ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Jan 16, 2019

people-2588594_1920Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.


One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the 2019 race you are running?  What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production?  Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Topics: salespeople, sales acceleration, sales advice, how to improve sales, things to do for sales success, sales growth and inspiration, sales competition

Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?!?

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Wed, Oct 24, 2018

linkedin-sales-navigator-402866-unsplash

Why is selling so #%&@ hard?!?  It's a valid question.  One that many of us ask ourselves each and every single day.  But, does it have to be?  In our free e-book, learn from our Founder and Chief Growth Officer Tony Cole as he reveals insightful and practical information on what makes selling so hard today.  

With his 20 years of experience coaching salespeople, he will help you understand why you and your buyer behave the way you do in the sales process and what to do about it.  In this e-book, you'll discover how salespeople sabotage their own success, how your own buying process affects your selling, how the buyer's and seller's objectives differ, and fundamental ground rules of the selling process.

You can download the e-book directly for FREE here below.  Enjoy!

Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?!?

 

Grab Your Copy

Topics: building sales team, generating leads, how to improve sales, consultative selling, build a better sales team

The Art of Asking Great Questions

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Watch Sales Guy Unplugged:  Are Your Sales Questions Courageous Enough?

Mark Trinkle, Chief Growth Officer

Need more information?  Download this free SalesTool with the Drill Down Questions.

Topics: create & convert leads, sales leads, how to improve sales, things to do for sales success

How Do Extraordinary Financial Planners Close the #Salesgrowthopportunity Gap?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Apr 18, 2018

What prompted this article was a post from Jeff Ferraris, a program manager for CUSO Financial Services in Austin,Texas. The article – "Leading With Planning: Master Financial Planning With These 6 Steps" – takes investment advisors through a best practices process to have success implementing financial plans for high net worth clients. Aside from the ‘know how’ and the licensing required, what else do your advisors need in order to be successful in their role? 

There are many answers to that question but generally speaking they need to have these sales capabilities:

  • Hunting
  • Qualifying
  • Being a Consultative Seller
  • Presenting
  • Closing
  • Farming or account managing

Need to know how your team measures up against the
best in your industry?
Click here to access Objective Management Group's Stat Finder.

I’m going to focus on the skills required for success when qualifying and selling consultatively. Below are two charts of the competencies necessary to be successful in these two capabilities.

The Qualifier Skill Set

qualifier skills

 

The Consultative Seller Skill Set

consultative skills

As you can see there are multiple skills that make up the competencies for Qualifying and Consultative skill sets. In this scenario, and not unusual in general, of the 55 salespeople evaluated, 22% of the group had enough consultative skills to be effective and only 30% had enough qualifier skills to be effective.

What impact does this lack of skill in these two areas have on investment advisors and the ability to successfully execute a strategy of using financial plans? Broker dealers that are attempting to help clients improve both the quantity and quality of their plans must get to the root cause of the problem.

Here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Qualifier Competency:

  1. Talking to the decision maker: if your investment advisor fails to meet with the decision maker– UP FRONT– then it will impact the sales cycle duration and the closing ratio.
  2. Uncomfortable talking about money: Investment advisors often don't have to worry about discussing money. If you think about the challenges your advisors face when presenting a financial solution, many don’t close opportunities for risk products because they encounter a money objection and aren’t comfortable talking through price.
  3. Self–limiting beliefs: If your advisors don’t have a financial plan, if they don’t own individual disability or long-term care insurance, if they are way under insured for life insurance, how committed do you think they will be recommending it to a client?

And here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Consultative Seller Competency:

  1. Ask enough questions– Executing the financial plan process is more than asking how much. The effective IA must ask a ton of “why” questions.
  2. Demonstrates patience– The very nature of most advisors is to close the sale they have in front of them– the transaction for the IRA roll-over. How does that support the 90-day process of financial planning? It doesn’t.
  3. Maintain healthy skepticism– If your IA believes everything the client is telling them then they will never ask about other advisors, the other assets, the real decision-making process, etc. So instead of a 6x multiple from doing plans they will pick up the easy money from the next maturing CD.

To find out more about how to effectively identify those advisors ‘wired’ for fee-based sales and financial planning, email alex@anthonycoletraining.com, subject line "tailored fit", to create your own case study by evaluating your top advisors.

Topics: building sales team, how to improve sales, consultative selling

How to Improve Sales:  5 Keys to Coaching Sales Improvement

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Aug 09, 2017

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

raise.jpg

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.  (See LinkedIn Article: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Sales Growth) Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

 

For a free pre-hire assessment for a potential sales candidate,

CLICK HERE for a  Free Sales Candidate Assessment!

You will receive instant results that are easy to understand and immediately actionable. Find out if they are recommended or not recommended for hire and how long it will take for them to get up to speed. Discover the strengths that will support or weakness that will sabotage their sales success and what you must do to help them achieve their potential.

 

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 if they are just making excuses for failing to execute the skills or sales process of the organization.

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.

 

Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your people have skill issues or an excuse-making issue:

  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 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 playing 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 minute 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.  (Note: At this time, you will also want to review their OMG results to uncover a real root cause for the failure to ask.  In this case, it might be a problem with need for approval or buy cycle issues.)
  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.

 

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.

DOWNLOAD our FREE EBOOK -  The 9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success

 

Topics: how to improve sales, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement

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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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