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

3 Things That Will Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Jack Kasel on Wed, Feb 12, 2020

The most successful salespeople are always challenging and adapting their personal sales process to be more effective.  However, they don’t challenge the notion of the importance of making prospecting their "A" priority every week. 

They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline.  If you really want to increase sales this year, you MUST block off time every week for prospecting new clients.

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As we think about all of the things as sales professionals that we're supposed to do, it really comes down to three things that actually get us paid: 

  1. Find Opportunities
  2. Qualify prospects
  3. Get a decision

I want to focus on the first thing we get paid to do and that's to find opportunities.  There are many ways we can find opportunities⁠—cold calls, drop ins, direct marketing, social selling (LinkedIn and Twitter), getting introductions, etc. 

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Although there are many ways we can prospect, some provide a higher return on the biggest investment we can make, and that’s our time.  In a previous blog, I tried to debunk the “time management” problem.  It isn’t a time management problem, it’s a priority management problem

As we focus on prospecting, the least return on our investment is cold calling.  For all the time you invest in cold calling, the actual return (speaking to a decision maker) is extremely low.  We know it’s a necessary evil, but not a permanent problem.  On the other hand, it is a proven fact, the highest return on our prospecting time is in getting introductions.  

So here is what I would like you to consider:

  1. Time blocking
    • Do you have time set aside each week to prospect? If you don’t, you would be well-served to block time to prospect
  2. Allocate your time within the time block you’ve scheduled
    • If you have allocated an hour a day, my recommendation would be:
      • If you have allocated 15 minutes to cold call, you should be able to get 15 calls in within that time. If you call 15, you will probably speak with two people.  How long does it take to NOT talk to 13 people?  You can make a lot of calls in 15 minutes if you are focused.
      • 15 minutes for social selling to find introductions—maybe not sell, but find introduction opportunities.
        • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—whichever you are allowed to do within your work rules, do it on a regular basis.
      • 30 minutes on getting introductions
        • Calling people and saying “I’m looking to expand my base of contacts” Or “I’m looking to meet great people such as yourself, when can we get together to determine if we can help each other?”
        • Identify your 15 best clients and make it a goal to get three introductions from each of them. How much success would you have with 45 new names to call?

This is just a rough outline on what you can do but the big takeaways are this:

  1. Prioritize prospecting—make it a significant part of your week.
  2. Prioritize how you are prospecting—get introductions—it will provide the highest return on your time invested.

Someone needs what you do, so go find them and start prospecting today to find more of them!

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, create & convert leads, sales challenges, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, buyers journey, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020, sales training workshops

The Art of Asking Great Questions

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Watch Sales Guy Unplugged:  Are Your Sales Questions Courageous Enough?

Mark Trinkle, Chief Growth Officer

Need more information?  Download this free SalesTool with the Drill Down Questions.

Topics: things to do for sales success, how to improve sales, sales leads, create & convert leads

Fishing for Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 10, 2017

I’m sure 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, won’t try and uncover other opportunities and in the end, you, the sales manager, and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

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 identifies. 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 salespersons job, though difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components: go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities, qualify those opportunities and close for the business. Don’t let your salespeople get by on just your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job.

Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”. This book is packed with practical information that you can put into practice today to immediately increase your sales. Also, listen to the recorded live broadcast of Anthony Cole Training Group’s President and Chief Sales Officer, Mark Trinkle, covering “How to Create, Cultivate and Convert Sales Leads".

Listen to the Recording Here!

Topics: Prospecting, Qualifying leads, coaching salespeople, create & convert leads

Sales and Super Mario

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Last week, my fiancé and I were gifted a new Super Nintendo Classic with all the originals preloaded- Donkey Kong Country, Street Fighter, Zelda and of course, Super Mario World. Now I realize only a certain group reading this will know the exact system I am referring to but my theory still applies to Atari lovers, Gameboy enthusiasts and even those of you who know nothing about gaming and gaming consoles.

The first night we picked up the retro remotes we discovered something—these games are hard! Particularly Super Mario World. Being someone who grew up with this technology, I thought getting back into it would be simple. I was wrong. I was so excited to be playing again I found myself running the course, taking risky jumps, trying to collect all the coins I could and would end up falling to my virtual death or getting hit in the head by a turtle shell. I realized that I had an opportunity to make it through to the next level but I wasn’t doing what was necessary to convert that opportunity into a win. I rushed through. I took risks that weren’t worth it but I made them anyway because it was the only play I had. And then I had an epiphany- the same thing happens in sales.mario2.jpg

One of the problems we hear our clients talk most about is their ability to grow sales and its direct correlation to their salespeople’s ability to create and convert opportunities. Lead generation and conversion requires two things: effort and effective execution. Majority of the time, we find that the effort is there but the execution could use work. If you were to ask your salespeople to show you their pipeline for the next 30 or 60 days, what would it look like? There are probably enough opportunities but are they properly vetted? Does the lead or prospect qualify to do business with your organization? Does your company qualify to do business with them? Or are they just in there to make it look like your sales person has a full dance card for the next month? Weak, unqualified pipelines make cowards of us all- we don’t want to throw the unqualified ones out because if we did, what would we have left?

Salespeople tend to rush through the sales process after hearing the littlest pain indicator or buying signal. They feel the quicker they move, the more likely the prospect is to say “yes” at time of close. However, that’s rarely how it works out. Usually when we rush, we are left with “think it over”, stalls and objections or the prospect decides not to answer calls or emails at all. So, what can your salespeople do TODAY to help fix the problem?

  1. Slow down! Don’t rush the sales process. When we rush, we get inconsistent results and are likely to face more problems on the back end.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions. The #1 reasons salespeople struggle with creating and converting leads is because they think they need to be liked in order to get the business. This will keep them from asking great, robust questions that allow them to properly qualify for the opportunity. It will also help your salespeople stand apart from their competitors.
  3. Use our free tool “Qualify Your Prospects” to help your salespeople better qualify and then have them remove prospects from their pipeline as soon as they realize there isn’t anywhere to go. They don’t need to continue wasting their time with another “discovery call” or follow-up email. Put them in your tickler system and move on to the next lead.

There are many other techniques to help your salespeople keep from getting hit in the head with “think it over” turtle shells. Sign up for our free live broadcast, “Learn How to Create, Cultivate and Convert Qualified Leads for Great Sales Growth” for more tips and tools! Your salespeople will learn proven methods to find and connect with real buyers in this new world of selling.

Sign up for How to  Create, Cultivate & Convert Sales Leads  Live Broadcast!

Topics: Prospecting, Qualifying leads, coaching salespeople, create & convert leads

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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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