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Tony Cole

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Effective Joint Sales Calls for Greater Sales Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 06, 2022

One of the critical components of sales success and sales coaching is the ability of the sales managers and their salespeople to run effective joint calls. 

There are four steps that will dramatically improve your sales team's ability to eventually conduct extraordinary sales calls on their own.

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Occasionally I have salespeople call on me.  Whenever there are two people on the call, my first thought is: Which one is the rookie? Next, I think;  why are two people here? Who is running the sales call? What are they hoping to accomplish besides trying to find out what I’m trying to accomplish? Is this a real sales call for the salesperson or just practice?

I don’t claim to know if other presidents and decision-makers are thinking these things, but you cannot discount that they might.  Based on that assumption, it is critical that you have a sales call that is well-defined and choreographed so that the prospect is impressed with the meeting, and you, as either sales manager or salesperson, accomplish what the prospect wants to accomplish. Generally speaking, that is to solve a problem.

Here are 4 steps to more effective joint calls:

  1.  A Quality Phone Call- Remember, the quality of the phone call will determine the quality of the appointment.  You must follow a strict phone process to make sure that the joint call is taking place with a qualified prospect.
  2. Conducting a pre-call- In pre-call sessions:
    • Salespeople make sure they are prepared to ask the necessary questions to identify if there is a real opportunity and, if so, set up an additional meeting
    • The sales manager and salesperson roleplay the appointment
    • Everyone agrees to and identifies who will do what during the sales call
  3. Identify the reason for a joint call - If it is for learning purposes, then the sales manager has a very small part in the call.  If it is for qualifying or closing a large account, then the role of the sales manager can be more prominent.
  4. Do a post-call debrief - This is an opportunity to help salespeople recognize opportunities that they missed, questions they could have asked better, and commitments they failed to gain.  These insights need to be followed by an agreement as to the observations made, a demonstration by the sales manager of the correct approach or technique, and finally, a roleplay of the correct way to handle the sales call.

In addition to these steps, the sales manager has to be prepared to let the salesperson fail on the call. Sooner or later, you just have to let them go. If you rescue them all the time, then the salesperson becomes dependent on the sales manager and never develops the sales skills they need to succeed. These four steps, tied to discipline one-on-one coaching, will dramatically improve your sales team's ability to eventually conduct extraordinary sales calls on their own.

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Topics: sales succes, joint sales calls

3 Keys to Motivation and Continued Sales Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Apr 21, 2022

Research shows that money is NOT the primary motivator for success in sales, ESPECIALLY with today's younger generations.

Here are 3 Keys to help sales managers and top producers bust the myth that “enough is enough” to continue to see great sales success.

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How to Stay Motivated in Sales

Too often, highly successful salespeople reach a point in their career where they become complacent.  They become complacent for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I've observed is because "they've made it". It doesn't matter what the gender or tenure is. All that matters is that one day the salesperson wakes up, takes a look around, and discovers that all the things they strived for when they got into the business have been accomplished.

  • They have the big house
  • They have the right car
  • They have the club membership
  • They are at the top of the food chain in their sales company (top 10%)
  • Their net worth is comfortable
  • They have freedom of time and freedom to choose
  • They take wonderful vacations
  • They are looked at as the leader of the sales team
  • They are defined by sales management as “irreplaceable”

What the people (Dave Kurlan) at Objective Management Group have stated for years is that highly successful salespeople are motivated by earning more money. Nowadays though, research shows that money is NOT really the primary motivator, ESPECIALLY with today's younger generations.  

With this in mind, I don't want to focus on MONEY as the motivator, but I don't want to totally discount the idea either. Money DOES help people achieve the other extrinsic motivators that are important to them. However, it is the actual goals of the individuals that provide the motivation for earning more money. For example, let's suppose you have a salesperson who says spending time with the kids in extracurricular activities is important. I would suggest that being successful in selling "buys" one the time to have balance in their life and “buys" the ability to make the choice to go to a field hockey game at 3:30 in the afternoon. This freedom of time and choice might require your salesperson to succeed at a higher level. This is just one example. People who are actively dreaming and motivated to reach their goals will continue to work towards financial success to fulfill those goals.

Here are 3 Keys to help sales managers bust the myth that “enough is enough” and continue to get the most out of their top producers. And if you are a top producer yourself, these are three areas you should question and reflect on for yourself.

  1. Ask the right question(s). It really isn't about money - how much they want to make, how much they want to have, when they want to retire, etc. The better questions focus on helping your highly successful salespeople determine what they would like to have to shape and define their lives. Ask them to rethink their goals to include some things that would be important to them to have as a legacy regarding who they are and what they accomplished.
  2. Create an environment where goal setting is also goal sharing. Too often, sales managers don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what motivates their salespeople.  (As a sales manager you may argue this, but the OMG data shows that 75% of all sales managers do not feel it is important to know what motivates their salespeople.) However, once you know what is important to your people, then you are more effective as a mentor and a coach.
  3. Build the company sales revenue plan from the ground up. Start working with your people and help them identify what their requirements are to have a lifestyle filled with happiness, success, and financial freedom. Document their individual requirements and provide a process to translate those requirements into a selling success formula. 

I've explained to salespeople that if the company has a bigger goal for them than they have for themselves, they shouldn't blame the company. The salespeople need to blame themselves because smaller expectations are a clear indication that they have stopped dreaming and stopped setting goals. I’ve explained to executives that it isn't about shareholder value. Their salespeople, unless those salespeople own shares, don't give a hoot about shareholder value. They care about sending their kids to school, buying a place in the mountains, and paying for the weddings.

When you have an environment where your people can continue to make their dreams come true, then you have something special where “enough is enough" is never an issue. 

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Topics: sales succes, successful selling

Virtual Selling: What Can Go Wrong?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 23, 2022

If you consider all the things that you do as a salesperson throughout the day, you’ll notice you spend a lot of time virtually prospecting, qualifying, closing, and building relationships.

But there is so much more involved in making effective virtual sales calls and interactions with your prospects than just using Zoom.

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The short answer is this: Everything!

As I thought about this article, I thought about what was all included with virtual selling:

  • Marketing to new segments, verticals, individuals
  • Prospecting for additional business from current clients/portfolios/books of business
  • Following up on contacts initiated from social media or traditional networking
  • Conducting initial conversation live but not in person face-to-face
  • Qualifying discussions
  • Presentations and closing appointments
  • Use of video materials or other support content such as testimonials, case studies, and proof of concept reports.

But as I started my Google search for articles on the history of virtual selling, one of the hits was a link to a course offered by IMPACT – a virtual training company. Here is an excerpt from the page:

A couple of weeks ago, I set up an appointment with a rather large, well-known tax company. I went on their site ready to schedule my appointment and saw that I could either go in person, or I could do a virtual call. To start, they clearly laid out what I could expect and what I needed to do on the day of. When the meeting day rolled around, I checked my email to see if they sent a reminder of what I needed to do.

Nothing.

I then logged into the account I created where they said a button for a video call would show up.

Nothing. 

I then called them and asked what I should be doing to make sure the video call works out and then proceeded to tell me that the tax preparer will call me right before because "he’s the only one in the office who knows how it works.” 

Long story short, I received the call and then proceeded to spend almost 30 minutes trying to get it to work (which it never did). What seemed like a seamless alternative to save time on my part turned into quite a frustrating, time-consuming debacle. 

This is why there is so much more to making virtual selling and interactions with your prospects than just using Zoom for your calls. 

So, what can go wrong? Everything. And that, understandably, is why you might hesitate or be resistant to move towards more virtual selling. 

There was probably a time when many of the things you do now were new to you, your industry, or your career. Believe it or not, there was a time when:

  • We didn’t use computers as a sales enablement tool
  • We certainly didn’t Google anything, use Facebook or LinkedIn
  • Emails were considered for internal use only and never, NEVER, would we communicate with a prospect or client via email
  • Using a tablet or mobile device was Sci-Fi
  • PowerPoint presentations were for those salespeople that couldn’t command the room or didn’t know their solutions well enough

My point here is that there was a time when you resisted, pushed back, or were hesitant to do something that you thought would take away from your traditional approach or thoughts about selling:

  • People do business with people they like
  • It’s important to have a firm handshake and look your prospect squarely in the eye
  • Selling is a face-to-face business
  • If I don’t’ get out and see my prospects, my competition will

But if you take a minute and consider all the things that you do, you’ll notice you spend a lot of time virtually prospecting, qualifying, closing, and relationship building.

Virtual communication can be defined as any communication that takes place without you physically being present with the person you are communicating with. If you don’t think you sell virtually today, or you don’t think you live in a virtual sales world, then take a look at your inbox and sent folder and your cell phone call log every day.

So, here is where I’ve landed:

  • Embrace the fact that you already have a sales practice that is highly virtual
  • Take time to understand how to become more effective in your current virtual communication methods  
    • Your body language, facial expressions, eye movement, and tone of voice all gets lost when you send an email
    • Much of the same is lost even on a phone call
    • Emails have to capture the reader’s attention just like a handshake, and eye contact does
    • When making phone calls, you have 5 seconds to capture the prospect's attention
  • Expand your current virtual communication to include video: Tips for better, more effective video meetings;
    • Duplicate the in-person experience as best you can
    • Let an expert run the backroom – set-up and running the meeting – so that you can focus on what you do best
    • Professional look and feel. You don’t have to be studio quality for most meetings but if you are presenting the deal that makes or breaks your year, and virtual is your best option, then put your best foot forward
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • Make sure your participants are prepared well in advance. Also, log-in for the meeting– especially first-time events – should be 10 to 15 minutes before starting the meeting
    • Have backup information clearly communicated. For example, if you run into problems, you will switch to a conference call

In closing, think about how much more you can get done, and how much more effective you can be if you didn’t have to get into a car for an hour each way for a meeting. Think about the flexibility it gives your client if there are people that can't make it into the office for the meeting but can now join virtually. Think about your ability to include more of the right people in meetings so that your sales process doesn’t get bogged down. Think about all the things you already do that are virtual and how you can improve your skills in those areas.

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Topics: virtual selling, virtual sales calls, virtual sales process

Stop Whining and Start Winning Deals in Regulation

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 25, 2022

One of the biggest challenges in sales is outplaying your competition, especially if that competition currently has the business.

When you are playing against the incumbent relationship make sure you ask the following question: “Who wins a tie?”

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If you are a football fan, you will clearly know what I’m talking about when I mention the Overtime Rule in the NFL. What the NFL’s Overtime Rule boils down to is:

  • If the game ends in a tie after regulation time, then an overtime period will be played.
  • The official flips a coin, and whoever wins the toss decides if they want to be on offense or defense.
  • If the team that has the first possession in overtime scores a touchdown the game is over, the scoring team wins.

This is what happened in the Chiefs vs Bills Divisional Playoff game Sunday, and the Bills lost. This is also what happened in the Chiefs vs Patriots AFC Championship game three years ago, and the Chiefs lost.

What does this have to do with selling and losing to the competition? Everything.

It almost never fails. Of the over 2 million salespeople tested by the Objective Management Group Sales Force Evaluation, 90% of the top 7% of all salespeople take responsibility for their outcomes. They don’t play the blame game. When you ask them why they didn’t get a sale, close an opportunity, or hit their quota, their answer will start with “I”.

Based on the research we’ve done over the last 25 years using the OMG tool, we know that at least 66% of the non-elite salespeople (93% of all salespeople evaluated) blame either the competition, the economy, or their company for lack of results or failure to close an opportunity.

It sounds something like this when a deal doesn’t close: “What happened?” “The incumbent came in and matched our price and kept the deal.”

Translation – I lost the toss of the coin, the other team got the last look, and they got the deal across the goal line and won.

What happens when we are in competition and it’s our own client that is shopping the market: “What happened? They looked at a competitor, told me what they were offering, we sharpened our pencil a little, and got the deal.”

Translation – I won the coin toss, saw what the competitor was doing, altered our original proposal, and won the deal.

When we win the toss, we don’t complain about a prospect shopping and picking us. When we don’t win the toss and don’t win the deal, we complain that the prospect wasn’t honest with us, used us to get a better deal, or the competition simply won on price.

You can’t have it both ways. I assure you that if the Buffalo Bills had won the toss and won the game no one in Buffalo would be complaining about the Overtime Rule.

The best way to deal with the overtime coin toss is to avoid getting there. When you are in competition against the incumbent make sure you ask 100% of the time the following question: “Who wins a tie?”

The answer will help you determine if you should risk a loss by going into overtime against an incumbent relationship that has already won the toss.

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Topics: Qualifying skills, sales challenges, biggest challenges in sales

Showing Gratitude and Relationship Selling

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 23, 2021

Working with clients can sometimes be difficult. But in successful relationship selling, it's critical that you are regularly showing gratitude and thanks.

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Where time has gone, I am not sure. But one thing I am sure of is that the upcoming holidays are a time to give thanks for the wonderful blessings in our lives.

It can be difficult, can't it?  As humans, we tend to remember and harp on much of the negative, instead of recognizing each and every day as a privilege. And, often, we do the same in our businesses.

  • "Our numbers are down this month?  Sound the alarm!"
  • "We received a bad review on Facebook?  Call a companywide meeting!"
  • "Marketing and Sales aren't aligning?  These people are hopeless!"

Sound familiar?  Now, I know I'm being a bit dramatic for effect here, but these statements are not that far off.

Wouldn't you say we act the same with some of our clients?

  • "Why don't they take any of our ideas?"
  • "How do they expect us to finish this proposal on time?"
  • "They are starting to get on my nerves!"

We've all been there.  Working with clients can be tough work.  We all expect so much from one another that one little instance can make us tick and might even ruin a business relationship forever.

So, I am asking that you send something to your clients, former or current bosses, colleagues, mentors, loved ones, etc. today thanking them for sticking with you.  A thank-you email/letter, a free piece of merchandise, flowers, a company t-shirt, free access to an online course, cookies (who doesn't like cookies?), or whatever else you can come up with.  Trust me, it will feel GOOD.  We will do the same. 

It's the least we can do for the great folks who have stuck with us through thick and thin and have represented our brand as advocates for the Anthony Cole Training Group.  It's also the least we can do for the loved ones who have stuck by our side in tough times.

So, I leave you today with these four questions. I'd encourage you to print these and hang them in your office so that you remember to give thanks every single day and not just during the holiday season.

  1. What are you most thankful for in your personal life?
  2. What are you most thankful for in your business?
  3. What are you most thankful for in your clients?
  4. Why haven't you told someone about it yet today?

Have a very happy holiday and a joyous New Year!

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Topics: client experience, relationship selling, building sales relationships

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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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