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Tony Cole

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Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati

Negotiating on the First Tee (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 19, 2020

In Part 1 of "Negotiating on the First Tee, we discussed the practice of negotiating with your prospect before you begin your presentation.  In Part 2, we continue this discussion and add more to the conversation.

In order to increase sales and close more deals, you must understand the client's business strategy, build a strong foundation for negotiation, and cross off all the boxes for a killer Sales DNA.

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  1. Establishing the ground rules for time of presentation are critical. Before we get to that though, you must have a transitional discussion
    • "Let me take a minute to review where I think we are..."
    • "You have the following issues a,b, and c that if not taken care of within this time frame will cause the following to happen and this outcome is a have to fix problem"
    • "Your capacity to invest time, money and effort to fix the problem is this…"
    • "And I’m assuming for a minute that if we are able to fix this for you, in the budget you’ve identified with the right criteria and priorities, you would also want me to be in a position to answer any and all questions at that time"
    • "Did I get this right?" (Buyer says yes)
    • "Good, assuming we can do this I will be prepared to do all those things. If I can’t, I will call in advance and cancel our presentation meeting.  Fair?" (Fair)
  2. Ground rules discussion:
    • "It may not be effective here, but there is a process that we recommend to make sure we are all on the same page, can I share that with you?" (Yes)
    • I need for you to be prepared as well:
      • "As I am going through my presentation, you will be thinking one of 2 things: 1) this makes all the sense in the world; let’s do this, 2) This won’t work for me, the money is wrong or I don’t think there is a fit"
      • "When I’m finished, I’m going ask you which one you are thinking. What objections do you have to that process?"
    • Anticipate and prepare for objections when you complete step six. Keep in mind that  an objection, stall or questions does NOT mean they are telling you no. They just need more information or you need to find out more clarity about compelling issues, capacity to invest or clarity on decision making. At the end, you do your best to eliminate any TIOs (Think It Overs)
    • Let's assume for a minute that this works for you. You are not done minimizing the opportunity for negotiation at time of presentation.  When you finish this discussion, you must return to your  office and write out and send the "As we agreed to letter" that covers the 3 “Cs” and inform the buyer you will call to confirm the information you’ve sent.  Then call to confirm.
    • Presenting to get a decision is as much of a mindset as it is a process:
      • Review what you’ve discussed
      • Review the as we agreed to letter including money and decision process that will take place today
      • Ask, “What’s changed?”
      • Make the presentation starting with their priority item not the first page in your presentation
      • Answer all of their questions about each solution, get them to score that solution on a scale of 1-10. If you are 7 or better you are in good shape but still you need to get them to a ten.  Once you get the ‘10’ you check that item off.
      • Ask our closing question:
        • "What where you thinking as I went through this. Assume for this discussion they said, This is really great we should do this! 
        • You ask, what should we do now?
  • Or your alternative is:
    1. Do you believe based on what we presented that we understand your business and what you are trying to accomplish?
    2. Do you feel we can help?
    3. Do you want our help?
  1. Despite this great process and effort, you can expect buyers to ask you questions that they haven’t asked yet, raise objections, or present you with stalls.  The first thing is this: Be prepared by conducting pre-call strategy meetings and role play these challenges.  Always understand that prospects are looking out for their best interests and not yours. Do not get emotionally involved when they throw you the curve ball!

Now I bet you are thinking, Tony, where is all the negotiation stuff?  Well that’s it right there. You win the bet on the first tee.

Topics: compelling reasons to buy, communication, communicating expectations, cost of hiring mistakes, crucial elements, desire for success, consistent sales, commitment to succeed, commitment, decisions, desire, creating habits for success, coaching salespeople, evaluating salespeople, developing sales skills, evaluating sales teams, creating sales habits, core values and beliefs, creating advocates, consistent sales results, consultative selling, create & convert leads, complacency, contacting prospects, deal or no deal, creating new sales opportunities, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati

Negotiating On The First Tee (Part 1)

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jun 16, 2020

In this blog post, we discuss the practice of negotiating with your prospect before you begin your presentation.  As is often said in golf, "All bets are won on the first tee," and you must be ready to negotiate price before you present to your client.

In order to increase sales and close more deals, you must understand the client's business strategy, build a strong foundation for negotiation, and cross off all the boxes for a killer Sales DNA.

grass-green-golf-golf-ball-54123

I play golf. Not very well I might add and that is not something that I’m proud of, but it doesn’t bother me enough to do much about it, other than drop an “F” bomb when a shot goes awry.

Though I am a high handicapper, I do have the ability to put some pars up on the score card ever once in a while, and when I’m playing a low handicapper and I get a stroke or two, I sometimes manage to get a birdie. To you non-golfers, this means absolutely nothing. To those that play the game and occasionally have a friendly wager, you know how this can help you win a few bucks despite some average at best scores.

And so it is with my game and occasional winning of bets. The key however isn’t so much about what I do on the tee box, in the fairway, around the greens or on the putting surface; it has everything to do with what happens before the foursome steps up to the first tee. And that is the arranging, settling and negotiating "strokes" before we begin play.

“All bets are won on the first tee.”

The USGA GHIN helps with that: United States Golf Association Golf Handicap Index Number. I won’t go into the details on the math that creates a GHIN for golfers, I will just help you understand what the intention is. In layman’s terms, it helps level the playing field to end up with a competitive game based on "net" score rather than total score. You can find more information if you are bored and having nothing else to do here.

The theory that"all bets are won on the first tee" also holds true in selling. In other words, you will end up in a more favorable position when negotiating a sale if you do most of the negotiating before you start your presentation. If you have not fairly discussed and agreed to terms before you start then you are sure to lose. Negotiating at that time has cost:

  • Lost time
  • Lost money
  • Lost confidence
  • Lost reputation
Negotiating upfront helps create a better relationship with your new client, allows for a free-flowing discussion about the solutions you are presenting, and alleviates all the pressure of discussing and negotiating terms after you’ve presented. This is how it’s done.

  1. Understanding the business strategy. What we know is that roughly 54% of executives say that their business strategy is to pursue profit. With regard to dealing with the competition, 80% of them say that their goal is to hold firm on pricing. This is important to you as a manager or salesperson because, in order to get the "backing" of your company to approve or close a deal, they want to know if their margins are protected. If getting company approval is important, then you have to make sure your sales strategy is consistent with the corporate strategy – hold firm.
  2. Your own SALES DNA is critical for success. Using the Objective Management Group's Sales Force Evaluation we can predict with 92% certainty who will succeed in selling in your organization. If holding firm to price is critical they must reflect the top 10% of all salespeople in the areas of Need for Approval, Controls Emotions, Supportive Beliefs, Supportive Buy Cycle, Comfort discussing money and finally their ability to handle rejection. Think about those items and how important they would be in a negotiation setting.
  3. Sales Competencies also come into play. How well would a salesperson negotiate if they are desperate for the business because they are not a Hunter? Imagine if they don’t score well in relationship building, consultative selling, or qualifying. But perhaps the strongest competency required is value selling.
  4. Building a strong foundation for when negotiation does take place is a focus that takes place early on in the relationship and the sales process. There are certain strategies that are required in this foundation:
  5. Think It Over (TIO) is not an option.
  6. Confirm the decision-makers and decision-making processes.
  7. Identify the capacity to invest MONEY and TIME and RESOURCES to make changes or make a purchase. Whenever possible you MUST meet with the money person.
  8. The problem the prospect is talking to you about must be a ‘have to fix’ problem. Finally, you must discuss and have clarity on this question: “Who wins a tie?”

These may not take place in any particular order because the dialogue between buyer and seller must be "free-flowing." But when you get back into your car and you are mentally going over what just happened, you must be able to check each one of these areas as COMPLETED.

Failure to do so will lead to negotiating at the wrong time.

To be continued...

11 Concepts For Managing Yourself and Your Employees During Change

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 15, 2020

In today's blog, we discuss the notion that effective sales leadership requires leaders to meet the challenge during times of major change. 

In this article, we bring you 11 concepts to adopt for managing yourself and your salespeople; to help increase sales, productivity, and trust within your organizations.time-for-change-sign-with-led-light-2277784

  1. What would you do if today where your first day on the job?
  2. What kind of attitude would you have?
  3. How would you respond to the responsibilities of your new job?
  4. You would you interact with your new co-workers?
  5. You come in the 2nd day of your new job and the company asks you to do something different. How do you respond?
  6. Who is more valuable in the marketplace, someone that adapts or someone that resists change?

Consider this: “You think you understand the situations, but what you don’t understand is the situation has changed.”  Putnam Investment advertisement

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Concept #1 – Commitment is a gift you should give to yourself

  • What are you committed to?
  • If you are not committed to do whatever it takes to succeed and increase sales, then you must:
    • Set personal goals that are non-negotiable
    • Have a vision of where you want to go (and where you want to end up)
  • Failure to do these things will lead to failure to fully commit 

Concept #2 – Senior management must empower all others to think like a CEO.  If senior management can accomplish this, then non-managers will think and act like they are CEOS; looking out for the entire company, and not only for themselves.

  • Support people to make decisions
  • Train them on how to make decisions
  • If bad decisions are made, it is because of the following:
    • Leadership hired the wrong people
    • Failure to communicate well
    • Failure to train on decision-making

Concept #3 – The use of technology

  • You must use it and demand it of yourself and your team!
  • If you have people that have a belief that ‘You can’t treat old dogs new tricks’, get those people off of your stage

Concept #4 – Flexible thinking and changing beliefs are critical.  There are some truths that you will have to accept.

  • Life isn’t fair!
  • Life isn't fair!
  • Life isn't fair!

Concept #5 – Companies are curious:

  • How can you increase my top line?
  • How can you add to the bottom line?
  • How will you prove it via accountability to measurable achievements?

Concept #6 – Your company will be asking, “Why should I keep you”? 
You must demonstrate that:

  • You are a good employee
  • You work hard
  • You get things done
  • You are capable of learning
  • You have experience that is valuable to YOU and to the future of the compnay

Concept #7 – Lifetime learning

  • Information doubles every 5 years
  • Power and speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months (Moore’s law)
  • The cost of computing drops roughly 30% every year while working faster and better
    • Are you twice as smart today as you were 5 years ago?
    • Have doubled your capacity in the last 18 months?
    • What are you doing today to be twice as smart in 18 months?
    • How much are you costing the company? Are you a better “buy”

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Concept #8 – Job security

  • The ability to initiate new relationships
  • Being able to create and sell creative solutions to qualified buyers
  • Your ability to facilitate decisions to buy from you

Concept #9 – Make sure you contribute more value than you cost

  • The company’s perception about contribution vs cost is the reality
  • You are not entitled
  • Prove your worth
  • If you consider leaving, would the company do whatever it takes to keep you?
  • How is your value measured by the company?
  • How is your cost measured?
  • The value of every company is outside the company (The marketplace) what are you doing to bring that value into the company?

Consider This: “The factory of the future will only have two employees, a man / woman and a dog.  The person will be there to feed the dog and the dog will be there to make sure the person doesn’t touch the equipment.”  Warren Bennis


Concept #9 – Serving others

  • What does it take to please them (everyone in your sphere is a "them")
  • How can you contribute to the success of others?
  • The person at the next desk, down the hall on another floor; make no mistake they are your clients and customers.
  • The "Best Bargain" is based on the value you bring. The consumer will seek and find the best bargain. They will either get it from you or from someone else

Concept #10 – Ownership / Responsibility / Accountability

  • You are responsible for your attitude
  • Philosophy > Attitude > Behavior

Concept #11 – Be a fixer, not a problem creator

  • Create or find solutions vs. announce and identify problems
  • Base conversations and actions on principles rather than your own personal position
  • Focus on getting outcomes instead of creating rules regulations and procedures.

Consider This:  Who are you holding captive for your success, you or your employer?

How appropriate are these concepts today?  Everyone of these thoughts, ideas and action items can and will help you lead yourself and others through challenging times. 

What I think you might find interesting is that these notes are a result of a book I read by Pritchett and Associates titled: The Employee Handbook of NEW WORK HABITS FOR A RADICALLLY CHANGING WORLD.

Price Pritchett does a great job of outlining 13 ground rules for job success in the information age. The booklet was written in 1994!  However, the principles and ideas make as much sense today as they did back then.  Some of the technology data might be a bit off given the advancement of the IT science but if anything, the technology has gotten smarter and faster due to big data capabilities.

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Topics: hire better salespeople, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, keys to selling, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, hire better people cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Go For The "No" Early in the Sales Process

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, May 12, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss the technique of going for the "No" early in the sales process.  It may seem counterintuitive, but countless studies have shown that humans desire what they can't have.  

When we go for the "No", we force a prospect to think of the value we bring to the table as salespeople. Are they really interested?  Will something more come from this meeting?  Go for the "No" early to ensure that you are on the right path with your prospect to increase sales, or move on to the next one!

brown-paper-with-handwritten-text-3826681 (1)

One of the keys for more effective selling is going for the "No" early in the sales process. I learned this concept years ago especially when I was vulnerable to "Think It Overs" (TIO). I would get TIOs at several stages in the sales process and maybe you have received them as well:

  • On the initial phone call when you’re trying to get an appointment –
    Let me think it over.  Give me a call next week.
  • At the end of your initial meeting –
    This sounds really good and something I should consider. Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days.”
  • When you finish your presentation and you ask for the sale – 
    You made a very compelling presentation and we are impressed with your depth of knowledge and your very creative solutions to our problems. Let us meet as a group and go over this one more time and crunch some numbers.  Let’s plan on talking next week.

Sound familiar?

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These TIOs are keeping you from being more effective in your sales process. That’s nice to know or consider but the question becomes,

“What do I do about it?”

Your potential buyer will tell you that they need to "Think it Over" because:

  • They really don’t intend on making any changes, but you impressed them with some information that they want to take to their current provider.
  • They have a "need for approval" and instead of telling you they are not interested, they want to let you down easy. Telling you they want to "think it over" gives you hope and get’s them off of the hook until the next time you talk.

To fix the problem, you must eliminate "Think it Over" as an option for your prospect!

Let your prospect know that when you finish the next meeting, next conversation, or the final presentation, they will have everything they need to make a decision then and there.

You can tell them that you will be prepared to answer all of their questions and when you are finished, they will be in a position to make a decision – a "yes" or a "no."  Then, simply ask what objections they have to that process. 

No hard feelings.  Nothing personal.  Just business.

This one key will help you close more business, more quickly, and at higher margins.

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Topics: hire better salespeople, sales effectiveness training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, online sales training, insurance sales training, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, keys to selling success, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, hire better people cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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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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