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Tony Cole

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Why Prospects Are Like Fruit: Targeting Your Ideal Client

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 03, 2020

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.

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“In the end, we’re all just fruit.” That is one of my all time favorite lines from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

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

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 pick them now or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select is fresh enough for cooking and/or consuming.

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, or “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.  When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went in, told them I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked for a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy. Two hours later, I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

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

  • That the prospect is too "green"
  • They just opened a new account with their bank partner
  • Just renewed their insurance
  • Their lease expires in 11 months

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects and work with them on solving their problem. 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.

Topics: prospecting skills, improving sales results, increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, contacting prospects

It's Goal Setting Time: How to Turn Your Personal Goals into a Business Workplan

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 19, 2020

Money should be looked at as a vital resource. A resource like food, air or water. In other words, you cannot live without them. Money buys you freedom of time and the freedom to choose. So, in order to choose and then achieve your personal goals, you must have money!

Here are some specific steps to help you translate your small, big and important personal goals to a business workplan that will help you achieve these goals.

Break down your goals into these 3 categories: short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. And then within each one of those categories, identify your goals as either urgent, somewhat urgent or not really urgent at all. This process will help you narrow down the types of goals you need to focus on first and foremost.

Typically, when people think of goals, they think in terms of things they want to have or things they want to accomplish like eliminate debt or pay for a wedding. More challenging goals that we also need to consider are those types of goals that we call ‘freedom to choose’ goals. An example might be the ability to work 4 days a week or the ability to take a month off to do ministry work in a third world country. Those goals also require financial freedom. So, at the end of the day regardless of the type of goal, there is normally some sort of financial requirement attached to the ability to achieve that goal.

Your second step is to identify at least 12 freedom to choose goals and identify their associated financial requirement.

Next, we have to become laser focused. We want you to identify for the next 12 months from all the goals that you identified, which are the 12 non-negotiable goals. You can't miss these come hell or high water - you're going to achieve these goals! Now, what behaviors will you need to do to make these goals happen – break it down into steps and set some deadlines. A goal without a due date is just a wish.

You just completed the easy part! Now its time to roll up your sleeves and translate these individual personal goals and their financial requirement into a business work plan. We call it a work plan because in order to achieve success you must have a plan AND work the plan.

Here are the Workplan components:

  • Your Success Formula
  • Your Market Niche
  • Your Prospecting Strategy
  • Your USA

The Success Formula is the math that helps you understand the amount of activity in each step of your sales process that you must execute to get to your revenue goal. Keep in mind this one very important idea – your goal has to be YOUR goal. It must be a number driven by your needs and not the needs of the company. But here is the catch – your number should always be higher than what the company requires from you. Remember these are your personal goals to reach.

The best way to identify your Market Niche is to take a look at the top 20% of your current book of business and identify the common demographics. That is who you serve well and the trick will be finding more of them!

If your business is like most, your larger, top 20% clients probably generate North of 70% of your revenue and the rest of your book of business is made up of a smattering of various size accounts. To refine this into your workplan, you want to identify approximately the number of accounts you want to sell at each size. This will give you an idea of the number of sales at the various levels you need to make in order to reach your goal.

Your Prospect Strategy to reach out into the market place is the key to your success. The best way to meet a new prospect is to ask your current clients for introductions but you must have multiple strategies.

Your USA or Unique Sales Approach to the market place is critical. How will you stand out? Here is the test of the effectiveness of your USA or elevator pitch – If you heard your pitch, would you respond with one of the following?

  • Tell me more about that.  
  • That's me.
  • How do you do that?

Most of us believe that in order to get a better outcome we need to start doing something. In reality sometimes the first requirement is to stop doing certain things. To complete your workplan, identify those things that you are doing that are killing your business and killing your ability to be more effective – then stop them!

Take a minute now and review this newsletter. Ask yourself - what are the top three things you need to execute because you believe that when you do, they will have the most dramatic and positive impact on your business.

Now go plan your work and Work your plan!

Need a Goal Setting Workshop?

Topics: personal goals, setting goals, sales goals, how to hit goals in sales

It's Goal Setting Time, Start Here

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 12, 2020
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Video Transcript:

I want you to think about your success over the last 12 months. This assessment isn’t complicated.  Just break down your life into two areas:  Your work success and your personal success and think about your answer to these three questions:

Question 1: Over the last 12 months what was the most important thing you wanted to achieve in your personal life? 

    • Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10, (1 is not even close and 10 is I blew it away)
    • How did you do?

Question 2: Over the last 12 months what was the most important thing you wanted to achieve in your business life?  On the same scale - how did you do?

Question 3: And Last question – why did you get these results?

That one will take some reflection. Now as we get started on this meaty topic, I want you to think about this question:
What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail? 

Goal setting is more than just thinking about and writing down goals. Goals without actions are just thoughts you have about what might happen.  Writing goals with action items is a waste of time if you don’t commit to time frames.  And ultimately you have to inspect what you expect. The joy of accomplishing goals is what will keep you moving forward.  This course is about goal accomplishment and not just goal setting.

There are many wonderful books on the topic of setting goals and achieving your personal best and I hope you are reading them!  We know that salespeople who accomplish their goals do these things consistently:

  1. Their goals are written down
  2. They have a time frame to achieve them
  3. Their goals are defined and measurable
  4. They have an accountability partner or a coach to keep them on track
  5. They set too many goals
  6. They stretch and set extraordinary, big hairy audacious goals

Mark Victor Hansen challenges people to write 100 goals so that you have more opportunity to announce VICTORY when you achieve a goal. And instead of just establishing reasonable goals make room for those that are extraordinary.  All the resources you need to have an extraordinary life are available to each of us.  Quoting Mark Victor Hansen again, “There is normally only one person between you and your greatest achievement.”   YOU

Your success is really about you versus you. It has very little to do with your company’s strategies or the economy or the competition.  This really is all about you and your desire and commitment to make your dreams, your plans come to fruition.

One of the challenges that people have when they attempt to write goals is a lack of process to create the plan.  My suggestion now is for you to take out your calendar and identify at least two hours of time for writing out in detail your goals/your plan for the future.  

OK, Remember the question - What would you attempt to do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Keep these things in mind as you get started on your 100 goals.

There are no goals that are too small, too, large, too far out, etc.  Don’t edit your thoughts – write down any and all goals that come to mind.  Don’t limit yourself because you think a goal is too big, too foolish, not foolish or big enough.

Next go through your categories of life and begin writing those things that are in your head and on your heart – goals for family, community, spiritual, work of course, financial, fitness, things you want to have and want to do. Write them all down and remember – no self edits!  Spend some time on this – don’t short cut it!

And keep in mind Steven Covey’s famous quote:  Begin with the end in mind…

Need a Goal Setting Workshop?

 

Topics: personal goals, reaching sales goals, sales goals

4 Rules to Help Salespeople Maximize Initial Prospect Meetings

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 05, 2020

How important is it that you or your sales team close more business, more quickly at higher margins?

If you think are leaving dollars on the table and need to find a solution to that problem, there are two things I want you to recognize:

  1. Your current sales process is perfectly designed for the results you (or your team) are getting today – if you are not closing as much as you believe you should, then there is something in your process that has to change
  2. That change starts at the beginning – the phone call to set up the appointment

The quality of the phone call will always determine the quality of the appointment. If your salespeople must have better initial calls then they must improve the quality of the phone call.

5 keys to coaching

To get you started, here are 4 rules for salespeople:

  1. How you say what you say is more important then what you actually say. You must ask questions and then really listen. If you tell stories, use metaphors and analogies. You need to have appropriate eye contact and body position, voice inflection, and background especially in today’s virtual world
  2. Nobody really wants to talk to you – this seems like a harsh rule- but if you know this going in, that will help you be better prepared to nurture the discussion
  3. You have 10 seconds to make a GREAT first impression. If you show up late for the zoom call or meeting, you’ve already lost. If you don’t have compelling and CEO like questions to ask that really engage your prospect, you are behind the 8-ball.  If the prospect cannot connect with you in the first 10 seconds, everything is uphill from there.
  4. Finally practice and record your opening dialog. Listen to it. If you were someone you’ve never met before - would you engage? (Sales coach, you should listen and provide feedback that is helpful to your salespeople)

Salespeople must have a strategy or plan for success going into the meeting. Not a plan that is developed in the car during the drive to the appointment but rather one that is thought out in a pre-call strategy session. Here are your two objectives:

  • The overall objective should be to have a go or no go at the end of the meeting – that doesn’t mean buy or don’t buy, it just means that you move to the next step or don’t.
  • The secondary objective is discovering as much as you can about your prospect’s motivation to meet and have the discussion you are having. Normally this involves a pain they want to eliminate or an opportunity that they want to leverage. Find out their compelling reason to take time out of their schedule.

One thing we know for sure, prospects don’t take time out of their schedules unless there is an underlying reason. As salespeople, our job is to find out what it is.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

 

Topics: Initial Sales Call, sales techniques, asking sales questions, initial sales meeting

29 Consultative Questions to Help Increase Your Sales

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 29, 2020

What is the best way to stand out in today’s virtual, fast paced world with limitless information at our fingertips, social media and highly informed prospects? Make sure that you are a skilled consultant and are prepared and skillful at asking the right questions at the right time. The best way to cultivate a trusting relationship is to focus on your prospect and be genuinely curious about their business challenges. That is what will differentiate salespeople from everything else that can be found online. According to the #1 sales evaluation we utilize, the most important skill of successful consultative salespeople is asking enough of the right questions. So, we gathered 29 consultative sales questions for you to use to skillfully help your potential prospect through their decision-making process.

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 29 Consultative Sales Questions:

  1. I know you are a very busy person, what caused you to invite me out?
  2. What has to happen today so that you at the end of the meeting, you say, this was a great meeting?  
  3. What is the most important thing for us to cover today?
  4. Tell me about that. (assume you have uncovered some problem or issue)
  5. How long has that been going on?
  6. What have you done to fix it?
  7. When you spoke to your current provider, what did they say? Or
  8. What has your current vendor done to make this problem go away?
  9. What happens if you don’t fix this?
  10. Is that a problem?
  11. Is this a want to fix or need to fix it problem?
  12. How much is this problem costing you?
  13. How much money have you set aside to make these problems go away?
  14. (If low price) What other products and services do you buy that are not low price?
  15. Who else besides you is impacted if you decide to do business with us?
  16. What do you like or not like about your current provider service?
  17. Are you happy with their results?
  18. Suppose we can’t match your current price but can help you achieve your total growth (sales) goal and fix the problems?
  19. Suppose that we come to an agreement on financial terms, what other resources will be needed to complete the arrangement?
  20. When you’ve made a decision like this in the past, what was your process?
  21. Will that be the process that you go through this time?
  22. When you say you’ll “look at it”, what does “look at it” mean?
  23. When you say you’ll “think it over” (TIO), “think it over” means?
  24. Who else has to fall in love with the idea of our doing business together?
  25. How important is it to you that we put a program together to help you eliminate the problems that you’ve described to me? 
  26. What will it sound like when you tell your current provider that you are moving? (You should get them to actually say the words so that they are rehearsing the conversation)
  27. Do you feel I understand your business challenges (or what you are trying to accomplish)?
  28. Do you think I can help you based on what I have shared?
  29. Do you want my help?

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: traits of successful people, the why sales questions, selling in today's market, consultative selling

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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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