ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding Salespeople: It's in the Details

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 14, 2021

In our first blog on How to Hire No Assembly Required Salespeople series, we discussed the four critical steps you must take to minimize hiring mistakes and identify top talent.

In this article, we cover critical selling competencies you must look for when sourcing and interviewing salespeople for your organization.

Indeed produces a series of ads on the radio discussing the value of their recruiting business solution. During the ad, the narrator describes the process as: “looking for a needle in a haystack.” Webster.com defines it as someone or something exceedingly difficult to find. E.g., Searching for an earring at the park is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Suppose you find a needle and it’s the wrong needle?

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Not all needles are appropriate for every job. The same is true for salespeople. 

Unfortunately, when companies recruit salespeople, those responsible for profiling, attracting, vetting, interviewing, assessing, and eventually hiring and onboarding, fail to take the time to get the first step right.

Step #1: Know exactly what you are looking for

The primary criteria you should use to define the role/opportunity is: “Someone that will sell vs. someone that has sold or can sell.” The components of Will to Sell, as defined by the worlds #1 Sales Evaluation by The Objective Management Group Sales Assessment, are:

  • Desire
  • Commitment
  • Outlook
  • Motivation
  • Responsibility

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Dave Kurlan and his team have evaluated over 2,000,000 salespeople from over 25,000 different companies. The assessment they have created has a 92.5% predictive validity. The findings indicate that if a candidate does not score well in the Will to Sell then they are less likely to:

  • Succeed compared to those that score well
  • Be coachable and trainable
  • Have the longevity needed to reach profitability

Let's look at the graphic to the left. This is what you should be looking for first and foremost when hiring a “no assembly required” candidate! The Will to Sell is the fuel that drives the engine of a successful salesperson.

For this article, let’s assume that green is good and red is bad. If you knew nothing else about a candidate other than what you see in this chart, what do you know based on the colors? That’s right. This candidate has a strong desire and commitment to be successful in selling, they have a great outlook no matter what, they own their sales outcomes and personal goals, and they have strong motivation.

I assure you that you won’t find this information in the resume, the job application, or during your interview process. Why? Because:

  • A candidate will not admit they are weak in desire and commitment
  • They will not tell you that they make excuses
  • Those responsible for hiring are not asking questions about what motivates them
  • The candidate has one job when they talk to you over coffee or when they show up for the interview – convince you they are the best thing since sliced bread!

Based on the graphic to the right, an example of a candidate with weak Will to Sell competencies, the question I always ask is: how soon would you want to know this information? The answer is as soon as possible.

 

Better yet, how about before you hire them?

 

Let us add another question: when you hire a candidate that has this level of Will to Sell, when do you typically find out? Typically:

  • The first 90 days post-hire
  • Within the first 6 months of employment
  • After they have failed to meet validation requirements
  • When you start having discussions about performance improvement

 

The real answer is when it’s too late and expensive. This first step in your recruiting process is critical. I assure you that if you evaluate your team by doing an Ideal Fit, you would see that your top people, as well as some of your bottom, have a very strong Will to Sell.

 

If that is the case, then why do salespeople with a strong Will to Sell still fail? Stay tuned for part 3 in our series on the impact of Sale DNA.

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Topics: hiring better sales people, increase sales, onboarding sales people, top sales performers

Increasing Sales: The G2 Formula

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 30, 2020

Lots of people talk about goals and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an tracking system in place to make sure you execute your plan effectively. But what about the GRIND required to increase sales and achieve success?

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There is a sales production target out there – somewhere. It’s different for every person and every organization but it’s out there. And for every person and every organization there is the actual sales production result that is being achieved today. That is the Sales Opportunity Gap. 

The Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis is the guide that makes you the hero to close the sales growth opportunity gap. The findings in this analysis clearly lays out the current status of the sales team in these areas:

  • Will to Sell and Will to Manage Sales
  • Sales DNA, Sales Management DNA
  • Sales and Sales Management skills
  • Systems and processes that support sales growth
  • And more

These items are critical to understand if you ever hope to strategically and intentionally grow sales in your organization (or for yourself).

But this alone is not enough. Goals and Grind are also 2 requirements to get you from where you are to where you could be.

I'm reading Bob Rotello’s “How Champions Think in Sports and In Life”. I am in the middle of the chapter: Goals, Plans and Process. Lots of people talk about goals, goals setting and having a plan to achieve said goals. And there is lots of information out there about how important it is to have an accountability system in place to make sure you execute the plan. But the thing that struck me about Bob’s chapter is the discussion about the GRIND.

GRIND: it’s not talked about enough when it comes to discussing how to achieve a goal. The grind is the day-in and day-out stuff that you have to do to leverage your natural talents. The grind is the hard stuff, the stuff where we have a tendency to procrastinate.

So, what’s the grind in Sales?

  • Making the prospecting effort on a consistent basis
  • Pre and post call sessions
  • Practicing your sales skills
  • Inputting data in your CRM
  • Going to sales meetings
  • Having 1-on-1 coaching sessions with your manager

This is the grind. This is the stuff day-in and day-out that, when executed properly, leads you to your definition of success. This is what leads you to accomplishing your goal. Without the grind your goal is just a dream.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: reaching sales goals, sales prospecting, sales goals, increase sales, prospect outreach

The Secret to Sales Success

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Dec 23, 2020

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.

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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 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.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: key to sales success, improve sales, sales prospecting, sales success, increase sales

Success in Selling: The 5 Myths

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 10, 2020

Selling is hard. Especially with the easy access prospects have to critical decision-making information. However, the struggle often begins with how and what we think.

In this blog, Tony discusses the personal beliefs and myths that often get in the way of a sales persons ability to see greater overall success. 

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There are no secrets in sales! The internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated any secrets to success in sales, and how to do almost anything else. All you need is a mobile device with access to the internet, and you can find just about anything you want to know.

With facts and strategies being so readily available, why do most salespeople (about 80%) still struggle to be successful? A lot of it has to do with beliefs and myths. What about you? Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Some may include:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

So what is the best method to move past the myth and see success? It starts by getting to the root cause of the problem.

As many of you know, Anthony Cole Training Group has specialized in providing specialized sales growth solutions for banking, investment advisory, and insurance. Primarily, those growth solutions include:

  1. Hiring better salespeople
  2. Executing an effective sales process
  3. Sales Management training

During our years of developing and delivering content to hundreds of sales organizations, we have used the #1 sales assessment tool on the planet. Not only is the accuracy of the sales inventory assessment tool unbelievable, but the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis have been a game-changer. One of the most compelling segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs. Each of us has personal beliefs that dictate our behaviors and thus determines our outcomes. This holds true for all areas - sales, sales management, and sales leadership. Whether aware or not, we all have beliefs about what we do that impacts our opportunity for success. 

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5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE BELIEVE

Here are the myths that many salespeople believe to be fact:

  1. People buy from people they like. Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you like, but that didn’t drive your decision. What drove your decision was your confidence and trust in the person, the product, and the company behind the product.
  2. People make buying decisions based on price. Staying with you and your purchasing habits for a second, let’s talk automobiles. According to MotorTrend, the cheapest car available today is the Chevrolet Spark with a base price of $14,095. If you own one, then you are a rare breed. The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2019 was only .75% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. If people only bought the lowest priced item, this would not be the case.
  3. Closing skills are the most important. This might be surprising to you, but in the last three studies I conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers, and private bankers who severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right. That is not the case. Due to information access, they're more educated regarding product knowledge, availability, options, and pricing but to assume they are right about everything is incorrect. However, this in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is this; if salespeople believe this, then they will never be gutsy enough to execute the challenger sale, the value-based selling system, the SPIN System, or our Effective Selling System.
  5. Prospects are always honest. 95% of respondents in all of our studies believe prospects are honest. That is until we conduct our first meeting with our clients and go through the process that buyers go through when executing their buying process. If a prospect were completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who cold-called them that they got a renewal that is too high, and they want some competitive bids to keep the incumbent honest. We all know that doesn’t happen!

TRAINING ALONE DOES NOT GET LASTING RESULTS

Time and again, companies spend money on sales training to introduce them to a new:

  • sales language
  • sales approach
  • prospecting method
  • time management process
  • cross-selling strategy

What happens is that the company spends a lot of time, money, and effort, and yet, at the end of the event or training, they cannot point to any discernable difference in outcomes. Behaviors stay the same, problems that existed before are still there, effort changes for a while but soon returns to pre-training levels and salespeople still blame the economy, the company, or the competition for lack of success.

Top people are still performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are maintaining, and your bottom 20% are not performing any better than the bottom 20% you had the year before. Why? Because the root problems associated with these beliefs were never uncovered.

For you, your team, and your organization to see greater success, it's critical to identify, address, and build strategies to overcome the myths or beliefs that are hindering personal growth.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: sales succes, improving sales results, increase sales, key to successful hiring, sales performance coaching

Why Prospects Are Like Fruit: Targeting Your Ideal Client

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 03, 2020

Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

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“In the end, we’re all just fruit.” That is one of my all time favorite lines from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and we continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when we are working with our new clients. 

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects- they have a shelf life just like fruit. Some of them a little longer than others.  Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins a little longer, potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes.  The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either pick them now or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select is fresh enough for cooking and/or consuming.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, or “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio where I had purchased vehicles in the past.  When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went in, told them I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked for a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy. Two hours later, I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is the point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption. You may experience:

  • That the prospect is too "green"
  • They just opened a new account with their bank partner
  • Just renewed their insurance
  • Their lease expires in 11 months

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects and work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.

Topics: prospecting skills, improving sales results, increase sales, qualifying sales prospects, contacting prospects

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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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