Sales Coach?

Tags: Sales Growth, Effective Coaching, sales managed environment

Email jeni@anthonycoletraining.com to request a sample of the Coaching Findings form from the Objective Management Group’s Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis. 

Mark Trinkle, our President and CSO, suggested I read a book by Seth Davis titled “Getting to Us: How Great Coaches Make Great Teams.” If you are a sports fan, or a fan of stories about how athletic coaches achieve success, this is a great read for you. But what really matters about this book are the stories around how these coaches achieved success and how they continue to do it today.

Syracuse

By “do it” I mean- how do they take a collection of people and get them to sacrifice individual objectives and come together to achieve great things? You will find that there are similarities in all of the coaches when it comes to drive, passion and an obsession with the game they love. They all have their own styles, quirks and mannerisms. But the ONE big thing they all have in common? COACHING!

They all believe that in order to get talent to perform at it’s very best, to perform at the level expected of them, regular coaching is required. One coach in particular caught my attention when it came to the coaching aspect of their success. That coach is Jim Boeheim – head basketball coach at Syracuse. In the book, he makes a comment that at Syracuse they don’t have the same draw to get those McDonald's All American kids that Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Kansas have. And so, with the kids he does have, he really has to ‘coach them up.’

COACHING COMPETENCY

coaching competency

What does it take to be a great coach? First it takes managers that have the coaching competencies you see above. All 12 of these skills/behaviors are critical to effective coaching but the competency listed at the very top is the most critical! If a manager has ALL the skills but doesn’t coach and debrief consistently, then the rest doesn’t matter.

Second, you have to have a GREAT coaching environment. As you can see below, 80% of the team is coachable but only 12% of the managers believe they are respected, trusted, and have strong relationships with producers.

coaching environment

And finally, you have to have coaches that are focused on the right things:

  • Opportunity coaching
  • Coaching to challenge
  • Tactical sales
  • Strategic sales
  • Sales process

Absent coaching in these areas creates an environment where salespeople are prone to repeat mistakes over and over, fail to improve skill or change behaviors.

To reference back to Coach Boeheims' story about Syracuse- your situation is probably similar. You don’t get the chance to recruit the McDonald's All American sales dudes or dudettes. You get good people but they need coaching- and lots of it! Having said that, keep this in mind—even though Michigan, Kansas, Kentucky, UConn (Women's Basketball) and Duke get the best of the best- guess what? They still require coaching!

If you need to figure this out, to grow and reach your sales growth opportunity, sign up for our free live broadcast on "The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company's Sales Growth Opportunity". We will be sharing a research based methodology to sales management that you can execute on immediately!

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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. 

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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 to Stop, Start and Keep Doing to Drive Sales Growth (Part 1 of 3)

Tags: managing sales people, Sales Growth

stop.jpg

What to STOP Doing:

Stop Worrying About Sales Production!

You can stop worrying if you do the things you should be doing as a sales executive/sales manager. Understand that “doing” doesn’t always mean “start doing”. It does mean that you should stop doing certain things. Bob Newhart in this YouTube video clip coaches this concept very well. Start the start doing by watching this video. Go ahead… I’ll wait…

Stop It!

Stop Recruiting the Wrong People: You know what they look like, act like and sound like. You see it in the current team you have today. Take a look at performance records, daily activity, improvement in skill and you know which people you have that are/were hiring mistakes.

Stop Collecting Data: You are probably collecting data and one of two (maybe three) things is happening: 1) You are doing nothing with the data. In other words, you aren’t taking the time to derive business intelligence from the information. 2) You are only collecting lagging indicator information – pipeline and sales. Neither accurately predicts the future success of an individual performer or the team as a whole. 3) Your coaching from the information is ineffective. Telling someone they need to make more calls, see more people or increase their average size sale isn’t coaching. It’s reporting the weather.

Stop Assuming You are Hiring Nothing but Skilled/Experienced Sales People that Can Get the Job Done: Yes, they might have the experience and they might have a track record. Remember this: sales people are like mutual fund investing – past results are no guarantee of future results. AND even the best require some level of performance management and coaching.

Stop Thinking that “Coaching the Deal” is the Same as Effective Coaching: I come from an athletic background. I played and coached football from the age of 9 to 22. I can probably figure out all the competitive games I played, but I cannot count the number of practices and time outs. Practice is where you coach to improve skill and change behavior. Time outs are for coaching in the moment – to help move a deal or close the deal. They are not the same – don’t treat them that way!

Stop Making and Accepting Excuses: Excuses are the answers to the performance questions of why or how come. When you are attempting to find out from a sales person why the results are not as planned, an excuse maker will blame you, the company, the economy, the pricing, the competition or the dog that used to eat their homework. Stop lowering the bar of acceptable behavior and stop accepting excuses. ALSO stop taking bullets for those that are not performing. Simply admit that you are not developing, coaching, or motivating them appropriately. Or admit that you made a hiring mistake.

Stop Setting Goals from the Top Down: It is not motivational; it doesn’t create ownership and it actually sets up a discussion somewhere over the next 12 months that sounds like – “It wasn’t my goal to begin with” or “I never agreed to that goal.”

Stop Conducting Sales Meetings that People Miss or Want to Miss: Sales meetings should be about selling. Effective sales meetings have 3 rules: 1) Make it a meeting that no one ever misses or finds reasons to miss, show up late or leave early. 2) Focus on nothing but sales –such as ops meetings or emails for ops and administrative issues. 3) Provide  ideas or information that they can leave the meeting with and use RIGHT NOW to drive more sales.

Stop Accepting Mediocre Performance: How do I know you do this? I know this because you probably have a performance chart that looks like a bell curve. You have 3 to 4 standard deviations from the median consisting of people that are underperforming. Your sales results probably resemble the 80/20 rule. But that isn’t unusual. As a matter of fact, it would be expected. You have people on your team that are close to retirement, so their goals may not be as high as middle career sales people. You have new hires that are to the left of the bell curve. But, my guess is that you have others populating the middle of the bell that are simply failing and continue to fail because you let them.

Come back to see the next step – START DOING!