ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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

How Do I Hire a Sales All-Star?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jun 17, 2019

Hiring an elite salesperson is tough work.  It's not easy to find a sales all-star and it's even harder to keep them on board if you do hire them.  

In this article, we provide 8 reasons why hiring elite salespeople is difficult and the exact steps needed to hire them in your organization.

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8 Reasons Why Hiring Elite Salespeople is Difficult:

  1. It's hard to find qualified candidates - only 7% of salespeople fall into the “elite” category (What elite sales people do differently)
  2. You have other responsibilities
  3. If things are “okay”, you don’t look for someone… until you have an opening and then you feel desperate to fill the seat
  4. Elite sales professionals – those with excellent sales skills – often are not actively looking for new jobs
  5. The resumes all look the same
  6. Personality and behavioral tests tell you how they like to be managed but don’t have any predictive validity for sales success
  7. Your HR (talent-acquisition partners) really don’t understand why hiring salespeople is different than hiring anyone else for a company
  8. It’s not your go-to skill set.

how to hire top salespeople

Step 1: Make sure you know and identify exactly what sales skills make your elite salespeople ELITE salespeople. 

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We just completed a Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) for the private banking segment of a regional bank.  This is what we know separates the top performers from the bottom performers:

Distinguishing skills and sales traits of top performers

  • Hunter
  • Possess over 50% of required sales skills
  • Strong at getting introductions
  • Get past gate keepers
  • Maintain a full pipeline (convert activity – prospecting – into opportunities)
  • Reach decision makers
  • Develop trust and confidence early in the relationship
  • Present product proposal at the appropriate time
  • Keep prospects from buying too early in the process
  • Not reliant on ‘”educating” the prospect or presenting to get the business
  • Love competing against others

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Sales Assessment Sample

We evaluate over 125 different data points when using a pre-hire sales skills inventory assessment and what we have found over the years is that there are usually between 20 and 30 variables that separate the best from the rest. THIS is the first step in making sure you are interviewing candidates with sales skills needed to succeed in your organization.

 

Step 2:  Interview for fundamental skillsOnce you’ve received an application or some notice of interest in your available career opportunity, you send the candidate a notice letting them know you’ve received their information and that, in order to move forward in the process, two steps will take place:

  1. They will be asked to complete the online sales skills inventory assessment.
  2. If the assessment findings indicate that their sales skills match what you are looking for, then a 10-minute phone interview will take place.

 

Why The Phone Interview

At Hire Better Sales People (White Paper), this is the beginning of Step #2.  In the 23 years of our sales consulting practice, I cannot recall a single client where phone skills were NOT critical to the success of the salespeople being hired.  With that in mind, it stands to reason that the first thing you should look/screen for are their phone skills.  Most of the time, our clients outsource that to us. The reasons for that are:

  • Consistency
  • Lack of a bias towards any candidate

In the phone interview, you want to make sure that this person can conduct themselves on the phone like you would expect them to when talking to prospects.  In order to do that, you must create a similar environment that the candidate will have to react to: 

  • No bonding and rapport done by the interviewer
  • Create time pressure so that they have to react and attempt to take control of the phone call
  • Challenge them on their answers to questions (certainly, prospects will ask them questions on the phone – wouldn’t you want to know how well they react as well as what they say?)
  • Let them know that you will be making a decision about who will go on to the interview step and see if the candidate attempts to “close” for that opportunity. If they fail to close for the next step, they will probably fail to close a prospect for an appointment.

 

Step #3 – Use the data from the resume, the application and the pre-hire skills assessment.

Top salespeople hunt for opportunities, reach decision makers, quickly establish confidence and trust, love to compete against others, have strong desire and commitment to success in selling, take responsibility for outcomes, are highly motivated for success in sales, and have a high figure-it-out factor.  Here’s some ideas for assessing these traits in potential candidates:

  • Make the candidate bring their calendar for the next 30 days and make them count the number of new business appointments they have scheduled
  • Make them establish the bonding and rapport. Tell them to take a seat, tell them that you’ve scheduled 60 minutes, but it may only take 30, and see what they do next.  If bonding, rapport, confidence and trust are important, see what your candidates do to make that happen.
  • Ask about competitions they have won
  • Tell them to describe in detail situations where they did everything possible to succeed at something especially when they had to change, overcome a difficult challenge and they overcame despite terrific odds.
  • Ask them to tell you about a situation when they faced failure at accomplishing something personally or professionally. (Hint – they need to say “I failed…”)
  • Give them a test of any kind and see how long it takes for them to figure it out or…
  • Create a role-play scenario out of thin air, give them a couple of minutes to figure out how they want to go about the role -play and then role play.

There is certainly no guarantee for any new hire.  You still have to consider cultural and team fit.  Is there synergy between the new hire and the hiring manager?  How about their technical and professional credentials? 

We’re just talking about sales skills here, but, to be clear, it’s rare that someone fails to succeed in selling because they lacked the required technical or professional expertise for the field they were in.  Nope… people normally fail because they fail to generate sales!

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Topics: hiring, hiring better, hiring salespeople, find salespeople, hiring top 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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