ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

You Can't Handle the (Sales) Truth!

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Oct 25, 2019

In this article, we discuss the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and the notion that significant changes have swept over the sales landscape these past 20 years. 

From the influx of the internet to the intricacies of the buyer's journey, selling has changed but many salespeople haven't.  Is it time they do?

asphalt-environment-grass-239520

At some point that title won’t make me think of the great Jack Nicholson and his role as Colonel Nathan Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”, but it is safe to say that point in time is a long way off for me. It is one of my all-time favorite movies.  

For now, that famous line from Colonel Jessup has me thinking about how selling has changed so dramatically even within the last few years.

So, if you can handle the truth, here it is: 

Selling has changed…but many salespeople have not.  

Specifically, there are two significant changes that have swept over the sales landscape:

  1. The buyer is initiating the sales process…what HubSpot refers to as the buyer’s journey.
  2. The buyer is further along in their thinking than ever before.

The first change brings to mind the Google eBook titled “ZMOT”.  ZMOT is an acronym standing for the Zero Moment of Truth, and is defined as the exact moment in the sales cycle that is between the stimulus (how the prospect became aware of a product) and the first moment of truth (a P&G term referring to the decision to make a purchase). 

In short, ZMOT refers to the point in time where the buyer is researching a product or service offering and the seller is completely unaware of the buyer’s actions.

Here is a quote from the book:

“If you’re available at the Zero Moment of Truth, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying.” (ZMOT, 2011)

So, it all comes down to three simple questions:

  1. Is your company winning or losing at the Zero Moment of Truth?
  2. How do you know that?
  3. What are you going to do about it?

It is inarguable that more and more buyers are finding and researching options online before they ever talk to a salesperson. 

As Colonel Jessup would ask, “We live in a world full of prospects…who’s going to call them?  You?  They may have already passed their Zero Moment of Truth."

Topics: hiring sales people, creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling

The Probability Scorecard: The 2nd Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Oct 01, 2019

In this article, Tony discusses the Sales Probability Scorecard, the second tool in our 9 Sales Productivity Tools series.  

Comparative to the yard markers on a football field, the Probability Scorecard gives salespeople and sales managers a clear, definitive look at how much ground needs to be covered in a sale, and the overall likelihood a specific sales opportunity will close.  Read more about this predictive sales productivity tool below!

crystal

As I stated in my initial blog about the top 9 Sales Productivity Tools, the Probability Scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field.  The yard markers give you a clear, definitive look at how much ground has to be covered before you score points; or in the case of defense, how much ground you have left to defend.

An effective Sales Probability Scorecard tells you almost exactly how much ground you have to cover and the likelihood of closing a specific opportunity.

You may already use a tool or system like this in your sales environment that is meant to track, collect, manage, and create movement in your sales pipeline. It may provide forecasting, and (supposedly) increase sales.  But if the sales enablement tool you are using isn’t built around specific criteria, activities and a milestone-centric sales process, your predictive capabilities and forecasting are no better than looking into a crystal ball.

The milestone-centric sales process breaks down the step-by-step accomplishments required to effectively create, qualify and close business. Normally, salespeople check off the major items on their checklists accomplished in the sales process—like uncovering a compelling reason or “pain”.  An effective probability scorecard tool provides the salesperson with a list of secondary objectives that must be accomplished. Here is an example of the first step identified in our Effective Selling System and the required secondary objectives:

Uncovering Compelling Reasons (to move, change, buy)

  • Compelling reasons are: “have to fix” problems, rather than “want to fix” problems.
  • The result of not making a change has been monetized
  • There is a “personal” reason why the problem has to be fixed
  • The incumbent has been unable to solve the problem and the prospect can/is willing to change providers

Checking off those secondary items gives the salesperson, and the sales manager, a more complete picture of what was actually accomplished and what is left to be done. If those secondary items cannot be accomplished, everyone now has a much clearer view of the “real” opportunity, or lack thereof.

The salesperson now knows what they need to find out from the prospect to make it a more closeable deal. This also allows for more intentional coaching on the part of the sales manager to help their salesperson develop into a more consultative seller.

In order to accomplish this, your Sales Probability Scorecard should:

  • Establish the factors important to qualify the prospect (can be industry specific)
  • Identify the most important or predictive factors
  • Have a baseline for what a "closeable opportunity" is (i.e. 70% score is considered closeable)

To find out more about the Sales Probability Scorecard and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

Sales Productivity Tools

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Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Coaching, increase sales, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training

Beware Sales Team!

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 22, 2017

Despite how good a high powered team looks on paper, there are always “skeletons in the closet”.

This post was prompted by an article from Bank Investment Consultant: Why Advisors Will Feel Freer To Make Career Moves in 2018 by Mark Elzweig.

It's not that I'm against sales teams leaving one company for another. But over the past 25+ years, I've seen too many of these moves fail-- Fail to work out for the hiring firm and fail to work out for the team.

sales growth team.jpg

Here is what you should be cautious about if your company is considering this tactic:

  • The book of business the team says they control is never really under their control. Just like your company’s business belongs to the company, the revenue the team plans to bring actually belongs to their current employer company.

So ask yourself:  What would you do in this situation? Of course, you would fight your *ss off to keep the clients and the revenue and chances are, you would keep at least some.

You would probably involve lawyers, an expense in time and money. This means delays in the high powered team’s production. In the meantime, clients are being contacted by the employer company and they are being seduced into staying where they are.

  • These people come from a culture with systems, processes, and procedures that are different than yours, perhaps considerably different. Often this is not an easy fit and in some cases, it is quite difficult. If this team is truly high-powered, these people probably got away with some things that you wouldn’t tolerate. You may not tolerate certain behaviors to which they have become accustomed.
  • At some point in the future, the acquired team inevitably forgets that they said “Yes”. “Yes” to how they would be managed, “Yes” to the goals set, “Yes” to the business processes and “Yes” to the compensation package. They will have selective memory and problems will arise when they remember promises they thought they heard/wanted to hear.
  • You may discover that they really aren't as good as they indicated. Unless you do a deep dive into how they actually generated all the revenue they boasted about, you might find out that some of the revenue was inherited, or that their former company had certain products and services that gave them an unfair advantage which you don't have. Maybe the production came from a couple of major accounts that grew on their own and these individuals were more account managers/ farmers and not the hunters you needed and thought you were getting.
  • If they came from a 'brand' organization and you are a solid, but second tier organization (not a well known brand), you may discover that this team succeeded because of the logo, name and reputation of the brand.
  • If your company is like most, it may oversell the team. Pride in one’s organization is common and is positive, except when hiring. Selling the positives and minimizing the negatives will come back to haunt you when the new talent recognizes they traded one unsatisfactory situation for another.

Recruiting talent, poaching teams, and growing your organization by increasing talent numbers is difficult. Despite the method you choose, there are always risks.

Below are the keys to minimize the risks of bringing in a team from a competitor:

  • Develop your own team to be high performing. Make sure you have a Sales Managed Environment that has a keen focus on performance management, intentional coaching, and recruiting.
  • Recruit the best talent for the specific role. Everyone is competing for "A" players, but you don't need "A" players to grow your business. What you need is...
  • Recruit people who are better than those you have today!
  • Don't be desperate. Have a process to grow sales. Follow the process. Hold people accountable to behaviors and numbers. Be proactive in recruiting.

Should you decide to risk acquiring a high-performance team from a competitor, make sure that they are clear on all aspects to which they are agreeing prior to hiring.

Find Out More about our Fall Sales Workshops

Topics: hiring sales people, building sales teams, building sales team

Hiring The Right People Improves Sales Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 11, 2011

There is a saying in sports; “You can lose with great people but you cannot win without them.”  This theory applies to business, and winning in business starts with a winning sales team.  

Let’s return to the sports application first.  Theo Epstein was the general manager for the Boston Red Sox.  The Chicago Cubs hired him away from the Red Sox and his first item of business to address is the hiring of a new manager for the club.  

Below is an excerpt of a recent article about the process he is going through to get the right person for the job.  Earlier in the week, he had made it clear that one of most important criteria for the job was that the candidate MUST HAVE major league managerial or coaching experience.

One media person inquired what type of attributes Epstein is looking for in a manager.

"In the real world, it's hard to find a candidate that has everything you're looking for," Epstein said. "What you do is you weigh your variables and make your sacrifices where you have to. Often times, if you're going to take a candidate without previous managerial experience, even at the minor league level, he has to represent real upside in other areas. In that case, you have to do even more due diligence than you normally would because you're projecting him into that role."

One of the talked about candidates early in the selection process was Ryne Sandberg.  Below is his stellar baseball resume. 

Ryne Dee Sandberg (Ryno)

Positions: Second Baseman and Third Baseman 
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 175 lb.
Born: September 181959 in Spokane, WA (Age 52) 
High School: North Central (Spokane, WA)
Drafted
 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft.
Signed June 15, 1978. (All Transactions)
Debut: September 2, 1981 
Teams (by GP): Cubs/Phillies 1981-1997
Final Game: September 28, 1997 
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 2005 (393/516 ballots).

I won't list his stats - induction into the baseball players Hall of Fame speaks for itself.  The one thing that is missing is managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.  He was never interviewed for the position. 

The point here is that Epstein had a profile for the position and he stuck with it, regardless of the star qualities of Sandberg. 

The lessons in this story for senior sales executives include:

  • You must know exactly what qualities the candidate must have
  • You must communicate this to likely candidates
  • You must not be swayed by other experience "outside" your profile
  • You can consider other experience but consider the downside
  • You must be prepared for a "project" if you hire outside your profile

Finding the exact right candidate is a long shot no matter what the position.  As Epstein points out, you have to weigh all the information and consider what you are willing to sacrifice.  As you prepare to "upgrade your sales staff", follow these steps for Sales Talent Acquisition and improve your probability for success:

  1. Build a profile for the IDEAL Candidate
  2. Communicate that profile to "attract" the right candidate (in ads, etc)
  3. Screen (assess) the candidate before interviewing the candidate
  4. Create screening and interviewing processes that simulate the environment in which the candidate will have to perform
  5. Make the candidate sell you, DO NOT sell the candidate on the position
  6. Have a detailed communication process in place so that once hired, the candidate knows "exactly" what the objectives and expectations are.
  7. Have a very tight and detailed on - boarding process that ALL candidates go through regardless of their experience.
  8. Inspect what you expect for the first 180 days of their employment

Following these steps will improve your probability for recruiting and sales success.  To help you begin, try this Free 3 Day Express Screen Trial (select the "Sales Candidate" option).

                                   Sales Screen Trial

Topics: hiring sales people, sales talent acquisition, improving sales, sales people, sales candidates, sales assessments

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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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