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Tony Cole

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Manage Your Selling Priorities: Ready for Takeoff

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jul 07, 2023

When you are in an airplane, you may or may not pay much attention to what is going on in the cockpit. You may happen to glance at the massive control panel with all the switches, gauges, nobs and buttons, but it’s just a glance… before you hustle on to your seat to get settled in for the flight.  But the pilot does, thankfully.

When you are getting ready to start your day, you may not pay a lot of attention to what is happening in the cockpit of your sales aircraft or to “the dashboard” that provides critical information about the state of your business. Normally, you jump in the pilot’s chair and fly off into your day. You have a pretty good idea of where you are going THAT day… so you probably don’t give much attention to the “preflight plans” for the rest of the week, month or quarter. If this doesn't apply to you, it may apply to some of your salespeople. 

But, if you stop to think about your flight/business in longer terms, you know that, over the year, you will probably hit a lot of turbulence. And if used properly, your business dashboard, like the control panel of a 757, could provide you with the critical information that you will need to make the vital decisions required at those critical moments. In other words, it would be nice to have a system of alerts to give you warning BEFORE you are on the verge of crashing.

Have you looked at YOUR dashboard lately? Have your salespeople been checking theirs? What does it tell you? What alerts or warning systems do you have in place to let you know when you are losing altitude and attitude? How do you know if all systems are working properly and that your sales aircraft will get you safely to your destination – on time and on target? What should you be monitoring and doing every day (priorities) in your “preflight inspection” to make sure that you improve the probability of “getting there”? Think about these questions in regards to you and your salespeople.

Here’s my suggested short list of selling priorities:  Prospecting, talking to people, scheduling appointments, conducting qualifying (and disqualifying) appointments, presenting and getting decisions. Just like for each engine of the aircraft, each of your priorities should have a gauge (a standard of performance) and a RPMS, or required ground speed (a set time frame), necessary for safely lifting-off and landing your aircraft at the proper destination.

Having a thoroughly monitored dashboard of sales priorities to help you execute a safe landing (your goal) is a MUST! Share this blog with your team to start the conversation about their own "dashboards."

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Topics: Sales Training, banking sales training, sales training tips

Identifying Sales Coaching Needs: An Analysis EVERY Company Should Execute

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jun 14, 2023

Regardless of the current state of affairs, GREAT organizations go through a constant assessment of where they are. They look at lagging metrics, leading metrics, and success metrics.  They consider that data to help them identify the answer to these three questions...

  1. What should we keep doing?
  2. What should we start doing?
  3. What should we stop doing?

Note: Often the 3rd question is the most important of the three.

Here are examples. 

  1. There is a scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber, where is Lloyd talking to Mary and he asks her about his chances of them being an “item”. She says “not very good”. He asks something about the odds. Mary responds with 1 out of a million. Lloyd responds with; “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
  2. The second example is personal. I kid with my family that all babies and dogs love me. They know that to be NOT exactly true. Dogs have a tendency to hunker away, and babies often run the other way. Alex’s daughter, Harper, is a great example of the latter.  Jeni’s dog Stella is the dog that hunkers or sneaks away whenever I am in the kitchen cooking.  Juliet, Alex’s youngest, on the other hand gets this radiant glow on her face, smiles, waves, signs “more” and starts the motion of playing patty cake. She loves me. This morning I am having that discussion with Alex and she says the following: “Well, there was bound to be one [that liked you].”

My point is stop doing this one thing: Stop believing that isolated instances are a trend.  Just because one of your salespeople:

  • Had 1 good month of activity
  • One nice size sale
  • Got an introduction from a client
  • Showed up at your sales meeting without complaining

To identify sales coaching needs, trends, potential of current team members, and candidates for sales you need data. To get this data, START DOING the following:

  • Do a complete assessment of your current sales team so that you can identify their Will to Sell, Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies. With 92% predictability, this will help you identify what coaching areas need to be addressed so that your people can get better. Click here to learn this information about your sales team.
  • Build a Sales Success Formula based on Milestone-Centric Sales Process. This Milestone-Centric Sales Process should have workflows and checklist.
  • Implement huddles. Read information from Verne Harnish on the value of Huddles and or click here to learn more.


Free eBook Download: Find Out if Your  Bankers Can and Will SELL

Topics: Sales Process, sales skills assessment

How Your Sales Coaching and Method Have a Direct Impact on Your Results

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 02, 2023

Every organization has sales coaching and a sales method. What many companies either don’t know or unsure of is this: What direct impact does our sales coaching and sales method have on improving sales?

 I can’t answer that question, but I can with 100% certainty make this statement: Your current coaching and methods are perfectly designed for the results you got last week, last quarter, and last year. Furthermore, they perfectly designed to get you your future results.

This is also what I know to be 100% true: If there is something about your sales outcomes that do not meet expectations, then something has to change. As the saying goes, you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes.

Often companies turn to sales training and management coaching to help with sales outcome problems. The positive impact you might be planning for as a result of any sales training will only happen if...

  • You have the right people on the team today.
  • You replace under-performers with those “that are highly likely to succeed’ (click this link for free download of Sales Candidate Assessment with 92% predictability)
  • Your analysis of your sales systems and processes point you in a direction to implement and or fix required supporting sales systems and processes.
  • You have the sales management DNA required to be successful at coaching, performance management, recruiting, motivation and upgrading.
Finally, do your sales managers have the sales management competency skills required to change outcomes?

The approach to improving sales skills (using SMART Goals and SMARTER Data) and coaching must help your people adjust several skills:

  • Getting to Decision makers
  • Using storytelling, metaphors, and analogies to make a point about how a solution might help a prospect.
  • Outbound lead nurturing practices
  • Finally, no excuses for lack of EFFORT

Having what we call a Sales Managed Environment® helps companies understand what needs to be changed and how to change and adjust to the moving landscape of pricing, availability, and competitors looking to buy market share. It’s tough to be successful at overcoming challenges and obstacles if you don’t have a built-in process that includes Performance Management, Skills Coaching, Hiring, and 1 on 1 deliberate coaching specifically to improve skills and change behavior.

Bottom line, you cannot possibly control all that is going on around you and your people. But you can control the habitus they live in, the quality of coaching support they get, and the availability of improving skills.

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: Sales Training, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, consultative sales coaching, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, sales training workshops, sales training seminars

The Best Advice Sales Managers Can Give to Help Increase Sales

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 19, 2023

In this blog article, we discuss the best advice sales managers can give their salespeople, and that is to "keep moving."  If you want to increase sales within your organization, you must keep moving throughout the ups and downs, the missed opportunities, the clients who "ghost" you, and more.

No one ever said that consultative selling or sales coaching would be easy, but you must motivate your team to keep moving and to see the bigger picture.

I met Al several years ago at my health club while we were playing early morning tennis with a group of 6 others. At the age of 57, I was the youngest in the group.  I played regularly with this group for about a year and as I honed my tennis skills, I would come home and brag to Linda about how my partner and I crushed the other team that morning. 

One morning, I think she had heard enough and wanted to know more about the competition I was playing. After all, I had only been playing tennis for just over a year. She and I would hit balls on a local tennis court so she knew my game really wasn’t that good. It was either I kept drawing great partners or the competition was suspect.

In the spirit of full transparency, I will go through some of the competitors I crushed. 

  • Frank – 72 years old, arthritis in a hip and bad feet from early childhood development issues
  • Bill – 70 - recovering from his 2nd by-pass surgery
  • Ron – 68 retiree with a bad back, hip replacement and vision issues
  • Chuck – 71 – braces on both knees
  • Jim – The best of the lot, 69 but in good shape
  • Jim – Former military, 72, recovering from hip and back surgery
  • Al – At the time Al was 89 and a retired man of medicine

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

The jig was up and my story had been exposed.  I was competing against the walking wounded you might see in a 4th of July Parade playing a flute, carrying a flag, and playing a drum.  In reality, they were quite good tennis players who tolerated my lack of skill with great humor.  They often took advantage of me as a result of my lack of talent and experience as well.

I ran into Al just last week and that is when I learned the best advice any manager could give a sales team.  Both Al and I had just finished working out. I was walking through the locker room as he was getting ready to leave. I don’t see Al as often as I used to, so when I do, I always take some time to chat with him and ask him about his life.

Tony – Al, how are you doing my friend?

Al – I’m doing alright, can’t complain, you know just getting in a workout and heading home.  Doing pretty good though.

Tony – You look great Al.

Al – Well I just keep moving.  I figure if I keep moving, I’ll be alright.  I can still walk 3 miles with no problem.  I work out on the elliptical.  But I’m losing my memory.  I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name.

Tony – It’s Tony.

Al – I just can’t remember things like I used to and you know what that means…. ( silence of acknowledgement).  By the time I get upstairs, I won’t remember your name.

Tony – That’s okay Al.  Are you still driving?

Al – Sure!

Tony – Al, how’s your wife? 

Al - She’s fine, just fine.  She’s the young one.

Tony – You are my hero, my inspiration to just keep moving.  Thanks. Can I give you a hug.

Al – Sure

Tony – Thanks Al,  Great to see you,  you take care of yourself and I’ll see you again soon.

Al – Okay.

Al is 97 and his wife is 95.  They survived the Holocaust and continue to thrive today. They thrive today because they are both committed to this one piece of great advice that all sales managers must provide to their sales team - Just Keep Moving.

When salespeople or sales teams fail, it is a result of one or both of two things:  Effort and/or Execution. 

As I’ve been teaching and coaching in our Sales Managed Environment program for years now...

Effort Requires No Skill

To Al’s point, more than half the battle of surviving and thriving is this; Just Keep Moving.  Keep calling prospects, keep meeting with them, keep inquiring about the business those prospectsrun, keep asking powerful and insightful questions, keep finding out if there is anything you can do to help someone achieve their objectives, and more.

But everything starts with effort. And effort starts with the will to just keep moving.

Thanks Al for the lesson!




Topics: sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, handles rejection, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, keys to selling

Starting TODAY, Control Your Professional Sales Life to be Happier and More Successful

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 12, 2023

We’ve been talking to, teaching, and coaching sales organizations for 30 years.  We’ve been through every economic, political, and social uptick and downturn that you’ve been through. As a result, we’ve heard every reason for success and failure. The one true constant throughout those years and swings in environment is that there are always a small group of salespeople that succeed regardless of what is going on around them. What is their secret key to success?

You can’t control if someone will be there when you call, if they will return your email, or if someone will give you a business card and tell you to call them. You can control if you call, how you present yourself, and if your message is captivating and engaging. You control your willingness keep calling and following up, you control if YOU PERSONALLY provide something to the marketplace that is needed and wanted by many. You can control if you ask for a business card. You can control asking a new suspect if they are sure that they want you to call them, or if they are just being polite.

You can’t control if someone tells you to send them something just so they can get you off the phone, but you can control asking them if they are just trying to get you off the phone. You can ask them "Once I send it, then what?" You can control setting up a specific time to follow-up and ask if there is any reason that they wouldn't take your call. Also, you can ask them how many times should you attempt to follow up with them. 

You can’t control if they have a strong relationship with their current provider, but you do control asking about the current relationship and the willingness and ability to end that relationship when you bring something to the table that is better than what they are getting today.

You can’t control if the incumbent or new competitor is looking to capture market share by being the low-cost provider. You control telling prospects that you are not the low-cost provider, but your clients still choose to do business with you knowing full well they could save money. Why do you think they do that?

You cannot control prospects mis-representing or embellishing the truth. And I assure you that they will mis-represent or hide the truth about problems, capacity to invest time, money, and resources, and they will most certainly not be forthcoming about who has authority to make the final decision and how decisions will be made. 

  • You can control if you ask if the problem or opportunity is a have-to-fix, want-to-fix, or consider-fixing issue. 
  • You can control telling a prospect to let you know when the problem becomes a have-to-fix problem. 
  • You can control asking about where the money will come from if they don’t have a budget. 
  • You can control monetizing a problem or opportunity. You can control making sure the financial influencer is part of your discussions and you can control asking about who wins a tie.

You cannot control a prospect's decision-making criteria or priorities. You can control asking, aside from money, what are the other decision criteria and how would you prioritize them?

You cannot control what the incumbent will say and do, to discredit you. You control if you ask your prospect what they will do when the incumbent begs to keep the business, or changes their pricing to match yours and you can ask, why did it take me getting involved to get your current provider to do what they should have been doing all along?

You cannot control the environment you will be presenting in when you get ready to make your pitch. You can control the following:

  • Making sure you’ve agreed to a scope of work before presenting
  • Explaining that all the influencers need to weigh in before you present if they are not going to be in the presentation
  • Sending an as-we-agreed-to letter to your prospect after you’ve completed all of your qualifying meetings and the next step in the process is to present a formal proposal
  • Making a phone call to verify that everything you put into the as-we-agreed-to letter is accurate and the decision time frame still holds
  • Making sure that your prospect understands that at the end of your presentation you will ask three questions:
  1. Did they feel that based on what you presented, you understood the nature of the problem they want to fix?
  2. Do they believe that you can fix the problem?
  3.  Do they want your help.

You control all of these components of the presentation stage.

But perhaps the single most important thing you control is your attitude.  It is your attitude that determines your beliefs and those beliefs are what drive your actions. You can control if you believe you have control.

With regards to selling and closing deals, my experience is that the most highly successful salespeople exhibit great control to move on when they don't get a deal. They have the uncanny ability to say and think, some will, some won’t, so what, NEXT.  

That is the ultimate control of your destiny.

Thanks for your time.


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Topics: Sales Management Training, sales managed environment, effective sales management, consistent sales results


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    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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