ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Mark Trinkle

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You Can't Handle the (Sales) Truth!

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Oct 25, 2019

In this article, we discuss the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and the notion that significant changes have swept over the sales landscape these past 20 years. 

From the influx of the internet to the intricacies of the buyer's journey, selling has changed but many salespeople haven't.  Is it time they do?

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At some point that title won’t make me think of the great Jack Nicholson and his role as Colonel Nathan Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”, but it is safe to say that point in time is a long way off for me. It is one of my all-time favorite movies.  

For now, that famous line from Colonel Jessup has me thinking about how selling has changed so dramatically even within the last few years.

So, if you can handle the truth, here it is: 

Selling has changed…but many salespeople have not.  

Specifically, there are two significant changes that have swept over the sales landscape:

  1. The buyer is initiating the sales process…what HubSpot refers to as the buyer’s journey.
  2. The buyer is further along in their thinking than ever before.

The first change brings to mind the Google eBook titled “ZMOT”.  ZMOT is an acronym standing for the Zero Moment of Truth, and is defined as the exact moment in the sales cycle that is between the stimulus (how the prospect became aware of a product) and the first moment of truth (a P&G term referring to the decision to make a purchase). 

In short, ZMOT refers to the point in time where the buyer is researching a product or service offering and the seller is completely unaware of the buyer’s actions.

Here is a quote from the book:

“If you’re available at the Zero Moment of Truth, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying.” (ZMOT, 2011)

So, it all comes down to three simple questions:

  1. Is your company winning or losing at the Zero Moment of Truth?
  2. How do you know that?
  3. What are you going to do about it?

It is inarguable that more and more buyers are finding and researching options online before they ever talk to a salesperson. 

As Colonel Jessup would ask, “We live in a world full of prospects…who’s going to call them?  You?  They may have already passed their Zero Moment of Truth."

Topics: hiring sales people, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Jul 26, 2019

Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

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 2019 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.

Topics: sales differences, little things, one more call, slight edge difference, extra mile

Deal or No Deal?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Tue, Jul 23, 2019

We've all been there before...I know that I have.

A deal looks good, until suddenly, your prospect comes to you with some final (more on that later in this blog post) requests for accommodations on deal structure, deal pricing, delivery, etc. 

So now what do you do? 

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You have worked so hard to get the deal to this point…surely you don’t want to lose it now.  But then again you were confident of your position and now that confidence is just a bit shaken.  What if you tell your prospect no? 

Will the deal crash?

Coaching salespeople for the last 12 years has caused me to conclude that most salespeople are not very effective at what Objective Management Group calls the negotiator competency.  The competency includes the following 11 elements:

  • Seeks win/win
  • Willing to walk
  • Manages appropriate amount of patience
  • Able to listen & ask questions with ease
  • Controls emotions
  • Goal oriented
  • Problem solver
  • Doesn’t need to be liked
  • Rejection proof
  • Sells value over price
  • Comfortable discussing money

In my judgment, the most powerful of these elements is the willingness of the salesperson to walk away.  Of course, that presumes the salesperson has another deal to walk away to.  As my colleague, Jack Kasel here at Anthony Cole Training Group says, “Weak pipelines make cowards of us all.”  Even the most courageous of salespeople have a hard time walking away (even when they should) if the pipeline is on the thin side.

I have enjoyed reading the excellent book by Chris Voss titled Never Spit the Difference and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Here is just one nugget from Chris:

No deal is better than a bad deal.

Even with a thin pipeline.  Even with the pressure that is on you to produce.  Remember that an outcome of no deal is always better than the outcome of a bad deal.  And what about the last call from the prospect asking for an accommodation?  Here is my advice.  Assuming you need to go to someone higher up to get the prospect’s request approved…and assuming you want to give the accommodation…ask your prospect what happens if the accommodation is approved?  Where does that leave us?

Never go seeking the accommodation unless you know exactly where you will stand if the accommodation is granted.  Otherwise it might be in your best interest to walk.

Mark Trinkle

Chief Growth Officer

Anthony Cole Training, LLC

Topics: how to close a sales deal, today's buyer, deal or no deal

Knock Knock…Is Your Prospect There?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Jun 07, 2019

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 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 in mind those are averages. Sometimes it takes even more attempts to get the prospect to pay attention to you.

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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.
  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.

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Topics: sales madness, contacting prospects, reaching prospects, phone calls, prospect engagement, prospect outreach

Four Reasons Behind Sales Madness

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 28, 2019

In our follow up to last week's March Madness write-up, we discuss the idea of "sales madness", and the notion that it can be defined similarly to insanity, or doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

There are four reasons that make up our judgement into sales madness.  They are:

1.) Uncoachable Salespeople

2.) A failure to recognize that the game has changed

3.) Being allergic to hard work

4.) A failure to add value

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Like many of you, I always enjoy the month of March.  The temperature at least is supposed to start trending in the right direction…my birthday occurs in March (thanks to all of you who sent gifts)…and last, but certainly not least, is the NCAA basketball tournament that we have come to know as March Madness.  Wall-to-wall basketball with good food and good friends is something we look forward to each year here at Anthony Cole Training Group.

As a sales coach, there is another kind of madness I see that is not exclusive to the month of March.  I refer to it as "Sales Madness."  I define sales madness just like others have defined insanity: doing the same thing over and over while at the same time expecting a different outcome.

So, what about this other kind of madness?  Where does it come from?  I sense there are several reasons why salespeople keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but, to keep our theme of March Madness alive, I give you my “Final Four” reasons that make up the madness. 

They are:

  1. Uncoachable salespeople - Some salespeople are simply averse to changing their game.  Maybe they are stubborn.  Maybe they have an inflated sense of how good they really are at putting the ball in the basket.  For whatever reason, the salesperson will push back when anyone attempts to coach them to higher levels of performance.
  2. A failure to recognize that the game has changed - It still surprises me how many salespeople are trying to sell like the famous musical artist Prince – like it is 1999.  Buyers today are on a journey.  They are more informed than ever before.  They are starting the process on their own instead of waiting for a salesperson to reach out to them.  Almost 80% of C-Suite level prospects have indicated they will not even come to the phone for a conversation with a salesperson they do not know.
  3. Being allergic to hard work - Some salespeople have concluded they can continue to have the same (or even better) results without hustling even more for rebounds and loose balls on the floor.  That won’t cut it.  There is more competition to deal with…not less.  Prospects are more cautious…not less.  Buying cycles (note that I did not say sales cycles) are longer…not shorter.  Sure, you might be really talented.  But remember this – hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
  4. A failure to add value - Two things happen when salespeople don’t provide value along the buyers' journey that prospects take:  they don’t differentiate and they don’t build relationships.  Add those two things together and it might explain those unreturned emails and voicemails.

I always like asking the salespeople I coach one simple question: 

  1. How much are you willing to put on the table in terms of what you are willing to change?  Those that are willing to take the scary route of change generally score more often.

Enjoy your Spring…and here is to confining the madness to the hardwood!

 

Topics: sales career, coaching sales people, sales habits, getting better sales results, highly successful sales people, sales madness

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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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