ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The Best Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Dec 23, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the best habits of highly successful salespeople and sales managers.  Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming. 

It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, consistent activity and patience. 

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The sales management activities that you perform today create the results that you achieve today.

What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution, and systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople

I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople.  Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management skills
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer-service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business.  Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that "fogs a mirror"
  • Poor prioritization skills 
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results?  Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coach, one of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader.  To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

  • Debriefs sales calls effectively
  • Asks quality questions
  • Controls emotions
  • Allows salespeople to fail
  • Implements and manages the execution of a consistent sales process
  • Motivates when coaching based on individual/personal goals
  • Coaches to improve skill and change behavior
  • Gets sales people to follow through on commitments

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

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Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, consistent activity and patience. 

Like the coach of a winning team or conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and the lives of your salespeople and company. 

 

Topics: sales management secrets, sales management success, Sales Management Training, prospect engagement, develop talent, buyer, sales differences, deal or no deal, extra mile, getting introductions, close the deal, sales challenges, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, solution, professional sales training, corporate sales training, buyers journey, hire better people

Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the concepts behind real, tangible sales growth and ask the question, "Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?" 

Sales growth is dependent upon Closing More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins and we are here to show you how you can accomplish this within your organization!

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This morning, my wife (and ACTG's President CEO Linda) and I were watching Morning Joe while talking business.  We were discussing our brand promise of:

"When you lie awake at night worrying about sales growth, we lie awake at night.” 

We compiled a list of questions that often haunt managers throughout the day and into the night when they should be preparing for a good night’s sleep:

As we’re talking, we see a news banner at the bottom of the screen about a man who was arrested for breaking and entering a home.  He was apprehended after the police entered the home and saw his feet dangling from the chimney.  As usual, I automatically started thinking about how that related to sales, sales management, performance management, coaching, pipeline, pre-call strategies, etc.

And, since it's that time of the year, it also made me think of this great scene in The Santa Clause: 

 

My first question, however, is this: 

  1. “Do you have sales opportunities that are important/critical for hitting your goals and growing sales that are stuck?”

My second, but maybe the most important question, is:

    2. “Is this particular opportunity a repeat offender?” 

 

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING OPPORTUNITIES

Now, there are 2 things to consider when attempting to answer that second question.

  1. Is that opportunity familiar to you and the salesperson who has entered the opportunity into your pipeline management system? (This isn’t the same as your CRM). If we’ve worked on this opportunity before and they – the opportunity – “got away on a technicality”, then this would be defined as a “repeat offender”:
    1. Not the decision maker
    2. Wasn’t able to undo the current relationship
    3. Decided to not make a change
    4. Couldn’t arrive at the price point
    5. Really didn’t have a solution that fit the features and benefits they were looking for
    6. The timing wasn’t right
  2. Are other opportunities stuck in the pipeline/chimney for the very same reasons as this one?  The salesperson failed to execute the qualifying steps in your sales process:
    1. No compelling reason to make a change identified
    2. Competition unknown
    3. Incumbent still part of the equation
    4. Budget for investing time, money resources is a mystery
    5. Decision making process has not been uncovered
    6. Timing or urgency of making a decision not clearly understood
    7. Agreement on next steps unclear
    8. Did not ask the question – Is this a “want to fix” or “have to fix” problem?

CMBMQHM AND WHAT YOU NEED FOR SALES GROWTH

Sales growth is dependent upon this – CMBMQHM.  My staff hates it when I make up acronyms like this.  When I put these in our learning decks, the people in my office want to know what the acronyms mean. 

Close More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins

So, what does it take to accomplish CMBMQHM?

  • You must have a milestone-centric sales system – something that can be quantified, measured and evaluated for progress towards the objective of “getting a decision”. (This is not the same as “getting the sale”.)
  • You have to have a process for building a success formula for each salesperson based on that sales system.
  • You have to have complete buy-in to the use of your pipeline management process. Here are the guidelines to get that buy-in. It needs to…
    • Be easy to use
    • Be effective
    • Be beneficial to the user
    • Provide you with business intelligence
    • Automatically generate and send reports to you so you don’t have to go find the information
  • You have to have a system of pre-call strategy sessions for EVERY opportunity that meets or exceeds the benchmark of your top 33%.
  • You have to have a post-call debriefing session for every opportunity you discuss in the pre-call session.
  • You have to conduct a CSI – “Crime Scene Investigation” – for every deal you don’t get.
  • Finally, you have to conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions that are intentional.
    • They are based on the findings from your pre- and post-call meetings
    • They are based on what your data is telling you about the choke point(s) a particular salesperson is having or the most common choke point(s) for the group
    • The coaching needs to accomplish 1, if not 2, things:
      1. Change behavior
      2. Improve skill

Additional Resources:

Download the Success Formula Worksheet

Sign up for our Effective Selling System Online Demo 


 

Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Management Training, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hiring better salespeople, how increase sales, grow sales, sales growth problems, will to sell, sales challenges, life lessons, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools, budget, solution, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer

The Similarities Between Politics & Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Tue, Oct 29, 2019

In this blog, we discuss what it takes to differentiate yourself as a salesperson in the market today, and how sales and politics can often be similar.  As the public tends to avoid political candidates that sound like all of the rest, the same can be said in sales. 

If your salespeople sound like every other salesperson out there, how can they become the best version of themselves? If this happens to us as salespeople when we conduct our sales calls, and there is no perceived difference between our competition and us, we become a commodity

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If you listened to any of the Democratic Debates, you listened to approximately a dozen people try to convince their prospects, (the voting public), that they are different.  Many people tend to think of politicians as being “all alike”. 

If that happens to us as we conduct our sales calls, and there is no perceived difference between our competition and us, we become a commodity.  If we are perceived as a commodity, the deciding factor usually ends up being price.

As the candidates prepare for the debates, their focus groups help guide them through how to say certain things on specific topics, with the hope that a certain phrase will resonate with their prospect, (the voting public). 

In sales, we don’t have that luxury. 

In order for us to stand out, be different, or be memorable (we refer to that as Sales Posturing), we need to focus on the business problems our clients, or prospects, have. 

The best, and only way to do that, is by asking questions.  When we get the response from the prospect, we must ask more questions to confirm and clarify the problem in terms of emotional pain and the specific dollar amount it will cost them if the problem isn’t fixed. 

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That’s how we become memorable, that’s how we differentiate ourselves, and that’s how we bring value to the people we meet.


Getting back to politics — over the course of the next several months, we will see many of the candidates fade into obscurity.  Their message just won’t connect with the voting public.  In sales, we see the same thing.  Our phone calls don’t get answered, our voicemails don’t get returned, and our wonderfully crafted e-mails get ignored. 

Why?  Because to our prospect, or our “voters”, we just didn’t do anything to be, act, and sound different

In short, we didn’t connect.

If I can leave you with one thing to remember before going into your sales calls, it’s this; we can’t talk our way into an opportunity, however, we can question our way into an opportunity. 

The more time we spend asking questions, the less time we spend talking.  When that happens, we are different and memorable.  If you become exceptional at it, your chances of  getting “elected” by your prospects greatly increases.

Someone needs what you do...now get out there and go find them!  

Topics: hire better sales people, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, buyers journey, online sales training, politics, hire better people

You Can't Handle the (Sales) Truth!

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Oct 25, 2019

In this article, we discuss the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and the notion that significant changes have swept over the sales landscape these past 20 years. 

From the influx of the internet to the intricacies of the buyer's journey, selling has changed but many salespeople haven't.  Is it time they do?

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At some point that title won’t make me think of the great Jack Nicholson and his role as Colonel Nathan Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”, but it is safe to say that point in time is a long way off for me. It is one of my all-time favorite movies.  

For now, that famous line from Colonel Jessup has me thinking about how selling has changed so dramatically even within the last few years.

So, if you can handle the truth, here it is: 

Selling has changed…but many salespeople have not.  

Specifically, there are two significant changes that have swept over the sales landscape:

  1. The buyer is initiating the sales process…what HubSpot refers to as the buyer’s journey.
  2. The buyer is further along in their thinking than ever before.

The first change brings to mind the Google eBook titled “ZMOT”.  ZMOT is an acronym standing for the Zero Moment of Truth, and is defined as the exact moment in the sales cycle that is between the stimulus (how the prospect became aware of a product) and the first moment of truth (a P&G term referring to the decision to make a purchase). 

In short, ZMOT refers to the point in time where the buyer is researching a product or service offering and the seller is completely unaware of the buyer’s actions.

Here is a quote from the book:

“If you’re available at the Zero Moment of Truth, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying.” (ZMOT, 2011)

So, it all comes down to three simple questions:

  1. Is your company winning or losing at the Zero Moment of Truth?
  2. How do you know that?
  3. What are you going to do about it?

It is inarguable that more and more buyers are finding and researching options online before they ever talk to a salesperson. 

As Colonel Jessup would ask, “We live in a world full of prospects…who’s going to call them?  You?  They may have already passed their Zero Moment of Truth."

Topics: hiring sales people, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling

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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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