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Tony Cole

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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

Talent is the Key to Winning Sales Growth Teams

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 24, 2020

In this blog article, we discuss the similarities between the NFL Draft and hiring better salespeople and increasing sales.  Like the draft, sales managers must do their best to discover if their potential candidate is a fit not only for the particular sales role, but the organization
as well.

What tests must your next recruit pass to excel on your sales team? What are you doing to ensure that your sales candidates have what it takes to become a top performer? 

helmet-on-the-ground-2862718

Last night, the first round of the NFL draft took place and here are a few important facts about the event:

  • There are only 224 out of 16,000 eligible draft players
  • Roughly $1.3 Billion in contracts will be negotiated and signed
  • They must participate and attain a certain score in the following;
    • 40-yard dash
    • Bench press (225 lbs x reps)
    • Vertical and broad jump
    • 20 and 60-yard shuttle
    • 3 cone drill
    • Position specific drills
    • 60 interviews in total at 15-minute intervals
    • Physical measurements
    • Injury evaluation
    • Drug screen
    • They Cybex test
    • The Wonderlic test

Not only must the player submit to these evaluations, but keep in mind that their entire college career, has been videotaped.  Statistics on yards, catches, passes, tackles, rushes, etc. are kept and used by professional scouting organizations to determine the likelihood of an athlete having what it takes to make and succeed on an NFL Football Team.

What tests must your next recruit pass to excel on your sales team? What are you doing to ensure that your sales candidates have what it takes to become a top performer?  How much data do you collect, and how reliable is it?  How much interviewing do you do?  And finally, is it consistent enough to eliminate variability in data, thus eliminating variability in hiring and eventually in performance?

In the coming months, I’m guessing that the following are going to happen:

  1. The sales talent pool will be flooded from many industries that suffered partial or complete shut down and had to let people go.
  2. A lot of unqualified salespeople will be hired only to be let go within the following 12 months.

What should you do?

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Take some pointers from the NFL playbook on drafting talent:

  • Know EXACTLY what role you are looking to hire for
  • Know EXACTLY what a candidate has to do in order to succeed in that role
  • Create the ideal job attraction post of the candidate that will execute the role
  • Assess ALL candidates before your interview them for their will to succeed in selling and sales DNA
  • Interview them for most the critical characteristics like:
    • Phone skills
    • Relationship-building
    • Qualifying
    • Closing
  • Have these candidates audition through roleplays and their ability to demonstrate success, recover from rejection and ask questions while listening intently
  • Implement a consistent vetting process that is managed and inspected
  • Prepare them to make a decision when you offer them the position
  • Onboard them as if they are new to the industry and role

I’ve talked to several people today.  All of them told me that they are on a hiring freeze and the companies they work with are also on a hiring freeze. That probably includes you. But this will not last. When it is over, you need to be prepared to act rather than wait until it’s time to start the process all over again. 

Here are some resources to help you hire the best people to be successful in your company:

  1. Access to a free trial of the highly predictive pre-hire sales assessment
  2. Objective Management Groups SmartSizing tool that will help you evaluate who to keep on your team and in which roles

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Topics: upgrade the sales force, increase sales, assessing sales talent, recruiting sales talent, top sales performers, eliminating variability, hiring top salespeople, building sales team

How to Sell in Any Market

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 17, 2020

There is always something going on in the market that makes selling difficult.  However, you can choose to develop strategies and utilize virtual technologies to get in front of your prospects and clients.

Take this time to really get to know your clients and their needs, fears, and pressures so that you can help solve their problems, while helping to push both of your organizations forward.

allie-smith-KzUsqBRU0T4-unsplash

Earlier this week, I conducted a 30-minute Live Zoom Broadcast titled, “How to Sell in Any Market”.  The primary focus of the session was to help people understand the following:

  • There is always something going on in the market that makes selling difficult. If you’ve been in sales long enough – more than 10 years – something is always happening with the economy, politics, health crises, competition or decisions made by your company.
  • Don’t let outside conditions be the reason you don’t succeed. Maybe the market has shrunk as it did in 2008 – 09 but it didn’t disappear unless you were making recreational vehicles in Elkhart, Indiana or Houseboats in Cumberland, Kentucky.
  • No one owns 100% of the market, so if there are 100 opportunities and the “800lb gorilla” in your market has 20% market share, that leaves 80% for you to go get in addition to taking some of the low hanging fruit from the “gorilla.”
  • Old technology still works – pick up the phone and call someone! Don’t rely on emails that are getting deleted by the dozens.
  • Have a strategy:
    • Get face to face – via virtual technology – with the top 20% of your client list
    • Call and talk to your next 40%
  • Email, or better yet, snail mail the next 20% of those that you believe have the potential to grow to the top.
  • What you are doing today is either helping you race to the top or race to the bottom, you get to decide!
  • Identify the 3 things that you should be doing NOW to help your build relationships and forge friendships, rather than the 3 things that will help you increase sales. Remember, those that you are calling on in B2B business have lots of things they are worried about and buying from you may not be top of the list.  These worries may include:
    • How is my business going to survive this crisis?
    • Who do I let go and what’s the best way to do that?
    • How do I best serve and keep my clients safe and secure?
    • How do I protect myself and my family from harm and illness?
    • How do I take care of those people that have helped me build, run and grow this business?
    • I do have a business to run so unless you are bringing something valuable and unique to my situation, I don’t have time to talk to you or respond to your emails.

In closing, here are some responses below that we received from some of the 50 participants in our session.

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Thank you be safe and stay healthy.

  1. It’s time to make friends not money
  2. Run zoom rooms with top 20
  3. Using the quote about “People want to know how much you care before they care how much you know.”
  4. Change my attitude
  5. Make sure you listen to your clients
  6. Get to know your clients better
  7. Assume that your clients need a solution, not a sales pitch
  8. Short term actions lead to long term results
  9. Your best clients look great to competition at any price
  10. Human Touch in a High-Tech World….love this!
  11. Make friends, not sales
  12. Take advantage of technology, learn to provide creative solutions, pick up the phone and be unique!
  13. Be persistent, but not pestilent.
  14. Think Strategically

Interested in Leadership Development for your organization? While our program is personalized, it will often include an initial in-person kick-off training day or virtual zoom-cast, followed by a series of focused Coaching Calls with the “Leader in Development” as well touchpoints with the Executive team.

Leadership Development 

Topics: hiring better salespeople, train the trainer, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, insurance prospecting system, assessment tools for salespeople, life insurance call script, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, star sales training, 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

Develop Your Sales Talent to Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 25, 2020

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent in order to increase sales in 2020 and beyond.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement. 

You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business, and then you must take key steps to help you determine if they lack the skills to get the job done, or if they are making excuses for their lack of success. 

pexels-photo-248547

Companies are constantly trying to figure out how to drive organic growth by:

  • Acquiring a revenue stream by buying a business or lifting out talent from a competitor
  • Developing current talent

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement.  You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business. 

Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

To be successful in determining the real issues with your salespeople, you must have a system.

I read a blog the other day by Dave Kurlan.  We’ve had a strong business partnership with Dave and his company OMG (Objective Management Group) for most of our 24 years in business.  With OMG, we have the ability to determine the answer to the question – is it excuses or is it a talent issue?

Dave’s post  - 12 Reasons They Didn’t Like You Enough To Buy From You – helps address some of the issues associated with “not getting the business”.  It primarily focuses on the area of matching styles.

This got me thinking about the issue of “style” as it relates to talent, which relates to sales competencies and excuse making.  The challenge for the sales manager is determining if the reason a salesperson did not get the sale was really a talent issue, or an excuse issue.

To determine the root cause of the results, a sales manager must work more closely with the relationship managers and implement a process that Bill Eckstom calls “intentional coaching”.  This process of working closing with your RMs is addressed in our Sales Management Certification Program in the Coaching for Success Module.

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Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your salespeople lack the necessary skills to succeed or are making excuses for their lack of success:

  1. You must gain insight. You gain insight by using various data points. The data points you MUST use are: 
    1. Observational joint sales calls – You do not run the sales call; you observe your RM
    2. Data from your CRM or SAT program (SAT – Sales Activity Tracking)
    3. Sales meetings – In all of your sales meetings, you need to include a segment on skill development where you drill for skill, role play and conduct strategy development discussions
    4. 1-on-1 coaching – Each week, you should have time set aside for 1-on-1 coaching with those people that are NOT in the 1st quadrant of the “Where’s Walter?” matrix
  2. Provide feedback. In advance of the discussion about lost opportunities, you want to provide your RM with the data you have – no ambushing.
    1. You discuss – ask the RM questions about what they see in the data
    2. You provide them feedback based on what you see and where the problems might be
    3. You discuss what the future might look like if the current trends continue
    4. You agree that there is a problem
  3. Demonstrate – Once you identify the problem as either an excuse or a skill issue, you demonstrate to the RM what you expect them to execute.
    1. If they are making excuses – "They didn’t understand the value of our offering” – You ask, “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse what would you have done differently?”
    2. If it’s a skill problem – “I asked them if they had a budget and they said yes.” “When you asked them what it was, what did they say?”  “They said they didn’t want to tell me.”  “When you asked, ‘why not?’, what did they say?”  “I didn’t ask that question.”
  4. Role play – The scenario above allows you to now role play with you acting as the prospect. You need to start with Drill for Skill and then graduate to the full role play.  Getting them to practice what you expect them to do takes patience and repetition.  Do not believe for a second that one role play will be enough.  You need to start your RM on a weekly coaching session repeating the required skills over and over again. 
  5. Action steps – Each coaching session must end with action
    1. "Bill, so what I want you to do is call Mary and have this conversation we just role played."
    2. "I want you to report back to me by end of business today what happened as a result of that conversation."
    3. Hold your salespeople accountable while also coaching them along the way! 

Implementing a process of gaining insight, providing feedback, demonstrating, role playing and establishing action items will go a long way in helping your team discern the difference between making excuses for failure and the need for skill development.

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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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