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Why Companies Struggle with Hiring Salespeople Who Will Sell

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Mar 29, 2024

Putting the best people in the right seats is the biggest problem identified by most business execs, especially as it applies to critical sales roles. In today’s high tech, fast-moving economy, finding the right people who can and will sell for your company is a keystone for success. What can your firm do differently to attain better results and attract top talent? After working with hundreds of companies over the last 30 years, here is what we have learned are the 5 most common problems companies struggle with when hiring quality salespeople.

#1: They outsource their recruiting and the responsibility. Recruiting is something that the company has to own. Be cautious of outsourcing the work and the responsibility. That makes it too easy for people internally to throw up their hands and transfer failures associated within the hiring process to the outsourced firm. If company execs need to improve the quality of their hires, they have to own the process.

#2 There is a lack of a consistent process for constantly searching. Most, if not all, firms make the mistake of looking for candidates only when they have an opening. This leads to many problems:

  • They are held hostage by salespeople with “large books”. Managers feel they cannot do anything about them for fear of losing the “books” since there aren’t any replacements.
  • They feel desperate to fill a chair with a warm bottom when there is a vacancy. A body,
    anybody, is better than no one sitting in the chair.
  • The do not replace underperformers because there isn’t a pipeline of candidates to choose from. The underperformers stay around too long; others know it and realize that they don’t have to perform to keep their job, so overall team production continues to decline.

#3: Companies are not getting quality candidates entering the process. The traditional model of recruiting is one where the placement firm tries to convince their client why a candidate should be hired. Companies should, on the other hand, work extremely hard to disqualify candidates because there are specific skills that apply for that sales job and many/most candidates do not have those skills. Bottom line, the company has to assess at least two things: 1) Do they have enough of the right strengths to be successful? 2) Will they sell versus can they sell? Here’s some information on how to find out if your producer candidate will sell.

#4 There is poor communication about the specific role and expectations of this new hire. Too often, everyone is so excited about getting the seat filled that no one takes the time to get into the details of the day-to-day requirements of the job. This leads to early misunderstandings about the role and eventually, failure on the part of the new hire to meet the expectations of the company. Failure to “negotiate on the 1st tee” leads to misunderstanding and failure to execute on the sales goals.

#5 The on-boarding process is inadequate in the area of selling. Most companies are ill-equipped to effectively on-board new salespeople. They spend time introducing them to the “culture” of the operation, the mechanics of the job and how to get things done. They introduce them to HR, their support team, marketing and their partners. And, yes, there is discussion about goals, sales activities and how to enter data into CRM. And then… the new hires are on their own.

Firms think that they have hired their next sales superstar and then, 12 months later, they cannot figure out what went wrong. They look at the numbers and discover that the new hires are producing “just like everyone else in the middle of the pack.” The process many companies have in place currently to recruit and hire salespeople perpetuates this problem. Coaching in the first 6 months is essential for producer success.

If you need help or more information on hiring better salespeople, we have many resources available for you. Click the button below to learn more. 


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, sales team excellence

Achieving Sales Team Excellence – The Will to Manage

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Mar 21, 2024

It's difficult to choose what the toughest part of any sales manager’s job is and it can vary by company, industry or geography. Undoubtedly, it will be about people – finding the right salespeople, hiring and onboarding, coaching them on important deals and for skill development. And don’t forget about holding them accountable to the goals established and their activity to achieve those.

Sales managers must also keep their people engaged and utilizing the tools made available for pipeline management such as the company CRM. It is a known reality that salespeople would rather not… Then, there is the motivation factor – how to help each and every individual stay focused on attaining their personal and professional goals, driving effective sales meetings and huddles, to keeping the competitive juices alive. That is a long list, yet not exhaustive by any means. How does a sales manager succeed in this role and achieve sales team excellence?

We rely on the pioneer in the industry and #1 sales management evaluation by Objective Management Group to help understand exactly what skills and qualities drive success in the sales management role. Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to be Successful specifically in the role of manager or sales leader
  2. The Sales Manager DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Competencies

The Will to Manage Competencies, as defined by OMG, measure a sales manager's overall drive to achieve success in sales management. Without a strong Will to Manage, it is difficult for an individual to change their habits or learn new skills. Now let’s break that down into the specific competencies within The Will to Manage.

  • Desire: Sales managers feel urgency to take action, prioritize sales results, or care deeply about achieving sales results. While there are many responsibilities that fall on their shoulders, great sales managers put the bottom line first, driving revenue and growth. Certainly, that means that they must be very good at delegating and making sure that they are not too immersed in operations, compliance, or HR issues.
  • Commitment: Sales managers persevere in selling to a difficult prospect, push forward despite their own discomfort, or do what is required to achieve sales quota. And, they help and coach their salespeople to do the same. This is where a sales manager’s own selling ability and learnings from the field can come in handy. Not to utilize those skills and experiences directly, but to teach with them and help their people try different and bolder approaches that have worked in the past.
  • Outlook: Sales managers feel positive, focused, and appreciative about their career prospects. This competency is so important in setting the tone, culture, and even the relationship the manager has with their team. Imagine the difference between a team that has a positive, we will prevail sales leader with one who is downtrodden and feels like the competition has a leg up and the company is behind. The sales manager’s outlook affects the very heart of the team.
  • Responsibility: Sales managers hold themselves accountable for any lack of sales results. One of the biggest problems in many companies is the tendency to make and allow excuses for lack of results and it typically starts at the top. If a sales leader allows excuses and makes excuses, it creates a culture that becomes complacent with not achieving goals and that very quickly affects the performance of the team. For example, if loan operations are slow to process a loan, the sales manager will not use that as an excuse for a long sales cycle. They will figure out what they can do to affect change, no excuses made or allowed.
  • Motivation: Sales managers have a compelling dream or goal to drive sales performance. Motivation is a personal, inside job and it will vary by person, making it difficult to manage salespeople who are motivated differently. Some will be pumped up with praise and kudos in front of the team while others will be motivated specifically by money and rewards. Of course, this also applies to sales managers and while there are differences in how they are motivated, the critical component for achieving sales team excellence, is that they have a compelling dream and can communicate that with others.

Take a few moments to evaluate yourself on these 5 Will to Manage Competencies. The hallmark of an effective sales leader or salesperson is the continual focus on becoming even better at what they do and finding resources to help them achieve sales team excellence.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, sales team excellence

How to Respond to Common Sales Objections

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Mar 15, 2024

Sales objections typically arise in several key areas during the sales process. The first is when you’re trying to secure someone’s time during prospecting, attempting to schedule a meeting on their calendar and obtain a few minutes of their attention. The second occurs when you are delivering a presentation and seeking a commitment or decision.

It’s important to recognize that there’s no magic silver bullet that universally overcomes objections. Instead, objections are rooted in emotions, and when emotions take over, rational thinking often takes a back seat. The best approach when faced with objections is not to try to overcome them but instead, effectively deal with them.

Attempting to outright overcome objections is generally ineffective. Consider how challenging it is to convince a loved one, friend, or colleague that they’re viewing something incorrectly. Similarly, when prospecting for time, it’s crucial to assess whether you come across as someone worth listening to. Are your calls focused on your products, your services, or are you addressing the prospect’s needs and challenges?

Handling Sales Objections about Pricing

Objections related to fees, pricing, or comparisons with competitors are common. It’s essential to understand that objections don’t necessarily signal a refusal to buy. Prospects may present objections to test whether you are willing to adapt or make adjustments, especially in terms of pricing.

To effectively handle objections, we advocate the PAC method. The “P” stands for pause, providing a moment to collect thoughts and calm emotions. A well-timed pause may also encourage the prospect to share more information. The “A” is for acknowledge, expressing gratitude for the objection and validating the prospect’s perspective. People often feel upset when they believe they are not being heard. Finally, the “C” is for get curious. Understand the underlying motivations behind the objection and inquire about what the prospect is truly looking to achieve.

It’s crucial to avoid slipping into sales mode when confronted with objections. Whether seeking an appointment or responding to pricing concerns, maintaining a non-salesy approach is key. Resist the temptation to push back aggressively or launch into a sales pitch.

Dealing with Sales Objections about the Other Bank

Another frequent challenge relationship managers encounter is when prospects express loyalty to their current financial provider, citing years of satisfaction with their services. So, utilizing the PAC method; when a prospect declares, “I’ve been doing business with ABC Bank for X years, and I’m satisfied,” apply the PAC method. Pause, then acknowledge with a positive response like, “Thanks for sharing. I am grateful for our happy clients as well.” Next, get curious by asking questions. For example, inquire about the top two or three aspects that have kept them “satisfied” and loyal to the competitor. Is there a state beyond satisfied that they would be open to? If they could fix or change one thing, what would it be?

Use an approach like, “Mary, it seems you’re not ready to shift your relationship, and I understand. Could you elaborate on the key factors that have kept you with ABC Bank and contributed to your satisfaction?” Alternatively, express optimism for the competitor’s success but gently prompt with, “Mary, in a perfect world, what could they do or another bank do to take you from satisfied to ecstatic?”

Your goal is to position yourself strategically for future opportunities. Inquire, “Mary, what can I do to be your first choice if you encounter a problem that needs fixing that your current bank cannot address?” Once you gather insights, collaborate with Mary to create an action plan to stay in touch without appearing desperate. And remember, maintaining a robust pipeline ensures you can confidently address objections.

Addressing Sales Objections about Timing

What about an objection related to time – when prospects express the need to delay a project or a decision on a project? Timing is crucial, and learning about potential delays should happen early in the conversation. However, let’s focus on what to do when faced with the objection of needing to postpone a decision. It’s not an ideal situation, especially during a presentation meant to secure a decision.

Consider this perspective: aim to close 100% of your qualified opportunities. Closing doesn’t necessarily mean a positive decision; it means obtaining a clear outcome. Whether they accept your proposal or choose to stick with their current financial provider, closure is key.

In reality, many opportunities linger without a resolution. Deals seem like planes circling the airport without landing. When a prospect expresses interest but wants to delay, don’t settle for uncertainty. First, acknowledge their concerns. Then, inquire about the cost of inaction (COI). Ask them what will happen to their problems while they wait. Problems don’t usually vanish on their own; sometimes, they worsen. What could waiting cost them? Make sure and stay silent and let them answer those questions fully.

Dealing with this objection involves addressing the fear and hesitation that salespeople often carry – that inner voice urging caution. To quote Plato, “The first and most important victory is to conquer oneself.” Challenge the belief system that tells you to play it safe. Be a bit disruptive, respectfully questioning the consequences of delaying. Don’t be too quick to comply; rattle the windows a bit, get them thinking. When faced with a prospect wanting to postpone, ask why and explore the implications of waiting.

Remember, objections don’t necessarily mean a lack of interest. They might indicate it’s not the right time or a potential willingness to buy with certain adjustments. By employing the PAC method—pause, acknowledge, get curious - you can increase your chances of navigating objections successfully.


For 30 years, Anthony Cole Training Group has been helping community banks and other financial service organizations close their sales opportunity gap by helping them sell better, coach better and hire better. Utilizing science-based, data-driven research and working hand-in-hand with clients, ACTG evaluates the organization, the market, and current individual and company strengths. Our skilled and sales-experienced Sales Development Experts then help to align company strategies and implement customized Sales Managed Environment® framework that fosters sales growth and production. Our financial focus, customized programming, sales-experienced personnel, and owner’s perspective have made us the Community Banking source for revenue growth. Our Mission: Grow People, Grow Organizations.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips

Achieving Sales Team Excellence with a Coaching Culture

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Mar 08, 2024

Most sales managers spend less than 10% of their time on coaching, and only one third of managers actually coach their people on a weekly basis. Yet, the Coaching Competency is the most critical part of a sales manager's responsibilities; it is also the most difficult skill set to learn and master. There are many reasons for this, but among them are: the managers themselves were not coached or they had a bad experience with coaching; they were elevated to a team lead or manager position based on their sales success and not their coaching performance; and they have not had any coaching training, either formal or informal. The have no best practices or systems and processes to help them succeed.

Some sales managers believe that coaching means helping salespeople with pricing and technical questions on an ad hoc basis but these discussions, while valuable, do not focus on skill development. Effective coaching involves scheduling multiple coaching conversations with salespeople each week to improve their skills and help them win more sales. This is called Intentional Coaching and is the path to building a sales coaching culture.

The good news is that there are concrete steps managers can take to initiate high-touch coaching that will help develop the necessary sales skills in their salespeople and contribute to a coaching culture that will lead to sales team excellence. These must be executed well and consistently of course, to make an impact.

  1. Consistent and Frequent Coaching executed well, will lead to improved skills and bottom- line impact.
  2. Effective Debriefs on a regular basis, focusing on why they got a particular outcome and working backward to uncover the causes.
  3. Asking Enough Questions and understanding the importance of not dominating the conversation, by frequently asking questions.  Just as in selling, successful coaching requires frequent question-asking.
  4. No Need for Approval from your salespeople, meaning you aren't overly concerned with whether your salespeople like you, which allows you to coach them to be more effective.
  5. Able to Stay in the Moment while selling, you may find yourself becoming emotionally involved in situations, causing you to listen to your own inner voice instead of the customer. By improving this tendency, you will be able to more effectively coach your salespeople.
  6. Having and Coaching to an Effective Sales Process will help you address areas for growth in your salespeople.
  7. Passion for Coaching is possibly the most important component and as a coach, you must have a true inner passion to develop others to perform at their very best.
  8. Beliefs Support Coaching meaning you strongly believe in the role and importance of coaching.
  9. Uncovers Compelling Reasons to Buy while selling, you have been effective at uncovering prospects' compelling reasons to buy. As this is a critical factor in Consultative Selling, this makes you a more effective coach to your salespeople.
  10. Knows How People Buy involves developing a strength in getting prospects to tell you how they will reach a buying decision which allows you to coach your salespeople to be more effective.
  11. Doesn't Rescue the Salespeople means you are willing to let your salespeople fail giving them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
  12. Effective at Getting Commitments means you are adept at getting your prospects to agree when they will make a decision. By improving your personal skills in this area, you will be able to coach your salespeople to be better at it as well.
  13. Handles Joint Sales Calls Effectively means you go on joint calls, avoid heavy participation in the call and instead observe the call and then provide coaching feedback.

Here is the unfortunate truth. New sales managers, as well as the companies who promote them, believe that the very things that made them successful salespeople will make them successful sales managers. Then, continuing that belief into a sales manager’s tenure, sales managers don’t ask for and aren’t offered sales management training and coaching which emphasizes how to coach salespeople. As a result, new and growing sales managers must rely on the sales manager they reported to when they were in a sales role for what sales management is supposed to look like. That of course leads back to the beginning of this article that states the problem, less than 10% of a sales managers’ time is spent coaching their salespeople. To achieve sales team excellence and build a coaching culture, companies must put specific coaching activities in place consistently, and provide development opportunities for their sales coaches to achieve excellence in their role.

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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, sales team excellence, coaching culture

Why Hiring a Fractional Sales Manager Can Drive Sales Results

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Mar 01, 2024

Running a company is very different than managing a sales team, so you need someone skilled in the specific strengths of coaching and motivating your sales team. Companies have choices and often it makes sense to hunt, interview, hire and pay for a full-time sales manager, but this is a position very difficult to fill. It will take time, money, lots of effort and then onboarding to your systems, people and culture. It might make sense to consider a seasoned Fractional Sales Manager who will work closely with your company to fully understand your growth objectives, industry nuances and company culture, is experienced in your niche industry and is not on your payroll. Here are some of the areas a Fractional Sales Manager can focus on:

  • Driving Accountability – working with your leadership, they can determine the critical sales activity and behavior that must be tracked. A Fractional Sales Manager will keep your people on track weekly, uncovering the how and the why and providing sales ideas at each weekly meeting. Just this one step of establishing more accountability will help your company see an immediate lift.
  • Coaching Opportunities – acting as their dedicated sales coach, the Fractional Sales Manager will help your people prep for important opportunities so that they are ready to put themselves into a winning position. Pre-call and post-call will be part of their ongoing role to help upgrade the pipeline and develop skills. They will train your salespeople in this important sales skill preparing for a meeting so that it becomes a sales habit.
  • Improving Results – make sure to work with an organization that has a history of helping companies manage their sales teams and has a proven history of driving revenue growth. Talented Fractional Sales Managers have years of personal sales and sales management experience and draw from their experience of working with salespeople in your industry. They come with the built-in skills you need to help your team achieve goals.

Speaking of results, here are some real comments made by salespeople coached by one of our Fractional Sales Managers. There are advantages to working with a skilled coach outside of your company as they bring experience and expertise to your table. These are the kinds of results and testimonials your company should look for as they consider a Fractional Sales Manager.

Fractional Sales Manager Testimonials

  • Once I asked "What would have to go on in this meeting for you to feel like it was a good use of your time?" 5 minutes later he asked his office staff to give me all the policies to look at. It is an Oct. 15 renewal about $140,000 in premium. Thank you for your help.
  • Just wanted you to know that I just bound that client we spoke about and made $11k! AND they just sent an account to me from RT for the renewal. Hard work and the methods you have taught me are paying off!!
  • I just wanted to thank you for your time and help a couple of weeks back. I have had several conversations with prospective clients, and your approach has proven to be very effective.  I have been able to establish parameters and have started binding business with a couple of the new clients. Of course, the job is never done, and I will continue to prospect and use your approach.  
  • I have capitalized on some HOT introductions from some existing agents. It amazes me who people know in other states or other parts of this state (not competition to my clients) that they will gladly give an introduction to.  
  • It is great to have someone like yourself who cares and is willing to invest their time to help.

Hiring a Fractional Sales Manager is not forever. The goal is to enhance your organization, create effective sales strategies, systems and practices, and help your company gain momentum, setting up your sales team for future success. And a Fractional Sales Manager can make a huge impact for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full time person.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, fractional sales manager


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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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