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Creating Your Success Formula: The 5th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 01, 2019

In our 5th Chapter of our Sales Productivity Tools blog series, we discuss the idea of creating a success formula for your sales team, which only works when you have a team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

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To support my objectives and goals of one day playing college football, I realized I had to have a success formula.  I had to have a workout routine for strength and conditioning.  I had to be coachable.  I had to eat the right foods (My dad always threatened to tell Coach Cacia if I didn’t eat my salad). And I had to take care of the bumps and bruises.

When I got into the "real" sales world (Insurance business vs. taking orders for Nautilus Exercise Equipment) I was introduced to the One Card System created by Al Granum.  At National Life of Vermont, we were given a box with index cards and a Success Manual.  We were trained to use the cards to identify the various stages where a prospect was in the sales process, and we used the Success Manual to record our activity.  Today that entire process exists in whatever CRM your company uses.

A Success Formula is an old school sales tool that works but only if...

You have a sales team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Every salesperson knows what the right behaviors are to be successful. They know they have to reach out to prospects, schedule appointments, disqualify people and companies that don’t fit their business model, close and service accounts, and much more. There isn’t anything mystical about what it takes to succeed.  But the challenge is for the salesperson to be disciplined themselves to do the things they need to do based on their own success formula.

When salespeople fail, it isn’t because they lack the skills or product/industry knowledge needed to succeed. Most salespeople fail because they won’t do the things required to be successful

The answer as to why a producer won’t do those things lies in the findings of the pre-hire assessment and sales force evaluations.  To gain a better understanding of someone’s potential to be successful in sales, it would be important to have a deep understanding of the following:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Sales Competencies
  • Sales Skills

Not having this information would be like trying to coach a football team, direct a play, or construct a building without knowing the desire, skills and tendencies of the people you are relying on to meet your objective. 

To assess your current or incoming talent and their ability and willingness to make the right decision – be prudent – then it helps to have findings such as those identified in Objective Management Group’s – Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.


Check out some of our additional resources below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Why is selling so #%&@ hard

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Topics: Sales Training, sales evaluation, hiring salespeople, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, hire better people

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

Who is Your Sales Superstar?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 17, 2019

Throwback Thursday Post:

In this blog post, we take you back to the year 2016 when Kobe Bryant was playing in his last game for the Los Angeles Lakers.  It got us talking about elite sales performers and the idea that they  prepare and perform at the highest capabilities regardless of the situation, the score, the environment or circumstances.

So, who are your elite players and are they doing the things that superstar/hall-of-fame players normally do in the selling world?

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Kobe Bryant will be retired from NBA basketball when the final buzzer sounds in tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz.  If you are not a basketball fan or sports fan, this may mean nothing to you.  My intent is to frame a very important discussion about performance around a former legend of the LA Lakers and the National Basketball Association.

As I listened to ESPN Radio Mike and Mike in The Morning, I heard commentary from former teammates, coaches and opposing players. There was a common theme in their discussion about Kobe Bryant and elite performers in athletics.  To be clear, I don’t believe the common theme is limited to athletic top performers.

As I started this article, I sent a question to my niece, Laura.  Laura is an elite performer and vocalist who performs in the greater DC/Baltimore area.  I asked her if she ever bailed on a performance because she felt a little off or hadn’t prepared properly. 

Her response:  “No way!  I’ve sung through bronchitis and pneumonia hopped up on steroids when I had to.  The show must go on!”

Elite performers prepare and perform at the highest capabilities regardless of the situation, the score, the environment or circumstances.

Some comments made about Kobe made me think about the content and theme of this article.  Here is just a sampling of what was said about Kobe and other top performers:

  • They demanded the best of others. When others were not performing at their best, giving it their all in practice or in a game, they call them out.
  • When it’s game time, nothing else matters. When Kobe’s family came to LA to watch him play, they stayed at a hotel instead of his spacious home.  He focused on the task at hand.
  • Regardless of the score of any game, if you watched Bryant play, you would swear that the Lakers must be down by 20. His intensity for playing the game, rather than playing the score, made him elite.
  • Elite players make other players better. They recognize that they are a big piece of the puzzle, but still only one piece.  They elevate the game of others in order to win the team.
  • Elite players have a tendency to rub others the wrong way. Not because they are arrogant individuals, but they have an arrogance about how they view the game, how it should be played, and how one should be prepared to play.  They are haters – haters of losing and those unwilling to pay the price to win.

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I could go on, but this makes the point and takes me to the question in the title of this article – Who are your elite players and are they doing the things that superstar/hall of fame players do? 

  • Are your all-star salespeople elevating others?
  • Are they demanding of others?
  • Are they team-objective focused or focused on their own stats?
  • Do they do everything possible to win individually and get others to win as a team?
  • Are they your "go-to" people in a crisis?
  • Do they grind and grind to get it done?
  • Do they work relentlessly on their skills?
  • Do they focus on the details of the game to eliminate repeated errors or mistakes?
  • Do they call others out when necessary

As a CEO, president, national sales manager, vice president of sales or sales manager, the responsibility you have is to drive revenue.  When that seems difficult or impossible, there must be more to the solution than just "work harder, see more people, increase the marketing budget, do more social networking, expand the sales force", etc.

Just like you would look into the numbers (expenses) to figure out how to improve profit, you need to look at the root problems impacting revenue.

It isn’t just the latest sales enablement technology that improves sales results.  It is the human technology that drives sales today and will drive sales tomorrow.

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Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management

"Why Do So Many of My Salespeople Fail to Perform as Expected?"

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Oct 11, 2019

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!

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: Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance 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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