ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Negotiating on the First Tee (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 19, 2020

In Part 1 of "Negotiating on the First Tee, we discussed the practice of negotiating with your prospect before you begin your presentation.  In Part 2, we continue this discussion and add more to the conversation.

In order to increase sales and close more deals, you must understand the client's business strategy, build a strong foundation for negotiation, and cross off all the boxes for a killer Sales DNA.

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  1. Establishing the ground rules for time of presentation are critical. Before we get to that though, you must have a transitional discussion
    • "Let me take a minute to review where I think we are..."
    • "You have the following issues a,b, and c that if not taken care of within this time frame will cause the following to happen and this outcome is a have to fix problem"
    • "Your capacity to invest time, money and effort to fix the problem is this…"
    • "And I’m assuming for a minute that if we are able to fix this for you, in the budget you’ve identified with the right criteria and priorities, you would also want me to be in a position to answer any and all questions at that time"
    • "Did I get this right?" (Buyer says yes)
    • "Good, assuming we can do this I will be prepared to do all those things. If I can’t, I will call in advance and cancel our presentation meeting.  Fair?" (Fair)
  2. Ground rules discussion:
    • "It may not be effective here, but there is a process that we recommend to make sure we are all on the same page, can I share that with you?" (Yes)
    • I need for you to be prepared as well:
      • "As I am going through my presentation, you will be thinking one of 2 things: 1) this makes all the sense in the world; let’s do this, 2) This won’t work for me, the money is wrong or I don’t think there is a fit"
      • "When I’m finished, I’m going ask you which one you are thinking. What objections do you have to that process?"
    • Anticipate and prepare for objections when you complete step six. Keep in mind that  an objection, stall or questions does NOT mean they are telling you no. They just need more information or you need to find out more clarity about compelling issues, capacity to invest or clarity on decision making. At the end, you do your best to eliminate any TIOs (Think It Overs)
    • Let's assume for a minute that this works for you. You are not done minimizing the opportunity for negotiation at time of presentation.  When you finish this discussion, you must return to your  office and write out and send the "As we agreed to letter" that covers the 3 “Cs” and inform the buyer you will call to confirm the information you’ve sent.  Then call to confirm.
    • Presenting to get a decision is as much of a mindset as it is a process:
      • Review what you’ve discussed
      • Review the as we agreed to letter including money and decision process that will take place today
      • Ask, “What’s changed?”
      • Make the presentation starting with their priority item not the first page in your presentation
      • Answer all of their questions about each solution, get them to score that solution on a scale of 1-10. If you are 7 or better you are in good shape but still you need to get them to a ten.  Once you get the ‘10’ you check that item off.
      • Ask our closing question:
        • "What where you thinking as I went through this. Assume for this discussion they said, This is really great we should do this! 
        • You ask, what should we do now?
  • Or your alternative is:
    1. Do you believe based on what we presented that we understand your business and what you are trying to accomplish?
    2. Do you feel we can help?
    3. Do you want our help?
  1. Despite this great process and effort, you can expect buyers to ask you questions that they haven’t asked yet, raise objections, or present you with stalls.  The first thing is this: Be prepared by conducting pre-call strategy meetings and role play these challenges.  Always understand that prospects are looking out for their best interests and not yours. Do not get emotionally involved when they throw you the curve ball!

Now I bet you are thinking, Tony, where is all the negotiation stuff?  Well that’s it right there. You win the bet on the first tee.

Topics: compelling reasons to buy, communication, communicating expectations, cost of hiring mistakes, crucial elements, desire for success, consistent sales, commitment to succeed, commitment, decisions, desire, creating habits for success, coaching salespeople, evaluating salespeople, developing sales skills, evaluating sales teams, creating sales habits, core values and beliefs, creating advocates, consistent sales results, consultative selling, create & convert leads, complacency, contacting prospects, deal or no deal, creating new sales opportunities, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati

What Makes a Champion Salesperson?

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 11, 2018

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer

Welcome to our first audio blog here at ACTG!  In today's episode, we talk about and explain the traits of what makes a champion salesperson. 

Listen as our Chief Learning Officer Tony Cole digs in on some of these 10 traits including:

  • Their strong desire to be successful in selling
  • Their commitment to success in selling
  • Their coachability
  • And so much more!

Check out his takes below.

Traits of a Champion Salesperson

 

Topics: coaching salespeople, sales characteristics, sales activities for success, sales advice, sales champion, coachability

Coaching for Sales Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 20, 2018

We spend a great deal of time with our clients teaching and coaching them about how to drive sales growth. The process for them is rarely easy. The reason(s) being:

  • They have their own set of beliefs about how things should or shouldn’t be done.
  • They’ve had ‘some’ success doing things the way they do things.
  • If they have a need for approval or believe that the best way to get their salespeople to perform is to get those salespeople to like them then they are not very likely to do things that might cause discomfort.
  • In many cases they’ve never been taught how to teach or coach. They’ve been taught to be great bankers, insurance brokers or investment advisors.
  • Their strengths lie in the administrative and operational duties of sales management rather in the development of people.

IF you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast "The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company's Sales Growth Opportunity Gap".

tedtalks-1

 

I was watching this Ted Talk that my friend Bill Eckstrom delivered at the University of Nevada. The title and subject of his talk was “Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life”. I hadn’t thought about the connection of comfort and coaching until I watched the video just after delivering a full day workshop to a group of bank market and sales managers.

In the session, our topics were:

In our previous sessions, we covered:

We’re covering the same content for another bank’s investment advisory group and I'm observing the same reactions and results to what we are teaching/coaching in both groups. And as I think about all of the other companies we’ve worked with over 25 years the reactions and the results are the same. 

  1. The group normally gets very uncomfortable about how and what we are teaching and coaching.
  2. They get better at what they are doing and as a by product their teams perform better.

I can say without reservation that there is a connection between discomfort and growth. If your organization is in the need of sales growth, or there is a sales growth opportunity that you have to take advantage of or leverage, then those two outcomes won’t happen unless you cause some level of discomfort.

As the Canadian Olympic coach, Peter Jensen suggests, the levels of discomfort, or the passion to pursue the opportunity, have to be extreme. If not, you remain, your people remain in the comfort zone and remaining in the comfort zone means that change/growth will not happen.

Topics: Sales Growth, coaching salespeople

Do You Have Sales Growth Problems?  Solution #3: Do Something with Your Pipeline

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 05, 2018

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. 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 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.

CALL TO ACTION

Set up a 1-on-1 coaching call with one of our Sales Development Experts to discuss how to effectively build and manage a credible and valid pipeline report, regardless of the CRM you are using.

EMAIL: traci@anthonycoletraining.com

Subject line: 1-on-1 coaching call

Topics: Pipeline management, coaching salespeople, qualified leads

Trouble Growing Sales? Solution #2: No More Bad Prospects

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 27, 2017

I’ve been working on growing sales for over 30 years. First with Nautilus Exercise Equipment, then in the insurance business and for the last 23 years with Anthony Cole Training Group. It’s been at least 25 years since I heard David Sandler, on a cassette tape, say; “there’s no such thing as bad prospects, just bad salespeople.” Not bad as in character, morals or integrity- just bad a selling.

But as I read Dave Kurlan’s blog this morning about choosing between bad salespeople and bad sales management it got me thinking about what Sandler said those many years ago and what we continue to hear from salespeople today when discussing opportunities won and lost. Let’s take a look at what’s happening or not happening. 

List of reasons for not getting the sale:

  • They had a long-term relationship/incumbent matched our proposal
  • The decision maker wasn’t involved 
  • Out pricing wasn’t competitive/ we didn’t have the right products
  • The timing wasn’t right

There are many, but in a nutshell the overall question to a salesperson would be; “When you asked them about, discussed, made sure that...(fill in the blank with any of the reasons listed above) What did they say?  What was their reaction?”  

As you read this as a sales person you might be thinking one of a few things: 

  1. I’m not asking those questions 
  2. Those are good questions to ask
  3. I should be asking those questions 
  4. I would never ask those questions 

If you are thinking #4, then your reasons for not getting the business are never going to change! That is what Sandler and Kurlan are talking about when they discuss bad salespeople. You cannot blame the prospect for having objections to buy. Heck you have your own set of objections/reasons every time you decide not to buy or change. 

But what about the sales manager? Where does that person fit into the equation? Simple: at the beginning, middle and end of every sales opportunity, sales meeting and coaching session. 

6698425_xxl meeting debrief people.jpg

Solution #2: Pre and Post Call Sessions and 1-on-1 Coaching

Pre-call coaching sample questions:

  • What buying process questions will you ask? (These are questions about compelling issues, stage in the buyer’s journey, options they are exploring, others solution providers they are exploring and solution selection criteria.) 
  • What answers do you anticipate?
  • How will you handle those answers?
  • What questions are you anticipating?
  • What will your response be?
  • What objections, delays or stalls should you anticipate?
  • What is your response?

Unfortunately, what we do know from the 1,000s of sales managers assessed for coaching skills is that less than 10% of them have adequate skills to be effective at developing sales people. 

What does this all mean?

  1. To eliminate bad prospects - which really don’t exist - eliminate bad salespeople. 
  2. To eliminate bad salespeople- eliminate bad sales management/ lack of sales coaching
  3. To eliminate bad sales management- hire people that have the skills to be effective in the role 
  4. Don’t use sales management as the next step in the career path for successful salespeople
  5. Provide the training, development and coaching your managers need to be effective

Need further assistance with the post-call session? Click HERE or the button below to view our Post-Call Debrief Analysis Worksheet.

Post-Call Debrief Worksheet

Topics: coaching salespeople, effective sales management

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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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