ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The 5 Keys to Sales Coaching

Posted by Alex Cole-Murphy on Thu, Jan 16, 2020

In this article, we discuss the "5 Keys to Sales Coaching", or 5 critical steps you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople, to help increase sales in 2020 and beyond.

They include:

  1. Insight
  2. Feedback
  3. Demonstrate
  4. Practice
  5. Action Plan

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Coaching salespeople is hard work and it helps to have a consistent and effective process to help keep you on course.

As a sales coach, there are five critical steps you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople.

These are the 5 Keys to Sales Coaching below:

1.) INSIGHTAs a coach, you must be able to see what is happening and what is not happening out in the field.  Without real insight into what is going on, you will have difficulty understanding your salespeople's choke points.

10 Sales Management Insights

 

2.) FEEDBACK - As a sales coach, you must continually give your salespeople specific feedback on their activities.  This includes both positive and constructive feedback.  If you ask your salesperson if they will allow you to coach them to help them reach their goals, you will usually gain permission.  And that makes the journey better for everyone.

5 Effective Ways to Coach Your Sales Team

 

3.) DEMONSTRATE Part of a sales leader’s job is to be effective at demonstrating the behavior they want their salespeople to execute in the field.  And they must take time out of their busy day to schedule time with their team members to demonstrate specific situations from a sales call or meeting, role play with their team, identify gaps in the selling process, ask specific questions, and most importantly, coach their salespeople to become better salespeople!

The Top 10 Behaviors of High Performing Managers

 

4.) PRACTICE We have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect”. This is particularly true in selling. Practice is essential in improving selling skills, specific techniques, interpersonal skills, and attention-to-detail in the selling process.  Without practice, your salespeople will only go so far, and as a sales coach, you must role play with your salespeople in order for them to practice and achieve success!  Be prepared, they might not like it but they must do it.

8 Sales Role Play Exercises

 

5.) ACTION PLAN - 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.

31 Tips for Using LinkedIn for Sales

 

Follow this link below to learn more about specific opportunities we offer to help grow revenue!

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, hire better people, train the trainer, 5 keys to sales coaching

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.

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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

The 8th Sales Productivity Tool: Post-Call Debriefing Sessions

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 05, 2019

Salespeople are often fooled that the opportunities in their pipeline are more qualified or closer to closing than reality suggests. 

In this article, Tony Cole will breakdown the activity of post-call debriefing and why it is so critical for improving results. 

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Back in my playing days, we had to wait a day to get the game film developed and delivered to the coach's office, so that we could review each player and how they performed. A couple of weeks ago, our Defensive Coordinator at Moeller HS used a tablet to coach his defense based on what had just happened on the football field.  With today’s digital technology, you can get your game or practice video feedback immediately. What a difference this makes!  

You can do the same with salespeople. 

The reason the game film is crucial is because the film doesn’t lie.  There are no opportunities for excuses, laying blame, or hiding from the truth.  In the film room, fierce conversations take place about converted opportunities, missed opportunities, the amount of effort given on a play, the outcome of a certain play, and so much more.  It can be intense because there is nowhere to hide.

Your post-call strategy sessions must work the same way if you are going to accomplish the following:

  • Improve skills
  • Change behaviors
  • Close more business, more quickly at higher margins

In order to do this effectively, you must know what should be done in an effective sales process by going through a checklist and marking those items that were accomplished so far in the process. A salesperson can, in reality, lie to themselves about what did and did not happen. The good news is that eventually the truth comes out in the results.

In other words when we teach out EPAS – Emergency Pipeline Analysis System – we look at several opportunities in the pipeline and calculate the probability of an opportunity closing.  If we examine 5 opportunities and the average closing probability is 75% or greater and none of the opportunities close, then we have a clear indication that something is wrong:

  • Either the producer is making up the data
  • The producer is failing in effectively executing the sales steps they are taking credit for accomplishing

In the end what you are hoping to accomplish is to help salespeople clearly see what the opportunity is, help them when they are chasing bad or unclear opportunities, model success for others and help your salespeople realize when they should walk from ‘opportunities.

Access the full toolbox today!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, train the trainer

Why Prospects are Like Fruit and Why You Need to Pick the Right Ones

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Dec 02, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable! 

Prospects, like their produce counterparts, have a shelf life, and none of them will last forever.  You must "eat" them, find a way to preserve them, or get rid of them!

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Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

That phrase has stuck with me all these years.  We continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when working with our new clients for Hire Better Salespeople.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others. 

Bananas – not so long.

Apples and mandarins – a little longer

Potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s (or future) meal, you must be somewhat selective so that the food you select today, is fresh enough for cooking and consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  However, buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio, where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel. 

When the day came, I went to Bill and told him I had a check in my pocket, and that I'd like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way, and would just let me buy!

Two hours later (car sales take awhile), I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance salespeople***  

Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.


DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready, or are already past their "prime" time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem(s). Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready!

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (salespeople) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, consultative selling, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

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Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

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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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