ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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. 

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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. 

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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

10 Things to Start & 3 Things to Stop When Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Feb 24, 2020

Recruiting new sales talent and hiring better salespeople are complicated and time-consuming processes. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates, or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force and increase sales starting today!

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What are the keys to hiring better salespeople?

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing.

The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask you tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting it to a job site, or telling your network that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. Use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff".  Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.

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Topics: Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, 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

Why Increasing Sales Leads to Personal Freedoms

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Achieving the work-life balance sales professionals all hear and dream about starts with having a personal vision and a set of non-negotiable goals.

In this article, we will discuss the 4 must-do sales activities and the characteristics that all successful salespeople share when striving for the freedom of success. 

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Today, I'd like to commemorate the victory and personal freedoms that comes from success in sales.

There are two freedoms that successful people enjoy: the freedom of time and the freedom of choice. You see, when you are always playing from behind, you never feel like you can take time off or treat yourself to that vacation you've been wanting to take.

Successful people aren’t successful by chance or luck. They all have (at least) four things in common.

  1. They all have a vision of where they want to go, starting with the end in mind.
  2. They have a mission. Or, the “how you will achieve your vision” 
  3. Goals become the mile markers that let you know when you’ve “left the road”.
  4. And they have a “WHY”

So, decide what freedoms you want. Determine what those freedoms require. Build your plan to get there.

  • It all starts with your success formula, the behaviors you must execute day in and day out to accomplish your goals.
  • Track your behaviors weekly and be accountable to someone other than yourself (we’re too good at explaining to ourselves why we didn’t do something).
  • Know your SMART numbers- what are the key metrics that really drive your business and learn from them!
  • Build your Unique Sales Approach (USA) that is compelling to the people in your sandbox, or those that fit your profile.

Finally, don’t do all of this and stick it in the drawer. You should review your vision, mission and goals annually and your Successful Formula and SMART numbers quarterly.

Now go out and sell something and celebrate the freedom of success.

Topics: Sales Management Training, increase sales, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment

5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching & Growth

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Feb 18, 2020

In this blog post, we dive into the 5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching & Growth and the idea that data can help you discover real-time information about your salespeople.  This data allows everyone in your organization to make real-time decisions and real-time and intentional coaching decisions.

If you're looking to increase sales in 2020 and beyond, utilize these 5 keys starting today!

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The article might disappoint you if you are looking for the latest and greatest in financial technology, sales technology, or any kind of technology for that matter.  Data is part of this article but not super BIG Data that you read about in the recent issue of Big Data Quarterly. 

The 5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching & Growth have more to do with consistency in execution then any specific kind of sales enablement or CRM tool that you use. 

Successful sales executives and managers rely on data because they realize that it can, and will, provide you with real-time information.  The real-time data allows everyone in the organization to make real-time decisions and real-time and intentional (Thank you Bill Eckstrom) coaching decisions.

That being said, the technology and the data is useless unless you have these 5 keys on your sales management "key ring":

  1. Performance Management
  2. Coaching for Success
  3. Motivation That Works
  4. Sales Talent Acquisition Routine
  5. An Effective Selling System 

1.) Performance Management – In our Sales Management Certification and Quick Start Programs, we start with Performance Management.  Performance management should not occupy a lot of time, but must the be the base of everything else that you do. 

Performance management is a process of making sure that you: 

  • Establish consistent metrics to determine success
  • Conduct 1-on-1 meetings where people self-determine what success and failure is
  • Agree to a coaching process and methodology
  • Gather real-time information via Huddles
  • Report the findings of the data
  • Catch people early when they are not performing to the level they committed to

2.) Coaching for Success – Based on the extraordinary discussion and the subsequent Success Formula built for each person you collect via Huddles, you should:

  • Compare actual against the model
  • Identify choke points
  • Determine if outcomes are a result of effort or execution
  • Conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions to help change behavior or improve skill.

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

3.) Motivation that Works – As you see in the graphic below, salespeople are motivated in various ways.  How could you possibly motivate someone if you don’t know what motivates them or how they are motivated to be successful? 

The Sales Improvement and Effectiveness Analysis (Thanks Dave Kurlan and Objective Management Group) not only identifies the level of motivation for each salesperson on your team, but also tells you what motivates them. 

4.) Recruiting Talent that Will Succeed – There is a big difference between talent that can succeed and talent that will succeed in selling.  If your organizational growth is dependent on organic growth, then you need to have data that will tell you a couple of things:

  1. Is my current team wired and do they have what it takes to grow to the next level?
  2. Assuming you need more horsepower under the hood, then you have to make sure that your new hires have the:
    1. Will to sell
    2. Sales DNA
    3. Appropriate Sales Competencies

5.) An Effective Selling System – Must be staged with milestones to determine your salespeople's progress with their prospects. Too often, companies use a CRM system to get a numeric value of the pipeline and perhaps even values within stages of the pipeline.  However, if your data doesn’t include a numerical component that validates that steps are covered within each stage, then your pipeline forecasts are more subjective then objective. 

Additionally, it is THIS data that provides you insight into the effectiveness of the individuals on the sales team.  

Sales growth must become a priority and not just a problem that you continue to kick down the road.  Continuing to ignore the Grey Rhino will sooner or later cost you.

Are you evaluating sales training programs?  Can we help you find the right approach for your company?  Sign up for a personalized Demo of one of our programs below!

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Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales performance management, consultative selling, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales force performance management, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs

Increase Your 2020 Sales With These 9 Sales Productivity Tools

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Feb 14, 2020

It's a new year and we have some new content to share with you here at Anthony Cole Training Group.  If you're looking to increase sales this year and beyond, then you're in the right place!

These 9 Sales Productivity Tools are inspired by practices and systems that improve players and performance.  Selling is a competition, and, as in football, the right team, perfect practice, and planning wins the game and the sale. 

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Download our newest Whitepaper "9 Tools to Increase Sales in 2020" below:

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Some of these 9 Productivity Tools include:

Practice Schedule- Set a practice schedule for your salespeople to practice sales skills: asking for introductions, qualifying a prospect, maximizing the initial call, etc.

Sales Probability Scorecard- This scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field.  These markers tell you how many yards you must go to score and how many yards you must protect to keep from being scored upon.

Sales Huddles- Just like in football, huddles are a communication system that provide coaches with real-time information so you can make real-time decisions.

Personal Goal Setting to Business Plan- Set goals prior to each fiscal year based upon past year's performance, the competition, experience and sales talent of your team.

Download your copy below!

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/increase-sales-2020

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars

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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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