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!

crop-field-under-rainbow-and-cloudy-skies-at-dayime-1542495

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

The 9th (and Final) Sales Productivity Tool: Performance Recording

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 18, 2019

In our 9th and final installment in the Sales Productivity Tools blog series, I dive into an essential item on the list: the Performance Recording tool.

In a smartphone filled world, it has never been easier to record a conversation than it is today, and the usage of audio recording can be used to improve skills in selling through roleplays, 1-on-1 coaching, and analysis. 

It is a vital tool that must be utilized in your organization!

photo-of-stadium-scenery-3026835

In my previous Sales Productivity Tools blog, I talked about the film room as an essential tool for improving skills on the football field.  As indicated, these film and audio tools should exist for sales managers and salespeople alike. 

In our world, audio recording is constantly being used to improve skills, check on compliance issues, and improve the quality of customer service.  Just think about the last time you called to check on a bank statement, a credit card charge or to make a change in a flight reservation. 

"This call will be on a recorded line." 

When that happens, what do you do?

  1. Do you hang up because you don’t want the conversation to be recorded?
  2. Stay on the phone because you don’t care if it’s recorded?
  3. When you do get a real person on the phone, ask that the conversation not be recorded?

If you are like most people, you stay on the phone and don’t give it a second thought.  When it comes to recording conversations in regards to the law, you should know the following information as is copied from Digital Media Law website:

"Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. See 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d). This is called a "one-party consent" law. Under a one-party consent law, you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation. Furthermore, if you are not a party to the conversation, a "one-party consent" law will allow you to record the conversation or phone call so long as your source consents and has full knowledge that the communication will be recorded."

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I’m not suggesting that you start an immediate campaign to record conversations between your salespeople and every prospect or client, but I’m not discouraging you from doing that either. The bigger problem you will have isn’t with the Federal or the State government, but more likely with your internal legal and HR departments. 

So, assuming for a minute that recording live conversations is off the table, let’s talk about what is on the table, and what you should be doing to improve your skills and the skills of those on your team.

  1. You should take time to roleplay in every sales meeting.
  2. On occasion (once or twice a week), make sure that someone records the roleplay, and then play the recording back for discussion.
  3. Use scorecards to evaluate the objective and responses during the exercise. It's helpful to ask yourself, or your people, these questions after the roleplay is complete. 
    • Did they get the prospect involved in the conversation as soon as possible by introducing themselves and then stop talking?
    • Did they ask permission to tell the prospect why they were calling?
    • Did they look, act and sound like a typical sales person?
    • Would you have continued to listen?
    • Would you have scheduled an appointment?
    • Was there value proposition compelling enough to get you to ask questions?
    • Did they start "selling on the phone" (talk too much)?
    • Did they get invited out to visit or did they invite the prospect to visit?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how well did they handle objections or questions?
  4. Record your 1-on-1 coaching sessions (especially when you demonstrate what you expect your salespeople to do on an appointment or call). 
  5. Make audio and video recording part of any training program.
  6. Provide objective feedback to recordings sent to you by your sales team.
  7. Occasionally use video recording but silence the audio so that you can focus just on the body language of the participants.

Here is something to consider when starting the process- expect some push back and resistance.  You have to be numb to that.  These are salespeople that should be strong enough and confident enough to allow themselves to be recorded. If they don’t, then that tells you something about what you’ve recruited.  Next, give your people planned vs. canned scripts to follow so that you can measure one performance against another. 

Finally make sure you do these three things:

  1. Keep and archive the really good performances and use them for training new people and for conducting more effective sales meetings.
  2. Give your people several chances to record so that they can practice to get it right and submit the one they feel is their best effort.  This leads to the improvement of skill through self-practice and evaluation.
  3. Create a bit of a competition – Our Company Has Talent!  Kind of a round robin event where everyone starts the competition, they work within team structures, the teams nominate their best participant and those nominated compete against others.  The winner gets the prize, as well the team represented.

Yes this takes work, yes this will work, and yes we can help.  Here is your call to action. Call us (877-635-5371) or email our team to inquire about a 1-day workshop on any sales topic you can think of.  We will consult with you on the skills and behaviors that you want improved within your organization!

Email a member of our team below: 

Jeni@anthonycoletraining.com – COO & CMO

Tony@anthonycoletraining.com– Founder & Chief Learning Officer

Alex@anthonycoletraining.com – Recruitment Specialist & 1-on-1 Coaching Expert

OR, you can schedule a meeting here: 

Schedule a Meeting With Our Team

Topics: hire better sales people, Sales coach, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer

Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the concepts behind real, tangible sales growth and ask the question, "Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?" 

Sales growth is dependent upon Closing More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins and we are here to show you how you can accomplish this within your organization!

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This morning, my wife (and ACTG's President CEO Linda) and I were watching Morning Joe while talking business.  We were discussing our brand promise of:

"When you lie awake at night worrying about sales growth, we lie awake at night.” 

We compiled a list of questions that often haunt managers throughout the day and into the night when they should be preparing for a good night’s sleep:

As we’re talking, we see a news banner at the bottom of the screen about a man who was arrested for breaking and entering a home.  He was apprehended after the police entered the home and saw his feet dangling from the chimney.  As usual, I automatically started thinking about how that related to sales, sales management, performance management, coaching, pipeline, pre-call strategies, etc.

And, since it's that time of the year, it also made me think of this great scene in The Santa Clause: 

 

My first question, however, is this: 

  1. “Do you have sales opportunities that are important/critical for hitting your goals and growing sales that are stuck?”

My second, but maybe the most important question, is:

    2. “Is this particular opportunity a repeat offender?” 

 

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING OPPORTUNITIES

Now, there are 2 things to consider when attempting to answer that second question.

  1. Is that opportunity familiar to you and the salesperson who has entered the opportunity into your pipeline management system? (This isn’t the same as your CRM). If we’ve worked on this opportunity before and they – the opportunity – “got away on a technicality”, then this would be defined as a “repeat offender”:
    1. Not the decision maker
    2. Wasn’t able to undo the current relationship
    3. Decided to not make a change
    4. Couldn’t arrive at the price point
    5. Really didn’t have a solution that fit the features and benefits they were looking for
    6. The timing wasn’t right
  2. Are other opportunities stuck in the pipeline/chimney for the very same reasons as this one?  The salesperson failed to execute the qualifying steps in your sales process:
    1. No compelling reason to make a change identified
    2. Competition unknown
    3. Incumbent still part of the equation
    4. Budget for investing time, money resources is a mystery
    5. Decision making process has not been uncovered
    6. Timing or urgency of making a decision not clearly understood
    7. Agreement on next steps unclear
    8. Did not ask the question – Is this a “want to fix” or “have to fix” problem?

CMBMQHM AND WHAT YOU NEED FOR SALES GROWTH

Sales growth is dependent upon this – CMBMQHM.  My staff hates it when I make up acronyms like this.  When I put these in our learning decks, the people in my office want to know what the acronyms mean. 

Close More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins

So, what does it take to accomplish CMBMQHM?

  • You must have a milestone-centric sales system – something that can be quantified, measured and evaluated for progress towards the objective of “getting a decision”. (This is not the same as “getting the sale”.)
  • You have to have a process for building a success formula for each salesperson based on that sales system.
  • You have to have complete buy-in to the use of your pipeline management process. Here are the guidelines to get that buy-in. It needs to…
    • Be easy to use
    • Be effective
    • Be beneficial to the user
    • Provide you with business intelligence
    • Automatically generate and send reports to you so you don’t have to go find the information
  • You have to have a system of pre-call strategy sessions for EVERY opportunity that meets or exceeds the benchmark of your top 33%.
  • You have to have a post-call debriefing session for every opportunity you discuss in the pre-call session.
  • You have to conduct a CSI – “Crime Scene Investigation” – for every deal you don’t get.
  • Finally, you have to conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions that are intentional.
    • They are based on the findings from your pre- and post-call meetings
    • They are based on what your data is telling you about the choke point(s) a particular salesperson is having or the most common choke point(s) for the group
    • The coaching needs to accomplish 1, if not 2, things:
      1. Change behavior
      2. Improve skill

Additional Resources:

Download the Success Formula Worksheet

Sign up for our Effective Selling System Online Demo 


 

Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Management Training, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hiring better salespeople, how increase sales, grow sales, sales growth problems, will to sell, sales challenges, life lessons, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools, budget, solution, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer

The 8th Sales Productivity Tool: Post-Call Debriefing Sessions

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 05, 2019

Salespeople are often fooled that the opportunities in their pipeline are more qualified or closer to closing than reality suggests. 

In this article, Tony Cole will breakdown the activity of post-call debriefing and why it is so critical for improving results. 

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Back in my playing days, we had to wait a day to get the game film developed and delivered to the coach's office, so that we could review each player and how they performed. A couple of weeks ago, our Defensive Coordinator at Moeller HS used a tablet to coach his defense based on what had just happened on the football field.  With today’s digital technology, you can get your game or practice video feedback immediately. What a difference this makes!  

You can do the same with salespeople. 

The reason the game film is crucial is because the film doesn’t lie.  There are no opportunities for excuses, laying blame, or hiding from the truth.  In the film room, fierce conversations take place about converted opportunities, missed opportunities, the amount of effort given on a play, the outcome of a certain play, and so much more.  It can be intense because there is nowhere to hide.

Your post-call strategy sessions must work the same way if you are going to accomplish the following:

  • Improve skills
  • Change behaviors
  • Close more business, more quickly at higher margins

In order to do this effectively, you must know what should be done in an effective sales process by going through a checklist and marking those items that were accomplished so far in the process. A salesperson can, in reality, lie to themselves about what did and did not happen. The good news is that eventually the truth comes out in the results.

In other words when we teach out EPAS – Emergency Pipeline Analysis System – we look at several opportunities in the pipeline and calculate the probability of an opportunity closing.  If we examine 5 opportunities and the average closing probability is 75% or greater and none of the opportunities close, then we have a clear indication that something is wrong:

  • Either the producer is making up the data
  • The producer is failing in effectively executing the sales steps they are taking credit for accomplishing

In the end what you are hoping to accomplish is to help salespeople clearly see what the opportunity is, help them when they are chasing bad or unclear opportunities, model success for others and help your salespeople realize when they should walk from ‘opportunities.

Access the full toolbox today!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, consultative sales coaching, train the trainer

A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

woman-writing-on-a-notebook-beside-teacup-and-tablet-733856

Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

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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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