ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The 8th Sales Productivity Tool: Post-Call Debriefing Sessions

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 05, 2019

Salespeople are often fooled that the opportunities in their pipeline are more qualified or closer to closing than reality suggests. 

In this article, Tony Cole will breakdown the activity of post-call debriefing and why it is so critical for improving results. 

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Back in my playing days, we had to wait a day to get the game film developed and delivered to the coach's office, so that we could review each player and how they performed. A couple of weeks ago, our Defensive Coordinator at Moeller HS used a tablet to coach his defense based on what had just happened on the football field.  With today’s digital technology, you can get your game or practice video feedback immediately. What a difference this makes!  

You can do the same with salespeople. 

The reason the game film is crucial is because the film doesn’t lie.  There are no opportunities for excuses, laying blame, or hiding from the truth.  In the film room, fierce conversations take place about converted opportunities, missed opportunities, the amount of effort given on a play, the outcome of a certain play, and so much more.  It can be intense because there is nowhere to hide.

Your post-call strategy sessions must work the same way if you are going to accomplish the following:

  • Improve skills
  • Change behaviors
  • Close more business, more quickly at higher margins

In order to do this effectively, you must know what should be done in an effective sales process by going through a checklist and marking those items that were accomplished so far in the process. A salesperson can, in reality, lie to themselves about what did and did not happen. The good news is that eventually the truth comes out in the results.

In other words when we teach out EPAS – Emergency Pipeline Analysis System – we look at several opportunities in the pipeline and calculate the probability of an opportunity closing.  If we examine 5 opportunities and the average closing probability is 75% or greater and none of the opportunities close, then we have a clear indication that something is wrong:

  • Either the producer is making up the data
  • The producer is failing in effectively executing the sales steps they are taking credit for accomplishing

In the end what you are hoping to accomplish is to help salespeople clearly see what the opportunity is, help them when they are chasing bad or unclear opportunities, model success for others and help your salespeople realize when they should walk from ‘opportunities.

Access the full toolbox today!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, train the trainer

Why Prospects are Like Fruit and Why You Need to Pick the Right Ones

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Dec 02, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable! 

Prospects, like their produce counterparts, have a shelf life, and none of them will last forever.  You must "eat" them, find a way to preserve them, or get rid of them!

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Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

That phrase has stuck with me all these years.  We continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when working with our new clients for Hire Better Salespeople.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others. 

Bananas – not so long.

Apples and mandarins – a little longer

Potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s (or future) meal, you must be somewhat selective so that the food you select today, is fresh enough for cooking and consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  However, buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio, where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel. 

When the day came, I went to Bill and told him I had a check in my pocket, and that I'd like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way, and would just let me buy!

Two hours later (car sales take awhile), I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance salespeople***  

Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.


DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready, or are already past their "prime" time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem(s). Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready!

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (salespeople) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, consultative selling, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

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Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

"Gone Fishing" for Sales Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 15, 2019

I’m sure the majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).  Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis, we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on them as their main resource for potential business.

They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities! If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads, they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given.  They also won’t try to uncover other opportunities and in the end, the sales manager (you), and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

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And, it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video.

Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identified!  After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform?

Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salesperson's job, although difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components:

  1. Go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities.
  2. Qualify those opportunities.
  3. Close for the business.

Don’t let your salespeople get by on just using your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job!

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Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”.   

Additional Resources:

Sales Productivity Tools

Must-Ask Questions Worksheet

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, increase sales leads,, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Tue, Nov 05, 2019

In today's blog or "vlog", we bring you our newest Anthony Cole Training Group's brand video.

Give it a watch below as we show you how we help build sales organizations into selling, coaching, and hiring better and what that means for their success: 

 

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, hire better salespeople, sales performance management, sales management tools, consultative selling, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video

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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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