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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.


  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

How to Move Forward and Increase Sales During Uncertain Times

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Mar 16, 2020

In this blog post, we pray for the health and safety of those at risk or sick during this time in human history.

We also discuss that NOW is the time to ensure that your sales growth efforts are stronger than ever to help increase sales in 2020 and beyond!


"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin 1809

I don’t mean that as it relates to the Covid-19 virus, though the expression will certainly bear that out during this pandemic.  For those that are sick or know those that are sick or at risk, we at Anthony Cole Training Group pray for your health and safety.  In the meantime, there is the business of trying to keep your business alive as well as the businesses of your clients.

To that end, I’m referencing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  If you Google “Only the Strong Survive”, here is what you may read:

Natural selection is the theory that only the strong survive. For example, the animals that can outrun their predators live to pass on their speedy genes; the slow are eaten.” 

When the markets go down, the competition for market share gets aggressive and companies are faced with making budgets and decreasing revenues. 

NOW is the time to make sure that your sales growth efforts are stronger than ever.  If you don’t put time, money and resources into sales then you will have a difficult time surviving.  You might survive but the climb back up will be long and painful.   It is CRUNCH time!

I recognize that crunch time might mean tightening the financial / budget belt and eliminating "non-essential" expenses.  That list normally includes but is not limited to:

  • Marketing
  • Technology
  • Travel and entertainment
  • Benefits
  • Training

As you go about crunching those numbers, consider the following:

  • Be strategic – Think outside of the box and get creative with using money and resources to drive revenue. It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to cut expenses.
  • Stop thinking “non-essential” – If those expenses and resources were non-essential, then you wouldn’t currently be spending money on those items.
  • Think about wise investing. Where could you invest time, money and resources that could be additive to your objectives and keep you in the hunt for new business and revenue?
  • Look through a new lens when considering how to handle your sales staff and how to help them become better during a difficult period.

Objective Management Group

As you go about crunching, one thing we recommend is strategically pairing down your sales team to improve your ROI and profitability DRAMATICALLY.  As an example, 3 years ago we assessed a commercial lending group of 60 lenders.  Of the 60, this is how the numbers worked out:

  • The top 1/3 of the group (20) represented over 70% of the revenue from new and portfolio business. This should not be surprising as it is consistent with the Pareto Principle.  It’s the next item that should get your attention.
  • The bottom 1/3 of the group (again 20 lenders) represented less than 6% of the new and portfolio revenue. As an aside, this is NOT an outlier.  We see this EVERY TIME we do a quintile analysis of a sales group.
  • When the president of the group was asked what the profit impact would be if they eliminated the bottom 20, the answer was; “We would add $2,000,000.00 to the bottom line.”

My strategy here isn’t to offer early retirement in order to manage expenses but be more strategic in who you let go.  Look at the right numbers and not just years of service or those close to retirement.  Additionally, you should consider how you go about new hires.  Yes, you should be hiring now.  Many companies will downsize the wrong people for the wrong reasons.  Now is a great time to pick up great sales talent. 

Find Out More:  Virtual Sales Training

Again, you want to be selective.  By using the Objective Management Group pre-hire assessment, you can accomplish a couple of critical objectives:

  • Using the "Ideal fit" you can identify EXACTLY what it takes to be successful in sales at your organization.
  • You can match all candidates against the ideal fit and have great insight as to what the candidates Will to Sell, Sales DNA and Sales Competencies are.
  • Using the Stat Finder you can compare your sales team in 21 sales core competencies against over 1.8 million other salespeople & over 26K companies. And, specifically you can measure your team against those in your industry. If you are in banking or financial services, you can stack your team against 500 other companies.
  • Using the information from the STAT finder you can build and deliver micro learning / training sessions to help your people become more effective in this difficult market.

Finally, you must make the decision that training and developing this current team that hasn’t experienced these competitive conditions before is critical.  To accomplish what you can, take advantage of technology and distance conferencing to improve the skills of your team and change their behaviors.

No longer do you have to pull people out of the field into a conference room for a full day to have an impact on sales skills.  With a micro-focused strategy to address specific “choke points” in the execution of your sales process you can conduct 90-minute sessions that involve drill for skill, role-play and strategy development.

Yes, you will take action over the next several days, weeks and probably months to outrun the competition and not be eaten. But to do that your sales organization must be faster and stronger than ever before.

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Topics: 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, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, handles rejection, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, insurance prospecting system, assessment tools for salespeople, life insurance call script, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, prospecting personality definition, star sales training, keys to selling

Increasing Sales in 2020 | Ask Your Prospects Better Questions

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 27, 2020

In this blog, we discuss why prospects object when it comes down to buying time, and why we can't always blame the prospects in these situations. Overall, salespeople must ask better questions to help increase sales, build better relationships, and help uncover their prospect's compelling reasons to buy. 

On the other side, their sales managers must be present for their salespeople at the beginning, middle and end of every sales opportunity, sales meeting, and coaching session. 


I’ve been working on growing sales for over 30 years.  It’s been about 25 years since I heard David Sandler say,

“There’s no such thing as bad prospects, just bad salespeople.” Not bad as in character, morals or integrity; just bad at selling.

But as I read Dave Kurlan’s blog about choosing between bad salespeople and bad sales management, it got me thinking about what Sandler said those many years ago and what we continue to hear from salespeople today when discussing opportunities won and lost. Let’s take a look at what’s happening or not happening. 

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List of reasons for a salesperson not getting the sale:

  • The prospect had a long-term relationship/the incumbent matched our proposal
  • The decision maker wasn’t involved in the selling process 
  • Our pricing wasn’t competitive/ we didn’t have the right products for them 
  • The timing wasn’t right

There are many, but in a nutshell, the overall question (from a sales manager) to a salesperson would be;

“When you asked them (the prospect) about, discussed, made sure that...(fill in the blank with any of the reasons listed above) What did they say?  What was their reaction?”  

If you read this as a salesperson you might be thinking one of a few things: 

  1. I’m not asking those questions 
  2. Those are good questions to ask
  3. I should be asking those questions 
  4. I would never ask those questions 

If you are thinking #4, then your reasons for not getting the business are never going to change! That is what Sandler and Kurlan are talking about when they discuss bad salespeople. You cannot blame the prospect for having objections to buy. Heck, you have your own set of objections/reasons every time you decide not to buy or change. 

But what about the sales manager? Where does that person fit into the equation? They fit in at the beginning, middle and end of every sales opportunity, sales meeting, and coaching session. 

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Solution #2: Pre and Post Call Sessions and 1-on-1 Coaching

Pre-call coaching sample questions:

  • What buying process questions will you ask? (These are questions about compelling issues, stages in the buyer’s journey, options they are exploring, other solution providers they are exploring, etc.) 
  • What answers do you anticipate?
  • How will you handle those answers?
  • What questions are you anticipating?
  • What will your response be?
  • What objections, delays or stalls should you anticipate?
  • What is your response?

Unfortunately, what we do know from the thousands of sales managers assessed for coaching skills, is that less than 10% of them have adequate skills to be effective at developing salespeople. 

What does this all mean?

  1. To eliminate bad prospects, eliminate bad salespeople
  2. To eliminate bad salespeople, eliminate bad sales management/ lack of sales coaching
  3. To eliminate bad sales management, hire people that have the skills to be effective in the role 
  4. Don’t use sales management as the next step in the career path for successful salespeople
  5. Provide the training, development and coaching your managers need to be effective

Need further assistance with the post-call session? Click HERE or the button below to view our Post-Call Debrief Analysis Worksheet.

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Topics: sales professional, Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, sales differences, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, handles rejection, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation

Implementing Core Sales Values to Help Your Sales Culture | Increase Sales 2020

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 21, 2020

In the 2nd post in our "2020: The Year for Sales Growth" blog series, our Founder and CLO Tony Cole, discusses the importance of maintaining core sales values within an organization, how these values relate to organized sports, the erosion of these said core values, and the impact they have (or can have) on your attempt to grow your sales organization and sales numbers in 2020.


I have been playing tennis for close to seven years now.  If you watched me play, you would describe me as a "football player who plays tennis."  I play hard, I compete, I hate to lose, and I play to win.  But at my age, I recognize my limitations, and I accept them. 

It really doesn’t matter that my chosen sport was football. What matters more here is what it means to have participated in organized sports for many years, and what has happened to the core values and benefits passed down from generation to generation. 

One thing I have noticed is the erosion of those core values and the impact they have (or can have) on your attempt to grow your sales organization.

Last night, when I went to play in my weekly tennis league, I noticed a banner that you may have seen at the beginning of this blog (I'll Never Be Benched, Subbed or Picked Last).  With every movie I see, song I hear, or book I read; I always apply them to sales, selling, sales management or recruiting.  It happened when I saw the banner and it distracted me for the remainder of the evening.  I couldn’t help but think that the rest of the banner might read:

  • I won’t get the grades I need to get into school or a good job
  • I won’t get into the school of my choice
  • I won’t get the promotion
  • I won’t get a raise
  • I won’t win the part in the play
  • I won’t win the heart of a significant other
  • I won’t be able to beat my competitor in a tough sales situation
  • I won’t get the loan I need for a place to live

As you think about what is required of a successful salesperson, what attributes or characteristics are required to be successful? Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group knows the answer to that question, and by extension of our relationship with him and his organization, we know the answer as well.

Click here to identify what your top performers look like compared to 1.8 million others and top performers in your industry segment.)

Sample Sales Candidate Assessment

What we know is that the top 25% of all salespeople have The Will to Sell which includes: 

  • Desire to succeed in selling
  • Commitment (willing to do everything possible to succeed) in selling
  • Taking responsibility for outcomes – they don’t make excuses
  • A strong outlook
  • Very motivated

Their Sales DNA scores exceed 68%.  This means that they have strengths in the following areas:

  • No need for approval
  • Control emotions
  • Supportive believes
  • Supportive buy cycle
  • Comfortable discussing money
  • Handle rejection

This research, based on close to 2 million sales evaluations, shows that perhaps the most important contributing factor in the DNA score is, "Handles Rejection."  Meaning, that the most significant factor in determining if your next salesperson hire will be a fit, comes down to if they can handle rejection from prospects. 

Simply put, if they can't, then they are probably not a fit for the role!

When evaluating your current talent or looking for new talent, put a check mark next to the attributes you think are important to succeed in your organization.  Then, make sure that in your vetting process, you look for those attributes.

Finally, make sure that your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephew are put in positions where they have to overcome adversity, work hard to succeed, and are recognized for what they actually accomplish, rather than just competing.

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, creating new sales opportunities, sales and sports, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, social selling, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020, handles rejection

Being Sales Assertive in 2020

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 09, 2020

Are there certain characteristics that make someone (or a salesperson) assertive?  We believe so.

And if you are a prospect, you want to have honest, direct and assertive conversations with a salesperson so that they can make better, more critical decisions.


There are many contributing factors as to why someone may not be very assertive such as:

  1. Learned helplessness
  2. Having low self-esteem
  3. Not having a "Go-giver" mindset 
  4. False bravado
  5. Living life out of balance causing a sense of desperation and a crisis management approach to work rather than a self-management approach to work.

Assertive people have certain characteristics.

  • First of all, they have minimum acceptable standards for themselves and those people around them. They don’t associate with toxic people – they work with nourishing people.
  • They have a goal philosophy; they have lots of goals and then they continue to pursue those goals and achieve those goals.
  • They get outside the box. If you’ve seen the 9-dot exercise, you’ll know what I’m talking about. They get outside the dots- they expand their comfort zone.
  • Next, they take risks and they understand that taking risks can result in failure. But, failure becomes defined as just another step towards success. They’re persistent. They find other ways to close.
  • They make decisions themselves which makes it hard for them to understand why someone would want to "think it over".
  • They know what they stand for and they won’t fall for anything that falls under the category of an objection or a stall.  
  • They control the sales process. You can ask them about next steps and assertive people can give you specific details about what happens next.

To overcome the hurdles that might trip you up as you attempt to be more assertive, you might consider the following:

  1. As they said in The Godfather, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” Don’t take it personally.
  2. Take ownership of how you feel. Nobody can make you feel the way you feel in terms of being uncomfortable. You choose to feel a certain way.
  3. Consider Emerson’s quote, “Do the thing and you’ll have the power.” There will be times during a sales process or sales step where you will feel the need to be assertive but you will be afraid. DO the thing… do the thing that you’re feeling and you’ll have the power.

As always, thank you and have a perfect day.

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales motivation, sales producers, sales differences, sales growth problems, creating new sales opportunities, selling tools, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020


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    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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