ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Jeni Wehrmeyer

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Why Selling is Part of a Great Client Experience

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Dec 30, 2021

There are specific traits that skilled salespeople possess in order to build strong relationships with prospects or clients.

They create a great client experience by providing value, asking the right questions, listening to understand, and demonstrating patience.

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Client service or selling, what is the difference? If you will think for a moment about your own buying experiences. When I shop on Amazon, I actually now look for the recommended and related items and often will purchase them. Recently I was at a big box store making a tech purchase and had the benefit of working with a great salesperson who asked all the right questions to steer me to the right item. Ray (the salesman) didn’t “sell” me the item, however, he did help me explore what features I needed and provided options. With his knowledgeable questions, Ray helped me come to the right choice and purchase decision. Some may call this service, but this is really selling because service is in the heart of all great salespeople.

I am going to borrow from the wonderful book Go-Givers Sell More by Bob Burg & John David Mann for this post. Bob and John David have identified The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success and these include: The Law of Value, The Law of Compensation, The Law of Influence, The Law of Authenticity, and The Law of Receptivity

Let’s look at the Law of Value first. Here is what Bob and John David say about that: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Now that is a wonderful definition. In addition, we know from our sales data source Objective Management Group that there are specific traits that skilled salespeople demonstrate when they build value for a prospect or client and these are:

  • Focused on value over price
  • Knows & believes in their value
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • Always positions value
  • Sales process supports value
  • Learns why prospects will buy
  • Asks enough & great questions
  • Avoids making assumptions
  • Not compelled to provide a term sheet

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!Think about your own best salespeople. Do they build a great client experience because they ask enough of the right great questions and do not assume anything? Value-based selling is trainable and should be a focus for your organization’s customized sales training in the future.

Let’s look at one more of Bob and John David’s Five Laws – The Law of Influence, which they describe as; Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. All organizations recognize that the days of showing up with your box of products are over, in large part because the buying process is in the hands of the prospect now. So, if everything can be found online, how do you differentiate as a banker or an insurance or investment advisor? Consultative sellers put other people’s interests first with their core selling skills and behaviors. Borrowing from our 30+ year sales data warehouse again, here are the skills and traits of consultative and caring salespeople:

  • Able to stay in the moment
  • Uncovers compelling reasons to buy
  • Able to listen/ask with ease
  • Will build trust
  • Able to ask tough questions
  • Takes nothing for granted
  • Has appropriate amount of patience
  • Develops strong relationships
  • Presents at the right time
  • Has a healthy skepticism

How good are your client-facing people with listening with ease and demonstrating the appropriate amount of patience? Are they building relationships or are they taking care of the transaction at hand?

As you evaluate your sales team and your client servicing, it makes sense to think about how your sales process integrates with a great client experience. According to Bob and John David, “Selling is not at its core a business transaction; it is first and foremost the forging of a human connection.”

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: relationship selling, customized sales training

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

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

5 Keys to a Better Banking Sales Training Approach

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Aug 26, 2021
In this blog, we discuss the 5 keys to choosing and implementing a better banking sales training program.
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We talk to hundreds of community banks a month about their growth plans and how they are doing against their target production goals. Typically, they fall into one of two cultural categories: Service or Selling. We know right away if a bank CEO is OK with the concept of their people selling. They expect their managers to lead sales, they have sales metrics in place and they are comfortable with the idea of developing the sales skills of their frontline people. They are in the community selling the bank themselves every day. They recognize that their relationship managers or lenders or business development people’s primary responsibility is selling. Sometimes that selling is by developing additional relationships with a current client but it also includes bringing in new client names and companies. It always involves putting the client’s needs, goals and preferences first. These bank CEOs must grow their banks and they know that a banking sales training approach will help them by putting a structure in place for all to follow.

Here are 5 things to consider if your bank is thinking about a more effective banking sales training approach:

  1. Do some soul searching. Does your bank really need to know the answers to questions like; What are our current sales capabilities? How motivated are our salespeople and how are they motivated? Can we generate more business? Can we be better at reaching actual decision-makers? Can we shorten our sales cycle? Can we sell more consultatively? If so, time to look for a better banking sales training approach. Check out these 19 questions to help.
  2. It is hard to fix something you cannot see. In order to have a more effective banking sales training approach, you will need to take a peek beneath the hood, meaning that you must evaluate your sales team, managers, and salespeople. We utilize the #1 sales assessment in the world with our clients which provides them with information about the Will to Sell (and Manage), Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies of their people. You must have an X-ray to develop the treatment plan. Your evaluation should provide a clear picture of who to train, strengths and weaknesses, what priority areas of selling and sales management.
  3. Start your banking sales training development plan with your Management team and put consistent sales management practices, sales systems, and processes in place. We recommend a 4-pillar Sales Managed Environment® program that will make your managers better at setting standards, motivating their sales team, coaching, and upgrading/recruiting. Get your sales leaders a few steps ahead of the sales team and then implement a consistent sales process for all your team to follow. This should complement and align with your CRM so that everyone is evaluated on a consistent approach and your deals can follow a stage-based process. We know from working with thousands of salespeople that “elite” salespeople always have a consistent selling approach.
  4. People learn in different ways so make sure that your banking sales training program offers an integrated learning path with in-person, online modules, live virtual, video, online resources, and even phone coaching to talk about actual deals in the pipeline.
  5. Keep an eye on progress because as the saying goes, you must inspect what you expect. We also call this the shadow of the leader. The banks that are successfully implementing a banking sales training approach are led by CEOs and sales execs who have a passion for growing and inspect sales behaviors and metrics regularly and celebrate the wins. No one can hide from the expectation that they must help grow the bank.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

Topics: banking sales training, professional sales training, advanced sales training, customized sales training

Coaching Sales Behaviors

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Aug 12, 2021

Coaching has become the single most important competency for sales managers to learn and optimally, they should spend 50% of their time coaching their salespeople. It is also the single most difficult sales management competency to learn and master.

In this post, we will review the skills that contribute to sales coaching effectiveness and introduce a sales coaching process any sales manager can implement immediately to coach sales behaviors.

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Sales Coaching Skills

The challenge for most sales managers or sales leaders is to have the ability to exhibit and execute these sales coaching skills of being an effective leader: Strong identity, self-assurance, credible authority, knowledge, and a foundational vision, mission, and goal orientation. Strong leaders do not need to be in the spotlight, do not act like they know it all, and ask questions instead of always providing answers.

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. OMG identifies these specific sales coaching skills that a sales leader must master:

Screenshot (71)One of the most difficult skills for most sales managers to overcome is their need for approval from their salespeople. Coaching is different than managing and requires clear direction, discussion, examples, and even demonstration of what is expected of a salesperson. This can be hard for a manager, who also wants their team to like them. They may not want to come off as critical. Coaching sales behaviors is an art, not a science and a sales leader must be adept at asking, listening, and staying focused on developing salespeople to be their best.

Another skill of strong sales leaders is asking questions versus telling a salesperson what to do. In coaching sales behaviors, how you say something can be more important than what you say. Instead of saying “You should have asked your prospect about their current provider”, you could ask “What did you find out about their current provider?” Asking questions will allow salespeople to self-discover, which is the most effective learning mode.

It goes without saying that you must coach to a sales process. If there is not an established stage-based sales process for qualifying and closing prospects, how can a sales manager coach sales behaviors?

Coaching Sales Behaviors with a Sales Coaching Process

It is important that sales managers set aside specific time for intentional coaching, not just coaching to a specific deal or proposal. Consider putting time on the calendar weekly for 1-on-1 coaching with salespeople that can be used to prepare for an upcoming call or debrief after a recent sales call. But you must follow a sales coaching process. Here is the approach we recommend and use with our clients below. All of these steps can be done remotely, using virtual tools like Zoom so no excuses!

Gaining insight is all about what is happening in the field on a sales call or what is not happening. You can gain insight firsthand by observing a call or gather it from huddle data where you review sales behaviors and results. For example, how many calls and appointments are your salespeople supposed to make, and what were their results in a certain timeframe? Then, most importantly, what behaviors did your salespeople exhibit to get those results and if not to goal, how will they change their sales behaviors? We recommend the coach ask their salespeople “What would you do differently if you could not use that as an excuse?”

Giving Feedback is when coaching sales behaviors gets more difficult. Here are a few tips:

  • Makes sure feedback is timely and specific
  • Review the Good, Bad & Ugly (find something good to point out)
  • Ask questions to help them self-discover
  • Gain agreement on the real problem

Demonstration of the sales behaviors you want and expect can be hard for many sales leaders because they may not have come out of a sales role but they can demonstrate the questions needed to be asked and the sales approach that should be followed. We call this the Shadow of the Leader. To effectively coach sales behaviors sales leaders must identify the gaps, demonstrate the desired behavior and instruct on the critical steps.

Roleplay is never anyone’s favorite activity but once the sales manager has demonstrated the sales behavior, it is important to have the salesperson role play. Don’t call it role play, just name it a practice session but make sure they do it. Muscle memory needs repetition!

Action Plan is putting the learning into action. Is the salesperson going to call the prospect back and ask those additional questions about their current provider? Make certain to identify specific actions that will take place, set a follow-up to discuss the outcomes, inspect, then coach their sales behaviors again. And don’t forget to celebrate the success and address the failures.

Coaching sale behaviors is an all-the-time effort. Are you devoting 50% of your time to developing your team?

 

Download our Free  9 Keys to Successful Coaching eBook

Topics: sales coaching skills, coaching sales behaviors, sales coaching process

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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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