ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

How a Pickup Truck Relates to Driving Sales Growth in 2020

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 03, 2020

In this blog post, we compare an IH 1210 pickup truck to driving revenue growth within your sales organization.  Like an engine that needs three things to run, your sales organization also needs three things to run.

They include: 

  1. Sales Talent acquisition
  2. Sales Talent development
  3. A crew chief with desire, commitment and skills

blue-single-cab-farm-truck-on-brown-grassland-2961048

I’ve been working on this post for over a week. For some reason, it took a little while to pull it all together.

I think I was making it too complicated, so here it goes:

  • In 1971, my dad got his new pickup truck, a powder blue IH 1210.
  • Dad “pimped his ride” by installing an 8-track player with Panasonic speakers.
  • My dad was a slow driver. No matter where we were going or how far, he’d drive 45 mph even when the speed limit allowed 55. 
  • I thought it was a result of his old beater of a pickup.
  • I thought for sure he’d drive faster with his new truck.
  • Nope, he still drove 45 mph in a 55 mph zone.

I’ve been trying to connect this experience with the experience of watching sales organizations look for solutions to drive revenue growth.  Like an engine that needs three things to run, your sales organization also needs three things to run.

Spark, fuel and combustion are required to start an engine and make it run. If you have those things, the engine will run.  Get all three at a grade “A” level and the engine runs really well.  If you want the vehicle that the engine is meant to move to perform at “A” level, you need something else.  You need a driver.

Not just any driver; you need a driver that has two things: Competency and Drive.  Certainly, there are other contributing factors that determine if the driver is right for your vehicle, but basically speaking:

  • Without competency, you might go fast, but there will be lots of damage, crashes and failures.
  • Without drive, there will be no risks taken, no failures and no success.
  • Without drive, there will be a lack of coachability and trainability.

My point is this:  The engine size, the transmission, the gear ratios, the tires, the steering, the paint job, the aerodynamicsnone of these things really matter if you don’t have a driver or a team of drivers with competency and drive.

When you get ready to put your budget together and are considering where to invest money, time and effort in order to drive revenue growth, focus on three things:

  1. Sales Talent acquisition
  2. Sales Talent development
  3. A crew chief with desire, commitment and skills

CRM and other sales enablement tools are nice but, just like my dad’s new pickup, it doesn’t matter unless you want to grow, and grow fast.

Hire Better Salespeople Today - Click here!

Topics: driving sales, sales candidates, upgrade your sales force, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, driving sales growth 2020

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!

man-in-santa-claus-costume-716658

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

Using Old School Sales Tools in New Ways

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Dec 09, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea of using older (yet effective) techniques to find success in the chaos of today's selling landscape.  Let's face it; with the influx of social media, apps, and online distractions, it is actually harder to reach a prospect than ever before. 

However, we are here to help you stand out in the market and avoid sounding like every other salesperson.  It is important to strike a balance between both new and old school sales techniques when selling in today's world.

man-in-black-holding-phone-618613

I’ve heard it said before, 

“Never throw out your clothes, just wait 10 years and they will be back in style”. 

In some ways, the same thing can be said about how people should think about selling. 

Like many things, technology can be used for good or bad.  The good, specifically on the topic of sales; is that it's a great way to increase your opportunity to reach potential clients.  With a few clicks or keystrokes, my message can be transported along the information super highway to its intended recipient via e-mail

Using Twitter, I can, in 280 characters or less, tweet or retweet, something I read, attach an article, share my own content, send it to my followers, and more.  Through the use of blogging, I can assimilate my thoughts, write (and edit) them online, and make them available to whoever has access to the Internet.  

All of these methods are fabulous and can be a great way to get your message out to a target audience or to the general public. 

However, technology can be used as a crutch, or, even worse, it can lump you in with everyone else.

One of the keys to being a successful sales professional is your ability to differentiate yourself from the competition.  One of the ways to be different is to actually be different.  What do I mean by this? 

In this age of new technology, there is an older (sometimes forgotten or ignored) device that can help you stand out in the market: the good old-fashioned telephone. It’s not pretty, it’s not cutting edge, but it is still available and can be useful when used properly. Let’s face it, nine times out of ten when you call someone, you will get their voicemail. 

Here is another way to set yourself apart—try not to sound like a typical salesperson. 

Avoid saying,

“Hi, my name is Jack Kasel and I represent my company calling about my product . . . blah, blah, blah."  

No one wants to hear it.

Stop!  Be different!  Leave a compelling message that doesn’t sound like everyone else and then follow up and when I say follow up, I mean follow up until you get a response.  Statistics prove it will take between 13-15 calls before you get a response.  It was never supposed to be easy.  Don't give up!

Don’t discard the new, but don’t forget the old.  Try using an old sales tool, in a new way to be, act, and sound different than your competition. 


Additional Resources

Finally, if you haven’t read this post from Dave Kurlan, I suggest you take seven minutes to do so.  It's a great read on the next game changer for salespeople.

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/the-next-cant-miss-game-changer-for-salespeople

 

Topics: sales techniques, closing sales techniques, sales producers, sales challenges, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, professional sales training, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

Why Prospects are Like Fruit and Why You Need to Pick the Right Ones

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Dec 02, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable! 

Prospects, like their produce counterparts, have a shelf life, and none of them will last forever.  You must "eat" them, find a way to preserve them, or get rid of them!

assorted-sliced-fruits-1128678

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.

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

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 eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s (or future) meal, you must be somewhat selective so that the food you select today, is fresh enough for cooking and consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  However, buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

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, “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 from the manager Bill Wentzel. 

When the day came, I went to Bill and told him I had a check in my pocket, and that I'd like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way, and would just let me buy!

Two hours later (car sales take awhile), I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance salespeople***  

Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.


DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

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

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem(s). 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!

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (salespeople) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, consultative selling, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

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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