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Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati

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

Develop Your Sales Pipeline to Increase Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Jun 01, 2020

Sales pipelines are similar to the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears. " This one is too fat, this one is too skinny, and the rarest one of all; this one's just right. 

Why does this happen with pipelines and what should leaders be doing about it?  In today's blog, we discuss developing better pipelines to improve your coaching skills, increase sales within your organization, and to build better habits in 2020 and beyond.

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Fat Pipelines

This usually results from the overly optimistic salesperson.  They call on a prospect and come back thinking some iteration of this, “We really hit it off . . . They really liked what we can do . . . We have a LOT in common”. 

Another cause for a fat pipeline is that it feels like comfort food.  Their pipeline has $X amount in it and they feel pretty good about it.  I mean, come on, some of it has to close doesn’t it?  This type of thinking gives them great comfort.  Pipelines need two things:

  • The proper amount given their ability to win business (close ratio)
  • It must be properly staged

Here is where your leadership plays a critical role.  Your skills at asking great questions are absolutely essential.  Tone and tonality are of paramount importance, AND they must be fierce and helpful.  Questions like:

  • What did you hear the customer say that leads you to believe they would be a great customer for us?
  • When you asked them the impact of not fixing this problem, what did they say?
  • Who else in their organization will be impacted if they switch providers?
  • What did they say when you asked about their decision making criteria (not process, criteria, there is a difference)
  • When is the last time they chose a supplier that wasn’t the lowest cost?
  • How much is in their budget to make this problem go away
  • When asked them “How do you envision working with us”, what was their response?
  • How did they choose their current provider?

Never EVER ask, “How’d the call go?” It’s a waste of time.  Be great at asking questions.  By asking great questions, you are coaching your salespeople.  The questions listed above are the type of questions they should be asking the prospect.  Your coaching session is nothing but a sales call.  Be curious and when you coach, simply keep this in mind when meeting with your team, “Am I asking questions or am I making statements?”

Also, by asking great questions to your team, you find out where your people need to be coached.  If you hear your salesperson say, “I didn’t ask that question” during your pipeline discussions, you need to find out if they are unable to ask those questions (they need more sales training) OR if are they unwilling to ask those questions.

Skinny Pipelines

There are two main reasons that a salesperson might have a “skinny pipeline”.  They are getting beat up if something doesn’t close, or their activity isn’t where it needs to be.  My question to you as a leader is, “When a piece of business doesn’t close, what does your lost business conversation sound like?” 

There is no sin in losing a sale, the only sin that occurs is if nothing is learned from it.  Don’t let one loss beat you twice.  A couple of quick questions “What did you learn?” and “How will you get better because of it?” 

The other reason for a skinny pipeline is activity.  What are you measuring, how frequently are you measuring it (you need to measure weekly), and are you allowing excuses for poor effort?  Salespeople fail for two reasons:  Lack of Effort and/or Lack of Execution.  You need to know which it is. 

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Just Right Pipelines

These types of pipelines are the rarest of all because they require the salesperson and manager to have a great and open relationship, while staying committed to their sales process and understanding the metrics needed to win business.  For the salesperson, they need to understand what is their late-stage (close in 30 days) win ratio?  If their late-stage win ratio is 50% and their monthly goal is $100,000, they need to have a minimum of $200,000 in late-stage opportunity each month.   

The only reason a “Just Right” pipeline is possible because the salesperson is finding opportunities all-the-time.  They understand prospecting is an all-the-time thing.  They are constantly making calls, asking for introductions, and networking.  

It’s healthy to have a pipeline “flush” on a regular basis.  An opportunity moves through the pipeline or moves out of the pipeline on a regular basis.  If a salesperson wants to cling to an opportunity, and want to defend keeping it their pipeline, is probably because they have nothing else to take its place.   Coach them, encourage them, challenge them.

 

Topics: sales force development, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, hiring top salespeople, consultative selling, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, sales force performance evaluation, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Develop Your Sales Talent to Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 25, 2020

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent in order to increase sales in 2020 and beyond.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement. 

You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business, and then you must take key steps to help you determine if they lack the skills to get the job done, or if they are making excuses for their lack of success. 

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Companies are constantly trying to figure out how to drive organic growth by:

  • Acquiring a revenue stream by buying a business or lifting out talent from a competitor
  • Developing current talent

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement.  You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business. 

Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

To be successful in determining the real issues with your salespeople, you must have a system.

I read a blog the other day by Dave Kurlan.  We’ve had a strong business partnership with Dave and his company OMG (Objective Management Group) for most of our 24 years in business.  With OMG, we have the ability to determine the answer to the question – is it excuses or is it a talent issue?

Dave’s post  - 12 Reasons They Didn’t Like You Enough To Buy From You – helps address some of the issues associated with “not getting the business”.  It primarily focuses on the area of matching styles.

This got me thinking about the issue of “style” as it relates to talent, which relates to sales competencies and excuse making.  The challenge for the sales manager is determining if the reason a salesperson did not get the sale was really a talent issue, or an excuse issue.

To determine the root cause of the results, a sales manager must work more closely with the relationship managers and implement a process that Bill Eckstom calls “intentional coaching”.  This process of working closing with your RMs is addressed in our Sales Management Certification Program in the Coaching for Success Module.

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Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your salespeople lack the necessary skills to succeed or are making excuses for their lack of success:

  1. You must gain insight. You gain insight by using various data points. The data points you MUST use are: 
    1. Observational joint sales calls – You do not run the sales call; you observe your RM
    2. Data from your CRM or SAT program (SAT – Sales Activity Tracking)
    3. Sales meetings – In all of your sales meetings, you need to include a segment on skill development where you drill for skill, role play and conduct strategy development discussions
    4. 1-on-1 coaching – Each week, you should have time set aside for 1-on-1 coaching with those people that are NOT in the 1st quadrant of the “Where’s Walter?” matrix
  2. Provide feedback. In advance of the discussion about lost opportunities, you want to provide your RM with the data you have – no ambushing.
    1. You discuss – ask the RM questions about what they see in the data
    2. You provide them feedback based on what you see and where the problems might be
    3. You discuss what the future might look like if the current trends continue
    4. You agree that there is a problem
  3. Demonstrate – Once you identify the problem as either an excuse or a skill issue, you demonstrate to the RM what you expect them to execute.
    1. If they are making excuses – "They didn’t understand the value of our offering” – You ask, “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse what would you have done differently?”
    2. If it’s a skill problem – “I asked them if they had a budget and they said yes.” “When you asked them what it was, what did they say?”  “They said they didn’t want to tell me.”  “When you asked, ‘why not?’, what did they say?”  “I didn’t ask that question.”
  4. Role play – The scenario above allows you to now role play with you acting as the prospect. You need to start with Drill for Skill and then graduate to the full role play.  Getting them to practice what you expect them to do takes patience and repetition.  Do not believe for a second that one role play will be enough.  You need to start your RM on a weekly coaching session repeating the required skills over and over again. 
  5. Action steps – Each coaching session must end with action
    1. "Bill, so what I want you to do is call Mary and have this conversation we just role played."
    2. "I want you to report back to me by end of business today what happened as a result of that conversation."
    3. Hold your salespeople accountable while also coaching them along the way! 

Implementing a process of gaining insight, providing feedback, demonstrating, role playing and establishing action items will go a long way in helping your team discern the difference between making excuses for failure and the need for skill development.

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Topics: hiring salespeople, consultative selling, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, keys to selling success, keys to selling, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, hire better people cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Why Increasing Sales Leads to Personal Freedoms

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Achieving the work-life balance sales professionals all hear and dream about starts with having a personal vision and a set of non-negotiable goals.

In this article, we will discuss the 4 must-do sales activities and the characteristics that all successful salespeople share when striving for the freedom of success. 

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Today, I'd like to commemorate the victory and personal freedoms that comes from success in sales.

There are two freedoms that successful people enjoy: the freedom of time and the freedom of choice. You see, when you are always playing from behind, you never feel like you can take time off or treat yourself to that vacation you've been wanting to take.

Successful people aren’t successful by chance or luck. They all have (at least) four things in common.

  1. They all have a vision of where they want to go, starting with the end in mind.
  2. They have a mission. Or, the “how you will achieve your vision” 
  3. Goals become the mile markers that let you know when you’ve “left the road”.
  4. And they have a “WHY”

So, decide what freedoms you want. Determine what those freedoms require. Build your plan to get there.

  • It all starts with your success formula, the behaviors you must execute day in and day out to accomplish your goals.
  • Track your behaviors weekly and be accountable to someone other than yourself (we’re too good at explaining to ourselves why we didn’t do something).
  • Know your SMART numbers- what are the key metrics that really drive your business and learn from them!
  • Build your Unique Sales Approach (USA) that is compelling to the people in your sandbox, or those that fit your profile.

Finally, don’t do all of this and stick it in the drawer. You should review your vision, mission and goals annually and your Successful Formula and SMART numbers quarterly.

Now go out and sell something and celebrate the freedom of success.

Topics: Sales Management Training, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment

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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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