ACTG Sales Management Blog

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5 Minute Interview – Hire Salespeople Who Will Sell

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 15, 2020

If your salespeople MUST be great on the -phone then why not find out, as early as you can, how GREAT they are on the phone? If your salespeople have to be like most salespeople, they must:

  • Reach out to prospects in the marketplace by phone. Yes, there is email, and LinkedIn and Facebook etc. but eventually to schedule an appointment, most sales people have to pick up the phone to initiate the relationship or continue the relationship beyond a click on an article.
  • Be able to deal with people who are busy and generally don’t like to talk to salespeople, don’t like being interrupted and are not waiting by the phone waiting for your sales expert to call them.
  • Be able to speak clearly and concisely
  • Communicate exactly why the person on the other end of the phone should keep listening and perhaps invite them to visit
  • Have the skills to take control of a conversation by asking meaningful questions that will cause the other person to stop and really listen
  • Be memorable, engaging, thoughtful and easy to talk to
  • Convince the listener that it would be a mistake to not meet or it would be of great benefit if they did meet

    hiring-great-people_

What is the best way to find all of that out and when is the best time to figure that out? As soon as you can. And that is why we recommend the 5-minute interview.

The interview takes about 7 to 10 minutes, but I want you to tell all candidates that it’s only going to be 5 minutes. Why?

  • You want to create an environment that is going to be similar to what they face when they actually call prospects.
  • You want to get a feel for how they respond to pressure and challenging questions:
    • Mary, thanks for calling in, we have about 5 minutes so let’s get started. You saw and read the job attraction post. What makes you think you’re a fit?
      • Mary will give you standard answers about how successful and dedicated she is.
    • To which you replay: Mary I’m going to talk to 3 other people this morning I’m pretty sure I’m going to hear the same thing.
    • The job attraction post requires hunting, so you ask Mary if that describes her.
      • She will give you the right answer and pass the intelligence test with a ‘Yes’.
    • You respond with – how would I know that? If I followed you around for 30 days how many new appointments would we go on?

You get the point. This is uncomfortable for you probably because is sounds so aggressive. Well that is pretty much what the phone call will sound like for Mary, Joe, Bob or Jane when they start making calls for you when you hire them. Again, when do you want to know that they can or cannot handle challenging perhaps difficult prospects?

Finally, you need to find out if your candidate can close. You must close your part of the conversation by informing the candidate that you will be interviewing additional candidates and will be making calls to invite qualified people in for an interview. If they hear from you then they’ve made the cut, if not you wish them the best of success. Stop and wait. If the candidate does anything to continue the conversation or asks something like, what do I have to do to make that cut?, then give them points. Depending on how the resume and the assessment results, you may or may not invite them in. If they do not attempt to close to get invited in for an interview, then chances are they won’t close for an appointment with a prospect.

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Topics: recruiting sales people, Interviewing, 5 minute interview, hiring better sales people

Do You Have a Coaching Bias?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 08, 2020

In every sales training and coaching program we work with individuals to help them write and deliver their phone scripts, value propositions and elevator pitches. These are important components for salespeople to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. And this exchange should begin the relationship on the right foot by getting the audience engaged.

Here is the approach I use when calling on executives that fit our ideal prospect profile:

Hello John, this is Tony Cole. (pause)

Yes Tony, how can I help you?

Well John, I’m certain of two things: 1. You were not sitting by your phone today waiting for a call from me and 2. If you are like many of our clients there is currently a lot of pressure and concern about making revenue and budget numbers.

Pause – and wait for a response.

Can I tell you why I called? Sure.

Our clients are those that recognize that their current sales structure is perfectly designed for the results they are getting today. And today the results may not be enough to make budget projections. I’m calling to find out how much you, as president of the company can relate to that scenario. Pause. Can I ask you a question?

In a word how would you describe the overall results of your company as it relates to taking the full advantage of the opportunity in your markets? (Assume the prospect says, “pretty good”.)

Why just pretty good? What is missing? (Engagement begins)

You must understand the game

Years ago, one of the lead execs from our client Key Bank shared an article called, “What it takes to be a Coach”. It began with You Must Understand the Game.

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At the time, most did not understand that the ‘game’ is the game of selling. Managers and internal trainers must really understand the game of selling. Unless internal trainers have strapped a headset on, make hundreds of dials, asked for introductions, been rejected, sold big cases and started with small sales, then they cannot understand the game. It would be like taking flying lessons from a pilot trainer that did all of their flight learning in a simulator. Would you want them as your flying coach?

Most sales managers end up in their manager role because they were good to great salespeople and the company was looking to replace a current position.:

Rarely if ever does that person go through an intense, fully integrated sales training development program to help them effectively execute the required skills of an effective coach.

As an example, in the script above an effective coach will teach their salespeople to get a prospect involved in the conversation as quickly as possible. This is done by executing two steps:

  1. Saying your name and then being quiet
  2. Informing the listener that it may not make sense for the call and ask for permission to proceed

Ideally, the prospect gets involved in the conversation within 3 seconds and then gives the salesperson permission to make their value proposition or elevator pitch. That takes coaching knowledge and skill. You must know the game.

Peter Jensen is an Olympic coach from Canada and author of the book “The Third Factor”. I met Peter at Bill Ekstrom’s EXSELL Conference many years ago. He states that the first two factors for success in anything are nature and nurture. The Third Factor, specific to coaching, is:

You must have a coaching bias.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

This is what it takes to be successful at coaching: you must love coaching and the game of selling. You must thrive on developing others to be the best versions of themselves. It must be about helping others gain the spotlight, success and financial rewards or a job well done. It requires sacrificing ego and the need to be right for the other person to discover their path, develop their skills and become the expert.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes. We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Evaluation. Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to be successful specifically in the role of manager or sales leader
  2. The Sales Manager DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Competencies

The evaluation provides an index percentage that tells the evaluated sales manager how they rank against other who have taken the evaluation. If their percentage is 80%, they are better than 80% of the managers who have taken the evaluation. Our 20+ history has verified that most sales managers have less than 10% of the skills needed to be an effective sales coach.

In summary, most sales managers struggle to get their salespeople to perform for one of the following reasons:

  • The manager doesn’t have what it takes - the skills - to be good at the job
  • The manager doesn’t take the time or doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle the job and spend appropriate time coaching
  • There isn’t a consistent ‘Sales Managed Environment’ to execute to so that day in and day out, it’s a different process.

We may well be entering into a new reality when it comes to sales and business success moving forward. In order to stay ahead of the curve, and competition, companies need salespeople who are as can differentiate themselves in a virtual environment. They need sales managers or coaches with a coaching bias who can monitor and track each individual’s sales activities, coach, and hold them accountable to behaviors that will produce revenue.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

Topics: effective sales coaching, Effective Coaching, sales management success, coaching sales people, sales performance coaching

Lessons from a Few Great Leaders

Posted by Linda Cole on Thu, Oct 01, 2020

Many Great Leaders precede us and the mentorship these leaders provide can help us move our businesses forward if we study and implement some of their learnings and accomplishments. A myriad of basic business tenets demonstrated in the leadership of many influential historical figures have the potential to help us plan our next expansion, create or grow with exploding demand or navigate unprecedented times of change.

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Charles Schwab comes to mind. His book, Invested; Changing Forever the Way Americans Invest, provides us the biography of his revolutionary consumer-direct investment concept. Schwab led the way for the birth of an industry with his passion, beliefs and tenacity in the face of a traditional and hostile Wall Street. The take-aways from his book are numerous and inspirational. Most notably, Charles Schwab had an unwavering vision. His commitment, tenacity and fortitude are demonstrated throughout the book.

Abraham Lincoln created a team composed of able political rivals-- People who were unafraid to voice their opinion or disagree with him. These people were confident in their own leadership abilities. Early examples of diversity and inclusion, Lincoln’s actions help us understand how much better we can be if we find and recruit people from differing perspectives who challenge our thinking. This is particularly relevant for attracting and representing differing constituents--when we are looking to expand our appeal to various market segments or different types of employees. 

Beth Mooney of Key Corp, became the first female CEO and Chairman of a top 20 US bank in 2011. Mooney led the way for women to become management and executives in banking. In an interview with Barron’s published April 3, 2020, she tells the story that in 1979 she was a secretary for a bank in Texas. She applied and interviewed for a management training program, then refused to leave the interview until she was accepted. Which she was, with the caveat that she earn her MBA.

Clearly, Beth Mooney was ambitious. She demonstrated commitment and a stubborn focus throughout her career. She knew firsthand the challenges that women and minorities faced in the white-male dominated banking space and through her determination and actions, Mooney made it possible for many women, minorities and LGBTQ to succeed.

Jesus had a servant heart. “The least of you shall be the greatest.” Focus on the needs of those people for whom you are responsible. Balance conviction with passion – Do not bend from your objectives when correcting behavior or outcomes. At the same time, do not “break the backs” of your people. The bricks and mortar of your business may crumble but armed with great followership you can remain strong and prosper. Leadership skills will only take you as far as your character allows. No amount of skill will overcome a lack of transparency, integrity or honesty.

Margaret Thatcher, the autocratic leader, was known as the “Iron Lady”. Her conviction and values along with her determination enabled her to set goals and see them through, even in the face of personal threat. An example of this was her reducing the influence of mining unions in the UK in 1984-95 , regardless of the push back from public and private opinion. A controversial leader, Thatcher believed that too much government involvement stymied economic growth and she worked untiringly transitioning the economy into the hands of the British people and businesses. Believe in your guiding principles with your heart and soul. If you fail, fail as a result of execution rather than belief. 

Who are your leadership heroes and what takeaways do you take from each? Maybe a parent or teacher provided great leadership qualities. What qualities do you hold yourself to? What qualities do you hold others to?

Identify areas where you are strong and defend your position. What would others say about your list? What are necessary areas of improvement for you? Where are your gaps? What impact do these gaps produce? Are they problematic? Must they be addressed and if so, how will you fix them?

Finally build your own plan for improvement. Then share the plan with others and express your expectations of them. The best way to do that is to tell a story. What is your story?

Need to Improve Your Leadership Skills?

Topics: sales management success, sales leadership development, Leadership Skills, traits of successful people

How to Create & Build Relationships Virtually

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Sep 23, 2020

Virtual relationships aren’t new and neither are virtual business relationships. What is new are the expectations and the tools. Instead of in-person meetings, we are now expected to meet via Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook Live. Technology is consistently providing us with more and better ways to connect. We must now:

  1. Become comfortable with virtual-relationship platforms (social networking),
  2. Transition from traditional to virtual relationship-building habits and platforms,
  3. Learn and master the art and science of virtual relationship prospecting, creation and development.
  4. Have a good grasp of our current strengths and weaknesses in relationship-building so we can better understand what we need to improve upon in virtual relationship-building.
  5. Understand that the advent of pandemic(s) may greatly alter the willingness of prospects to meet person-to-person, thus changing the landscape of prospecting and selling forever.

“The web has one big drawback: It’s harder to connect on a human level with people when they exist in two dimensions on your computer screen or mobile device. You need to work extra hard to make sure you’re interacting in a way that allows you to build genuine, meaningful relationships.”

“People want to work with colleagues they know, like and trust. When building professional relationships with people online, consider the intersection of these three qualities: transparency, likability and credibility. Transparency lets people get to know you, while likability reflects their interest in you and credibility builds trust.” William Arruda Senior Contributor Forbes 

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This shift in the way we conduct business may have changed permanently and we must change with it. We need to understand and adapt to this cataclysmic shift so that we may be successful in this volatile new environment.

Here are the key concepts, practices and skills that should be considered and employed as you move forward growing your sales.

Key Concepts

  1. Prepare yourself for the following:
    1. It will be easier for people to ignore you. It will take longer to connect.
    2. “Don’t look, act or sound like every other salesperson.”
    3. Develop a tenacious Will to Sell (watch video or click link) to be successful.
    4. Overcome any negative beliefs you have about virtual relationships: e.g. “I can’t sell virtually”.
    5. Whatever challenges you have in the normal course of selling, be prepared for those challenges to be magnified.
  1. Best Practices – you must have a set of best practices.
    1. Have a checklist for each meeting:
    2. Do a rehearsal prior to the meeting. Have any presentation pre-loaded and ready to show.
    3. Check that lighting, audio and video are all in good working condition.
    4. In advance, share your agenda.
    5. Be yourself- be vulnerable, transparent. Don’t dominate the conversation to fill space. Ask questions. Listen intently.
    6. Use virtual backgrounds if your room is a garage.
    7. Dress appropriately for the meeting.
    8. Be memorable and unusual in a good way
    9. Know what your competition is doing virtually. While you don’t necessarily have to compete, you should understand how your virtual room will be evaluated.
    10. Finish each meeting with a clear next step.
  1. Common issues:
    1. Camera Angle and Distance- Spend time to view how others will see you. Eliminate distractions and “nose shots”.
    2. Fumbling to find and load a source or presentation.
    3. Finding a good tempo; one that will hold audience attention.
  1. Any weakness you have in personal meetings will be magnified on camera. Your desire, commitment and outlook must be strong. Your SALES DNA must support building and selling relationships in a virtual model. (Score your Sales DNA)
  2. Hone your sales process and approach. Because so much at the beginning of the sales cycle/buying cycle lays the groundwork for the proceeding steps, gaining trust and confidence while operating virtually might take longer. For example- You might have to do a better job with Proof of Concept. Or Qualifying might require different questions. Remember to Qualify for Budget and Decision-Making.

Our Sales Growth Coach can help you leverage virtual tools!

Topics: closing more sales, sales priorities, sales productivity, sales advice, sales effectiveness training, virtual selling

6 Lessons for Sales Organizations I Learned on My Summer Vacation: Part 2

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Sep 03, 2020

Being successful in sales requires continuous growth and learning from day-to-day experiences. Identifying those buyer's you can actually help by doing great research and keeping detailed prospect notes, it part of that success.

MIVacation2

Last week, I wrote a blog that covered the first 3 lessons I learned during my recent RV vacation to Michigan with my wife, Linda. If you missed it, here it is! This week, I review the final sales lessons I took away from our time on the open road.

 

4. Do your homework! We booked a spot at the Bluff of Manistee. Sounds nice, right? I will not throw them under the bus, but let’s just say that we left after a very brief deliberation about the “concrete jungle”. We immediately started googling and found a spot at Orchard State Beach in Manistee.  

  • It makes sense to do some homework before you call on someone, especially when cold calling. You must get a feel for their business, challenges, organizational structure, and find out anything you can about their current business state. This helps you frame your questions so that you sound well-informed about them and their industry. This knowledge and understanding help you more quickly establish credibility.
  • Understand that what you think you know might not be true. Not that a company would intentionally lie or be misleading but understand that they are looking to put their best foot forward. So be cautious, ask more questions, and work to validate what you think you know and inquire about what you don’t.


5. Record the adventure when you travel. Take too many pictures. Make too many notes. It will help you remember why things went well or why you might do something different in the future. You will also be able to share that information and help someone else. One thing we learned about every RV’er we met is that they were all willing to share.

  • Record your notes in your CRM. Check off steps as you complete them. Any documents you send, make sure you upload them to the prospect's file. Be willing to discuss your opportunities with others so you can learn, and they can learn.
  • Go back and look at your notes so that as you progress through the process, you do not have to remember everything. It’s DOCUMENTED! This will free you up to pay closer attention when you are meeting with your prospect.


6. Someone always needs help. The “someone” in this case happened to be the horses at Reality’s Chance in Lake Pleasant Michigan. It’s a wonderful spot: a sanctuary for at-risk horses founded by a wonderful person and run by a group of volunteers that care so much about the work they do. It seems like it would be an endless quest to save all the horses, but helping just one at a time makes a difference to THAT horse.

  • There are plenty of people in your marketplace that need help. Not just any help but specialized help. Kind of what Lauren does for Mustangs at Reality’s Chance. You must be the provider of that specialized help.
  • To be that specialized resource, you cannot look, act, and sound like everyone else. You must have a different approach, have different conversations, and focus on presidential issues and business solutions instead of your products and services.

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Topics: coaching sales, Sales Growth, sales development, Business Development, driving sales growth 2020

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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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