ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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

Why Success Formulas and Sales Plans Fail

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Aug 02, 2019

If you have followed my blog, read our sales newsletters or listened to our audio sales brews, then you’ve heard me talk about success formulas.  The concept is pretty simple.  If you follow the steps and execute the required activities to the required standards, you will be successful. Well, guess what? It doesn’t always work that way, especially if you are missing critical pieces of the process.

Success or Failure Sign

For most people, the success formula is a new exercise designed to create a logical and systematic approach to their sales process. It requires that one has clearly mapped the sales process and has some idea of what the conversion rates are from one step of the process to the next step of the process. It also requires an exercise where personal goals are identified and there is a financial or monetary value attached to the identified goals.

But… goals aren’t enough. There are a couple other critical criteria you must meet.

1. The goals have to be non-negotiable, AND...

2. The sales person has to be willing to do everything possible to succeed.

Without these criteria being met, then the success formula becomes just an exercise to complete rather than a fundamental business process that will increase the opportunity for success.

Once non-negotiable goals and a “whatever it takes” attitude have become established, then you can go about the process of building a success formula. This leads us to the next challenge and that challenge is data. Unless you’ve collected data on your sales results, then you won’t know the conversion rates or the amount of activity required to be successful. The success formula then becomes a “guess at success”. And that can be the problem with success formulas.

If you have gone through this process and you aren’t at the level of success that you had predicted, then you’ve got to back to the drawing board and re-calculate your formula. If you aren’t successful, it can be attributed to one of the following 3 things:

1.  Lack of performance of the required activity – In other words, just a flat-out lack of effort.

2.  The formula was wrong because the assumptions of conversion ratios or average size accounts were wrong or…

3.  The goals were actually negotiable and you, the sales person, are not doing everything possible to succeed. Not just in effort, but also in those steps in the sales process that are difficult or contrary to your personal belief systems, your buy cycle, or your need for approval.

The sales formula was never designed to be a perfect solution to cure poor or failing sales performance. The intent again is to provide a sales professional with a logical and progressive way to approach selling. If you are executing your formula at 100% and you aren’t getting the results, review the goals, the assumptions and the conversion ratios.

Make needed adjustments and go back to work. One important thing to keep in mind: If you are not performing as effectively as you thought you would, then you must examine what it is that you’re failing to do to get the appropriate conversion rate. Your course of action will always be one of two actions: work harder or work smarter.

The choice is yours.

 

Topics: Sales Effort, Effort in Sales, success formula, sales success formula, things to do for sales success

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

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Jul 26, 2019

Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.

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One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the 2019 race you are running

What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production? 

Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Topics: sales differences, little things, one more call, slight edge difference, extra mile

Deal or No Deal?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Tue, Jul 23, 2019

We've all been there before...I know that I have.

A deal looks good, until suddenly, your prospect comes to you with some final (more on that later in this blog post) requests for accommodations on deal structure, deal pricing, delivery, etc. 

So now what do you do? 

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You have worked so hard to get the deal to this point…surely you don’t want to lose it now.  But then again you were confident of your position and now that confidence is just a bit shaken.  What if you tell your prospect no? 

Will the deal crash?

Coaching salespeople for the last 12 years has caused me to conclude that most salespeople are not very effective at what Objective Management Group calls the negotiator competency.  The competency includes the following 11 elements:

  • Seeks win/win
  • Willing to walk
  • Manages appropriate amount of patience
  • Able to listen & ask questions with ease
  • Controls emotions
  • Goal oriented
  • Problem solver
  • Doesn’t need to be liked
  • Rejection proof
  • Sells value over price
  • Comfortable discussing money

In my judgment, the most powerful of these elements is the willingness of the salesperson to walk away.  Of course, that presumes the salesperson has another deal to walk away to.  As my colleague, Jack Kasel here at Anthony Cole Training Group says, “Weak pipelines make cowards of us all.”  Even the most courageous of salespeople have a hard time walking away (even when they should) if the pipeline is on the thin side.

I have enjoyed reading the excellent book by Chris Voss titled Never Spit the Difference and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Here is just one nugget from Chris:

No deal is better than a bad deal.

Even with a thin pipeline.  Even with the pressure that is on you to produce.  Remember that an outcome of no deal is always better than the outcome of a bad deal.  And what about the last call from the prospect asking for an accommodation?  Here is my advice.  Assuming you need to go to someone higher up to get the prospect’s request approved…and assuming you want to give the accommodation…ask your prospect what happens if the accommodation is approved?  Where does that leave us?

Never go seeking the accommodation unless you know exactly where you will stand if the accommodation is granted.  Otherwise it might be in your best interest to walk.

Mark Trinkle

Chief Growth Officer

Anthony Cole Training, LLC

Topics: how to close a sales deal, today's buyer, deal or no deal

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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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