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Tony Cole

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The 8th Sales Productivity Tool: Post-Call Debriefing Sessions

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 05, 2019

Salespeople are often fooled that the opportunities in their pipeline are more qualified or closer to closing than reality suggests. 

In this article, Tony Cole will breakdown the activity of post-call debriefing and why it is so critical for improving results. 

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Back in my playing days, we had to wait a day to get the game film developed and delivered to the coach's office, so that we could review each player and how they performed. A couple of weeks ago, our Defensive Coordinator at Moeller HS used a tablet to coach his defense based on what had just happened on the football field.  With today’s digital technology, you can get your game or practice video feedback immediately. What a difference this makes!  

You can do the same with salespeople. 

The reason the game film is crucial is because the film doesn’t lie.  There are no opportunities for excuses, laying blame, or hiding from the truth.  In the film room, fierce conversations take place about converted opportunities, missed opportunities, the amount of effort given on a play, the outcome of a certain play, and so much more.  It can be intense because there is nowhere to hide.

Your post-call strategy sessions must work the same way if you are going to accomplish the following:

  • Improve skills
  • Change behaviors
  • Close more business, more quickly at higher margins

In order to do this effectively, you must know what should be done in an effective sales process by going through a checklist and marking those items that were accomplished so far in the process. A salesperson can, in reality, lie to themselves about what did and did not happen. The good news is that eventually the truth comes out in the results.

In other words when we teach out EPAS – Emergency Pipeline Analysis System – we look at several opportunities in the pipeline and calculate the probability of an opportunity closing.  If we examine 5 opportunities and the average closing probability is 75% or greater and none of the opportunities close, then we have a clear indication that something is wrong:

  • Either the producer is making up the data
  • The producer is failing in effectively executing the sales steps they are taking credit for accomplishing

In the end what you are hoping to accomplish is to help salespeople clearly see what the opportunity is, help them when they are chasing bad or unclear opportunities, model success for others and help your salespeople realize when they should walk from ‘opportunities.

Access the full toolbox today!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, train the trainer

Why Prospects are Like Fruit and Why You Need to Pick the Right Ones

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Dec 02, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable! 

Prospects, like their produce counterparts, have a shelf life, and none of them will last forever.  You must "eat" them, find a way to preserve them, or get rid of them!

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Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

That phrase has stuck with me all these years.  We continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when working with our new clients for Hire Better Salespeople.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others. 

Bananas – not so long.

Apples and mandarins – a little longer

Potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s (or future) meal, you must be somewhat selective so that the food you select today, is fresh enough for cooking and consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  However, buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio, where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel. 

When the day came, I went to Bill and told him I had a check in my pocket, and that I'd like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way, and would just let me buy!

Two hours later (car sales take awhile), I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance salespeople***  

Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.


DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready, or are already past their "prime" time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem(s). Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready!

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (salespeople) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, consultative selling, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

woman-writing-on-a-notebook-beside-teacup-and-tablet-733856

Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

Creating Your Ideal Week: The 6th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 08, 2019

In our next edition of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you our 6th tool, which is "Creating Your Ideal Week". 

Crafting your Ideal Week is essential for success in selling as barriers and "fires" often get in the way of accomplishing your goals.  While things rarely go as planned during the week, it's important to set yourself up no matter what and stay committed to the process.  

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I graduated as an Education Major from the University of Connecticut specializing in Secondary Physical Education.  In short, I was a gym teacher.  I thought that gym teachers just picked a sport they wanted to teach students, put the equipment out on the gym floor, spent some time explaining what they had to do and stood by with a whistle.  Little did I know that they spent week nights and weekend hours putting together lesson plans and class schedules.

When I went to the University of Cincinnati to coach with Ralph Staub and David Zimmerman, I found that they too put together coaching plans and practice schedules.  They would look at film from the upcoming opponent and from our last game, determine what we needed to work on the most and develop a practice and game plan to execute that week. 

But a lot can go wrong that would throw off an Ideal Week practice plan. And so, it is with professional selling.  One of the reasons that most “Time Management” programs fail is because the participant fails to understand that they must stick like Velcro to the Ideal Week they have planned. The key lies in their ability to discern what Steven Covey defined as urgent and important events and important and not urgent events.

Schedule a Meeting With Our Team

So here are the keys to creating and making an Ideal Week work for you and or your sales team:

  1. Identify the must do weekly activities. Remember that about 20% of your activities generate roughly 80% of your results so identify and pursue only those activities.
  2. Prioritize your most impactful activities.
  3. Allocate either hours or a % of your total work week to be spent on those activities. Keep in mind that if you are in sales, there is no such thing as a 40-hour work week.
  4. Begin blocking out time to perform your priority activities.
  5. Block out time for ‘fires’ (the unplanned, important but not urgent events that are sure to pop up in your daily life).
  6. AND THE HARDEST PART – Stay committed to the schedule:
    1. Only urgent and important events should throw you off your Ideal Week. Urgent and important events are things like a top 10% client having a must-fix, can’t wait problem or a personal, unavoidable emergency.  Ignore the gnat bites- pay attention to the alligator bites!
    2. Deal with the important, but not urgent events in the time you allocated to "fires".

Also, as supporting material, here is a graphic of what an Ideal Week would look like on paper or in a calendar:

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Topics: Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training

Creating Your Sales Success Formula: The 5th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 01, 2019

In our 5th Chapter of our Sales Productivity Tools blog series, we discuss the idea of creating a Success Formula for your sales team, which only works when you have a team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

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To support my objectives and goals of one day playing college football, I realized I had to have a success formula.  I had to have a workout routine for strength and conditioning.  I had to be coachable.  I had to eat the right foods (My dad always threatened to tell Coach Cacia if I didn’t eat my salad). And I had to take care of the bumps and bruises.

When I got into the "real" sales world (Insurance business vs. taking orders for Nautilus Exercise Equipment) I was introduced to the One Card System created by Al Granum.  At National Life of Vermont, we were given a box with index cards and a Success Manual.  We were trained to use the cards to identify the various stages where a prospect was in the sales process, and we used the Success Manual to record our activity.  Today that entire process exists in whatever CRM your company uses.

A Success Formula is an old school sales tool that works but only if...

You have a sales team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Every salesperson knows what the right behaviors are to be successful. They know they have to reach out to prospects, schedule appointments, disqualify people and companies that don’t fit their business model, close and service accounts, and much more. There isn’t anything mystical about what it takes to succeed.  But the challenge is for the salesperson to be disciplined themselves to do the things they need to do based on their own success formula.

When salespeople fail, it isn’t because they lack the skills or product/industry knowledge needed to succeed. Most salespeople fail because they won’t do the things required to be successful

The answer as to why a producer won’t do those things lies in the findings of the pre-hire assessment and sales force evaluations.  To gain a better understanding of someone’s potential to be successful in sales, it would be important to have a deep understanding of the following:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Sales Competencies
  • Sales Skills

Not having this information would be like trying to coach a football team, direct a play, or construct a building without knowing the desire, skills and tendencies of the people you are relying on to meet your objective. 

To assess your current or incoming talent and their ability and willingness to make the right decision – be prudent – then it helps to have findings such as those identified in Objective Management Group’s – Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.


Check out some of our additional resources below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Why is selling so #%&@ hard

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Topics: Sales Training, sales evaluation, hiring salespeople, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, hire better people

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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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