ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Jeni Wehrmeyer

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Why Sales Coaching Matters

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Oct 14, 2022

It is an important distinction in sales – understanding the salesperson who can sell versus the one who will sell. A recent post by Dave Kurlan, on the Difference Between Selling Skills and Effectiveness does a great job of illustrating that difference. Think about your own business and those who consistently produce beyond the expected. There is something more than just their skills that drive their behavior and success. There is the Will to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

Why Sales Coaching Matters

This distinction between the can and will is why sales coaching really matters. Sales training can help develop a new producer so that they understand how to prospect, prepare, qualify and close business. But it is often the Coach who helps that salesperson uncover their will and their desire to sell, who stokes the fires by asking the right questions and helps them establish extraordinary goals. Sales coaching matters because it is personal, based on the salesperson’s situation, drive, hopes and dreams.

Sales coaching is also important to every organization because salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Coaching skills tend to have 26% more closeable late-stage opportunities.

But we also know from the data warehouse of Objective Management Group that less than 10% of sales coaches know the personal goals of their salespeople so while they may be well intended, how can a sales manager coach a salesperson until they know why that salesperson comes to work every day or what compels them to pick up the phone and make that next prospecting call.

Most sales coaches moved up through their company because they were good producers and they because of that, they are adept at translating the how to sell effectively, but may not be as skilled in helping to uncover a salesperson’s will to sell. Sales managers need a coaching system so they know when to coach their salespeople and follow an intentional sales coaching process to make it effective.

Here are 9 Skills in our Sales Coaching Skill Development Plan:

  1. Debriefs effectively after significant calls
  2. Effective on joint calls
  3. Asks quality questions of their salespeople
  4. Understands the impact of a salesperson’s Sales DNA
  5. Can demonstrate an effective sales system
  6. Is effective at getting commitments from salespeople
  7. Consistently coaches skills and behaviors
  8. Understands the impact of a salesperson’s Will to Sell
  9. Effectively onboards new salespeople

Just like salespeople, there are many sales managers who can do the job of coaching – they have the skills, but perhaps are not motivated by achieving success through the development and achievements of others. Those who lead and manage salespeople can lack the will to succeed in sales management. It’s an important distinction for every company to consider as they hire and develop their team.

Find out more about why sales coaching matters: https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/sales-coaching-skills

 

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why sales coaching matters

 

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching cincinnati

How Strong are Your People at Sales Negotiation?

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Sep 01, 2022

Negotiate by definition is to deal or bargain with others in preparation of a contract or business deal.  As a verb, negotiate means to move through in a satisfactory manner. In the world of selling, both of those definitions are relevant and important. Oftentimes, sales negotiation tactics seem to be related to price – giving or getting the best rate or fees for a product or service. Here is what we know to be true about rate or price reduction requests. We call them the 3 Immutable Truths:

  • It does not cost your prospect or client anything to ask for a better deal
  • Your tone and response will set the tone for future negotiations
  • If you don’t move the conversation away from rate towards value, you will always be negotiating rate

To respond effectively to a rate or price requestion, you must be assertive, skilled at asking questions and listening, able to sell your value and a skilled negotiator. Skillful salespeople know how to do all this and bring that additional layer of consultation to bring the negotiation to its best outcome.

We are often asked about training on sales negotiation tactics and while important, the real strength of elite producers is in this area of being inquisitive, curious, caring and consultative. While negotiating is all about landing on an agreed upon “fair deal” for the prospect and service provider, consulting is much more. A consultative seller will come prepared to a meeting fully understanding many of the possible issues a company may have and industry trends and challenges. Elite producers even have their questions laid out, tailored for resonance and possible questions that their prospect may ask of them. These are very basic skills of a consultative seller and can be accomplished with a pre-call plan.

But top bankers, insurance providers and financial service providers come to the table with much more than preparation and sales negotiation tactics. Their questions stem from an inherent desire and need to know more, an open curiosity about the challenges a business owner may have and the yen to know more and to connect solutions with problems, even if it is not their own solution. They are just genuinely interested and surprisingly, they are also humble and not boastful of what they do and offer their clients. Rather, they are confident about themselves and their company and empathetic in their approach. With their skillful question and listening abilities, they are able to help their prospects and clients self discover what needs to happen to solve their business problem.  

A consultative approach often leads to an advisory role and, in most cases, that is what financial service providers are striving to accomplish with their clients. If they can become a trusted advisor, they can really help their clients on a much broader level than a product or service. They will become part of the inner trusted circle for change and growth for that business leader. While sales negotiation tactics are important and lead to a satisfactory arrangement, a truly consultative seller is an essential part of the success of any business and the end goal is overachievement of goals and enhanced profitability.

Referencing the data from the #1 sales assessment in the world, by Objective Management Group, there are some similarities and differences in the specific skills for a negotiator and consultative seller.  Here are the skills that strong negotiators have mastered:

Picture1-1

Now let’s take a look at the skills of the Consultative Seller:

Picture1-2

So, let’s revisit that initial question, how strong are your salespeople at negotiating and consultative selling? Don’t you need to know this? Here’s how to find out now.

Free eBook Download: Find Out if Your  Salespeople Can and Will SELL

Topics: sales negotiation techniques, sales negotiation, sales negotiation tactics

Is it Selling or Giving?

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Aug 04, 2022

We work with many community banks and while the commercial side of the bank usually has some “sales chops”, we often hear from leadership that retail bankers are less comfortable with “selling.” Or they may even avoid that word altogether. We like how the book Go-Givers Sell More positions the process of selling:

  • Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
  • The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  • The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

 

Retail bankers have an incredible opportunity. They are the front door to the entire bank and even more importantly, they are the key to financial wellness for their clients. So, what happens when your current banking client comes into the branch?  Do your frontline bankers feel influential, authentic and receptive? Creating giving relationships is the core of what is most needed and is what your bankers must develop. To gain more confidence in sales they must ask the pertinent questions, like “How does this savings account contribute to your overall retirement plan?” Selling IS all about the client and how the bank can help them. We have found that when we focus on that aspect of a frontline banker’s role, they are more receptive. Understanding selling is understanding humanity and how people work.

Here are some specific areas that you can focus on when you are coaching your retail bankers that will help them to gain more confidence in sales:

  • Help them to stay in the moment – they should not be thinking about what products they can sell.  They need to listen and probe with good, interested questions.
  • When they find an area of concern, they should uncover compelling reasons to buy – ask a question like “Why is this home equity loan important to you?”  And…
  • They must really listen to the answer and ask more questions about that issue so they have more information and understanding.
  • This approach will build trust – the client’s needs are front and center and it is clear the banker wants to help them.
  • In order to help, the banker must be able to ask tough questions and that is where courage comes in. If their end goal is always to help the client, asking a question like “Do you have other deposit accounts elsewhere that we could help you with?” should not be that hard.  But it may take practice!
  • Good bankers take nothing for granted – meaning they always seek clarity and that means getting your client to talk, not you and…
  • They must have an appropriate amount of patience. Again, if the banker’s focus is on giving and helping, they should not need to push! It is more important that through their questions and discussion, the client comes to their own decision on their actions.
  • All of these actions, lead to developing strong relationships. And what retail bank does not want more of those!

A final thought on gaining confidence in sales - In life, in banking and in sales, it is always wise to have a healthy skepticism.  It may not work out that this client will take action, so it’s OK if they do not. If your banker has done their best to help and understand the client’s needs (and not push product), then they can move onto the next opportunity. They should continue to give, which is the essence of selling!

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

Topics: achieving sales success, confidence in sales, gaining more confidence in sales

What are Soft Skills in Sales?

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Jul 28, 2022

It would be great if you could hand a new salesperson a manual, ask them to read it, take a knowledge test and they could successfully begin their job. Selling is a different animal and you will often hear the term “soft skills” in reference to training a salesperson. What are soft skills in sales? Let’s try to demonstrate that with a short example.

Salesperson walks into prospect's office (or enters Zoom room), they greet each other and salesperson says:

“Thanks for seeing me. I know we have many solutions that could help your business.” or

“What could we accomplish today that would make this a great meeting for you?”

Which of these approaches demonstrates a more skilled approach to a sales conversation? We certainly hope that you chose the second. That is just one example, but a salesperson’s ability to deftly open a meeting, ask enough, great questions and really listen are examples of what soft skills are needed in sales.

Since the most important soft skill for us to learn in selling is how to master our ability to ask not just questions but masterful questions, let’s explore that a bit. 

  • How do we get information from other people? We ask questions, right? 
  • When you ask a question, what kind of question do you ask? Are they technical in nature or for gathering data? 
  • Do your questions really probe and make people think?
  • Are your questions focused on the prospect’s core business issues or problems or are they about your products?
  • Do your questions sometimes make the prospect uncomfortable and do they bring out the real issues?

What about after you ask those questions?  How well do you listen?  I mean, really listen.  How often can you repeat what someone is saying to you?  How often do you take a key word in their answer and use that to phrase your next question or questions? Typically, there are two things going on in most sales conversations.  Salespeople are hearing and not listening.  Secondly, if they are listening, they are listening to themselves instead of their prospect. 

Try this the next time you are in a conversation with someone and you ask them a question.  Really focus on listening. Identify who you are listening to.  Are you making internal statements or creating internal thoughts about their answer?  If you are, then you are listening to yourself.

The Soft Skills of Selling - Asking Questions

It is a universal truth that often in a selling situation; salespeople will not ask the question because they do not want to disqualify a prospect.  Be truthful, hasn’t this happened to you?  The best part about mastering the soft skills of asking questions is that you will become more courageous as you get more comfortable ‘drilling down’ with your conversation.  This will not only help you become better at qualifying your prospects, it will help you clean the deadwood out of your sales pipeline. And that gives you more time for prospecting, the number one job for all salespeople.

 

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Topics: selling skills, sales skill, soft skills in sales

10 Tips to Building Confidence in Sales

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Jul 14, 2022

Selling is a “slight edge business.” By that, we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.

There is very little you can control in selling. You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you. You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you. However, there is a multitude of things you are in control of and mastery of these 10 tips will give you greater confidence in sales.

How to Build Confidence in Sales

  1. Identify and Create a Sales Process
  2. Practice and Improve your Sales Pitch
  3. Follow Up on Open Deals
  4. Be a Great Listener
  5. Embrace Rejection
  6. Learn from a Mentor
  7. Review your Strengths and Weaknesses
  8. Identify what Motivates You
  9. Be Able to Walk Away
  10. Prioritize your Wellbeing

 

  1. Identify and Create a Sales Process

First and foremost, you’ll need a repeatable sales process that you and your sales team can implement. Based in the #1 sales evaluation, “elite” salespeople utilize a consistent, stage-based selling system. Having a sales process keeps salespeople on track on the stages a buyer goes through on the path to a decision and will help to remove any inefficiencies from the sales cycle. Just by implementing a great sales process alone, salespeople can see better results in a short period of time. 

  1. Practice and Improve your Sales Pitch

Much like your sales process, sales reps need to hone, craft, and practice their perfect sales pitch. You can start creating a better sales pitch by doing more research on your prospects, always put yourself in their shoes and ask through their lens “what’s in it for me?”. As a salesperson, you must invoke confidence. You can do this by practicing and perfecting your sales pitch. We call this your Unique Selling Approach and when you share it, your prospect should react with “That’s me” or “How do you do that?” Practice this so that your USA is natural and conversational to build your confidence in selling. 

  1. Follow Up on Open Deals

A good sales rep follows up on open deals.  It’s great to get the word out, but as a salesperson, you will have more success following up on your existing prospects. It’s estimated that nearly half of salespeople never follow up on a prospect, and only 10% follow up three times or more. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of all closed deals occur between the 5th and 12th outreach.

Following up also shows the prospect that you’re organized and considerate to reach out again.  Most people will appreciate your follow up, and just by reminding them of your previous conversation, you can be more top-of-mind amongst your prospects, and build credibility.

  1. Be a Great Listener

Having an open dialogue is critical in nurturing your prospects and giving them a voice.  Make sure you’re really listening to what they’re saying as it can help you close more deals. By listening to better understand your prospects, you can better identify what your prospect wants, how they want it, and why. Listening to understand takes concentration and the ability to not get distracted by what you can offer as a solution. Only by understanding what your prospect wants and needs from you, will you build confidence in sales that will allow you to better align your sales pitch to meet and exceed their expectations. 

  1. Embrace Rejection

In sales, you will always be met with rejection.  Accepting this fact, and learning from your no’s is key in becoming a better salesperson. A better way of dealing with rejection is by better uncovering why the prospect did not buy from you.  This will help you build confidence and improve your sales process with better prospect information.

Elite salespeople are quick to get back on track and have robust sales pipelines. Rejection in sales is just part of the job that helps them move on to the next opportunity.

  1. Learn from a Mentor

Learning from a mentor is one of the best ways to build confidence in sales and become a better salesperson. Having someone who can show you the ropes and provide constructive feedback, can drastically improve your sales abilities. If your company is looking for professional sales training, guidance, and leadership, check out our sales growth coaching program

  1. Review your Strengths and Weaknesses

All great salesperson take time to evaluate their strengths and their weaknesses and focus on leveraging their strengths, while working on strengthening their weaknesses. Purposely identifying areas where you seem to excel in prospecting, communicating with prospects, or closing deals, can help you increase more of those desired actions. Sales evaluations can provide salespeople insight in areas they may not recognize, to help build confidence in your selling approach. And by identifying your weaknesses, you can improve upon your weakness or work around it. Successful and confident salespeople are continual learners that intentionally gather information about their own strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Identify what Motivates You

We all have motives behind everything that we do.  Identifying what motivates you can be one of the best things you can do to become a better salesperson. Are you motivated to become a better version of yourself?  Do you seek praise and want your work to be recognized?  Are you trying to achieve the lifestyle of your dreams? By recognizing what motivates you, you can start to put into play an action plan that gets you to your goals. This can be all the motivation to become a better salesperson and close more deals.

  1. Be Able to Walk Away

Earlier we mentioned the importance of following up.  But it’s also important to know when to fold the cards and walk away. If you’re reaching into double-digit attempts in outreach to a prospect, or they have seemed very standoffish, it might be in your best interest to recognize the situation and walk away. This can be hard to do the further you are down the sales pipeline, but you must be able to let go of a prospect and move on to your next opportunity. If a prospect is not returning your emails or phone calls, your time is better spent on new leads.

  1. Prioritize your Wellbeing

You have to prioritize your work/life balance and mental health. You’re no good to your company or your prospect’s time if you have too much going on, are burnt out, and distracted. The world of sales can seem like it’s always moving and moving quickly, which can be stressful.  Taking frequent breaks, getting fresh air, taking time off, and prioritizing a personal life can help counter balance the stress of your job and prevent burnout. In order to be relaxed and confident in selling, you must be healthy of mind and body!

 In Summary

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What will you do to create your slight edge in selling? What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to great progress in terms of your production? Try out one or all of these 10 tips for building confidence in selling and let us know how they work for you.

 

Confidence in Sales

 

Topics: sales techniques, confidence in sales


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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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