ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Sales Inspiration from Two Basketball Legends

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 30, 2019

The buyer's cycle has changed. These days, when a buyer wants to make a purchase, they have all of the tools located in the palm of their hand.  If you are not making the buying process as frictionless as possible, then you are most likely going to lose out on a sale. 

Even if it's a long buying cycle, it still needs to be a seamless one!  In this article, we discuss valuable lessons for salespeople and their sales leaders, including an excerpt from legendary UCLA Head Coach John Wooden and his former player (and NBA star) Bill Walton.

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The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don’t like doing.”  

This is a quote from Dave Kurlan’s blog post about Bill Walton and John Wooden (see Additional Resources below).  Dave uses role-playing as an example.  I see this all the time!  Ask someone to role play in front of the group and they shut tight like a clam. 

How can you possibly get better at pressure situations if you don’t practice under pressure?

Bill has published and is now marketing his book, Back from the Dead.  I read a couple of lines from an interview with GQ and immediately went to my Amazon add-in and downloaded the book with my 1-click.

Here was my amazing buying experience:

  • I read an article that got my attention.
  • I clicked on a button in my Firefox ribbon at the top of my page.
  • I searched Amazon for “Bill Walton”.
  • The book popped up.
  • I clicked on the little thing on the right side of the page that said, “Buy Now using 1-click.”
  • I wanted the Kindle version so I could read it on the plane without carrying a big book, so when Amazon asked me if I wanted it downloaded to my iPhone, I clicked “yes.”
  • This all took less than a minute.
  • And that, my friends, is today’s sales cycle.

In your sales world, it might not take as many steps or it might be more.  In your sales cycle, it probably takes more than a minutemaybe 30 days, maybe 120, maybe a year.

Bottom line: There is something that stimulates the buyer. The buyer gets the information they want and then… when they want to buy… they want to make the process easy and they want options.

If you are not doing those things (stimulating the buying response – providing information to make a buying decision – giving them options – making it easy), then you are going to lose the sale to those that do those things. 

Not only will you lose occasionally, but sooner or later, it will become a permanent condition.

Now, my favorite Bill Walton and John Wooden story.

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Watch the video to get the whole story, but in short, the lesson for the Sales Leader is this:

  • You’ve been hired to do a job – drive sales growth/win market share
  • Part of that responsibility is to put the best team in the market.
  • As the coach, you establish the culture for winning; you set the team rules.
  • You can lead people but you cannot make them do something – players have free will.
  • If someone violates the rules, something has to be done – bend the rules, keep the rules
  • If a salesperson wants to exert their independence, let them. But let them do it somewhere else.
  • They have to want to play for you and win more than compete against you and lose.

Additional Resources:

Dave Kurlan’s blog:
The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Unless you have strong leadership, the money you spend on sales training is wasted. Stop wasting money.  In addition to great players, the key to a sales team built for growth is great sales management Leadership and Management. Read more about our Sales Management Certification.

Make sure you get great players who are committed to winning for you – Hirebettersalespeople.com

Topics: NCAA, Bill Walton, John Wooden, close the deal, sales challenges, life lessons

Do You Have Sales Growth Problems? 

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 23, 2019

Of course you have sales problems. If it’s not a production problem, it’s a productivity problem. If it’s not a productivity problem, it’s a servicing problem.

If It’s not a service problem, it’s a sales/sales support turnover problem.  But, how do you help ease the pain and start to fix things? 

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In the words of Rosanne Rosannadana, “It’s  Always Something”

Most companies, if not all companies, have some method for keeping and tracking sales pipeline activity and progress. We use Hubspot’s CRM because it ties in very well with our inbound lead efforts, the pricing is extraordinary, the reporting is as good as anything on the market and getting up to speed is fast and easy. But, putting data in the CRM and keeping an eye on it, is not enough.

You have to gain business intelligence and then act on what you know.

Conduct an Emergency Pipeline Anaylsis (EPA) for a simple but effective way to determine what stays in the pipeline and what goes to the pipedream (delete folder). EPA originator, Dave Kurlan, wrote a blog that goes into detail about the 16,000+ proposals presented to unqualified buyers by B2B salespeople every day. This data comes from the 1,000s of Sale Evaluations and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) done yearly by our firm and others around the world.

In the SEIA, we analyze the state of the current pipeline. Figure 1 identifies the quality of the pipeline assessed for a large sales organization. When assessing for closable opportunities, the green area at the bottom should be much larger than the blue area at the top, if the opportunities are truly qualified. If your closable opportunities are not really qualified, you end up with a similar pipeline configuration to the one you see in the chart.

inverted pipelien.jpgFigure 1

The process to get this information is simple, but effective: Create a number of qualifying questions that are based on the steps in your qualification checklist. Those questions may include but are not limited to:

  • Is there severe mental anguish to make a purchase/change and is it personal?
  • Did I attach value or monetize the problem or failure to leverage the opportunity?
  • Did I eliminate the incumbent?
  • Did I ask, “Is this a have to fix or want to fix problem”, and did the prospect say "have to fix"?
  • Did they agree to invest the appropriate amount of time, money and resources?
  • Due I have a date of execution, purchase, contract?
  • I have met with the decision makers (not I will be meeting with decision makers at time of presentation) and they have agreed to make a decision when I finish my presentation.
  • I rehearsed the prospect on what they will do when the incumbent returns to beg for the business, fix the problems and match our fees, structure, contract.

Answering/scoring these questions simply requires a 1 or a 0. You add up the scores vertically for the opportunities in your pipeline and then make a decision to either;

  1. Call your prospect and deal with the open items.
  2. Reconcile that you have asked these questions and didn’t get the right answers and therefore make the ‘go, no-go’ decision to present.

There is a world of difference between managing the pipeline and looking at the pipeline and reporting the results. Managing is an active process.  As a manager you must constantly and consistently evaluate the opportunities in the pipeline for:

  • Quality – are they true opportunities?
  • Quantity – the number and value volume must match each individuals success formula
  • Movement – based on your buyers’ buying cycle you should be able to predict movement from one step in the process to the next
  • Measure the conversion ratios from one step to the next to evaluate effectiveness of the sales person’s execution of the process
  • Evaluate for credibility and validity
    • Credibility – did the projected close volume actually close?
    • Validity – did the accounts in the pipeline actually close and account for the volume forecast and actual sales?

This will take time but it’s important for you and your salespeople to do because it will ultimately result in closing more business, more quickly at higher margins.

Topics: Pipeline management, increase pipeline, sales growth problems, close the deal

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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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