ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Who Stole Your Prospect?: Holiday Edition

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Dec 09, 2021

If you consider the tactics that are generally covered in sales skills training, you can probably think of a handful of happenings that can steal, or make you lose, your prospect.

In this blog, we will discuss the top 4 situations you may encounter that will cause you to wonder; "where are you, prospect?"

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From the year it first appeared in 1966 until now, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” has remained a holiday classic. Narrated by Boris Karloff, it contains so many scenes that quickly rush to my mind. Who can forget the scene of the Grinch talking with Cindy Lou Who…or the scene where the Grinch turns his dog, Max, into a reindeer?

But let’s talk about another grinch – and this one is much meaner. I’m talking about the one that steals your prospect. You know – the prospect you were chasing that you were sure you were going to win right up until the point that you didn’t. If you consider the tactics that are generally covered in sales skills training, you can probably think of a handful of happenings that can steal, or make you lose, your prospect.

I think there are four different types of grinches that steal your prospect:

  1. Lack of compelling reasons to make a change. This surfaces when your prospect has no pain/compelling reason to make a change, but you decided to pursue the opportunity anyway.
  2. Lack of capacity. This comes to you when you do establish a compelling reason for the prospect to make a change, but you fail to ask them about the timing of such a change. It only appears after the presentation when your calls or emails are not being returned because the prospect isn’t ready to make the change.
  3. The incumbent. This shows up when you fail to drill down into two things: 1) the reason why the prospect will leave the incumbent and 2) what they will tell the incumbent when they make the change. Changing providers is a big decision. Probably the toughest decision the prospect will ever have to make.
  4. Not receiving a decision (within a mutually agreed-upon timeframe) after you present your solution. Why does this happen? Because you did not get them to agree to make a decision. You simply presented without any kind of upfront agreement.

So, to all of you faithful readers of this blog: could the actual grinch who stole your prospect be you? Think about it…and Happy Holidays to all of you along with wishes of peace in the New Year.

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Topics: prospecting skills, developing sales skills, sales skills training

5 Reasons to Run a Sales Blitz for Sales Prospecting

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Dec 03, 2021

sales blitz

We expect every member of our team to prospect every day as one of their sales activities. But now and then, it helps to put a focus on the effort and bring the team together on a call blitz.  This works for many reasons.

One, we like the company of doing this together. Salespeople are often lone rangers, making calls and sending emails and linking in but it sure is nice to have our team to celebrate or to complain to and more importantly, to share experiences with and learn from.

Secondly, a call blitz puts a scheduled time on everyone’s calendars for just that one activity – sales prospecting outreach and conversations. Everyone gets to decide how they are going to approach this but we do provide a recommended direction and tools.

Third, let’s face it, sometimes life and work get in the way and our sales prospecting time is taken away when we must take care of current clients. Call blitzes put a discipline and structure to this necessary sales activity of sales prospecting.

Fourth, when our team collectively puts a lot of outreaches into the universe, that is also a form of branding – we are getting the word out! 

Fifth, the team gets together after the blitz and can brag or commiserate, but still share best (and maybe not so great) sales prospecting practices. 

Here are some suggestions on how to run a successful sales blitz.

  1. Create a theme and develop a really good email campaign with that theme and send it to the targeted audience you are trying to reach. Our email campaign featured an offer for a free workshop - Roadmap for Success in 2022, that we could deliver for prospects and their teams. We sent the email out several times prior to the calling blitz in the hopes there would be some recognition when we called.
  2. Make sure the emails come from the person calling if you can. We have our database segmented by salesperson and sent the same email but it was customized with their name and sig and calendar link and sent just to their prospect list.
  3. Make sure your team knows this is a commitment of time and it is on their calendar. They must honor it and plan to provide a recap at the Post Blitz Zoom meeting.
  4. Track it – which we do weekly anyways. Here’s an example of our weekly sales activities summary but we press activity reports out daily. The sales prospecting calling blitz is not reported here and will make this week look low. (Names covered to protect the innocent!)Graph
  5. Have some fun when you get together for the Post Blitz Zoom. Have each person share their experiences, talk about what to do next, and celebrate the effort. Our calling blitz was for 90 minutes and the Post Blitz Zoom only took about half an hour. We had some great energetic stories and sharing going on – invaluable! We will rinse and repeat in 2022, you can bet on that.

Now it’s your turn to schedule a sales prospecting blitz with your team. Let us know if we can help!

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Topics: sales prospecting, Sales Activities

Increase Sales by Earning First Call Status

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Nov 24, 2021

Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. But what are the chances that you will actually reach your prospect when they have a problem they want to fix?

In this blog, we will discuss how to best position yourself with your prospect so you are top of mind, even when it means sitting at 2nd place.

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As a sales training and coaching company, Anthony Cole Training Group is always hired…no matter the industry…for the same reason which is to increase sales. Every salesperson wants to win. Every salesperson wants to win now and increase sales. No doubt the instant gratification world that we live in has contributed to this reality. Amazon has made it abundantly clear that there is really no need to wait for anything.

But for salespeople, patience is more than just a virtue. It is a requirement. Think about all the sales activities that a salesperson must execute in their sales process. They make outreaches in order to schedule appointments. They go on appointments to find opportunities. They do the work necessary to make those opportunities lead to proposals. They position their value to win their fair share of deals from those proposals.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there are a lot of stars (and a lot of sales activities) that must line up just right in order to win a deal. What are the chances that you will reach out at just the right time, i.e., when the prospect has a problem that they are thinking about fixing?

For that reason, while everybody wants to be #1 it is my belief that is ok to be #2…while you continue to build your relationship with your prospect. I have previously blogged about pull-through rate – which is defined as the percentage of first-time new business appointments that wind up becoming your client. For most of our clients that number runs around 15%. That means it is much more likely than not that you are not going to find the stars aligned on that first appointment. Maybe the prospect does not have a problem. Maybe they do have a problem, but the timing isn’t right.

When you create your pre-call plan, don’t forget to plan what you are going to do if the stars don’t align. How will you leave the appointment with the door open to future relationship-building activities? My suggestion is to ask your prospect to think about who they would call in the future if they did need to make a change. Who has earned first call status? Tell your prospect that you would like the chance to work your way onto that list.

There is nothing wrong with being #2. Think about what sales activities you can be doing until you get to #1.

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Topics: sales activity, increase sales

How to be Successful in Sales

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Nov 11, 2021

Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling?

In this blog, we will discuss the four key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

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Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling? For many years, before I came to work at a sales training company, I heard things like the best salespeople have the gift of gab. They are extroverts and like to talk to people. Sound familiar? Well, it turns out, there are actually specific skills, in fact, 21 core sales competencies that when mastered, will help you or your salespeople to be successful in sales. Let’s focus on what we consider to be the most important four competencies.

If you are investing in a sales training program, make sure that the training includes skill development on how to be a hunter, differentiate with a value approach, follow a strict sales process, and be a consultative seller. Why you ask? Because, these are four very key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

Let’s break them down and as we review these four in more detail, please be thinking of your own skills or those of your salespeople. We can actually help you with a free assessment if you are a sales leader with more than 3 salespeople, but more on that later.

It all begins with hunting. If you need to know how to be successful in sales, you first need to get better at hunting. Of course, one reason is that it is a numbers game even if you are in a narrow market like agricultural banking. You still must consistently and effectively reach out, call, contact, link in, email, you name it. The first thing on your calendar each week and day must be prospecting time. And here is the most important reason. Your pipeline must be so full that you (or your salespeople) are not desperate when a deal doesn't happen! Hunting is all about filling the pipeline so that you are not held hostage by too few prospects.

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The second key skill is differentiating with a value approach. What exactly does that mean? It means understanding your prospect SO well that you know what is of value to them! Every prospect has parameters around what is important to them and their business so if you focus on your products, your service, your company, you are out of bounds. Elite producers operate as business advisors and understand more than just the product area for which they provide solutions. Their value is defined by understanding how what they offer interacts and affects how their prospect’s business is run, and how it may contribute to the growth of that business. Stop for a minute and reflect on your approach or the approach of your salespeople. Do you differentiate with a value approach? By the way, there is no shortcut to value selling. It is a long-term play.

The best way to understand why following a sales process (the 3rd skill) is important is to compare selling to a baseball diamond. In baseball, you must first hit the ball (hunt and find a prospect), then run to first base (uncover the prospect’s problems and severity of pain), then on to second (determine time, money, and resources to address problem/pain), then on to third (gain commitment and timeline to take action), and then home base to score! And that of course is the sale. So, what happens if a salesperson runs from first to third in baseball? They get thrown out! And the same is true in selling. If you do not effectively follow a sales process, you will miss very important steps to helping the prospect discover they need to make a change and so, they will not. This is how to be successful in selling; follow a sales process. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes training on an effective sales process.

The 4th and perhaps most important skill is becoming a consultative seller, a second cousin to value selling, and this skill is all about asking enough of the right questions at the right time. Consultative salespeople are not really selling. They ask their prospects solid discovery questions to help them understand if they need to change. And listening. It is very easy to ask a question, then hear one piece that validates that a prospect might need what you have to offer. But a consultative seller will listen and then probe further, not offering a solution until the prospect has led themselves to that spot by answering your questions. This is a skill that takes practice, a genuine interest, and concern for your prospect. Consultative selling is key to becoming more successful in selling but it also means mastering enough of the right questions in your toolkit and using them comfortably. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes a focus on consultative selling.

If you are interested in more information or would like to take advantage of a free assessment of your sales team (minimum three) on the 21 core sales competencies, click below.

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Topics: sales training programs, How to be successful in sales

Sales Management Training: Are You A Truly Committed Leader?

Posted by Dan Fischer on Thu, Nov 04, 2021

Committed leaders invest in themselves by taking part in sales management training to become better managers and coaches so they can help their people see greater success. 

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Two questions I ask you today:

  1. As a leader, are you truly committed?
  2. Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization?

Being a leader is not an easy job, is it? No doubt, you have lots of responsibilities with lots to get done throughout your day, week, month, and year. With that said, are you:

  • Leading by example and casting a large shadow so your people know you are there for them?
  • Holding your people accountable for their daily and weekly activities that they agreed to?
  • Gaining insights into what their choke points are and helping them overcome obstacles?
  • Intentionally coaching your people on the little things (behaviors) to get the big things done (results)?
  • Roleplaying and practicing to make your people better?

If you are committed to doing the above, you are on the right path to success. Your #1 job is to make your people wildly successful, to change circumstances so that they will be more successful than they would have been had they been left alone and not coached by you! How do you do that? By setting standards, holding them accountable, not allowing excuses, motivating, and coaching. But also, investing in yourself by taking part in sales management training to become a better manager and coach. Committed leaders do these things consistently.

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What is the evidence that you are a committed leader? Try this exercise:

  1. Your team says that you are totally committed to being successful in your role as a Sales Leader, CEO, President, etc. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.
  2. Your team says that you are not totally committed to being successful in your role. Write down what they would tell me to convince me that this is true.

Are your people truly committed to you, and your organization? How do you know if they’re committed to success? To determine if they are truly committed, we like to use the following three categories as benchmarks:

  1. Coast to Coasters – these people coast into work and then coast home at night. These people are retired…they just don’t know it yet.
  2. WITALAIITU – Whatever It Takes, As Long As It Isn’t Too Uncomfortable. These people will do whatever it takes until it becomes outside of their comfort zone. Then they shut down.
  3. WIT – Whatever It Takes. These people are high achievers. These are the people you want on your team to help build a strong culture within your organization.

When is the best time to find out if your people are committed? Yesterday. If not yesterday, then today.

I believe commitment starts and ends with YOU. Your commitment to yourself, your people, and your fine organization is contingent on you having that “whatever it takes” attitude. That attitude is contagious and you will find your people following your shadow because they know you are committed to them and their best interest.

Cast your shadow wide!

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Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, commitment to succeed

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    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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