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Tony Cole

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"Why Do So Many of My Salespeople Fail to Perform as Expected?"

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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!

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: Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management

Huddles: The 3rd Sales Productivity Tool That Will Change Your Results

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Oct 09, 2019

 

In this article, I discuss "Huddles", the 3rd tool on the sales productivity tools list.  Over the years, I have used football huddles as an example of how sales huddles work.

Your huddles should provide real-time information, so that you can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching.  But just like in football, you must not only collect the data in a huddle, you must then gain business intelligence from the data and share that business information with the team.

ftball

I was first introduced to the idea of "Sales Huddles" when I heard Verne Harnish, Founder and President of Gazelles, speak at Objective Management Group’s Annual International Conference.  At that conference, Verne described Huddles as:

  1. A communication process or system that allows for sharing of real-time information
  2. An opportunity to focus on "burning platform" issues for a team or company
  3. A way to bring sharp focus and attention to a critical business driver
  4. The most important 15 minutes in any company

Over the years, I have used football huddles as an example of how sales huddles work.  Generally speaking, there are two types of huddles. One is what you see in the middle of a football field where the players gather around a single individual to get instruction on what they are going to do next. The other type of huddle is one that you would see on the sidelines after a unit comes off of the field. They gather around the offensive or defensive unit coach to receive information about what was seen in the press box, and how that relates to what they will attempt to do the next time on the field.

Your huddles should provide real-time information, so that you can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching.

This one very important point about huddles is what makes them so valuable to sales teams and salespeople. This is one of THE KEYS to driving more immediate and productive results from a sales team. If you wait 90 days as a manager to get data about how your team is conducting itself on a daily basis, it will be outdated and may not be of any use to you or your salespeople.

One of my favorite questions when working with sales managers in our Performance Management Class is this:

“When you get lost, when do you want to know that your lost”? 

The answer to that question 100% of the time is,

“As soon as possible."

And that is why you must have huddles!

Gathering real-time information allows you as a salesperson or manager to make real-time adjustments to either a specific sales situation or in your overall sales growth strategy. But just like in football, you must not only collect the data in a huddle, you must then gain business intelligence from the data and share that business information with the team.

Only then will the team benefit from the huddles, thus reducing resistance to the process. Additionally, you can make in-the-moment decisions on sales opportunities and long-term decisions on training and development, recruiting and talent.

To find out more about Huddles and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Coaching, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training

The Probability Scorecard: The 2nd Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Oct 01, 2019

In this article, Tony discusses the Sales Probability Scorecard, the second tool in our 9 Sales Productivity Tools series.  

Comparative to the yard markers on a football field, the Probability Scorecard gives salespeople and sales managers a clear, definitive look at how much ground needs to be covered in a sale, and the overall likelihood a specific sales opportunity will close.  Read more about this predictive sales productivity tool below!

crystal

As I stated in my initial blog about the top 9 Sales Productivity Tools, the Probability Scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field.  The yard markers give you a clear, definitive look at how much ground has to be covered before you score points; or in the case of defense, how much ground you have left to defend.

An effective Sales Probability Scorecard tells you almost exactly how much ground you have to cover and the likelihood of closing a specific opportunity.

You may already use a tool or system like this in your sales environment that is meant to track, collect, manage, and create movement in your sales pipeline. It may provide forecasting, and (supposedly) increase sales.  But if the sales enablement tool you are using isn’t built around specific criteria, activities and a milestone-centric sales process, your predictive capabilities and forecasting are no better than looking into a crystal ball.

The milestone-centric sales process breaks down the step-by-step accomplishments required to effectively create, qualify and close business. Normally, salespeople check off the major items on their checklists accomplished in the sales process—like uncovering a compelling reason or “pain”.  An effective probability scorecard tool provides the salesperson with a list of secondary objectives that must be accomplished. Here is an example of the first step identified in our Effective Selling System and the required secondary objectives:

Uncovering Compelling Reasons (to move, change, buy)

  • Compelling reasons are: “have to fix” problems, rather than “want to fix” problems.
  • The result of not making a change has been monetized
  • There is a “personal” reason why the problem has to be fixed
  • The incumbent has been unable to solve the problem and the prospect can/is willing to change providers

Checking off those secondary items gives the salesperson, and the sales manager, a more complete picture of what was actually accomplished and what is left to be done. If those secondary items cannot be accomplished, everyone now has a much clearer view of the “real” opportunity, or lack thereof.

The salesperson now knows what they need to find out from the prospect to make it a more closeable deal. This also allows for more intentional coaching on the part of the sales manager to help their salesperson develop into a more consultative seller.

In order to accomplish this, your Sales Probability Scorecard should:

  • Establish the factors important to qualify the prospect (can be industry specific)
  • Identify the most important or predictive factors
  • Have a baseline for what a "closeable opportunity" is (i.e. 70% score is considered closeable)

To find out more about the Sales Probability Scorecard and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

Sales Productivity Tools

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Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Coaching, increase sales, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training

Practice Schedules: A Perfect Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

I started this series of articles by relating my experience coaching football to selling.  It is my goal now each week to focus in on one of the 9 football related tools that can be applied to selling.

Our first, the practice schedule, is one of the most important tools used by football teams.  Overall, practice is an essential contributing factor to success on the football field. 

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It is important to note that, in football:

  • Understanding your opponent is critical
  • Reviewing practice and game performance is needed
  • A team has to have a solid strategy in all aspects of the game
  • Great athletes must be able to make game time adjustments and decisions
  • And yes, an occasional good bounce can be additive

At the end of the day, however, improving skills, practicing the game plan, and getting feedback from the practice sessions are crucial for success!

4 Minute Practice Makes Perfect Video

But back in the day, before I retired from coaching, we used to have 30 practice sessions before each game.  Each session was at least 2 hours. For every hour on the field, there was at least 1 hour in the classroom and at least 1 hour of film study or playbook study.  This was all for about 8-10 minutes of actual action on the field.

How much time are you spending practicing to improve your sales management skills?  How much time are you spending coaching your people to improve their craft?  And don’t tell me:

  • We hire / I have experienced people
  • We hire adults — we expect them to do what they need to do to get better
  • I’ve been at this for 20+ years, I think I know what I’m doing

Tell that to the greatest coaches of any sport in the game and they will tell you how wrong you are to believe that experience, or years in the profession, means that less time is needed in practice.

Tell that to Tom Brady.

Now let’s talk about practice as a sales productivity tool.

Malcom Gladwell’s oft quoted “10,000 hours” of practice to become expert in a skill may in fact be more of a platitude than a fact.  What appears to be a fact is that there are contributing factors to practice that are connected to competency and eventual expertise in a skill.

One of those contributing factors is a feedback loop“A feedback loop [provides]…the necessary information for adaptive measures to achieve the desired levels of teaching and learning objectives.”  Brunel University Study

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have delivered workshops and focus on the concept of an ideal week in all of our training programs.  To support the ideal week, we help our clients develop their ideal week.  Within that ideal week is time allocated for practice.  Regardless of the outcome of the "10,000 hours" debate, there is no debate about implementing practice as a requirement to improve a skill or performance across the board.

What should practice look like?

Your practice should include the following sales practice components:  Drill for Skill, Role-Playing and Strategy Development.  To accomplish these exercises, you should have pre and post call checklists as well as phone call scorecards and data from your sales huddles. All of these data points act as ‘video’ of how you or your people are actually performing. Using the data and real time information allows you to make your coaching and practice sessions more intentional.

To find out more about the ideal week and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/sales-productivity-tools

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For those of you that like to do the research on the research:

Practice Makes Perfect – Science Daily

Deliberate Practice – Business Insider

How To Learn any Skill With Your Own Weekly Plan – Kayla Mathews MUO Blog Post

 

 

Topics: practice, Sales Enablement, sales practice, creating new sales opportunities, football, sales and sports, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools

Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Sep 16, 2019

We often find there is a direct connection between sales and competitive sports. Due to his time on the football field as both a player and coach, Tony Cole has identified 9 Sales Productivity Tools that will help your producers build better plays, hit harder on the field, and come home with more wins. 

Over the next several weeks, Tony will be releasing a series of blogs discussing the 9 Sales Productivity Tools mentioned below in greater detail. Stay tuned for more information!

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I recently started working with the Moeller High School football team and am inspired to share some of my experiences in this blog and with my followers. I will try not to get too carried away with my football stories, analogies or metaphors but I will likely fail.

Coaching football and coaching sales have so much common ground. My current experiences at Moeller have helped me identify 9 football related sales productivity tools that I will introduce below and write about for the next 9 weeks. It's the season!

When these sales productivity tools are used by managers and salespeople, they will create more productive and effective sales results.

From 1963 to 1984, I either played football or coached football.  It was in my blood, it defined me, and it was all that I thought about.  It’s how I framed my world.  My language and thoughts were always tied to the game, the sport, and the competitive nature of football.  I still think and talk like a football player/coach:

  • You’re out of bounds
  • That’s a Hail Mary!
  • You must have played without a helmet
  • He’s on the all shorts team
  • That’s a long shot
  • What do we have to do to win?

If you are not a football fan, you are missing out on something great.  No other sport requires the same level of commitment, skill, discipline, courage and motivation as football. But I’ve been out of football since 1984.  However, this spring, my friend Tim Mackey asked me to go to lunch to discuss an opportunity he was offered at Moeller High School. That is how I am now involved in one of the most storied high school football programs in the country.

As I started working with the team and other coaches at Moeller, I discovered the linkages between coaching these two great sports: sales and football. The sales productivity tools I describe below are inspired by working with our football players and will help all of the salespeople we coach as well. 

Dig in!

9 Football Related Sales Productivity Tools

  1. Practice Schedule – All professionals need practice. Every team I have ever been part of has a schedule for practice.  In that schedule, the game is broken down into units where each specific aspect of the game is practiced:  Offensive line, defensive line, running backs, linebackers, special teams, two-minute drill, punt return.  You get the picture; you need to have a practice schedule for your sales skills!
  2. Probability Sales Scorecard – The probability scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field. The markers tell you how many yards you must go to score or how many yards you have to protect to keep from being scored upon. The probability sales scorecard will tell you, with a high level of accuracy, what the likelihood is that you will either win or lose the deal.
  3. Huddles –Just like in football, huddles are a communication system that provides coaches with real time information so you can make real time decisions.
  4. Goal Setting – Most teams have a period prior to the season when the staff discusses objectives and goals for the season. The discussions are based on previous performance, expected competition and the talent level of the returning and newly recruited team.
  5. Success Formula –Each team knows or anticipates what it needs to do to win a game. They need to identify metrics such as: How many yards on first down do they need? What are the average yards per completion and what is the completion percentage? How many passes need to be completed?  How well does the punt return team have to perform and what is expected of the defense in the ‘red zone’.   You will have the opportunity to download the success formula sales productivity tool in a future blog or you can get it now at:  Sales Pipeline Calculator
  6. Ideal Week – Every team goes into a game with their ideal game plan. In other words what plays do they want to run in various situations on offense and what defenses will they call given field position and tendencies of the opponent.  Very little is left to chance. However, there must be flexibility because field position can change in an instant.  You need to have a game plan week in and week out and that is done by first identifying what your ideal week looks like.
  7. Pre-Call Checklist – In football, plays are most often called by the offensive coordinator from the sideline. However during weekly practice, the coordinator goes over a series of pre-snap situations with the offense so they can quickly adjust to the play called depending on what the defense does.  You and your salespeople should go into EVERY appointment with a pre-meeting or pre-call checklist so that they are better prepared to execute the play (sales plan) on the call.
  8. Post-Call Checklist – After every game and sometimes after every practice, the coaches review film and compare it to the plays or defenses called. This allows for a measurement of performance against the planned execution (pre-call checklist).  The post-call process allows for corrective action / training and more appropriate follow up steps with the prospect.
  9. Performance Recording Tools – Back in the day, we used 8-millimeter films to review our game performance. Now digital audio and video devices give football teams instant feedback on practice and game performance.  These tools must be used to record practice, and in some cases, live scenarios, so that actual performance can be observed. Observing what someone does is a lot more impactful for both the performer and the coach than attempting to coach based on hearsay or just data reports.

Each of these sales productivity tools will be discussed in detail and available to you in future articles so subscribe to Tony's blog today. As a bonus, sign up below for your 10th sales productivity tool- our Weekly Sales Brew!

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Topics: sales tips, sales development, sales success formula, building sales relationships, Sales Tools, sales productivity, football, sales and sports

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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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