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Alex Cole

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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

Fishing for Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 10, 2017

I’m sure majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).

Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t and shouldn’t rely on them as their main resource for potential business. They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities. If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given, won’t try and uncover other opportunities and in the end, you, the sales manager, and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

And it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video. Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identifies. After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform? Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salespersons job, though difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components: go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities, qualify those opportunities and close for the business. Don’t let your salespeople get by on just your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job.

Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”. This book is packed with practical information that you can put into practice today to immediately increase your sales. Also, listen to the recorded live broadcast of Anthony Cole Training Group’s President and Chief Sales Officer, Mark Trinkle, covering “How to Create, Cultivate and Convert Sales Leads".

Listen to the Recording Here!

Topics: Prospecting, Qualifying leads, coaching salespeople, create & convert leads

Sales and Super Mario

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Last week, my fiancé and I were gifted a new Super Nintendo Classic with all the originals preloaded- Donkey Kong Country, Street Fighter, Zelda and of course, Super Mario World. Now I realize only a certain group reading this will know the exact system I am referring to but my theory still applies to Atari lovers, Gameboy enthusiasts and even those of you who know nothing about gaming and gaming consoles.

The first night we picked up the retro remotes we discovered something—these games are hard! Particularly Super Mario World. Being someone who grew up with this technology, I thought getting back into it would be simple. I was wrong. I was so excited to be playing again I found myself running the course, taking risky jumps, trying to collect all the coins I could and would end up falling to my virtual death or getting hit in the head by a turtle shell. I realized that I had an opportunity to make it through to the next level but I wasn’t doing what was necessary to convert that opportunity into a win. I rushed through. I took risks that weren’t worth it but I made them anyway because it was the only play I had. And then I had an epiphany- the same thing happens in sales.mario2.jpg

One of the problems we hear our clients talk most about is their ability to grow sales and its direct correlation to their salespeople’s ability to create and convert opportunities. Lead generation and conversion requires two things: effort and effective execution. Majority of the time, we find that the effort is there but the execution could use work. If you were to ask your salespeople to show you their pipeline for the next 30 or 60 days, what would it look like? There are probably enough opportunities but are they properly vetted? Does the lead or prospect qualify to do business with your organization? Does your company qualify to do business with them? Or are they just in there to make it look like your sales person has a full dance card for the next month? Weak, unqualified pipelines make cowards of us all- we don’t want to throw the unqualified ones out because if we did, what would we have left?

Salespeople tend to rush through the sales process after hearing the littlest pain indicator or buying signal. They feel the quicker they move, the more likely the prospect is to say “yes” at time of close. However, that’s rarely how it works out. Usually when we rush, we are left with “think it over”, stalls and objections or the prospect decides not to answer calls or emails at all. So, what can your salespeople do TODAY to help fix the problem?

  1. Slow down! Don’t rush the sales process. When we rush, we get inconsistent results and are likely to face more problems on the back end.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. The #1 reasons salespeople struggle with creating and converting leads is because they think they need to be liked in order to get the business. This will keep them from asking great, robust questions that allow them to properly qualify for the opportunity. It will also help your salespeople stand apart from their competitors.
  3. Use our free tool “Qualify Your Prospects” to help your salespeople better qualify and then have them remove prospects from their pipeline as soon as they realize there isn’t anywhere to go. They don’t need to continue wasting their time with another “discovery call” or follow-up email. Put them in your tickler system and move on to the next lead.

There are many other techniques to help your salespeople keep from getting hit in the head with “think it over” turtle shells. Sign up for our free live broadcast, “Learn How to Create, Cultivate and Convert Qualified Leads for Great Sales Growth” for more tips and tools! Your salespeople will learn proven methods to find and connect with real buyers in this new world of selling.

Sign up for How to  Create, Cultivate & Convert Sales Leads  Live Broadcast!

Topics: Prospecting, Qualifying leads, coaching salespeople, create & convert leads

Motivating Salespeople Involves Knowing Them

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Aug 11, 2017

How well can you relate to the following situations: producers not meeting sales expectations, there aren't enough opportunities in the pipeline, too few of the people are carrying the sales production load for the entire team? In almost every sales organization, these three situations exist no matter how many sales meetings are held, what CRM system is used or how closely the sales team is managed- these problems persist.

Now, why does this happen? Is it because your salespeople aren’t armed with the right tools to go out, find and close business? Nope. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the required skills? Possibly yes. Maybe they just don’t care about their own success? Or maybe it's because YOU don't care enough about their success.

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That seems harsh, I know, but let me explain. According to an article "You Can't Lead People You Don't Know, written by Jim Bouchard, creator of Black Belt Mindset Productions, less than half of the leaders they work with report knowing the people who report to them. They obviously know the role that they play and the features of their job, but they admit to not knowing them on a personal level. So, my question is this: how can you expect to motivate someone to meet sales expectations, generate opportunities and produce results when you don’t know them? You don’t know what drives them, what gets them out of bed in the morning. Your salespeople don’t care about shareholder value and year over year growth of the division or the department. They care about their kids in school, paying off college debt, building a deck on the back of the house, saving for the wedding, the vacation home and the retirement years. That is their sales motivation. 

Our partners at Objective Management Group believe that there are three ways people are motivated- altruistically, intrinsically and extrinsically. Salespeople who have altruistic motivation are those who care more about the success and well-being of those around them. They are more relationship focused and they thrive off of doing great work for the benefit of others. Intrinsically motivated salespeople find motivation in the praise that they receive for a job well-done. And those that are extrinsically motivated are considered the “original salesperson”- they’re motivated by making money. The point is you obviously need to know your salespeople personally in order to understand what motivates them to succeed.

So, what do you do now?

First, watch this short video featuring Tony Cole on the importance of motivation and personal goals. Next, create an environment where your salespeople believe their dreams can come true. You foster the ability to pursue those things that are near and dear to their heart. You create a recognition program (or incentive process) that recognizes the things that are important to them. You find a way to mesh what they want, with want you want (more sales) and what is required in their role. Motivating your salespeople is crucial for the success of your organization, so go out and meet your team. Learn what is important to them. Discover what drives them so you know how to drive their success.

DOWNLOAD our FREE EBOOK -  The 9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success

Download this free e-book "9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success" to enhance the management skills required to run a successful sales team.

Topics: motivating sales people, sales motivation

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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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