ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Identifying and Hiring Top Sales Talent

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Dec 17, 2020

Finding and hiring great sales talent is difficult. There are many characteristics you must ensure a candidate has in order to be successful with your organization. However, there are a few key attributes you need to look for during the interview process to increase you likelihood of hiring success.

My pup, Rocky, loved to lay on top of pillows. ALL pillows. He didn’t care if they were round, square, flat, cushy, or even sewn on and attached to the back of the couch- he would find a way to lay on them. And though it irritated me to no end, I appreciated his determination. He would do whatever he had to to be on top. He was the epitome of the great sales candidates you should be looking for- except maybe the dog part.  

Rocky Pillows

Great sales candidates will think the same way Rocky did- they have to be on top. They will do whatever it takes to make sure that they are successful. They will find ways to differentiate themselves amongst their peers. The hardest part, however, is being able to spot those great salespeople without wasting a lot of your, or their, time.

A great salesperson should prove to you that they:

  • Can handle themselves well on the phone and won’t get flustered when challenged by a prospect
  • Have a strong will and determination to succeed in their role, with your company, in your selling environment
  • Will ask robust follow-up questions to get the specifics required to properly qualify an opportunity
  • Can close for the next step at the end of the call

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

The number one question I ask myself after any interview is this: “Would I like to compete with them in the marketplace?” If the answer is no, strongly consider this individual for a position within your organization. The interviewing process you put candidates through should work to identify these key traits.

What if they don’t have the specific experience you are looking for? Don’t worry! You can train someone on the technical parts of being a banker, relationship manager or insurance rep, but it’s a lot harder to train them to be a great salesperson. 

So, when you are interviewing sales talent, remember Rocky and his never-ending quest for higher, softer ground and his grit to get there. He was the kind of top dog you should look to add to your team.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Interviewing, assessing sales talent, upgrade your sales force, hiring top salespeople

Success in Selling: The 5 Myths

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 10, 2020

Selling is hard. Especially with the easy access prospects have to critical decision-making information. However, the struggle often begins with how and what we think.

In this blog, Tony discusses the personal beliefs and myths that often get in the way of a sales persons ability to see greater overall success. 

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There are no secrets in sales! The internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated any secrets to success in sales, and how to do almost anything else. All you need is a mobile device with access to the internet, and you can find just about anything you want to know.

With facts and strategies being so readily available, why do most salespeople (about 80%) still struggle to be successful? A lot of it has to do with beliefs and myths. What about you? Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Some may include:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

So what is the best method to move past the myth and see success? It starts by getting to the root cause of the problem.

As many of you know, Anthony Cole Training Group has specialized in providing specialized sales growth solutions for banking, investment advisory, and insurance. Primarily, those growth solutions include:

  1. Hiring better salespeople
  2. Executing an effective sales process
  3. Sales Management training

During our years of developing and delivering content to hundreds of sales organizations, we have used the #1 sales assessment tool on the planet. Not only is the accuracy of the sales inventory assessment tool unbelievable, but the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis have been a game-changer. One of the most compelling segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs. Each of us has personal beliefs that dictate our behaviors and thus determines our outcomes. This holds true for all areas - sales, sales management, and sales leadership. Whether aware or not, we all have beliefs about what we do that impacts our opportunity for success. 

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE BELIEVE

Here are the myths that many salespeople believe to be fact:

  1. People buy from people they like. Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you like, but that didn’t drive your decision. What drove your decision was your confidence and trust in the person, the product, and the company behind the product.
  2. People make buying decisions based on price. Staying with you and your purchasing habits for a second, let’s talk automobiles. According to MotorTrend, the cheapest car available today is the Chevrolet Spark with a base price of $14,095. If you own one, then you are a rare breed. The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2019 was only .75% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. If people only bought the lowest priced item, this would not be the case.
  3. Closing skills are the most important. This might be surprising to you, but in the last three studies I conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers, and private bankers who severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right. That is not the case. Due to information access, they're more educated regarding product knowledge, availability, options, and pricing but to assume they are right about everything is incorrect. However, this in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is this; if salespeople believe this, then they will never be gutsy enough to execute the challenger sale, the value-based selling system, the SPIN System, or our Effective Selling System.
  5. Prospects are always honest. 95% of respondents in all of our studies believe prospects are honest. That is until we conduct our first meeting with our clients and go through the process that buyers go through when executing their buying process. If a prospect were completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who cold-called them that they got a renewal that is too high, and they want some competitive bids to keep the incumbent honest. We all know that doesn’t happen!

TRAINING ALONE DOES NOT GET LASTING RESULTS

Time and again, companies spend money on sales training to introduce them to a new:

  • sales language
  • sales approach
  • prospecting method
  • time management process
  • cross-selling strategy

What happens is that the company spends a lot of time, money, and effort, and yet, at the end of the event or training, they cannot point to any discernable difference in outcomes. Behaviors stay the same, problems that existed before are still there, effort changes for a while but soon returns to pre-training levels and salespeople still blame the economy, the company, or the competition for lack of success.

Top people are still performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are maintaining, and your bottom 20% are not performing any better than the bottom 20% you had the year before. Why? Because the root problems associated with these beliefs were never uncovered.

For you, your team, and your organization to see greater success, it's critical to identify, address, and build strategies to overcome the myths or beliefs that are hindering personal growth.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: sales succes, improving sales results, increase sales, key to successful hiring, sales performance coaching

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

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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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