ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Develop Your Sales Talent to Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 25, 2020

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent in order to increase sales in 2020 and beyond.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement. 

You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business, and then you must take key steps to help you determine if they lack the skills to get the job done, or if they are making excuses for their lack of success. 

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Companies are constantly trying to figure out how to drive organic growth by:

  • Acquiring a revenue stream by buying a business or lifting out talent from a competitor
  • Developing current talent

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement.  You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business. 

Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

To be successful in determining the real issues with your salespeople, you must have a system.

I read a blog the other day by Dave Kurlan.  We’ve had a strong business partnership with Dave and his company OMG (Objective Management Group) for most of our 24 years in business.  With OMG, we have the ability to determine the answer to the question – is it excuses or is it a talent issue?

Dave’s post  - 12 Reasons They Didn’t Like You Enough To Buy From You – helps address some of the issues associated with “not getting the business”.  It primarily focuses on the area of matching styles.

This got me thinking about the issue of “style” as it relates to talent, which relates to sales competencies and excuse making.  The challenge for the sales manager is determining if the reason a salesperson did not get the sale was really a talent issue, or an excuse issue.

To determine the root cause of the results, a sales manager must work more closely with the relationship managers and implement a process that Bill Eckstom calls “intentional coaching”.  This process of working closing with your RMs is addressed in our Sales Management Certification Program in the Coaching for Success Module.

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Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your salespeople lack the necessary skills to succeed or are making excuses for their lack of success:

  1. You must gain insight. You gain insight by using various data points. The data points you MUST use are: 
    1. Observational joint sales calls – You do not run the sales call; you observe your RM
    2. Data from your CRM or SAT program (SAT – Sales Activity Tracking)
    3. Sales meetings – In all of your sales meetings, you need to include a segment on skill development where you drill for skill, role play and conduct strategy development discussions
    4. 1-on-1 coaching – Each week, you should have time set aside for 1-on-1 coaching with those people that are NOT in the 1st quadrant of the “Where’s Walter?” matrix
  2. Provide feedback. In advance of the discussion about lost opportunities, you want to provide your RM with the data you have – no ambushing.
    1. You discuss – ask the RM questions about what they see in the data
    2. You provide them feedback based on what you see and where the problems might be
    3. You discuss what the future might look like if the current trends continue
    4. You agree that there is a problem
  3. Demonstrate – Once you identify the problem as either an excuse or a skill issue, you demonstrate to the RM what you expect them to execute.
    1. If they are making excuses – "They didn’t understand the value of our offering” – You ask, “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse what would you have done differently?”
    2. If it’s a skill problem – “I asked them if they had a budget and they said yes.” “When you asked them what it was, what did they say?”  “They said they didn’t want to tell me.”  “When you asked, ‘why not?’, what did they say?”  “I didn’t ask that question.”
  4. Role play – The scenario above allows you to now role play with you acting as the prospect. You need to start with Drill for Skill and then graduate to the full role play.  Getting them to practice what you expect them to do takes patience and repetition.  Do not believe for a second that one role play will be enough.  You need to start your RM on a weekly coaching session repeating the required skills over and over again. 
  5. Action steps – Each coaching session must end with action
    1. "Bill, so what I want you to do is call Mary and have this conversation we just role played."
    2. "I want you to report back to me by end of business today what happened as a result of that conversation."
    3. Hold your salespeople accountable while also coaching them along the way! 

Implementing a process of gaining insight, providing feedback, demonstrating, role playing and establishing action items will go a long way in helping your team discern the difference between making excuses for failure and the need for skill development.

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Topics: hiring salespeople, consultative selling, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, keys to selling success, keys to selling, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, hire better people cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

5 Strategies to Increase Sales and Have Your Best Year Yet

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 07, 2020

Welcome to our newest blog series titled, "2020: The Year For Sales Growth".  These blog posts will specifically focus on helping you drive (and increase) sales in the new year. 

Starting with today's post, we bring you 5 strategies to help increase your sales to have your best yet!

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Somehow, it is already time to start thinking about your goals and resolutions for the coming year so that you can:

  1. Fix problems
  2. Leverage opportunities
  3. Become the best version of yourself
  4. Scratch an itch
  5. Re-commit to previous resolutions

In a nutshell, we make resolutions to either achieve pleasure or avoid pain.  Unfortunately for many, the pleasurable outcome isn’t significant enough, or the pain isn’t severe enough, to make the resolutions stick. 

So, let’s do away with resolutions for a moment and talk about 5 Strategies that will help you have your best year yet.

#1 – Show Up and Show Up on Time.  When I was a product rep for Provident Life and Accident, my manager told me on my first day that the most important key to success in the business was to show up, and to show up on time. If you do that, you will already be ahead of the competition.  I believed that then back in 1990, and I believe it still holds true today.

  • Show up –Just get there.  Be in front of the people that you need to be in front of to tell your story, discover their needs, uncover their desires for a great outcome or to avoid pain. 
  • Show up on time – showing up on time demonstrates more about who you are than what you do. If you are a manager, make sure you show up on time for your 1-on-1 coaching sessions, your pre and post-call debrief meetings, and your sales meetings as well.  When you show up late or cancel/reschedule, you are sending a message to your people that showing up late (or not showing up at all) is okay.

#2 – Focus on Green, "Go-To" Activities.  I call them Green Activities because these are the activities that make you money. Make a list of all the things you do during the day, and then carve out about 20% of those activities that lead directly to making sales/money. 80% of your time should be spent on “Go-To” activities. Too often, we get caught up doing the other stuff that allows us to stay busy as opposed to focusing on what matters most. Don’t misunderstand me. I know other activities such as preparing for meetings, responding to emails and calls, and helping current clients are part of your role, but it’s important to prioritize the go-to activities to make sure they get done first.

#3 - Work with the Best of the Rest. Assume for a minute you have 50 clients.  Focus on asking your top 36% (18) of them if they know at least 5 other people like them.  That gives you a potential pool of prospects of 90! Let’s say your average revenue from your top 18 clients is $27,000. The potential revenue of the prospect pool is $2.4m.  Assuming ½ of the 90 will meet with you (45) and half of those people will be qualified prospects (22.5) and half of those people would buy from you (11.25), that means you could generate about $300,000 from that pool of prospects. The question I want you to answer is this:  How many of your bottom 36% clients would you have to sell to equal just 1 of your top 36%?

#4 – Answer the Question – What is Holding Me Back? Many salespeople and sales organizations go year after year without performing as expected.  Individuals and companies invest in training and sales enablement tools but still they find over 66% of the team members fail to reach goals.  There are exceptions but the studies we’ve done consistently tell us two things:

  1. The top 1/3 of the sales team generates close to 80% of the revenue
  2. The bottom 1/3 generates less than 5%

Sometimes what is holding someone back from being their best has nothing to do with technique or their ability to build relationships.  If your onboarding, training, development and coaching program does not focus on items where they specifically struggle it won’t matter or make a dent in your results. Stop treating symptoms and thinking you must work harder!  Find out what is holding you back and focus on the root cause. If you are a Sales Manager, VP or President: What is holding your team back from selling more business, more quickly at better margins?

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#5 – Be Coachable.  Every great professional gets to be the best for reasons other than natural ability or God given talents. The example I normally use is baseball but choose any profession you like, and I guarantee you that the best of the best are coachable and they practice to perfect their skills.  Here is an example:

  • José Carlos Altuve is a Venezuelan professional second baseman for the Houston Astros. The Astros signed Altuve as an amateur free agent in 2007, and he made his major league debut in 2011. From 2014 to 2017, Altuve recorded at least 200 hits each season and led the American League (AL) in the category. He won three batting championships as well as:
    • 6 time MLB All Star
    • MVP for the American league in 2017
    • 5 Silver Slugger Awards
    • 1 Golden Glove

The question is this, when spring training starts in February what does Altuve do? Does he sit on the sidelines and just watch because “he’s a pro”?  Does he participate in some of the drills and exercises but omits others because “he knows how to do that”? Does he skip batting practice or taking infield? The answer is no, no, no and no.  He’s a professional, he’s coachable and he recognizes that he can always be better.  

If you are going to continue to grow you must have the motivation, desire and commitment to become the best version of yourself. That is what will help you be coachable.

For more information on how to implement and execute these 5 strategies email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, Schedule a meeting using this link:  Schedule A Meeting or text “5 Strategies” to (513) 226-3913.

Topics: hiring salespeople, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, extraordinary sales, sales habits, sales productivity, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, corporate sales training, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020

"Gone Fishing" for Sales Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 15, 2019

I’m sure the majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).  Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis, we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on them as their main resource for potential business.

They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities! If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads, they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given.  They also won’t try to uncover other opportunities and in the end, the sales manager (you), and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

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And, it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video.

Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identified!  After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform?

Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salesperson's job, although difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components:

  1. Go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities.
  2. Qualify those opportunities.
  3. Close for the business.

Don’t let your salespeople get by on just using your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job!

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Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”.   

Additional Resources:

Sales Productivity Tools

Must-Ask Questions Worksheet

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, increase sales leads,, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Tue, Nov 05, 2019

In today's blog or "vlog", we bring you our newest Anthony Cole Training Group's brand video.

Give it a watch below as we show you how we help build sales organizations into selling, coaching, and hiring better and what that means for their success: 

 

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, hire better salespeople, sales performance management, sales management tools, consultative selling, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video

Creating Your Sales Success Formula: The 5th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 01, 2019

In our 5th Chapter of our Sales Productivity Tools blog series, we discuss the idea of creating a Success Formula for your sales team, which only works when you have a team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

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To support my objectives and goals of one day playing college football, I realized I had to have a success formula.  I had to have a workout routine for strength and conditioning.  I had to be coachable.  I had to eat the right foods (My dad always threatened to tell Coach Cacia if I didn’t eat my salad). And I had to take care of the bumps and bruises.

When I got into the "real" sales world (Insurance business vs. taking orders for Nautilus Exercise Equipment) I was introduced to the One Card System created by Al Granum.  At National Life of Vermont, we were given a box with index cards and a Success Manual.  We were trained to use the cards to identify the various stages where a prospect was in the sales process, and we used the Success Manual to record our activity.  Today that entire process exists in whatever CRM your company uses.

A Success Formula is an old school sales tool that works but only if...

You have a sales team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Every salesperson knows what the right behaviors are to be successful. They know they have to reach out to prospects, schedule appointments, disqualify people and companies that don’t fit their business model, close and service accounts, and much more. There isn’t anything mystical about what it takes to succeed.  But the challenge is for the salesperson to be disciplined themselves to do the things they need to do based on their own success formula.

When salespeople fail, it isn’t because they lack the skills or product/industry knowledge needed to succeed. Most salespeople fail because they won’t do the things required to be successful

The answer as to why a producer won’t do those things lies in the findings of the pre-hire assessment and sales force evaluations.  To gain a better understanding of someone’s potential to be successful in sales, it would be important to have a deep understanding of the following:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Sales Competencies
  • Sales Skills

Not having this information would be like trying to coach a football team, direct a play, or construct a building without knowing the desire, skills and tendencies of the people you are relying on to meet your objective. 

To assess your current or incoming talent and their ability and willingness to make the right decision – be prudent – then it helps to have findings such as those identified in Objective Management Group’s – Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.


Check out some of our additional resources below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Why is selling so #%&@ hard

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Topics: Sales Training, sales evaluation, hiring salespeople, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, hire better people

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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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