ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Sell Better, Sell Faster, Sell Smarter

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 18, 2018

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When a company first starts out, there probably isn’t much of a sales process, or team, in place. The one or two advisors target prospects, introduce them to the company, and close deals according to their own preferred methods.

Of course, as the business grows, sales leaders must implement a repeatable, scalable process to turn a trickle of income to a steady, predictable stream. With all salespeople using the same systems and playbooks and adhering to the same process, the sales organization (hopefully) becomes a well-oiled machine instead of a Frankenstein-esque contraption stuck together with duct tape.

What’s the secret to accelerating sales growth? While people and process usually precede systems, sales is somewhat of an exception. The right Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) can help empower people and define process.

The right CRM system can accelerate your business’ growth, bring in profitable, happy clients, and enable your sales team to sell better and faster.

Sales today is a far cry from what it was just 20 years ago. The advent of search and social media means sales requires research and careful customization as well as knocking on doors and building relationships.

But different doesn’t always mean better. Even though changing times necessitate new approaches, some salespeople merely transfer their old methods to modern channels and sometimes they are still effective because of their relationships and network.

As with the introduction of technology into the workplace, change is coming if it hasn’t already- and change is hard. But the right CRM system can not only enable salespeople to update their practices, it can also give them a competitive edge in the market.

Read more of The Definitive Guide to Selling Better and Faster by clicking on the button below.

 The Definitive Guide to Selling Better & Faster

 

Topics: sell faster, CRM, sales acceleration

How Do I Motivate My Salespeople?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 13, 2018

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Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my salespeople motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?” 

The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play for the team.

My dad – my manager – knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track and get them to operate at their highest level for your organization.

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Topics: sales motivation, effective sales coaching, Sales Leadership, sales leader

What Makes a Champion Salesperson?

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 11, 2018

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Welcome to our first audio blog here at ACTG!  In today's episode, we talk about and explain the traits of what makes a champion salesperson. 

Listen as our Chief Learning Officer Tony Cole digs in on some of these 10 traits including:

  • Their strong desire to be successful in selling
  • Their commitment to success in selling
  • Their coachability
  • And so much more!

Check out his takes below.

Traits of a Champion Salesperson

 

Topics: sales advice, sales characteristics, sales champion, coaching salespeople, sales activities for success, coachability

Motivating Sales People: What Does it Take?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Dec 07, 2018

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Frequently I am asked the following question: “How do I keep my salespeople motivated to sell?”

My response 100% of the time is: “You cannot motivate your salespeople. You can only recruit and hire motivated salespeople and create an environment in which they motivate themselves.”

Many years ago, I saw Mark Victor Hansen at a Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting. During his presentation he said, “Motivation is an inside-out job”. In other words, motivation comes from within a person. We cannot motivate someone from the outside. I believed this then and I believe it more now.

As some of you know, I grew up on a blueberry farm in New Jersey. My dad, Ray, was the foreman of the farm and if he hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant. Does that give you a picture of the type of guy he was? Dad was a “no-excuses”, get-it-done, “if you want to make more money, work harder and longer” kind of guy. He didn’t just teach his kids this discipline. He lived it.

I benefited genetically, environmentally and in countless ways from him. No doubt, his leadership and encouragement enabled me to attend and graduate from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on full scholarship. Earning this scholarship did not start when I entered high school. It didn’t start when I made starting center position my junior year. It didn’t start when I was named co-captain my senior year. It started when I was born with Dad’s DNA and a nurturing but disciplined environment that cultivated a relentless desire and commitment to succeed.

This commitment to succeed was present early on, when I worked alongside grown men, performing the same job, at the age of 10. It was probably evident long before then when I refused to be less than the winner of any game I played with my older and bigger brother. And the commitment to succeed was certainly present when I told my dad that I wanted to play football at the age of 9.

When he asked “Why?”, I replied that it looked like fun. When he asked me if I was sure and reminded me that if I committed, I must always give it my best effort, I was sure. He told me it would be hard and, that while he would get the name and number, it was up to me to call and tell Coach Gazzara I wanted to play.

My dad met me as I came off the field after my first practice and asked me what I thought, to which I replied, “I loved it. I’m going to college someday so I can play football!” Once again he asked me if I was sure and told me that college football players work hard to stay in great condition and that I would have to do the same. I said “okay.”

He helped me remove my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then told me to start running laps around the field. When I asked, “How many?”, he said “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

Fast forward 13 years to the afternoon I played and lost my final college football game against Holy Cross. Oh, was I sad. I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again play this game that I loved and that had led me to a college degree, the unique and fulfilling camaraderie of team work and experiences far beyond the reach of a poor and uneducated farm boy.

Of course, since then I have found other different, age and life appropriate, “games” at which to succeed. My personal history is an example of internal motivation. I didn’t know about scholarships. I had not thought about a college education. I had no idea that I would fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18 years old. I might never have gotten to travel, to visit Bangor, Maine or The Military Academy in Annapolis. My motivation was to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to do this and do it well.

  • Do you have an internal desire and commitment?
  • Do you have salespeople on your team who have these necessary traits?
  • Have your motivational techniques and incentives had any long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or moving the sales-results needle?
  • How many salespeople do you have who will do the things they need to do? How many will perform as necessary?

Through the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA), we have learned that motivation is as much internal as it is external. There was a time when we thought that salespeople were externally motivated (money, recognition, etc.) but now the data that tells us that as often, the motivation of sales people is internal (satisfaction). This means that we must find those who have the drive, those who have the desire and who have the willingness to do whatever it takes. 

Topics: sales motivation, motivating sales people, Motivating, building sales team, sales advice

How to Find and Cultivate Prospects That Fit Your Business

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 04, 2018

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Today, our customers are bombarded with sales, marketing, and advertising pitches from companies all hoping to win their business. They’re overwhelmed, or, in most cases, they simply tune us out. So, we try to reach as many potential customers as we can, but we spin our wheels and end up stuck in the same place, week after week, month after month, or year after year.

The problem? We’re not sure who we’re trying to reach. Many of our potential customers view their time as their greatest, most valuable asset, and so should we. We can protect that asset by having a clear understanding of who our target customer is.

Identify What a Zebra is

In order to hone that understanding, we have to begin with first identifying our “Zebra,” or our ideal prospect persona.

We can do that in three easy steps:

  1. Begin by segmenting our business’s book into thirds. For most companies, that top third brings in 90% of the company’s revenue. They are generally the best clients.
  2. Look for common traits and demographics in that top third. Ask questions like:

·      What do these customers have in common?

·      What industry are they in?

·      Who is our main point of contact?

·      How do we contact them?

·      What is the size of their organization?

Having the answers to questions like these helps identify other potential customers in the market.

3. Once we know what traits we’re looking for in that top third, we should commit 2/3 of our time to looking for, or attracting, customers from this group.

 

Identify What a Zebra Isn't

Of equal importance is to know, and clearly articulate, what isn’t a Zebra for us. If we know who doesn’t fit our ideal customer persona, we’ll bring clarity to our network and prospecting efforts, and again, continue to value time as our greatest asset. Here’s why it’s important to know what a Zebra isn’t:

1.    We eliminate ambiguity

Introductions have been proven to be the No. 1 way that top producers grow their business. But if we aren’t specific about who we serve best, it’s hard to get those introductions. We need to be specific and clear about what type of zebra we serve best.

2.    We reduce frustration with our Centers of Influence (COI)

We want to capitalize on our COI’s relationships, but if we’re not crystal clear with who we’re looking for, our COI may make an introduction to someone we can’t help. When working with our COI, it’s helpful to articulate the type of business or individual we’re looking for, along with what we’re not looking for and why.

3.    We reduce our opportunity cost

Our opportunity cost is what we’re not working on that might have been more viable for our organization. If we’re calling on Company ABC, we’re not working on Company XYZ. Are we losing out on better business, because we’re not calling on the right prospects?

If we know what we don’t want and the reasons why, it might reduce the quantity of opportunities in our pipeline, but the quality will increase dramatically. 

Cultivating Zebras

Once we’ve determined which customers are and aren’t Zebras, we need to understand the best ways get in front of them and build relationships.

Start by doing some research.

Should we call or email them?

What is their preferred social media platform – LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter?

Knowing how and where to reach our target persona will positively impact our ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business. Undoubtedly, our most effective approach is to utilize the relationships we have with our top third by asking them to introduce us to others they know, who will most likely fall into that ideal customer profile.

It takes work to find these prospects and then contact them, but it’s well worth the effort. Our chances of success are now much higher because we know we’re reaching the right audience, the Zebras who become our best clients. 

Topics: finding customers, zebra, new age selling, sales growth and inspiration, ideal prospect persona

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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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