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10 Keys to Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 09, 2019

Recruiting new sales talent is complicated and time consuming. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force today!

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What are the keys to hiring better salespeople? In short you must kill spiders.

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing. The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask You tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting that to a job site or telling your influencers that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. As Alex Cole describes here, use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff". Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.

 

Interested in taking a step towards more effective hiring practices? Email alex@anthonycoletraining.com for a free job description analysis and to schedule a conversation with our hiring specialist.

 

 

Topics: sales skills, Interviewing, pre-hire evaluations, hire better salespeople, upgrade your sales force

Get Your Prospect to Hit the 'Buy Now' Button

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Aug 06, 2019

According to an excerpt in Don Miller's "Building a Story Brand," in order to help someone with a trust issue, the salesperson has to provide their prospect with a plan.  

This plan must help them arrive at the‘ buy now’ button on their own. Or, it must be a plan that helps them feel more confident after they’ve pushed the ‘buy now’ button. 

So, how do you go about getting your prospect to hit that button?  

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I’m stuck this morning. I’m reading “Building A Story Brand” by Don Miller and I'm looking over my own book “The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written”.  Don points out in Chapter 7 that in order to get a prospect to push the ‘buy now’ button they have to trust that everything is going to turn out okay. That means that they have to trust you and everything you’ve said and presented to them.

That’s a tall order if you are selling high-ticket items.

In my book, I just read the intro to Chapter 11 where I recount a meeting with Ron Rose at a Cincinnati GAMA meeting. I was a rookie in the Insurance business where Ron, on the other hand, was a 30-year veteran and multi-year MDRT (Million Dollar Roundtable) agent. I asked him what his best method for gaining prospects was and he took me through a series of questions that started with: “If I had your family locked up in a closet with a bomb, that was going to go off in 24 hours if you didn’t make a sale, who would you call on first?” I said, “somebody I already know”.

And that’s how I got stuck. 

Over the last 25 years, I have literally spent thousands of hours learning more and more about how to build a sales practice, craft a strong sales message, present solutions to get people to say yes, and more effectively guide my prospects through their buying process.

Having said that, there are very few books, articles or presentations I’ve read that didn’t address prospecting. I’m in the middle of writing a script for our Instructor Lead Training Session on Getting Introductions. In the process of writing the script, I googled ‘Getting Introductions-- Tony Cole’ to see what else I may have written about the subject and that search took me to my book.

And that's where I got stuck.

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You see, in Don’s book he points out that in order to help someone with the trust issue you have to provide your prospect with a plan. A plan that helps them arrive at the ‘buy now’ button on their own. Or a plan that helps them feel more confident after they’ve pushed the ‘buy now’ button. He used the analogy of putting down stones for the prospect to cross a creek.

That lead me to think about you and your sales approach. It caused me to stop and ask this question – what is your test drive? How do you help people get comfortable enough with you and your process so that the anxiety of making a mistake is minimized?  Imagine you’re buying a $50,000.00 vehicle without a test drive. Now put the number at $500,000.00.

And that is where I got unstuck.

Imagine how much easier it is for any prospect of yours to make a decision if you made it a habit of getting introduced to the person that is eventually going to ask you to write a check for $500,000.00.

Doesn’t getting introduced eliminate some of the anxiety and stress because someone you already trust and have confidence in has taken the test drive?

I'll let you find this one out on your own...

Topics: sales prospecting, prospect outreach, getting introductions

What is the Most Powerful Management Question Ever?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jul 31, 2019

In most companies, we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service).

So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

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While driving into work a few years ago, I heard an incredibly powerful performance question while listening to the Dan LeBetard with Stugatz ESPN radio show. An ardent Michigan Football beat writer asked this question during the Big 10 media day

“You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

I immediately thought about all the sales managers we’ve worked with over the last 25 years and the challenges they faced getting their salespeople to perform as expected. Let me explain for just a minute:

  • New hires are not hired hoping/expecting that they will be average
  • Hiring managers search for, find, interview, screen, and contract new producers thinking/expecting them to be great
  • According to Geoff Smart in his book Topgrading – 75% of new hires are no better and often perform worse then the people the replaced.

In most companies, we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service).

So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

So let’s look again at this reporter's brilliant question:

Reporter's Question: “You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

Your Question: “You came into ABC company with high expectations and a strong track record of success that we thought you would continue here. Here we are two years later and in our stack ranking for new business you have finished 9th and 10th. And your pipeline is consistently 66% of what it is supposed to be and your average size sales is $10,000 instead of the anticipated $15,000. What do you have to do over the next 120 days to demonstrate to yourself and to the company that you are on the path to achieving what we hired you to achieve?”

This is the question you should be asking your non-performing people NOW!

This question should have been asked of an underperformer within 6 months of the end of the expected ramp-up period. In other words, if your ramp-up period is 18 months and Jamie is at 12 months and not projecting to meet and exceed expected performance, this conversation needs to take place.

Be brave, ask the tough questions about performance, improve your coaching and get better results.

If you liked this article, please share it with friends, family and colleagues below!

Topics: management, sales performance management, self management, questions for sales teams

The Coveted Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Becoming, and staying, a sales manager is hard work.  Becoming an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience.

In this article, we highlight some of common habits (good and bad) of salespeople and sales managers' working today. 

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The sales management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving tomorrow.  What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable, so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution, systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

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To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople. I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople. 

Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Is selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip-side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business. 

Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that fogs a mirror
  • Poor prioritization
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results? 

Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coachone of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader. 

To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience. 

Like the coach of a winning team or a conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and lives of your salespeople and company.   Are you taking the right steps to do so?

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Topics: sales management secrets, sales management responsibility, Sales Manager, responsibilities of sales manager, effective sales management

Sales Coaching for the Sales Coaches

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jul 08, 2019

In this article, we focus on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.  Often, in sales, the sales manager is not held to the same standards as those on the sales force.  While sales people are monitored on their calls, emails, CRM activity, and follow-up methodologies, the same cannot always be said for sales management.

To fix the problem, organizations must take action by understanding the exact qualifications and skills they are looking for in sales management, using the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool, and having the systems and processes in place to execute a Sales Managed Environment.athlete-baseball-boy-264337

When you Google "Sales Coaching", what you would most likely find is the following:

  • Sales Rep Coaching
  • Top 20 Sales Coaching Company
  • 30 Minute Free Consultation / Increase Sales by 56% of More
  • Sales Coaching Sales Coaching / Move the Needle with LevelJump

But this post is not about those things.  If you want information on how to effectively coach sales people go here:

Why is Selling So Damned Hard.

Instead, this is about coaching the coaches. Why would we focus on that you might ask?  Let me lean on my good friends at Objective Management Group and John Pattison for some BIG DATA information.  This is what they know, and by extension, what we know about successful sales management and successful sales organizations.

  • When you have an effective sales coach, sales grow annually at an average of 26%.
  • Only 18% of the 100,000+ sales managers assessed, have over 60% of the required skills to be effective at coaching.
  • A much smaller percentage spends at least 50% of their time coaching.

Let’s do the math – if you have 10 sales managers, about 2 of them will be effective at coaching.  If you are looking for a sales manager and interview 10 of them, only 2 of them will be effective at coaching.

THAT is why I am focusing on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.

So, how and why do sales managers end up in the role, and why do companies continue to fail massively in an effort to effectively build and execute a sales managed environment?  Here are the answers to those questions, and yes they are in order of likely answers:

  1. Career path – Most organizations promote sales people because that seems to be the logical career path for a successful sales person.
  2. Great sales skills – The ‘career path’ sales candidates have great skills! Those include persuasion, interviewing well, presenting well and negotiation.
  3. Candidates that have a ‘sales management’ resume impress Presidents, HR recruiters and hiring managers with great talk and expertise about performance management, sales metrics, the number of sales people they have hitting  sales goals, using CRM and pipeline management technology.
  4. Companies don’t invest time money or effort to train and develop people to be effective sales managers. They assume that they come wired for success. This is kind of buying Salesforce out of the box – it won’t do the things you need it to do without hiring a Salesforce consultant to customize and build out the tool.
  5. There is failure to hold sales managers to the same rigor of performance management and coaching that is expected of sales people. Sales people are required to report sales activities and enter opportunities into the CRM. With our clients, sales people are taken through a discussion about achieving extraordinary results and building a success formula to achieve that goal. Sales managers do not typically report on the number of:
    1. Joint calls conducted
    2. Pre and post-call debriefing sessions
    3. 1-on-1 sales skills and behavior improvement coaching sessions
    4. 1-on-1 sessions to review the business plan and update the success formula
    5. Prospect / recruiting meetings they had or networking events they attended to find new sales people
    6. Sales management classes enrolled in or books they’ve read to improve skills
    7. Data analysis reports they’ve run to determine how well the bottom 2/3 of the sales team is doing as compared to the top 2/3

To ‘Fix” the problem, organizations and current sales executives must do the following:

  1. Understand the exact qualifications and skills you are looking for in the role and hire / develop the talent that can execute the skills necessary to get those outcomes
  2. Make sure that you use the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool to determine if the candidate has the Will to Succeed in the role, the right Sales Management DNA, and enough of the Sales Management Competencies so that you don’t have a extend yourself and your team to develop what you should have hired
  3. Have a system and process in place that clearly outlines the necessary tools, systems and processes to execute a Sales Managed Environment:
    1. Performance management and developing an no excuse sales environment
    2. Coaching for Success
    3. Motivation that Works
    4. Upgrading the Sales Force
    5. Recruiting talented sales people

Topics: sales management skills, sales management success, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, sales management tools, responsibilities of sales manager, develop talent

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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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