ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Mark Trinkle

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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

The 3 Things Keeping You From Connecting With Your Prospects

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jan 28, 2021

In today's world of selling, it is increasingly more difficult to get the attention of a prospective buyer after only a few outreach attempts.

We know that they're busy but let's face it, we're all busy. So, how do you stay consistent (and persistent) in your outreach with a prospect while remaining sensitive to their daily lives and the distractions they face?

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From the dawn of time until present day, it has always been a difficult task for salespeople to be able to reach the prospects they call and email each day. They call…and they email…and they keep following up, wondering if anybody will ever do one of two things:

  1. Answer the phone.
  2. Return a voicemail/reply to an email.

While certainly not a new development in selling, engaging with prospects has become increasingly and dramatically more difficult in the last 10 years. If we go back to 2009, it took around 8-10 outreaches on average to engage with a prospect. In 2019, that number has risen to 16-18 attempts. Keep in mind that these are averages. Sometimes it takes even more attempts to get the prospect to pay attention to you.

Recently, I was leading a sales training workshop in Dallas and a high-ranking bank executive asked me why I thought the number of outreaches required had basically doubled in the last decade. In my judgment, there are three main reasons:

  1. Distraction: Prospects are busier than ever before and are constantly battling the numerous distractions that come their way. Their mobile device buzzes and they have to look. The email notification on their computer sounds and they can’t resist. Some have estimated that the typical person picks up and puts down their mobile device between 600-700 times each day.
  2. Competition: There is more of it than ever before and it’s fiercer than ever before!
  3. Commodity: The belief of the prospect that, in at least some industries, the vendor calling them and the vendor they currently use are essentially the same. The prospect just doesn’t see any meaningful difference. To them, a bank is a bank.  An insurance broker is an insurance broker.  A technology provider is a technology provider.

Of these three reasons, #3 is the most concerning (or it should be). And here's why...

If you don’t differentiate yourself from your competition by providing value, your prospect will do the differentiating for you. 

But they won’t use a measuring stick of value. They will more often than not use a measuring stick of price.

Finally, here is another sobering statistic about the world of modern day selling. While the average number of attempts has increased to 16-18, most salespeople quit after less than 5 attempts. 

Maybe they think the prospect is being rude by not replying. Maybe they think that, "in the good old days", people used to return calls. Regardless, the world has changed. Prospects are a hard fish to catch. 

You might need to be out there fishing just a bit longer than you would like.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: prospecting skills, sales prospecting, increase sales, contacting prospects, prospect outreach

The Secret to Sales Success

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Dec 23, 2020

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.

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One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

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.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

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 are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the race you are running

What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production? 

Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: key to sales success, improve sales, sales prospecting, sales success, increase sales

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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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