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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

The Best of the Best, Sir!

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 20, 2016

In a scene from Men in Black, Will Smith’s character, Agent J, asks, “Why are we here?” (He is in a meeting room with the head of Men in Black, Agent Zed, along with several other recruits all from various branches of the military.)  Agent Zed asks one of the recruits to answer the question.  The young recruit stands and declares, “We are the best of the best, SIR!” (link to watch youtube video)

Isn’t that what you should be looking for when recruiting sales and sales management talent?  Yesterday, I wrote a post about hirebettersalespeople.com.  In the post, I mentioned the book, Who.  In that book, Geoff Smart and Randy Street suggest that you create a scorecard to help in the evaluation process.  The scorecard is supposed to be used to find that someone who has a 90% chance of doing what only the top 10 salespeople can do.  I think that is a stretch and unrealistic.

Now, to be fair to the authors, I believe they do a nice job of explaining that an “A” player for a company in New York is probably different than an “A” player for a different company in Manchester, NH.  In other words, not all “A” players need be the same nor are they created the same.  But, aside from that, I still have an issue.

If you look at many great “A” players in sales, the arts or in sports, they just didn’t show up that way.  Many have been groomed and developed over many years to become that “A” player.  The key is to look for the “A” DNA in someone.  We know what that DNA is.  (Click here to request a sample of the ideal fit candidate analysis)

What I believe makes sense is to look for someone that has a 92% chance of success at helping to contribute to the 96% of your results.  Let me explain.

You may or may not have read other articles I’ve written in the past about the 80/20 of the 80/20 and Perry Marshall’s book – The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing.  If you follow the method I’ve described (based on Marshall’s book), you arrive at the following in Figure 1:

8020-talent-chart.pngFigure 1

If you have revenue of $20,000,000 generated by 50 salespeople and then conduct the 80/20 of the 80/20, you discover that $19,200,00 of the 20,000,000 (96%) is generated by 18 of the 50 salespeople (36%).  Based on this, I believe that your best recruiting strategy is to find people that look like your top 36% or have the same DNA as that top 36% that are generating 96% of your revenue.

I’m sure the authors of Who would question the wisdom of this.  “Why…”, they might ask, “would you settle for salespeople that are less qualified than those that are at least as good as your very best?”

It’s not a matter of settling.  It’s a matter of understanding the today’s marketplace and understanding that talent has to be developed

First… the market place:

There has not been a single prospect or client that I’ve talked to in the last 5 years that has not shared with me the challenge of finding, recruiting, hiring and successfully on-boarding new talent - with the biggest challenge being the “finding.”  There are a couple of reasons for that huge challenge:

  • Most companies don’t work at it consistently and so they suck at it when it comes time to recruit.
  • There isn’t a process/system in place that utilizes filtering processes to attract the right candidates.
  • The pool of available candidates is smaller today than it was with the boomer generation.
  • Those available in the candidate pool today have a tendency to find jobs other than sales.
  • The un-steady economy has kept experienced salespeople from seeking other opportunities for fear of “last in, first out”.

Next… talent development.

As stated above, talent just doesn’t fall off of trees and, unfortunately, everyone in your market is vying for the same “A” talent.  If you cannot offer the same compensation as some of your competitors to attract and hire “the best of the best”, then you have to make great selections from the talent that is currently available.  In order to do this, you should have a very good understanding of what your talent looks like. Specifically, you should start looking at the 36% of your current talent that is generating 94% of your results and stop looking for and hiring people that look like your bottom 64%.

  • Identify the results being generated by the top 36%.
  • Identify the activities and behaviors of this top group.
  • Identify the following:
    • Will to sell
    • Sales DNA
    • Figure-it-out factor
    • Trainability and coachability
  • Determine if you have the talent in the management role to:
    • Coach
    • Motivate
    • Manage performance
    • Mentor, grow and develop people

I grew up on a farm where we primarily grew peaches and blueberries.  I just visited the old homestead and, though many things have changed, one thing has not changed.  In the farm acreage, there are various plots of blueberry plants.  Some plots contain plants that are mature enough to be harvested while others have plants that are still being developed and grown to produce.  In the nursery plots, there are plants with solid DNA that are being cultivated, fed and cared for so that, at the right time, they can be productive.  The same should be done with the talent in your organization.

For further assistance, call us at 513.791.3458 and ask for Alex – our expert at hiringbettersalespeople.com. 

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Topics: managing salespeople, hiring better salespeople, Geoff Smart, Randy Street, recruiting sales talent, 80/20 Principle

HireBetterSalespeople.com

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Oct 18, 2016

This is a blatant blog post boasting about our hiring deliverable - Hirebettersalespeople.com.  I normally don’t do this in this forum in such an obvious fashion, but I cannot help it today.  Allow me to explain…why this…why now.

I have a book on my shelf, Who, written by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.  Those two are famous in the world of hiring better talent.  Their first book, Top Grading, made the best seller list and is now in its third edition printing.  As I started to read Who, much of what I was reading was familiar and I assumed it was because I had read other materials written by the authors. Turns out that it was familiar because I had started reading that book years ago!

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Here is the premise of the book in a nutshell:  The “what” in your business is the easy part of business.  The “who” is what costs you time, money, freedom and maybe, eventually, your business if you don’t get the right “who”.  The “who” is what separates your business from every other business in your space. It’s the difference maker in your peace of mind and making the “what” actually happen.  In short:

Nothing else matters nearly as much as the “Who”.

In January of this year, 2016, we launched Hirebettersalespeople.com.  Actually, 3 years ago, I managed to capture the domain name and just kind of sat on it.  Over that time period, it seemed that every one of our clients who hired us for sales and sales management development complained about their difficulty in finding talent that would actually perform as expected when they were selected.

Sound familiar?

Based on these discussions with various associations and the on-going noise about the same issue I heard at every conference and workshop I went to, I decided to put our offering together and market it to our clients and prospects.

Hirebettersalespeople.com combines 1) our experience/expertise/knowledge about what it takes to be successful in sales and sales management, 2) Objective Management Groups #1 in the world pre-hire assessment tool and 3) Dave Kurlan’s Sales Talent Acquisition Routine. (STAR).  To learn even more about it, CLICK HERE to view our slidedoc on Hire Better Salespeople.

According to the research documented in the book, a bad hire of $100,000 can cost a firm 15x that amount in salary, training and development, lost opportunities and poor performance by others that this hire was supposed to be managing/leading.  How big is that number for you?

Stop the bleeding. Get the right people on board. Stop spending so much time on the “what” until you get the right “who” in place.  Nothing else you do in 2017 will have as much impact on finding, hiring, and coaching the right people to grow your revenue and company!

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Topics: sales assessment, hiring better salespeople

Onboarding: One Key to Successful Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Aug 10, 2016

In January, we launched Hire Better Salespeople.  It is the recruiting business solution to help companies profile, attract, screen, evaluate, hire and on –board “A” sales talent.  We specialize in financial services, banking and insurance.  There are actually three differentiators in our approach, but now I only want to talk about one of the three – Onboarding.

Here are a couple of things to recognize before we get into onboarding:thumbs-up.jpg

  1. Your current recruiting process/system today is perfectly designed for the results you are getting today and will get tomorrow.
  2. Assuming you have more than 10 salespeople, the Pareto Principle is probably alive and kicking in your organization. If you double click on the 80/20 rule, you will most likely discover that about 40% of your team is responsible for 90% of your revenue.
  3. Assuming you have 10 people and the 80/20 rule applies to your organization, you have 6 people responsible for less than 10% of your revenue.
  4. If we switch from the 80/20 principle to thinking about a traditional bell curve, you have a large segment of your production team in the fat part of the bell curve. Most likely, those people in the middle standard deviations and those on the extreme left are probably not hitting their production goals.

I have a question about the people who are not hitting goals or are not performing as you thought they would when you hired them.  Did you hire them that way or make them that way? 

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ve probably read that question before.  If you’ve heard me speak or if you are part of our Sales Management Certification program, you’ve heard me ask that question.  It is a question that must be answered because the people that are on your team are your people.  I would venture to guess that you didn’t seek approval to hire someone to be average.  You probably expected them to excel.  So, what happened?

My final assumption (which I really shouldn’t do) is that you hired someone that should be successful, but something happened. Let’s assume those that are not performing were not bad hires. What happened?

Poor onboarding.

In our Hire Better Salespeople program, we “close out” each hiring project with an intensive onboarding process.  We assume that the hiring company will execute its own company onboarding process, but that normally doesn’t address some specific needs. Our system is designed to help the newly hired sales person to get up to speed quickly so that their ramp up time to success is as short as possible.  A solid “sales” onboarding program has several components. 

Here are just a few to-do items that we recommend to our clients or execute ourselves as part of the new hire onboarding.  (This list consist of items normally not covered in typical company onboarding)

  • Competitive information training
  • Company ideology, mission and vision
  • Sales training (especially when more senior salespeople are hired. There is an assumption that, because they are senior, they don’t need additional training or coaching)
  • Accountability processes that will take place
  • Review contact list
  • Joint calling schedule
  • Goals and business plan development
  • Sales and activity tracking system and process
  • Expectations for results, compliance and execution of sales tools
  • Appointment debriefing process

Adding to the onboarding list of to-dos is a list of questions that the hiring manager or sales manager must be able to answer for the new hire.  (Partial list)

  • What are all of the problems we solve?
  • Why are we better?
  • What is our brand promise?
  • How do we position ourselves in the marketplace?
  • Who are our customers?
  • How do we get to them?
  • Why will they see me?
  • What does the first call sound like?
  • What is our sales process?
  • What are the questions I should be asking?

Not only does a company have to execute these two examples, they must also address THE VERY important data acquired during the recruiting process.  That data is the information gained from initial phone contact interview, the pre-hire assessment data and the information gained about the candidate in the resume review and the interviewing process.

Recognize that no matter how good this candidate appears to be, all candidates come with some warts.  No one, I repeat, no one is perfect.  The problem with dealing with weaknesses occurs because typically the hiring manager is so thrilled with getting the position hired they just want to get the person in the chair, on the phone and in the market.  There is given little, if any, recognition that the person had some sales weaknesses, practice management challenges and/or maybe some technical problems to overcome. 

Take a look at this quick snap shot of a small portion of the information provided about a candidate that completes the OMG pre-hire assessment tool (click this link and complete registration form to receive a complementary pre-hire assessment evaluation to use on a current candidate)we use for all our recruiting:

OMG-chart.png

This particular candidate has several areas where work is needed.  Even if this candidate is determined to be hirable and a great fit for your organization, you are hiring someone that also has sales skill deficits in qualifying, presenting and closing.  You MUST have, as part of your onboarding, a sales development partner that addresses these specific areas or else the results you think you are hiring may not show up for a long time… or maybe not at all!

If you are going to spend resources - time, money and effort - recruiting top talent, then take the time to onboard them correctly. 

Here are some links to additional information and resources.

  • FREE WEBINAR - Do you need stronger salespeople to meet current selling challenges? If you answered yes, then this webinar is for you. Register NOW for our September 28, 2016 webinar, "The Magic of the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.
  • How much are bad hires costing me?  Click this link to complete the formula
  • How well am I onboarding? Click this link to download and complete the assessment
  • I would like a copy of the Hire Better Salespeople slide document:  email Alex@hirebettersalespeople.com.  Subject line – Request Free Slidedoc

 

Topics: hiring salespeople, sales management, onboarding sales people, key to successful hiring, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople

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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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