ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati

What You Don’t Know Can Kill Sales Growth

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, May 02, 2017

I had a conversation this week with 3 executives that run bank-owned investment programs.

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  • The first executive is restructuring his program to go from $3 million to $8 million in revenue and will do that via a team approach to the credit union membership.
  • The second executive is looking to improve the effectiveness of junior advisors and improve the quality of new hires. He is the president/program manager and sales manager.
  • The third executive has sales management executives, and is part of a very large bank that has a robust training department, several leadership programs, a very tenured group and a full calendar of training programs scheduled for the balance of the year.

WHERE TO BEGIN FOR SALES GROWTH

If any of these rings true for you, consider the following:

If you’ve read any of my posts over the last 10 years, you know that our initial step in any engagement is to first assess the current state of the sales organization.  In our initial conversation with any prospect, we attempt to explore…

  • What’s happening
  • What’s not happening
  • What the objectives and expectations are
  • The gap (money) between where they are and where they need to be; Attempt to uncover the symptoms that indicate the “why”
  • If the problems are “have to fix” or “want to fix”

If we arrive at a “have to fix” state, then we discuss the process required to “fix” it.  To help paint the picture, I normally describe a situation where someone has a “have to fix” problem.  I choose improving my golf game as an analogy because I’m in a constant state of saying that I want to improve my golf game.  (Apparently, improving my game isn’t that important because I always fail to take one really important step – I don’t take lessons.  But… that is another story…)

I go on to ask, if my prospect was my new golf coach and we were in our first lesson, what would the golf coach do in our first lesson?  Almost everyone (over 90%) replies, “Ask you to take a few swings with a club.”  I ask why would the pro want to do that.  Again, almost everyone responds with, “So they can see what might need to be fixed.”  I respond with, “Perfect - that is exactly what we have to do.  We can’t go about fixing the problem unless we know the root cause.”  We have to have some insight into:

  • The skills of your salespeople
  • The strengths and weaknesses that support or hinder effective selling
  • The systems and process that exist
  • The skills of the sales manager, their tendencies and where (in the 4 functions of sales management) they are most effective
  • The actual performance of the entire team
  • Answers to 19 critical sales growth questions

A TALE OF TWO MANAGERS

As an example of what we find out, look at the chart below that describes the leadership and sales management skills, tendencies and effectiveness of two sales managers.

skill-chart.png

The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the data has not been altered.  Here is just one example of one of the findings from the assessment that companies find so useful when attempting to analyze the “why” of productivity and sales outcomes:

#1 – The score tells you how well Gene and Paul scored in their skills for the various data points evaluated as sales managers and sales leaders.

#2 – This helps us understand what a manager’s “go-to move” is when there is pressure to drive performance.

#3 – This tells us how effective the manager is when executing to a skill (recruiting, coaching, motivating, performance management, strategic thinking)

Looking only at the sales manager’s skills - performance management, recruiting, coaching and motivating - you can see that there are problems with motivating and recruiting effectiveness for Gene.  Both of these are his strongest tendencies, but he lacks the skill and perhaps has a problem with the make-up of his sales team (not coachable). Therefore, he is not very effective.  You would want to know this prior to implementing any type of sales management coaching program.

Paul, on the other hand, is average at best at 3 of the 4 sales management skills needed to effectively drive sales growth.

 

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER

I once heard Tony Robbins declare that “Knowledge is NOT power.”  He went on to say that “Knowledge in Action is Power.”  That is the purpose of this post.  Too many companies create budgets for training and development without good intelligence.  Too many companies believe that training salespeople on the latest sales process concept is the way to drive sales.  Suppose you have people that lack desire?  Suppose they are un-coachable?  Suppose you have managers that don’t have the skills to support the dollars and effort you spend on training your salespeople? 

Before investing time, money and effort to train and develop your sales managers or salespeople, strongly consider doing a study - an x-ray, if you will - of the team that you have. Find out why they perform the way they perform, how coachable the team is , what the opportunity for growth is and if you’re going to help them with those contributing factors that support effective execution.

Supporting information:

Root Cause Analysis Training Video

Find out Why Selling is So $#$%! Hard?

Talk to Tony about the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis – 513.226.3913 (Text:  SEIA – provide your name)

How Do I Grow Sales? – An article that answers that question

Request a Free Demo or Sales Assessment Sample

Topics: developing sales talent, how to manage salespeople, effective sales management, predictable sales growth

How Do You Determine the Success of Your Sales Managed Environment®?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, May 23, 2016

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First, it makes sense to define a Sales Managed Environment® (SME™).  For the last 15 years, we’ve built, developed, refined and implemented the principles we associate with a sales environment that is “managed”.  The major components of SME™ are as follows:

  1. Setting standards and accountability
  2. Coaching for success
  3. Recruiting
  4. Motivating
  5. Upgrading the sales force

Using this as the basis for what the SME™ looks like, we next need to determine if, in fact, your environment has been built and is being executed for success.  So, how do you determine that?

  1. You have metrics for success that are consistent with company revenue and profit goals.
  2. You have standards for success that drive success rather than foster mediocrity.
  3. You have “smart” numbers to help you predict your progress towards meeting and exceeding your standards for your metrics.
  4. You inspect what you expect – activity, effectiveness and results.
  5. You pro-actively recruit – you have a candidate pipeline.
  6. You coach people to improve skills and change behavior.

But, ultimately, you determine success by:

  1. Achieving goals.
  2. Getting better individually as well as a team – more people carrying the load/higher percentage of producers hitting 100% of the goal.
  3. This year’s quintiles (sales team divided by production 1/5s) out-perform last year's.
  4. Sales activity/effort is where it needs to be to be successful.
  5. The data demonstrates that the team is more effective and efficient at executing the sales strategy and sales process.

So, the question(s) become(s) – is this happening?  If not, why not and, if so, why?

Not to focus on the negative, but let’s assume for a second that at least 3 of the 5 items determining success are not happening.  Where do you turn? What do you do?  The first thing is to determine why.  The answer to why is this – failure of sales management. 

As a leader, that is why you have a structure that includes sales management.  If you don’t, then part of the problem is that you don’t have a sales management structure or you don’t have sales management executing to the structure.

Unfortunately, if you are the sales manager, then this is a tough pill to swallow... but you have to anyway.  This is the job/responsibility you accepted when you said yes to the job, yes to the responsibility and yes to the compensation.  There is no avoiding this conclusion.  However, you can fix this and there are resources to help you. 

Certainly, as a company, we provide our unique set of solutions, but generally speaking, this is what you should be thinking:

  • What systems and processes do I need to have/build to support sales growth and a sales team built for growth?
  • What assessment tools exist to help me evaluate my skills and the skills/tendencies of my sales team?
  • What do I need to do differently in the area of recruiting to get more “A” and “a” players and stop hiring those that won’t succeed?
  • What is an effective coaching process I can implement so that I can be more intentional and impactful in my coaching? How do I change behavior and improve skill?

Resources for you to examine:

Assessments:  Cost of bad hires questionnaire

Sales Management Booklet – 9 Keys to Sales Management

Recruiting – How to find, attract, and recruit an all-star sales team – tool kit.

 

Understand this: I’d love the opportunity to help you build a sales team built for growth.  Contact me and we can look at the options. However, I know that you have access to lots of resources, so whatever you look for, start with these three – assessment, sales management and recruiting.

Topics: SME, sales management, improving sales results, how to manage salespeople, sales managed environment

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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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