ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Alex Cole

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Make the "Business-to-People" Sale

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, May 23, 2019

Most Sales Managers would agree that completing prospecting activities and hitting sales goals are critical to success. However, what happens when we focus too much on the numbers and not enough on being a resource for prospects, we impact (or lose) the human element of our business.

casual-cellphone-cheerful-1289898In general, there are two different types of classifications in sales; Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C). B2B — meaning you supply a product or service directly to an organization — i.e. you provide a chemical coating that will be sold to an aircraft manufacturer and applied to rotors. B2C — being that you provide a product or service directly to the end user — i.e. you sell anti-aging skincare products using social media and your network to women 30+. But what if what you do falls somewhere in-between?

What if you are in the B2P (Business-to-People) business?

I believe that Anthony Cole Training Group fits within that category. Before we get too far into this topic, I do realize that B2C sales technically describes what we are about to discuss below, but for the sake of this article, I ask that you expand your realm of thinking. See, we (ACTG) primarily provide sales hiring and production training for financial institutions. We usually work with pre-existing sales teams to uncover the problem areas they face and build our training and development around addressing those problems. But at the end of the day, it is the people that we impact first, not the organization. I would imagine 99% of the organizations that are considered B2B still have to sell to a real, living, breathing person who is responsible for making a decision.

So, at the end of the day, you’re in the business to people game too.

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So why does this matter? Sometimes, we get so caught up in our day-to-day activities of producing, prospecting and checking off our individual tasks, that we forget we're here to help people. We focus more on the RFP (Request for Proposal) in front of us than on the company and people behind it.

Typically, in B2C sales, the salesperson shares more of a personal relationship with the prospect as well as flexibility around conversations and decisions. In B2B sales, there is usually more restriction to the branding, marketing and positioning of products or services, as well as how we can approach people in the market. Now I’m not suggesting we should throw the handbook out the window, but I am suggesting that those of us in the B2B space can probably benefit from a healthy dose of “authenticity” and “the human element”.

Don't you think?

At the end of the day, you must remember that you are impacting people, regardless of the type of work that you do. The aircraft manufacturer that is buying your chemical coating still has a team of people they are responsible for, so they must confirm that the chemicals are safe and regulated—so talk with them about that. Not only why your coating lasts so much longer than your competitors’ brand!

When we stop focusing (solely) on the next sale, the next dial, or the next commission check; and instead focus on being a go-giver for our clients and prospects, more sales will occur. Be in the Business-to-People, or B2P, business.

It will be your most rewarding sale.

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Topics: go givers sell more, how to improve sales, sales advice, steward, new age selling, salespeople

Show Me the Money

Posted by Alex Cole on Wed, Mar 13, 2019

Without revenue, a sale cannot be made.  However, making a sale is not all about the money, and it is a salesperson's duty to overcome their prospect's money problem and be prepared for what objections are thrown their way.

In this article, we discuss the preparation involved in overcoming this common problem, and ultimately, the notion that, "If you win on price, you’ll also lose on price."

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Money is a critical part of every effective sales process, and yet, sometimes that very discussion causes us to get “off track” and lose focus on the objective of the call.

While I won’t argue that price is part of the decision-making process, what do you do when the prospect tells you it is the driving factor? This can be challenging, but you can use this information to your advantage to make critical decisions. Once you understand the motivation of the buyer, you can and should decide early in the sales process if it makes sense for you to work on the opportunity or not.

So, what should you do when you find out that it’s a price-driven decision? Well, you need to recognize the following:

  1. It’s part of the official buyer’s manual. Buyers have been conditioned to believe that there is always a lower price and a salesperson desperate enough to go there.
  2. Sometimes they buy on price because that is how THEY personally make buying decisions.
  3. When the prospect tells you up front that this is a price-based decision, you need to ask what else, besides price, is driving this decision and, if the answer is “nothing”, be prepared to move on.

So, what can you do to overcome the money problem? 

Answer: You must be prepared.

  • Make sure, in your pre-call preparation, you have specific questions to respond to the price issue, i.e. questions that look for things that are important to them other than price.
  • Ask questions to help them discover that low price may not mean lowest cost. Price is what you pay for something; cost is what you end up paying or losing out on because of that decision.
  • If you are committed to achieving your goals, then you must find prospects that place value on something besides just price.
  • In order to do that, you must look at why others are doing business with you.
  • Keep a full pipeline. The lack of an abundant pipeline puts pressure on us to work on low probability opportunities.

When you sell off of price, you sacrifice margin, trade “building the kind of business you want” for revenue today and constantly need to “defend” the sale. Unfortunately, we know that if you win on price, you’ll also lose on price.

Don’t let your business be driven by price shoppers. 

Topics: selling in today's market, sales advice, new age selling, salespeople, sales opportunity, price, money

Asking “Is It Over?” Can Lead to Greater Sales Success

Posted by Alex Cole on Wed, Feb 06, 2019

Part of being a highly successful and effective salesperson is having the ability to walk away from an opportunity. After numerous attempts to contact a prospect and close a deal, there will be a time when you as a professional must determine when and how to call it quits.

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As the quote says, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

There is always something to be learned when it comes to a sale we have lost. One of the most distinguishing traits of successful salespeople is that they always learn from the mistakes they make in selling. And, generally speaking, they will not make the same mistake twice.

One of the mistakes that I observe salespeople making is they fail to ask what I have termed, “The Animal House” questions. Do you remember the 1978 movie, Animal House? Of course, you do- it’s a cinematic classic. Think of the scene near the end of the movie when the Delta fraternity members are being kicked out of school when Bluto says, “Great… 7 years of college down the drain. Over?!? Did you say it’s over?!?!  Nothing is over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Now, while Bluto was just a little off in his recall of history, he DOES give us an excellent reminder that there are times when we need to simply ask our prospect, “Hey, is it over? Are we done here?”

Perhaps they’ve promised you some information and you still don’t have it. Perhaps they’ve promised to set up a meeting but it still hasn’t been set. Or maybe they’ve promised to make a decision and now we’re two weeks past that deadline and they’ve gone radio silent. Do yourself a favor- sell like Bluto. Muster up the courage to ask the Animal House questions, “Is it over? Are we done here?”

Find out, and if you are done, maintain control of your sales process and move on. Don’t let the rejection get in your way of pressing forward, learning from your mistakes and hunting for real qualified prospects.

Topics: sales skill, qualified leads, how to prospect, sales advice, sales acceleration, think it overs, salespeople, overcoming rejection

The 19 Keys to Selling Success

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Jan 04, 2019

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2018 was a great year here at ACTG and we are excited to wish you a Happy 2019!

However, the new year can be a bit overwhelming, don't you think? 

It's a new year filled with new quotas, new clients, new goals and so much more.

So, we decided to interview our Sales Development Experts here at ACTG with their keys to selling success this year and beyond.  What were they? 

Check out all 19 below!

  1. Stop worrying about selling and focus on helping.  Stop offering to come by and visit the prospect and instead ask “would you find it helpful if….”  Ask prospects what you can do to help them without regard for whether or not there is a sale involved. It is why the 3-step inoffensive close ends with:  Do you think I understand your problem? Do you think my firm can help you solve your problem? Do you want my help?
  2. Persistence. Stay with it whether it is making calls, following up or following through. What we know is 80% of sales are made between the 5-12 outreach to a prospect so persistence to win business is crucial.
  3. Be committed to doing what it takes. Often times, one of the reasons salespeople struggle to see great sales success is because they aren’t as committed as they need to be. Be willing to try and do whatever it takes, even when you are uncomfortable.
  4. Every exit is an entry somewhere else. Don’t give up or be let down just because someone said no – maybe they can help you with a referral or you’ll land a client with that next phone call or meeting after the discouragement.
  5. Have a non-negotiable extraordinary sales goal that you are committed to reaching. Most salespeople focus on just hitting their year-end goal, not exceeding it. When you strive towards an extraordinary goal (roughly 20% above your year-end goal), and that’s your only focus, even if you don’t hit it, you will likely meet or exceed your company goal.
  6. Be OK with “no”.  It frees up the conversation and lowers the walls of resistance when the prospect knows that it is OK for them to say “no.”  There are three different parts in the sales process where the salesperson should be letting the prospect know it is OK to say “no”: (1) on the phone setting up the first appointment, (2) at the last meeting before the proposal is delivered and then finally (3) at the meeting where the proposal will be shared.
  7. Be coachable and vulnerable. In other words, be willing to admit there is a lot that you don’t know and always ask for help.
  8. Be a giver. Support your internal partners as they prepare for conversations and presentations. Make sure that your ‘selling’ is all about asking great questions and listening to understand so that you can help your clients grow (vs sell them something).
  9. Have an attitude of success. Selling can feel like a solitary pursuit and you need to believe you will get there. Half the battle of success in sales is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.
  10. Be resilient and tenacious.  Don’t let prospects squash you with think it overs, stalls, objections and “no’s”. There is always another door to try- it’s just about asking the right questions of the right person at the right time.
  11. Do the work. Selling is hard work and cannot all be done sitting at a computer. Get out and meet with current clients to leverage the relationship and ask for introductions. Also, attend networking events to meet different experts in your or target industries.
  12. Have a sense of urgency. Send the follow-up email the first time you think of it. Make the return phone call when you first get the message. Work when your competition isn’t.
  13. Don’t get in your own way. Eliminate roadblocks and excuses from your head space. Don’t let the anxiety of being turned away keep you from picking up the phone. Don’t allow internal “noise” interrupt what you get paid to do- which is hunt, qualify and close business.
  14. Properly build bonding and rapport. To many, bonding and rapport means liking the same sports team, enjoying the same weekend activity or frequenting the same restaurant as a prospect. To us, bonding and rapport means proving you deserve a seat at the table. Your proved benefit and value are more critical to developing trust and relationships than similar taste in food. Ask your prospect what the key challenges for their business and industry are for the year or what is in the way of their growth.
  15. Stick to the schedule. Different things can get in your way daily- emails, internal meetings, proposals, etc. Highly successful salespeople build and stick to a time blocking schedule religiously. Identify what your key activities are, when the best time is to do these activities and build a schedule you can live by.
  16. Utilize social networks. LinkedIn can be your best fishing net and your best safety net. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to make connections and develop relationships, as well as explore new opportunities.
  17. Constantly focus on developing yourself as an industry expert. Continue to educate yourself on new trends, the changes in your market and developing different techniques. This will help you stay relevant in your space and position yourself as a leading professional.
  18. Don’t get happy ears. Don’t let soft buying signals like “This looks great. It makes a lot of sense. I’m interested” rush your process. Keep a level head and really drill down with your qualifying questions to identify if a prospect is really interested or just blowing smoke.
  19. Don’t forget to celebrate the successes. It’s difficult to win these days so don’t forget to enjoy those moments- no matter how big or small. Every sale gets you one step close to hitting your personal and professional goals.

We hope this helps you achieve greater sales success in this coming year! Successful selling in 2019 from your friends and partners at Anthony Cole Training Group.  Call us if you need help!

 

Topics: goal setting, Selling Success, setting sales goals, reaching sales goals, setting goals, sales advice, 19 keys to selling success

Success is Not a Resolution but a Revolution!

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Jan 03, 2019

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Sales success starts with a resolution, but finishes with a revolution.

Some important Revolution dates for reference:

1516 - Protestant Reformation

1776 - Colonial Revolution

1789 - French Revolution

1861 - Civil War

1800 - Industrial Revolution

1971 - Technology Revolution

These revolutions came about because individuals had resolved to "change". The changes were not easily started, executed or finished. There were significant costs in terms of money, resources and lives lost. In the end, however, the end justified the means.

Here are the changes I would like to make in 2019:

  1. Go Green. Not environmentally, but from an execution perspective. I will be tracking 5 metrics for success in 2019 and will inspect them weekly. When I meet or exceed my goal, I will inspect that effort and duplicate it for future efforts. I will also recognize that anything below 90% of my activity goal is a failure.
  2. Re-align my time usage to reflect my priorities and track my actual time usage for the first 90 days of 2019. By then, I should have developed my habits to reflect my objectives and priorities.
  3. Have an attitude for success. Half the battle of sales success is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.

If you are going to have a "different" year in 2019 than you had in 2018, then something must change. Aside from solely talking about change, you must have a concrete plan to actually change, along with a process to stick to that plan. It will not be easy, it will probably not be fun for a while, and you will have your doubts. But you must "burn the boats" if you are going to succeed.

Happy New Year and best of success for you!

If you liked this article, check out more of our material at ACTG

Topics: time management, sales attitude, sales metrics, Selling Attitude, habits for success

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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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