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Create More Sales Opportunities with These 5 Activities

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, May 13, 2021

Business planning as a sales professional has several components.  But, there isn’t a component that is more important than using your calendar to plan for your “green” activity.

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One of my favorite expressions is “You are tomorrow what you are planning for today.” My favorite thing to do is accomplish goals and I’ve learned over the years that the best way for me to accomplish goals is to plan for them first.

Business planning as a sales professional has several components.  But, there isn’t a component that is any more important than using your calendar system to plan for your “green” activity. Now, what I mean by “green activity” is this: “Green activity” is sales activity. “Green” means “go” and “go” means “go to the bank”.

And in my mind, there are 5 activities that have to be included when you are talking about “green” or “go to the bank” activities.

  1. Activities that lead to getting to the names. Now the EASY thing to do is to do email and do all the social networking. The HARD thing to do is ask for introductions, go to networking events, and work hard to get speaking engagements. THAT’S the high pay-off activity; it’s not just doing the social networking.
  2. You have to CALL those names. You can’t get in front of people unless you call somebody.
  3. Sales conversations. You’ve called them, you’ve scheduled an appointment, and now you’re going to have a qualifying appointment.
  4. Sometimes, depending on the type of business you’re in, you’re going to have an opportunity or you have a need to gather information. So, that’s a “go-to” activity. 
  5. You have to have an opportunity to make OUTSTANDING presentations and pitches.

Those are the 5 “Go-To” Activities – those are what get you paid! Everything else is just stuff – stuff that you let get in the way.

Topics: planning for success, sale accountability, increase sales, sales planning, traits of successful people

4 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself When Building a Success Formula

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, May 07, 2021

Success Formulas help us identify certain behaviors that we need to execute week in and out to achieve our goals. But how do you know if yours is set up for greatness or failure?

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Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Let’s talk about getting on and staying on the right track.

If you are like most of us, at the end of the year, you evaluate your results and then built a success formula for the type of year you need to have next year. My question is, are you working from a success formula that is destined for failure?

Of course, none of us start out with the intention of failing; we just never looked to see if the train was coming!

Success formulas are great because they force us to identify certain behaviors that we need to execute week in and week out to achieve our goals. But, they cannot exist in a vacuum. Things change, and when they do, we need to change as well.

I want to share a few ideas on small changes to your success formula that can make a big difference at the end of the year.

First of all, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are doing the minimum activity on the front end, so this isn’t a call more/run faster conversation.

    • Consider prospecting for an account size that is 10% above your current target.
    • What if you improved your qualifying so that you converted just one more meeting into an opportunity each month?
    • What if you made one more telephone call each day? That’s over 200 more calls per year. Even if your technique didn’t improve (but it would), how many more opportunities would that create?
    • What about skill development? Getting better at asking for introductions, your compelling reasons for someone to do business with you.

You should evaluate every month not just how you are doing (results) but what you are doing (behaviors). Every month, answer these four questions.

    1. Do I have the right metrics? In other words, am I tracking the right behaviors that support my revenue objective?
    2. Am I performing with the right frequency? This would involve enough calls, 1st base meetings, and asking for introductions.
    3. Am I performing at a high skill level? Is my message compelling? Am I asking questions that help the prospect to discover some compelling issue? Am I listening or just waiting until it’s my turn to talk? Do I prepare a pre-call plan with each prospect in mind?
    4. What do I need to stop doing? Do I confuse being busy with a sense of accomplishment? We can all find things to do in order to avoid what we must do.

Just a few of the right changes could make all the difference when you get to December.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Sales Effort, sales success formula, increase sales, traits of successful people

How Telling Stories will Help Increase Sales

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 29, 2021

Storytelling is a powerful tool in sales. It can take prospects on a journey, assist in developing deeper relationships, and helps them connect to you as a sales professional.

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Now that my daughter is into her teenage years, our daughter-dad relationship has changed quite dramatically. Yes, I knew it was coming. Yes, I wish I could go back and retrieve some of that time when she thought I was more of a superhero than a "super dork." 

And yes, I was not prepared for the drama that surrounds teenage girls.

But I digress. One of my fondest memories of her toddler years was her request at bedtime that I tell her a story. Some of them I read to her, but the ones that she loved the most were the ones that I made up. 

Those stories captivated her attention…and, on occasion, actually made her fall asleep.

The same thing happens with salespeople, and with prospects when sales stories are told. One of the most powerful advantages to storytelling is that stories provide what Peter Guber described as emotional transportation.

Stories captivate attention. Stories, when properly told, are capable of moving prospects from their current state to a preferred state down the road. Perhaps you have heard the saying that, "If you are telling, then you ain’t selling."

But, of course, at Anthony Cole Training Group, we know that telling is the default mode for most salespeople.

I still remember the immortal words of Walt Gerano, one of the sales coaches in our organization. Walt once said, “Weak salespeople prefer to tell what strong salespeople prefer to ask.” 

He was speaking of the supreme importance of asking questions. Not just any question, but fierce questions – questions that are courageous and direct–questions that help the salesperson paint a story instead of "data dumping" a bunch of facts.

So, think about that next time you go on a sales call. What kind of sales story could you tell?

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, sales stories

Increase Sales by Eliminating Misunderstandings and Closing Delays

Posted by Jack Kasel on Thu, Apr 22, 2021

In business, especially in sales; delays, misunderstandings, and communication can go awry. Sometimes, even with the influx of technology and communication tools, it is easy to misinterpret what a prospect, or salesperson, says. 

So, how do we make these communication lines more efficient?

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“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 blog, do yourself a favor and go rent that movie. You will be glad you did.

Strother Martin’s character in the movie Cool Hand Luke makes that statement when the prisoners don’t do what is expected of them. This same problem can occur during the sales process and it can cause problems 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 knows for sure what the other one wants or needs."

Thus, the need for the AWATE.

The AWATE stands for the As We Agreed To Email. It’s a brief correspondence that the salesperson can send out to clearly indicate what the expectations are (for both parties) in terms of what is needed and expected. It can be used early in the process, throughout the middle, and is extremely effective just before you present your solutions to the prospect.

The AWATE process is pretty simple but can be very effective. It’s 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, it can be very effective just before your closing presentation. The important elements of the AWATE include:

  • The problems that you have uncovered (the ones your prospect needs to be fixed)
  • The budget you need to stay within
  • All the decision-makers will be present
  • Finally, and most importantly, the agreed to and anticipated date when a decision will be made

As sales professionals, you should try to control as many aspects of the sales process as possible.

We believe the AWATE can help you accomplish that goal, or at least help eliminate any misunderstandings that may hinder you from closing more business. 

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Closing skills, increase sales, AWATL, closing sales techniques

3 Critical Factors to Include in Your New Hire Onboarding Program

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Apr 15, 2021

In the final installment of our No Assembly Required Hiring series, we discuss the importance of having a strict and detailed onboarding process when bringing new sales talent into your organization.

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For this segment, I thought it would be best to interview Anthony Cole Training Groups expert on hiring, Alex Cole-Murphy. We tricked Alex into leaving a great job at a recruiting firm to join ACTG and run our Hire Better Salespeople program. As part of that segment, Alex spends a great deal of time helping our clients onboard new salespeople into their organization.

Question 1: Alex, I’m sure there are many contributing factors to successfully onboard a new salesperson, regardless of experience. What would you say are the three most critical steps included in a successful onboarding program?

Answer: I would say that the three most critical steps in the onboarding process are:

    1. Using a sales-specific pre-hire assessment, like the one from Objective Management Group, as a training and development tool. The assessment helps to pinpoint some of the skill gaps that a new hire would need additional coaching and help with. It can save you a lot of time, energy and will help get the new producer up and running more quickly.
    2. Having strict, black-and-white goals and metrics to track. Specifically, a success formula that the new salesperson can live by and the manager overseeing that individual can hold them accountable.
    3. And lastly, weekly coaching and training focused on improving their sales skills and gaps in competencies (which you would identify using a pre-hire assessment). Most organizations know and understand that training around company policies, techniques, products, etc. is critical. But for the new hire to successfully sell for your business, problem areas within their sales process also need to be addressed.

Questions 2: Without the sales-specific pre-hire assessment information, how difficult would it be for anyone to effectively onboard a new hire? Additionally, without analytics like their personal Sales DNA or Will to Sell, what does the typical coaching look like or sound like between the manager and new hire?

Answer: The short answer is very difficult. Here’s why- all salespeople, regardless of experience, come with some gaps in skills or personal beliefs that impact their sales process. If you don’t know what those specific problem areas are, it becomes a matter of guessing, which is never effective. You could have hired a highly competent salesperson, but if you don’t know how to address and coach their weak spots, they will struggle to succeed in your business. The coaching that does take place when things like Sales DNA or Will to Sell aren’t available tends to be more general management. The manager or coach of this new hire will often listen to a problem, assume they know the exact cause based on their personal experience and correct the new salesperson in a “this is how it should be done” fashion. Eventually, the new hire and the sales manager become frustrated because very little progress is made. The job becomes much easier when you start with this information in front of you.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Question 3: You mentioned as one of your three factors the idea of having a goal that the salesperson owns and building a success formula to match. Tell me more about those two things and why it’s critical to successful onboarding.

Answer: The goals set for a new salesperson are often too general. Typically, success standards for a new hire can leave a lot up to interpretation. The common thought from a management perspective is “we’ll put these goals in place, but if they don’t hit them… Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” And that’s a dangerous, perpetuating cycle. That’s how you end up keeping unsuccessful salespeople on your team long after they should be let go. Having specific metrics in place lets everyone know right from the start that if certain things are incomplete after the first 90 days, the new hire has not been successful, and they will be penalized. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; simple metrics like attending every sales meeting, completing all internal and product training within 90 days, making 50 calls a week, etc., should be considered non-negotiable. If they're unable to hit these standards, that gives you a pretty clear idea of what working with them for the long run is going to be like. Using a success formula helps you identify what those standards and metrics need to be.

Question 4: Every week, for a minimum of 13 weeks, you talk to and coach new hires. What I find interesting is that you schedule just 15 minutes each week. Our readership might be wondering, why 15 minutes and what can you possibly accomplish?

Answer: To start, 15 minutes is about 5 minutes beyond the attention span of the average salesperson. Anything much longer than that, and they start to lose focus and interest. My goal is to make our short time together as impactful as possible. We specifically focus on current opportunities in the pipeline and game planning for the next step with those prospects. I help them develop their process and pre-call plan, and we spend time roleplaying. I also listen for and refute excuse-making so we get to the real issues as quickly as possible. A coaching session that lasts more than 15-20 minutes is not going to be hugely effective as there is a lot of information for this person to digest and then try to implement. Biting off a piece at a time is going to be your best bet.

Question 5: In closing, what would you offer our readership, perhaps to help them improve the probability of success for future new hires?

Answer: I said it once, but it’s worth repeating- start by using a pre-hire assessment, preferably a sales-specific assessment. It will give you many of the details and analytics you need and provides you with a good roadmap for training and development. If you are interested in a tool like the one from Objective Management Group, click here or the button below for a free trial. Lastly, develop a plan and the success metrics we discussed earlier and commit to them! It will immediately start to positively impact your onboarding process and the success of your new hire.

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

Topics: success formula, pre-hire evaluations, sales assessments, increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales onboarding

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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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