ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Mark Trinkle

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The Data Driven Sales Executive

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jul 15, 2021

In our business, one of the greatest sales challenges that most companies face is how to properly implement a data-driven sales approach. Some companies chase a bunch of data without any regard for the story that the data tells. Others struggle when they launch sales coaching without any data at all.

All of that leads us to what we call the “pull-through rate.”

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One of my most treasured memories of my younger days was buying and trading baseball cards. Perhaps I am being a bit too nostalgic, but those days were good days, and growing up in Cincinnati during the 1970’s I was a huge fan of the Cincinnati Reds and the Big Red Machine.

I particularly remember studying the back of each baseball card because it told the story of each player. And I can still recall the quote “everybody plays to the back of their baseball card” which is a reminder that year over year statistics can be used to forecast future performance.

In our business, one of the greatest sales challenges that most companies face is how to properly implement a data-driven sales approach. Some companies just chase a bunch of data without any regard for the story that the data tells. Other companies struggle when they launch sales coaching without any data at all which means they are simply guessing on both whether their people can improve and what it will take to cause that improvement.

All of that leads us to what we call the “pull-through rate.” Let’s start with not getting this confused with your hit ratio or close ratio. Both a hit ratio or a close-ratio are computed in the same way by dividing the number of wins by the number of presentations or pitches. That means a company that delivers 100 presentations and wins 30 new clients has a hit ratio of 30%.

A pull-through rate is a different deal altogether. It is calculated by comparing the relationship between first-time or initial sales calls and the number of wins. For example, a salesperson who has 200 first-time sales appointments and who winds up with 30 new clients has a pull-through rate of 15%. For years Anthony Cole Training Group has taught that most prospects are not qualified to do business with you and the numbers across the country support that conclusion. In fact, our own pull-through analysis supports that conclusion as our pull-through rate runs around 20%. Nearly 80% of all the firms we have initial conversations with never become a client of our firm.

Finally, one of the most interesting parts of the pull-through calculation is that it allows your sales team to “dollarize” each sales call. For example, if your average sale is $50,000…and your pull-through rate is 15% then every time your team goes on that first initial call they are in theory making $7,500 every single time they run a sales call.

I still have my baseball cards (at least the ones my mom did not throw away). And the back of each card still has the statistics that tell a story. What does the back of your salesperson’s card look like? Do you like the story it is telling you?

Topics: unique selling approach, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales challenges

What We Know: A Consultative Sales Process

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jul 08, 2021

On average, salespeople possess only 15% of the attributes required to sell consultatively. 

In this blog, we discuss the characteristics of a consultative salesperson and the impact having and following a strict sales process can have on increasing sales.

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I have always enjoyed the Farmers Insurance commercials. You know the ones, right? They always end with the tagline “we know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two.” And guess what? At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have indeed learned a few things about a consultative selling approach over the last 28 years.

To be more specific, what we have seen are dramatic increases in sales production when companies are willing to give full attention to two things:

  1. Building, executing, and inspecting a staged sales approach
  2. Teaching a consultative sales process

A sales process is important because a) most firms don’t have one and b) it is really hard to hold salespeople accountable in the absence of a stage-based and milestone-centric sales approach. If each salesperson is simply doing his or her own thing it becomes nearly impossible for sales management to coach salespeople. And of course, that interferes with a sales leader’s ability to answer two main questions: why is your team failing and what are you going to do about it?

So here is what we know: companies that don’t have a well-defined sales process who decide to implement one can expect a 15% increase in sales production. Even if they disagree with all of our other observations, if they will agree with our methodology around the sales process, they will see on average a 15% increase in the sales results of their team. That is how powerful a sales process can be. But we also know this: according to Objective Management Group, the average score from looking at data on over 2,000,000 salespeople tells us only about 45% of all salespeople follow a sales process.

And here is what else we know about those nearly 2,000,000 salespeople: the same data from Objective Management Group shows that on average salespeople possess only 15% of the attributes required to sell consultatively…which we define as being great at asking lots of questions…that are robust questions…challenging questions…and being great listeners. These are the kinds of salespeople who become trusted advisors to their clients and even more importantly, to their prospects. Their prospects wind up paying more attention to them than they do to their current provider. Our consultative sales training is built around coaching the specific traits necessary to become a trusted advisor.

Here is another thing we know. You can easily and inexpensively find out how your sales team measures upon not only the sales process and the consultative sales process but on 18 other key sales skills as well. If you would like more information, we would love to hear from you.

Do you need to find out if your salespeople have a consultative
sales process?

Topics: increase sales, effective sales process, consultative selling

How Telling Stories will Help Increase Sales

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 29, 2021

Storytelling is a powerful tool in sales. It can take prospects on a journey, assist in developing deeper relationships, and helps them connect to you as a sales professional.

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Now that my daughter is into her teenage years, our daughter-dad relationship has changed quite dramatically. Yes, I knew it was coming. Yes, I wish I could go back and retrieve some of that time when she thought I was more of a superhero than a "super dork." 

And yes, I was not prepared for the drama that surrounds teenage girls.

But I digress. One of my fondest memories of her toddler years was her request at bedtime that I tell her a story. Some of them I read to her, but the ones that she loved the most were the ones that I made up. 

Those stories captivated her attention…and, on occasion, actually made her fall asleep.

The same thing happens with salespeople, and with prospects when sales stories are told. One of the most powerful advantages to storytelling is that stories provide what Peter Guber described as emotional transportation.

Stories captivate attention. Stories, when properly told, are capable of moving prospects from their current state to a preferred state down the road. Perhaps you have heard the saying that, "If you are telling, then you ain’t selling."

But, of course, at Anthony Cole Training Group, we know that telling is the default mode for most salespeople.

I still remember the immortal words of Walt Gerano, one of the sales coaches in our organization. Walt once said, “Weak salespeople prefer to tell what strong salespeople prefer to ask.” 

He was speaking of the supreme importance of asking questions. Not just any question, but fierce questions – questions that are courageous and direct–questions that help the salesperson paint a story instead of "data dumping" a bunch of facts.

So, think about that next time you go on a sales call. What kind of sales story could you tell?

Thanks for listening…now go sell like a champion today.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, sales stories

The Art of Silence in Sales

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Apr 01, 2021

Most salespeople are afraid of silence because they perceive it to be awkward or a sign that the prospect has mentally checked out. But that's simply not the case! It is critical that you let silence do some of the heavy lifting during your prospecting conversations.

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Ah, the unmistakable sound of silence. Wait a minute…does silence make a sound? If you are a professional salesperson, you would say it absolutely does. Susan Scott, the author of the wonderful book, “Fierce Conversations”, offers up some great advice when she suggests, "To make your conversations more impactful, allow the silence to do the heavy lifting."

I think what Susan could have in mind are the hundreds of thousands of salespeople who treat silence like it is a bad virus; they instantly run away from it. But, what if silence was good within the context of having a powerful conversation? What if silence took you to a deeper level in a conversation with a prospect?

Most salespeople are afraid of silence because they perceive it to be a) awkward or b) a sign that the prospect has checked out on them. But, remember that you can speak much faster than people can listen, so sometimes they just need to be given time to allow their internal processor to catch up.

Here’s one more thing I have observed with salespeople- they ask a great question, the prospect goes radio silent, and then the salesperson ruins the moment by collapsing like a poorly dug prison tunnel.

Let the silence do the heavy lifting.

I know it will be a strange feeling at first, but sometimes strange is actually a good thing. Give your prospect some space to process the questions you ask them.

Now, go do some heavy lifting…actually, let the silence do the heavy lifting for you…and sell like a champion today.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: Meaningful Sales Conversations, prospecting skills, Qualifying leads, Qualifying skills, sales prospecting

The Terrible Twos: Getting Your Prospect's Attention

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Tue, Feb 02, 2021

The pandemic has caused fewer face to face meetings, and many salespeople have yet to make the pivot (successfully) to virtual relationship building. 

In this article, we cover the impact and importance of speaking your prospect's "love language" when setting a meeting and engaging them further in conversation.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, the terrible twos has long been used to describe the changes that parents often observe in 2-year-old children. Generally, this perception comes as parents observe rapid shifts in their child’s mood and behaviors.

This brings me to the subject of prospects… and how they react to poorly prepared salespeople who fail to “tailor their message for resonance.” By that, I mean the salesperson fails to speak their prospect’s love language. And what exactly is the prospect’s love language? That means two things:

  1. The problems or challenges that the prospect is dealing with
  2. Future growth opportunities that the prospect may see on the horizon

If you talk about anything other than those two things, congratulations… you are guilty of wasting the prospect’s time (and yours).

As a national sales training and sales coaching firm, Anthony Cole Training Group has a front-row seat to the financial services industry and the problems they are facing in the first quarter of 2021. And we know there are two main concerns:

  1. The pandemic has caused fewer face to face meetings, and many salespeople have yet to make the pivot (successfully) to virtual relationship building. They are unable to deal with the resistance that prospects have to meeting face to face. Fewer prospect meetings have greatly reduced opportunities entering the early stages of the pipeline.
  2. And because of that, if the salesperson does get a deal cooking, they are all too willing to cave on rate or price to simply push the deal across the finish line. And that is eroding margin.

So, guess what? We lead with those two things… and nothing else. 

I may have been born yesterday, but I stayed up all night studying, and I figured out we would have more conversations with prospects if we led with things that prospects wanted to talk about.

So maybe the twos are not so terrible after all. But then again, you don’t have to change if you don’t want to change. But I would encourage you to be ready for the time-out chair the prospect will ask you to sit in while they spend time with another salesperson who is speaking their love language.

Go sell like a champion today!

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: qualifying prospects, sales meetings, sales prospecting

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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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