ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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

How Do I Motivate My Salespeople?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 13, 2018

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Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my salespeople motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?” 

The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play for the team.

My dad – my manager – knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track and get them to operate at their highest level for your organization.

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Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leader, Sales Leadership, sales motivation

The Getting Introduced Methodology

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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From our 5 Keys to Coaching series: 

Are you asking for introductions from your current clients?

You'd be surprised by how many salespeople are not asking.

It is essential that you as a sales leader take time to sit down with your salesperson and establish an action plan – what are the specific prospecting and networking activities that they must do in order to reach their goals? 

This will undoubtedly include utilizing LinkedIn, attending association meetings with the intent to meet the right target profile client, etc.  This action plan should include getting introductions from current clients. 

This is the #1 strategy that successful salespeople use to build their business.  The steps in this video show you how to coach your salespeople to gain introductions from their advocates.

 

 

 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales skill, sales growth and inspiration, sales advice

Variability and the 14-Letter Dirty Word – Accountability

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Oct 03, 2016

Several years ago, as part of our sales team evaluation, the skills, tendencies and effectiveness of the sales leadership team was also assessed.  The findings indicated that of the 224 leaders, 23% had at least 60% of the skills required to be an effective performance manger.  Of the 5 sales management skill sets required - coaching, motivating, recruiting, mentoring and performance management – this last one, performance management, is where the team “scored” the best. The skills/tendencies within the skill set are as follows:

  • Doesn’t accept mediocrity
  • Has no need for approval from sales people
  • Takes responsibility
  • Manages behavior
  • Asks Questions
  • Manages pipeline
  • Has beliefs that support accountability

Before digging into this topic further, just take a minute to examine these results: 

  • 224 sales leaders
  • 23% (51) with the minimum % of skills needed to be successful in their role
  • 67% (172) sales leaders below the minimum standards of effectiveness
  • Only 1 out of 4 managers, hired to do the job of managing performance and holding sales people accountable, had the skills to do so.

Assume for a minute that this might be your sales organization.  Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t have that many sales managers and so my numbers won’t look like this.”  You are right; they won’t look like this, but consider the possibility that maybe you didn’t get the 1 out of four!  How would you know?

  • Do your salespeople meet and exceed goals?
  • Do your salespeople consistently have the right volume of pipeline?
  • Do your salespeople have a tendency to have up and down weeks, months, quarters or years?
  • Do your salespeople blame the economy, the competition, the pricing, the lack of marketing, lack of support, too much paperwork for failure to prospect?
  • Have you spent a small fortune for CRM and yet still struggle with trusting the reliability of the pipeline report that you get?
  • Are people late to meetings or fail to show up at all, or leave early?
  • Does your sales manager take bullets for the failure of the sales team?

Performance Management – Definition (As defined by the University of California Berkley)

  • Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic objectives of the organization. The communication process includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback and reviewing results.

Hogwash!  This is part of the definition and this might suit the academics, but in the real world of business, there is something missing!  “What’s missing?” you ask.

  • Identifying and implementing Rewards for success
  • Identifying and implementing Consequences for failure
  • Implementing disciplined approaches (structured activities) to correct failure to perform effort or execution.

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The Berkley definition is kind of like the LifeLock commercial you see on TV commercials.  The bank is being robbed and customers ask the security guard if he is going to do something about the robbery.  His response is that he is not a security guard but rather a security monitor.  If all a manager does is communicates expectations, sets objectives, identifies goals, reviews results (“you are not hitting your goals”) and provides feedback (“You have to work harder”), then performance really isn’t managed; it’s just monitored.

As long had you have a sales team consisting of self-starters, self-managed, high figure-it-out people, then you are okay.  BUT, and this is a BIG BUT(T), you probably don’t have an entire team of people like this.  Short of having a team that just needs to be pointed in the right direction, an organization needs someone to manage performance and hold people accountable to individual commitments.

The organization needs someone that can reward people for success through compensation and recognition.  As important, if not more important, your performance management manager MUST be able to recognize early when people are off-track. This person must have implemented the right systems and process for early detection.  And the person must be strong enough to have fierce conversations with people when they are failing to perform.

Finally, there must be a process of disciplined and structured correction procedures so that those failing to execute have a chance to succeed.  PIPs are not the answer.  PIPs are to late to have a significant impact.  By the time you attempt to put someone on a PIP that horse has left the barn.

Additional Resources:

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Topics: effective sales coaching, sales management, performance management, sales accountability

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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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