ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Do You Have a Coaching Bias?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 08, 2020

In every sales training and coaching program we work with individuals to help them write and deliver their phone scripts, value propositions and elevator pitches. These are important components for salespeople to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. And this exchange should begin the relationship on the right foot by getting the audience engaged.

Here is the approach I use when calling on executives that fit our ideal prospect profile:

Hello John, this is Tony Cole. (pause)

Yes Tony, how can I help you?

Well John, I’m certain of two things: 1. You were not sitting by your phone today waiting for a call from me and 2. If you are like many of our clients there is currently a lot of pressure and concern about making revenue and budget numbers.

Pause – and wait for a response.

Can I tell you why I called? Sure.

Our clients are those that recognize that their current sales structure is perfectly designed for the results they are getting today. And today the results may not be enough to make budget projections. I’m calling to find out how much you, as president of the company can relate to that scenario. Pause. Can I ask you a question?

In a word how would you describe the overall results of your company as it relates to taking the full advantage of the opportunity in your markets? (Assume the prospect says, “pretty good”.)

Why just pretty good? What is missing? (Engagement begins)

You must understand the game

Years ago, one of the lead execs from our client Key Bank shared an article called, “What it takes to be a Coach”. It began with You Must Understand the Game.

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At the time, most did not understand that the ‘game’ is the game of selling. Managers and internal trainers must really understand the game of selling. Unless internal trainers have strapped a headset on, make hundreds of dials, asked for introductions, been rejected, sold big cases and started with small sales, then they cannot understand the game. It would be like taking flying lessons from a pilot trainer that did all of their flight learning in a simulator. Would you want them as your flying coach?

Most sales managers end up in their manager role because they were good to great salespeople and the company was looking to replace a current position.:

Rarely if ever does that person go through an intense, fully integrated sales training development program to help them effectively execute the required skills of an effective coach.

As an example, in the script above an effective coach will teach their salespeople to get a prospect involved in the conversation as quickly as possible. This is done by executing two steps:

  1. Saying your name and then being quiet
  2. Informing the listener that it may not make sense for the call and ask for permission to proceed

Ideally, the prospect gets involved in the conversation within 3 seconds and then gives the salesperson permission to make their value proposition or elevator pitch. That takes coaching knowledge and skill. You must know the game.

Peter Jensen is an Olympic coach from Canada and author of the book “The Third Factor”. I met Peter at Bill Ekstrom’s EXSELL Conference many years ago. He states that the first two factors for success in anything are nature and nurture. The Third Factor, specific to coaching, is:

You must have a coaching bias.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

This is what it takes to be successful at coaching: you must love coaching and the game of selling. You must thrive on developing others to be the best versions of themselves. It must be about helping others gain the spotlight, success and financial rewards or a job well done. It requires sacrificing ego and the need to be right for the other person to discover their path, develop their skills and become the expert.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes. We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Evaluation. Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to be successful specifically in the role of manager or sales leader
  2. The Sales Manager DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Competencies

The evaluation provides an index percentage that tells the evaluated sales manager how they rank against other who have taken the evaluation. If their percentage is 80%, they are better than 80% of the managers who have taken the evaluation. Our 20+ history has verified that most sales managers have less than 10% of the skills needed to be an effective sales coach.

In summary, most sales managers struggle to get their salespeople to perform for one of the following reasons:

  • The manager doesn’t have what it takes - the skills - to be good at the job
  • The manager doesn’t take the time or doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle the job and spend appropriate time coaching
  • There isn’t a consistent ‘Sales Managed Environment’ to execute to so that day in and day out, it’s a different process.

We may well be entering into a new reality when it comes to sales and business success moving forward. In order to stay ahead of the curve, and competition, companies need salespeople who are as can differentiate themselves in a virtual environment. They need sales managers or coaches with a coaching bias who can monitor and track each individual’s sales activities, coach, and hold them accountable to behaviors that will produce revenue.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

Topics: effective sales coaching, Effective Coaching, sales management success, coaching sales people, sales performance coaching

What Motivates Your Sales Team?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 16, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss motivation in sales.  The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of their sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  

Without knowing what motivates his/her employees, how could you possibly create a motivating environment?

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As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for.  The process helps us (and our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

6 FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE WILL TO SELL

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here to inquire about the pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because,often, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question,

“How do I motivate or keep my people motivated?”


ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality

I have to ask: Why?

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship. 

Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, and success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

Without knowing what motivates your salespeople, how could you possibly create a motivated environment or sales team? 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leadership development, sales motivation, sales skill assessment, sales growth and inspiration, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, sales training programs, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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

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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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