ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

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

"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

Practice Schedules: A Perfect Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

I started this series of articles by relating my experience coaching football to selling.  It is my goal now each week to focus in on one of the 9 football related tools that can be applied to selling.

Our first, the practice schedule, is one of the most important tools used by football teams.  Overall, practice is an essential contributing factor to success on the football field. 

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It is important to note that, in football:

  • Understanding your opponent is critical
  • Reviewing practice and game performance is needed
  • A team has to have a solid strategy in all aspects of the game
  • Great athletes must be able to make game time adjustments and decisions
  • And yes, an occasional good bounce can be additive

At the end of the day, however, improving skills, practicing the game plan, and getting feedback from the practice sessions are crucial for success!

4 Minute Practice Makes Perfect Video

But back in the day, before I retired from coaching, we used to have 30 practice sessions before each game.  Each session was at least 2 hours. For every hour on the field, there was at least 1 hour in the classroom and at least 1 hour of film study or playbook study.  This was all for about 8-10 minutes of actual action on the field.

How much time are you spending practicing to improve your sales management skills?  How much time are you spending coaching your people to improve their craft?  And don’t tell me:

  • We hire / I have experienced people
  • We hire adults — we expect them to do what they need to do to get better
  • I’ve been at this for 20+ years, I think I know what I’m doing

Tell that to the greatest coaches of any sport in the game and they will tell you how wrong you are to believe that experience, or years in the profession, means that less time is needed in practice.

Tell that to Tom Brady.

Now let’s talk about practice as a sales productivity tool.

Malcom Gladwell’s oft quoted “10,000 hours” of practice to become expert in a skill may in fact be more of a platitude than a fact.  What appears to be a fact is that there are contributing factors to practice that are connected to competency and eventual expertise in a skill.

One of those contributing factors is a feedback loop“A feedback loop [provides]…the necessary information for adaptive measures to achieve the desired levels of teaching and learning objectives.”  Brunel University Study

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have delivered workshops and focus on the concept of an ideal week in all of our training programs.  To support the ideal week, we help our clients develop their ideal week.  Within that ideal week is time allocated for practice.  Regardless of the outcome of the "10,000 hours" debate, there is no debate about implementing practice as a requirement to improve a skill or performance across the board.

What should practice look like?

Your practice should include the following sales practice components:  Drill for Skill, Role-Playing and Strategy Development.  To accomplish these exercises, you should have pre and post call checklists as well as phone call scorecards and data from your sales huddles. All of these data points act as ‘video’ of how you or your people are actually performing. Using the data and real time information allows you to make your coaching and practice sessions more intentional.

To find out more about the ideal week and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/sales-productivity-tools

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For those of you that like to do the research on the research:

Practice Makes Perfect – Science Daily

Deliberate Practice – Business Insider

How To Learn any Skill With Your Own Weekly Plan – Kayla Mathews MUO Blog Post

 

 

Topics: practice, Sales Enablement, sales practice, creating new sales opportunities, football, sales and sports, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools

The Two Truths and a Lie of Prospecting

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Sep 10, 2019

Prospecting for salespeople is often a struggle due to varying factors including their ability to stay committed to the process and overcome rejection.

In this article, we cover the often dreaded, but mandatory, task of sourcing and creating new sales opportunities.

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Salespeople have to prospect – that’s the truth. Salespeople can find their prospects through a variety of different avenues, including; introductions, direct mail, internet offers, networking, internal referrals from business partners, cold calling, campaigns, association memberships, and business networking groups. 

What is also true is that, no matter how a sales person gets a name, the next step is to contact them. You can contact them by mail (email or snail mail) or by phone (the most common method). If you are going to have any chance to schedule time to talk with them about their current situation to determine if they are a prospect for you, you must have contact. That’s the truth.

Prospecting is FUN! Now, that’s a lie. Prospecting isn’t fun. It’s not intended to be fun. Anyone that says it’s fun is lying. If you are a manager, don’t tell your people to “just pick up the phone and have fun with it”. They will know you don’t know what you are talking about.

They’ve had fun before: Water skiing, swimming, hiking, going to a play or the opera, having a picnic, watching a ballgame, getting a promotion, a raise, or recognition for a job well done. All FUN! However, facing rejection, not talking to anyone, having people curse or hang up on you, having people who schedule appointments and then cancel or don’t show up?  ZERO FUN.

If prospecting isn’t fun, then what is it? Back in the day when I was still trying to figure out how to be successful in selling, my coach told me this:  “You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it!” And that is prospecting.  It’s called work and not play for a reason. It is work. You have to put a lot of preparation, emotion, intellect and skill into being successful at prospecting.

David Kurlan from Objective Management Group has found that the single biggest contributor to sales success is the ability to be rejection-proof. Even with all the skill, techniques, scripts and preparation, if you cannot handle the rejection and emotional roller coaster of prospecting, then you will struggle, be inconsistent and fail more than you succeed.

The bottom line is that this isn’t about making it fun. It’s about getting the job done so you have solid appointments that turn into solid opportunities that turn into closed business.

THAT’S where the fun is!

Topics: sales prospecting, contacting prospects, reaching prospects, prospect outreach, creating new sales opportunities

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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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