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The Coveted Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 11, 2019

Becoming, and staying, a sales manager is hard work.  Becoming an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience.

In this article, we highlight some of common habits (good and bad) of salespeople and sales managers' working today. 

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The sales management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving tomorrow.  What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable, so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution, systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

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To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople. I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople. 

Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Is selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip-side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business. 

Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that fogs a mirror
  • Poor prioritization
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results? 

Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coachone of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader. 

To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, and consistent activity and patience. 

Like the coach of a winning team or a conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and lives of your salespeople and company.   Are you taking the right steps to do so?

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Topics: sales management secrets, sales management responsibility, Sales Manager, responsibilities of sales manager, effective sales management

Enough is Enough

Posted by Alex Cole-Murphy on Thu, Apr 18, 2019

Complacency in selling is not a new phenomenon.  In fact, it has been going on for a number of years with salespeople accepting their status, their shiny new toys, and their numbers in the business, while exclaiming,

"Enough is enough.  I've accomplished it all!"

In this article, we discuss three keys to help sales managers bust the myth that “enough is enough” and continue to get the most out of their top producers.

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Too often, highly successful salespeople reach a point in their career where they become complacent and “enough is enough”.  This happens for many reasons, but one of the main causes I've observed is because "they've made it".  It doesn't matter what the gender or tenure may be — all that matters is that one day the sales person wakes up, takes a look around, and discovers that all of the things they strived for when they entered into the business have been accomplished.

For example:

  • They have the big house
  • They have the right car
  • They have the club membership
  • They are either empty nesters or they have the kids in private schools

In the past, Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group has said that highly successful salespeople are motivated by earning more money. Recently though, Dave has done some additional research to indicate that money is NOT really the primary motivator, especially with today's younger generations.  

With this in mind, I don't want to focus on money as the motivator, but I don't want to totally discount the idea either - Money does help people achieve the other extrinsic motivators that are important to them. However, it is actually the specific goals of the individuals, that provide the motivation for earning more money.

For example, let's suppose you have a sales person who says spending time with the kids in extracurricular activities is important. I would suggest that being successful in selling "buys" one the time to have balance in their life and “buys" the ability to make the choice to go to a field hockey game at 3:30 in the afternoon. This freedom of time and choice might require your sales person to succeed at a higher level. People who are actively dreaming and motivated to reach their goals will continue to work towards financial success to fulfill those goals.

Here are 3 Keys to help sales managers bust the myth that “enough is enough” and continue to get the most out of their top producers. And if you are a top producer yourself, these are three areas you should question and reflect on for yourself.

  1. Ask the right question(s). It really isn't about money - how much they want to make, how much they want to have, when they want to retire, etc. The better questions focus on helping your highly successful salespeople determine what they would like to have to shape and define their lives. Ask them to rethink their goals to include some things that would be important to them to have as a legacy regarding who they are and what they accomplished.
  2. Create an environment where goal setting is also goal sharing. Too often, sales managers don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what it is that motivates their salespeople. As a sales manager you may argue this, but the OMG data shows that 75% of all sales managers do not feel it is important to know what motivates their people. However, once you know what is important to you then, then you are more effective as a mentor and a coach.
  3. Build the company sales revenue plan from the ground up. Start working with your people and help them identify what their requirements are to have a lifestyle filled with happiness, success, and financial freedom. Document their individual requirements and provide a process to translate those requirements into a selling success formula. 

I've explained to salespeople that if the company has a bigger goal for them than they have for themselves, they shouldn't blame the company. The salespeople need to blame themselves because smaller expectations are a clear indication that they have stopped dreaming and stopped setting goals. I’ve explained to executives that it isn't about shareholder value. Their salespeople, unless they own shares, don't give a hoot about shareholder value. They care about sending their kids to school, buying a place in the mountains, paying for the weddings, etc.

When you have an environment where your people can continue to make their dreams come true, then you have something special where “enough is enough" is never an issue. 

Topics: motivating sales people, effective sales management, salespeople, sales opportunity, driven, complacency

Driving Sales Growth and Asset Management – A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious Part II

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jun 04, 2018

In my previous blog article, I discussed the importance of looking at your sales production in terms of the 80/20 rule and flipping it so you can see the impact your bottom performers are having on your overall sales growth goal. If you have not already done so, click here to read the article.

With all of that said, here are some analytics of organizations we work with.  Before we begin our engagements I ask for production reports so that I can get a feel for how the team is actually performing. This starts the process of gaining an initial ‘augmented view’ of the sales team. The more in-depth augmented view comes when we complete the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.

Note: Company B:  Investment Advisory (Above 300,000 is considered above goal)

3rd quintile chart

4th quitile chart

Note:  Many, if not all, of those in the bottom quintile were reassigned to a different business unit of banking that was more consistent with their skill set and level of expertise within their newly assigned market. In other words, they had good people on the bus but they were just in the wrong seats. But aside from that, it’s difficult to ignore the rest of the data. 

If we eliminate the bottom quintile as a relevant factor, we still need to look at the 3rd and 4th quintile and wonder what is happening with this group. They are being outperformed by the 1st quintile 4.67 to 1 and 10.42 to 1! Normally, in banking, what I hear is that the most successful lenders are the most experienced-- as you can see here that is not the case. The years of service is insignificant other than the 3rd quintile which has almost as much experience as the first four quintiles.

Here is a final note on this group before I get into the actions taken to begin addressing the sales growth opportunity. The top 1/3 of the group is responsible for 83.6% of the loan production and the bottom 1/3 is responsible for 6% of the production. If you were on my board and I made this announcement to you about my sales team, what would be your reactions, questions or comments?

Suppose this was reflective of your team as well?

If you haven’t already done so, download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?" If you need additional information, check out our e-book on "Why is Qualifying A Prospect So #%&@ Hard?"

Topics: Sales Growth, effective sales management

Driving Sales Growth and Asset Management – A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, May 31, 2018

Velfredo Perato -- the 15th century economist -- demonstrated time and again the 80/20 rule. Yes, sometimes it's a 70/30 rule or a 60/40 rule. That is the obvious. There is nothing blinding about that. The blinding glimpse – the glimpse that causes you to blink like you are being blinded -- is when you look at the opposite end of the 80/20 rule. 

Producers/ quintile = 9

% of Total Revenue

Average Production

Performance % to Goal

1st quintile

51%

737,612

118%

2nd quintile

25%

352,607

82%

3rd quintile

16%

229,366

65%

4th quintile

6%

90,109

36%

5th quintile

2%

25,144

10%

Company A:  Insurance Brokerage - Commissions

These are real numbers from a real company.  As you can see, and when you do the math, the 80/20 rule here looks more like 76/40. The second quintile is being outperformed by the top quintile 2 to 1. The top quintile is performing at 118% of goal and every quintile after that is under performing. If I were to do this analysis for your group, you would probably shrug your shoulders and not be too surprised by this. But this is just the beginning of the blinding glimpse.

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As you look at the bottom 2 quintiles, you see that 40% of the sales team is responsible for 8% of the revenue. The compelling questions become:

  • Why?
  • Did you hire them this way?
  • Did you make them this way?
  • How long have these people been a part of your organization and allowed to stay at this performance level?
  • Who in the organization is in denial when asked “Does your company accept/allow mediocrity?”
  • Why is the bottom quintile being out performed by the middle quintile 9 to 1?
  • If we want to assume that the 5th quintile consists of primarily new hires (it doesn’t but I’ll be generous) and look at just the 1st and 3rd quintiles you have to ask the same question: “Why is the 3rd quintile being outperformed by the 1st quintile 3.21 to 1"?
  • Did we use a different hiring process to hire the 3rd quintile?
  • What would the monetary impact be if we got the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quintiles to perform to 100% of their goal but didn't attempt to make them as good as the top quintile?

Here is the answer to the last question:

Quintile*

Average Production

Production to Goal %

Production if 100% of Goal

Variance

Increased Revenue for Quintile (x9)

2nd

352,607

82%

 430,008.54

 77,401.54

 696,613.83

3rd

229,366

65%

 352,870.77

 123,504.77

 1,111,542.92

4th

90,109

36%

 250,302.78

 160,193.78

 1,441,744.00

 Total    

 

 

 3,249,900.75

*9 producers per quintile

Let's change your title from Market Leader or Sales Manager to Manager of Assets. Your Assets Under Management results are a reflection of hiring, onboarding, training and development, coaching and performance management.

Wikipedia defines asset management as: “any system that monitors and maintains things of value to an entity or group. It may apply to both tangible assets and to intangible assets. It is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets cost-effectively.”

That would be you and your role in your company. The key sentence here I believe is "a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading and disposing of assets cost – effectively."

I’ve been researching our client data in search of how well companies are managing their assets, specifically the assets of the sales team.  A sales force has a singular responsibility – bring in revenue to pay the bills. Think about the sales team as an investment an insurance policy or a bank loan. With an insurance policy you pay a premium. In exchange, you expect growth from the investment and insurance coverage to reimburse you for covered losses. If you are in banking, you lend money and expect it back with interest. Failure to get that money back is considered an under-performing or non-performing loan. With salespeople you pay them compensation, benefits, social security taxes and probably a match for their retirement contribution. In return you expect them to sell. You expect a substantial return on that investment. 

Are you getting the return you expected when you hired quintiles 3, 4 and 5?  If not, why not? In the next couple of articles, I will further detail what the data is telling us and will cover how to transform your current sales team into a high producing, no-limit sales team in 18 months.

If you haven’t already done so, download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?" If you need additional information, check out our e-book on "Why is Qualifying A Prospect So #%&@ Hard?"

Topics: effective sales management

The Whack-A-Mole Approach to Sales Management

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Apr 04, 2018

Before reading this article, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Dave and Busters establishment. There was a time when I would go at least once a year. When I was younger, my source of entertainment was hanging out at sports bars with pool tables, shuffleboards and basketball games. About 25 years ago, that entertainment became watching my kids enjoy the arcade games Dave and Busters offered.

It was there that I learned about Whack–A–Mole and sales management. I really didn’t tie the game to sales management immediately. That is a more recent realization I have come to over the last 10 years as I’ve visited with executives who are trying to figure out sales growth (SGO) within their company. 

What I learned about Whack–A–Mole is that it did not require any specific talent. It did require effort – which requires no skill. And, it did require a couple of strands of specific athletic DNA:

  1. Hand/eye coordination
  2. Fast twitch muscle fibers

The same holds true for managing salespeople relative to effort. Putting forth the effort to coach and motivate people, as well as hold them accountable to performance, requires no skill. Let me repeat – THE EFFORT requires no skill. Therein lies part of the problem with growing your sales team.

With Whack-A-Mole, I never got a sense there was a systematic way to approach the game. The moles did not appear to be popping their little heads up in a particular sequence. They appeared randomly much like they used to in my back yard when I lived in Blue Ash, Ohio.

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This is exactly what I observe and hear when talking to executives about identifying the sales growth opportunity within their sales team. Specifically:

  • What is the ideal model being used to eliminate hiring mistakes?
  • What is the coaching routine and methodology?
  • What is the culture that helps foster motivation?
  • When performance management discussions take place are they; consistent, punitive, additive and predictable based on exact metrics and standards?

The answers to these questions are what reminds me of Whack-A-Mole. There isn’t a consistency within the organization let alone consistency between one organization and another. To be clear, we do NOT work with broken companies. We work with companies that recognize there is greater potential within the organization and they realize that they need to figure out:

  • What is our sales growth opportunity?
  • What would it take go from where we are now to where we could be?
  • How does our current team, systems and processes help or hurt our ability to close the gap?
  • How long will/would it take?
  • What would need to be invested to close our sales growth opportunity gap?

The problem of not realizing full sales growth potential exists for many reasons. Too many to cover in one article so I will go about the process by writing a series specifically dedicated to help you identify what it would take to close the sales growth opportunity gap.

If you haven't already done so, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

Click HERE to download  our free e-book!

Topics: Effort in Sales, effective sales management, building sales team

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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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