ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Increase Sales by Earning First Call Status

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Nov 24, 2021

Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. But what are the chances that you will actually reach your prospect when they have a problem they want to fix?

In this blog, we will discuss how to best position yourself with your prospect so you are top of mind, even when it means sitting at 2nd place.

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As a sales training and coaching company, Anthony Cole Training Group is always hired…no matter the industry…for the same reason which is to increase sales. Every salesperson wants to win. Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. No doubt the instant gratification world that we live in has contributed to this reality. Amazon has made it abundantly clear that there is really no need to wait for anything.

But for salespeople, patience is more than just a virtue. It is a requirement. Think about all the sales activities that a salesperson must execute in their sales process. They make outreaches in order to schedule appointments. They go on appointments to find opportunities. They do the work necessary to make those opportunities lead to proposals. They position their value to win their fair share of deals from those proposals.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there are a lot of stars (and a lot of sales activities) that must line up just right in order to win a deal. What are the chances that you will reach out at just the right time, i.e., when the prospect has a problem that they are thinking about fixing?

For that reason, while everybody wants to be #1 it is my belief that is ok to be #2…while you continue to build your relationship with your prospect. I have previously blogged about pull-through rate – which is defined as the percentage of first-time new business appointments that wind up becoming your client. For most of our clients that number runs around 15%. That means it is much more likely than not that you are not going to find the stars aligned on that first appointment. Maybe the prospect does not have a problem. Maybe they do have a problem, but the timing isn’t right.

When you create your pre-call plan, don’t forget to plan what you are going to do if the stars don’t align. How will you leave the appointment with the door open to future relationship-building activities? My suggestion is to ask your prospect to think about who they would call in the future if they did need to make a change. Who has earned first call status? Tell your prospect that you would like the chance to work your way onto that list.

There is nothing wrong with being #2. Think about what sales activities you can be doing until you get to #1.

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Topics: sales activity, increase sales

How to be Successful in Sales

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Nov 11, 2021

Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling?

In this blog, we will discuss the four key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

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Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling? For many years, before I came to work at a sales training company, I heard things like the best salespeople have the gift of gab. They are extroverts and like to talk to people. Sound familiar? Well, it turns out, there are actually specific skills, in fact, 21 core sales competencies that when mastered, will help you or your salespeople to be successful in sales. Let’s focus on what we consider to be the most important four competencies.

If you are investing in a sales training program, make sure that the training includes skill development on how to be a hunter, differentiate with a value approach, follow a strict sales process, and be a consultative seller. Why you ask? Because, these are four very key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

Let’s break them down and as we review these four in more detail, please be thinking of your own skills or those of your salespeople. We can actually help you with a free assessment if you are a sales leader with more than 3 salespeople, but more on that later.

It all begins with hunting. If you need to know how to be successful in sales, you first need to get better at hunting. Of course, one reason is that it is a numbers game even if you are in a narrow market like agricultural banking. You still must consistently and effectively reach out, call, contact, link in, email, you name it. The first thing on your calendar each week and day must be prospecting time. And here is the most important reason. Your pipeline must be so full that you (or your salespeople) are not desperate when a deal doesn't happen! Hunting is all about filling the pipeline so that you are not held hostage by too few prospects.

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The second key skill is differentiating with a value approach. What exactly does that mean? It means understanding your prospect SO well that you know what is of value to them! Every prospect has parameters around what is important to them and their business so if you focus on your products, your service, your company, you are out of bounds. Elite producers operate as business advisors and understand more than just the product area for which they provide solutions. Their value is defined by understanding how what they offer interacts and affects how their prospect’s business is run, and how it may contribute to the growth of that business. Stop for a minute and reflect on your approach or the approach of your salespeople. Do you differentiate with a value approach? By the way, there is no shortcut to value selling. It is a long-term play.

The best way to understand why following a sales process (the 3rd skill) is important is to compare selling to a baseball diamond. In baseball, you must first hit the ball (hunt and find a prospect), then run to first base (uncover the prospect’s problems and severity of pain), then on to second (determine time, money, and resources to address problem/pain), then on to third (gain commitment and timeline to take action), and then home base to score! And that of course is the sale. So, what happens if a salesperson runs from first to third in baseball? They get thrown out! And the same is true in selling. If you do not effectively follow a sales process, you will miss very important steps to helping the prospect discover they need to make a change and so, they will not. This is how to be successful in selling; follow a sales process. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes training on an effective sales process.

The 4th and perhaps most important skill is becoming a consultative seller, a second cousin to value selling, and this skill is all about asking enough of the right questions at the right time. Consultative salespeople are not really selling. They ask their prospects solid discovery questions to help them understand if they need to change. And listening. It is very easy to ask a question, then hear one piece that validates that a prospect might need what you have to offer. But a consultative seller will listen and then probe further, not offering a solution until the prospect has led themselves to that spot by answering your questions. This is a skill that takes practice, a genuine interest, and concern for your prospect. Consultative selling is key to becoming more successful in selling but it also means mastering enough of the right questions in your toolkit and using them comfortably. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes a focus on consultative selling.

If you are interested in more information or would like to take advantage of a free assessment of your sales team (minimum three) on the 21 core sales competencies, click below.

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: sales training programs, How to be successful in sales

Sales Management Training: Are You A Truly Committed Leader?

Posted by Dan Fischer on Thu, Nov 04, 2021

Committed leaders invest in themselves by taking part in sales management training to become better managers and coaches so they can help their people see greater success. 

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Two questions I ask you today:

  1. As a leader, are you truly committed?
  2. Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization?

Being a leader is not an easy job, is it? No doubt, you have lots of responsibilities with lots to get done throughout your day, week, month, and year. With that said, are you:

  • Leading by example and casting a large shadow so your people know you are there for them?
  • Holding your people accountable for their daily and weekly activities that they agreed to?
  • Gaining insights into what their choke points are and helping them overcome obstacles?
  • Intentionally coaching your people on the little things (behaviors) to get the big things done (results)?
  • Roleplaying and practicing to make your people better?

If you are committed to doing the above, you are on the right path to success. Your #1 job is to make your people wildly successful, to change circumstances so that they will be more successful than they would have been had they been left alone and not coached by you! How do you do that? By setting standards, holding them accountable, not allowing excuses, motivating, and coaching. But also, investing in yourself by taking part in sales management training to become a better manager and coach. Committed leaders do these things consistently.

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What is the evidence that you are a committed leader? Try this exercise:

  1. Your team says that you are totally committed to being successful in your role as a Sales Leader, CEO, President, etc. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.
  2. Your team says that you are not totally committed to being successful in your role. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.

Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization? How do you know if they’re committed to success? To determine if they are truly committed, we like to use the following three categories as benchmarks:

  1. Coast to Coasters – these people coast into work and then coast home at night. These people are retired…they just don’t know it yet.
  2. WITALAIITU – Whatever It Takes, As Long As It Isn’t Too Uncomfortable. These people will do whatever it takes until it becomes outside of their comfort zone. Then they shut down.
  3. WIT – Whatever It Takes. These people are high achievers. These are the people you want on your team to help build a strong culture within your organization.

When is the best time to find out if your people are committed? Yesterday. If not yesterday, then today.

I believe commitment starts and ends with YOU. Your commitment to yourself, your people, and your fine organization is contingent on you having that “whatever it takes” attitude. That attitude is contagious and you will find your people following your shadow because they know you are committed to them and their best interest.

Cast your shadow wide!

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Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, commitment to succeed

The Importance of Goal Setting & Motivation in Sales

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Oct 29, 2021

Goal setting and effectively motivating salespeople by identifying what's important to them is one of the primary focuses in our Sales Management training.

In this blog, we discuss the several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating, inspiring environment for their people.

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Goal Setting & Motivation in Sales

When asked, most sales managers say that one of their greatest challenges is their ability to motivate and set goals for their salespeople. If a sales manager can figure out what makes his people “tick”, he can better help them hit their goal numbers. Sales motivation seems like hard work because salespeople often value different things. There are, however, several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating environment. 

How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

The first step to keeping your sales team motivated is to recognize that motivation is an “inside-out’ job. When the topic of motivation is discussed, we typically think about incentive compensation, sales contests, and recognition programs. All of these certainly encourage sales teams to focus on generating new business because these are rewards. However, you will gain true engagement and enthusiasm if you create an everyday environment that encourages each individual to identify and visualize his own internal motivation.

Salespeople do not care about corporate shareholder value unless they are shareholders themselves. What they care about is food, shelter, clothing, recognition, paying for college education or wedding, buying a vacation home, etc. These are personal desires and make up the vast majority of things that are important to people. So the solution is to create an environment where this internal motivation can take place. See The Dream Manager book by Michael Kelly.

How to Set Goals for Sales People

The next step to goal setting and motivation is to help your salespeople identify what is important to them. Make the effort to set up time off-site that is dedicated to planning and spend time developing each individual’s dreams and goals. This is time that you and they will spend ON your business instead of in it.

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How to Create a Process for Your Salespeople

Create a process where people can establish personal goals because this is where true motivation, passion, and desire are born. Hence, it is from this process that each salesperson’s business plan must evolve.

You might position this process as though you are the coach and the salespeople are players on a competitive baseball team. Each of you has a part to play so that the whole team wins. When someone objects to the dream building exercises by saying something like “You are just going to provide a goal for me anyway so why do I have to do this?”, tell him that, as with a baseball team, each player must excel at his job so that the team can win and go to play-offs.

Salespeople will understand this. If someone does not get this, he or she may not be suited for selling. Selling requires desire, commitment, and a need to win. Selling is a competition.

Create an environment where people get a chance to unplug, sit down and outline their goals and dreams; a time when both of you can establish timeframes and attach financial values to these items. Once you have attached financial values, you will know what level of prospecting and selling activity is necessary for each salesperson.

Reward yourself and your people when they have a success. At our company, we hung a big bell in the hallway that we ring every time we bring in a new relationship. It is LOUD and that is just the way we want it! As your people go through this process and identify their goals; as you sit down and establish your own personal goals, be sure to specify how you will reward and recognize your people as each of them achieve these goals.

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Topics: Sales Management Training, motivating salespeople, professional sales training

3 Keys to Professional Sales Training

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Oct 21, 2021

In my 40+ years in and around sales training, I have experienced many different sales training methodologies either as a participant or facilitator and now as a marketer.

There are many good training programs out there, some of them free and virtual, but there are three key things that differentiate professional sales training that will "stick".

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Professional Sales Training Tips

Professional sales training begins with the most basic of skills. Professional sales reps are trained to establish relationships, listen attentively and ask good questions that allow them to understand their customers' needs. Professional salespeople tend to be very personable, enthusiastic, and empathetic.

When hiring new sales representatives it is important for companies to provide effective training programs.  Here at Anthony Cole Training Group, we offer online sales training courses and a suite of sales training programs that can help grow and scale your sales team's operations.

 

#1 Systems

First, it must be systematic.

Any organization (including ours!) can come in and do a keynote or workshop and address a sales or sales management skill to get your team revved up.

But that approach is short-lived, and while your salespeople may get something out of it, they likely will not change sales behavior long term.

Professional sales training that has an impact must have a process.

For example, if your company needs to find more leads, create more outreaches and prospects, then you must implement a system to introduce desired behaviors, coach to improve skills, and inspect activity.

In our organization (we call our prospect's "ducks") we have a goal and track how many duck calls and appointments we have daily, weekly, and monthly.

Our CGO then coaches to that behavior using weekly huddles and 1-on-1 coaching time.

The duck tracking is shared with the entire sales and management team so that all activity is transparent.

Without a doubt, when we implement, coach, and track this activity, our pipeline of qualified prospects goes up.

 

#2 Customizable

The second key is that effective professional sales training is customized.

You can certainly learn some basic sales skills from a one-size-fits-all selling system, but today's buyer is informed and more sophisticated.

Today, salespeople must be more consultative, starting with a deeper understanding of their prospect’s business, their concerns, and what is getting in the way of their growth.

So professional sales training is most effective when it addresses the nuances of certain industries.

For example, we work with many community banks so we must understand that many banks are dealing with compressed margins, are flush with deposits, and must attract loan portfolios to maintain profits.

When we understand what is driving the business, we can ask the right questions to understand what is on the hearts and minds of our community bank CEOs.

That way we can better provide input and potential recommendations to help them.

If you are evaluating professional sales training, make sure it is customizable to your industry.

#3 Leadership

The third key to professional sales training is your leadership.

We have the benefit of working with a super-regional bank who, many years ago, told us about the money they had spent over the years on sales training, wasted.

They had determined that without top-level leadership, and skilled sales management, the sales training would not stick or change behavior.

Probably the most important key to professional sales training is that the Leader is involved, understands their role as steward, and inspector of adoption – we call this the Shadow of the Leader.

Starting with an evaluation to understand specific sales management skills, a professional sales training program should begin with sales managers, helping them with the essential skills of performance management, coaching, motivating, recruiting, and coaching an effective sales approach.

Once your organization has that in place, only then should you implement a sales training program.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

 

If your company is looking for a team of certified sales coaches and trainers, contact us today to start perfecting your sales process.

Check out our related pages and see how we can help your sales team grow.

Sales management training

Our sales training approach 

Online sales resources

Topics: professional sales training, sales training programs, customized sales training

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.

     

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