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#5: Focus on the Best Version of Yourself | Tony's 5 Key Takeaways from 30 Years in Business

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Feb 03, 2023

Last week, I shared 5 key things that have helped us grow and serve others in the last 30 years, hoping they will be helpful to others on their journey. Now, I'm taking a deeper dive into the 5 key takeaways with a more detailed on each. Starting with #5: Focus on the Best Version of Yourself. 


Recently, we published a video celebrating our 30 years in business, and I appreciate everybody that's followed up and made comments and gave us a thumbs up. It certainly has been a joy, hasn't been without its challenges, but because of the great relationships we have with clients and friends around the country who have been able to succeed and grow, add to our staff, and have impact on a lot of people's lives. So I thank you. Our team thanks you.

So let's go ahead and get on today with these lessons. In that video, we talked about five important lessons that we've picked up throughout the years, and today's purpose is to go a little bit deeper, dive into some of those lessons and see where we go from there. So I'm going to go backwards and start with number five.

Number five is focus on the best version of yourself. And when we talked about the video, we discussed the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, all those sorts of things. And that goes without saying. But my focus here today is, how about professionally? Are you operating as the best version of yourself? And one of the ways you might want to take a look at that is, well, okay, I'm hitting my goals. Well, is that why you got into the business? My experience is that a lot of people who end up in selling, end up as a lender, end up in wealth management, do so for other reasons other than I hope I can hit my goal. You're trying to provide for family. You're trying to have an impact on your community. You have loyalty to your company. You want to help them grow. And there's lots of components to that. And this isn't just selling.

Are you developing the relationships you have? Are you as good internally with your support group as you could be? Do you have people in the community that supports you and surround you and help you accomplish the things you're trying to accomplish?

And so if you take a look at different ways that you might create your own scorecard and your own report card like you did in school, then come up with your own criteria, I'm not going to try and dictate what that criteria ought to be and then score yourself on a scale of one to ten. I like ten because that's just the way my head works. And you go through when we do this. Typically in organizations, people end up with about a seven. I asked them to put a zero at the end. That makes it a 70. And I'm going to date myself. Now, when I was in school, the 70 meant average, I'm pretty sure that none of you got into the business that you're in to be average. So the next step would be well, how do I Close that gap? How do I go from my 7, 8.5, whatever the number is, to the absolute best version of yourself? So let's start with that.

Stay tuned for #4: Relationships.


Do You Need More Leads? –  Free Sales Prospecting eBook Download

Topics: Sales Management Training, Leadership Skills, banking sales training

5 Key Takeaways from Celebrating 30 Years in Business

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 26, 2023

This year, we're celebrating a huge milestone- 30 Years of helping our clients sell, coach and hire better. In 1993, we decided to start our own training and development company – it was a bold move back then. In this video, I share 5 things that have helped us grow and serve others in these 30 years in the hopes they will be helpful to others on their journey. A big shout-out to all the wonderful people and clients who have made the past 30 years extraordinary. We look forward to the next 30!

Tony Cole


Do You Need More Leads? –  Free Sales Prospecting eBook Download

Topics: Sales Management Training, Leadership Skills, banking sales training

5 Behaviors of Effective Banking Sales Leaders

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 19, 2023

The sales management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving today. Many or few, consistent or irregular, planned or impromptu, the behaviors and activities that we, as sales managers, use to motivate, train and hold our relationship managers accountable are at least partly responsible for the success of those we manage. In other words, what activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?

The old adage, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten” comes to mind. It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for the behaviors and activities and hold people accountable so that we get better results. So, in the interest of bettering your bankers, we hope you will approach the following discussion with an open mind. A characteristic of truly successful individuals is that they welcome the opportunity to explore and implement new ideas and practices.

  1. Hiring

Great sales managers understand hiring lenders, for example, requires a different process than hiring support or admin personnel. No other role in a company faces the same challenges and deals with the same performance pressures as the lenders. No one faces greater scrutiny and is on a shorter leash than those tasked with developing and bringing in new relationships. The hiring behaviors of great sales managers include: 

  • Writing a great job attraction post – specific skills exhibited by top lenders
  • Utilizing a pre-hire, sales specific, evaluation is the only way to know
  • Having an initial phone interview to discover how good the banker is on the phone
  • Conducting interviews like auditions – make it as tough as a prospect will
  1. Offer and On-boarding

When the manager finally selects the candidate based on the above steps, the final step in the hiring is to have an effective offer meeting that includes the following:

  • They make sure the candidate is prepared to make a decision when the offer is made to avoid using the offer to get a better deal from the current bank
  • They lay out all the expectations for sales activity, sales goals, sales meetings, use of CRM, and define being a good citizen and how they will be managed and coached
  • They gain agreement on all the conditions of taking the role, and then to solidify the agreement they ask this question: “Are you sure?” To which the candidate will say yes. They then explain that it’s ‘going to be hard’ and then don’t say another word to let that statement sink in and see what they say. Ask them, “Will you allow me to coach you?”

The three behaviors are critical. The reason they are critical is that many candidates that become 'new hires' fail especially in the execution area of sales activity - hitting goals, attending sales meetings, using your CRM and responding to your managing style and culture.

  1. They Manage

Great banking sales managers understand what Jim Collins means when he states: “There is no such thing as micro – managing. You are either managing or you are not managing.” Effective Sales Managed Environments must include managing behavior. The behavior goals must be introduced in the very beginning of the new relationship manager’s career, and then yearly at least 1 sales cycle before the end of the sales year. The following discussions must take place:

  • What sales results are attached to the words extraordinary, excellent, good, poor, and failing results? Setting goals.
  • What activities and success formula will they need to arrive at the outcome the banker has committed to?
  • Making sure they are committed to the activity by asking: Are you sure? And then stating: 'This is going to be hard."
  • Discussing what happens when the data is telling you that your new hire is off track. Great managers get permission to coach salespeople when they are failing.
  1. They Coach

As stated by Henry Kissinger; “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Great leaders reap their rewards by gaining success through others and by developing others to be their absolute best selves. Sales coaching includes:

  • 1-on-1 coaching sessions to improve skill and change behaviors
  • Pre- and post-call strategy sessions to improve the probability of success of each opportunity the lender is calling on
  • Meeting quarterly to review activity numbers against actual results to discuss success, where they are headed and gaining discrepancy between the behavior numbers and the sales results
  1. They Verify

A strong sales leader has Healthy Skepticism. This doesn’t mean that they don’t believe what their bankers are telling them or what they are reporting. They have a Ronald Reagan approach: Trust but verify. Great sales managers stay off the “They’re going to make it because they have a big deal that is about to close” bandwagon.

If you and your bank must drive better sales performance, consider these 5 behaviors. You can also pull down our eBook The Extraordinary Sales Manager for more ideas.


Do You Need More Leads? –  Free Sales Prospecting eBook Download

Topics: Sales Management Training, Leadership Skills, banking sales training

Lessons from a Few Great Leaders

Posted by Linda Cole on Thu, Oct 01, 2020

Many Great Leaders precede us and the mentorship these leaders provide can help us move our businesses forward if we study and implement some of their learnings and accomplishments. A myriad of basic business tenets demonstrated in the leadership of many influential historical figures have the potential to help us plan our next expansion, create or grow with exploding demand or navigate unprecedented times of change.


Charles Schwab comes to mind. His book, Invested; Changing Forever the Way Americans Invest, provides us the biography of his revolutionary consumer-direct investment concept. Schwab led the way for the birth of an industry with his passion, beliefs and tenacity in the face of a traditional and hostile Wall Street. The take-aways from his book are numerous and inspirational. Most notably, Charles Schwab had an unwavering vision. His commitment, tenacity and fortitude are demonstrated throughout the book.

Abraham Lincoln created a team composed of able political rivals-- People who were unafraid to voice their opinion or disagree with him. These people were confident in their own leadership abilities. Early examples of diversity and inclusion, Lincoln’s actions help us understand how much better we can be if we find and recruit people from differing perspectives who challenge our thinking. This is particularly relevant for attracting and representing differing constituents--when we are looking to expand our appeal to various market segments or different types of employees. 

Beth Mooney of Key Corp, became the first female CEO and Chairman of a top 20 US bank in 2011. Mooney led the way for women to become management and executives in banking. In an interview with Barron’s published April 3, 2020, she tells the story that in 1979 she was a secretary for a bank in Texas. She applied and interviewed for a management training program, then refused to leave the interview until she was accepted. Which she was, with the caveat that she earn her MBA.

Clearly, Beth Mooney was ambitious. She demonstrated commitment and a stubborn focus throughout her career. She knew firsthand the challenges that women and minorities faced in the white-male dominated banking space and through her determination and actions, Mooney made it possible for many women, minorities and LGBTQ to succeed.

Jesus had a servant heart. “The least of you shall be the greatest.” Focus on the needs of those people for whom you are responsible. Balance conviction with passion – Do not bend from your objectives when correcting behavior or outcomes. At the same time, do not “break the backs” of your people. The bricks and mortar of your business may crumble but armed with great followership you can remain strong and prosper. Leadership skills will only take you as far as your character allows. No amount of skill will overcome a lack of transparency, integrity or honesty.

Margaret Thatcher, the autocratic leader, was known as the “Iron Lady”. Her conviction and values along with her determination enabled her to set goals and see them through, even in the face of personal threat. An example of this was her reducing the influence of mining unions in the UK in 1984-95 , regardless of the push back from public and private opinion. A controversial leader, Thatcher believed that too much government involvement stymied economic growth and she worked untiringly transitioning the economy into the hands of the British people and businesses. Believe in your guiding principles with your heart and soul. If you fail, fail as a result of execution rather than belief. 

Who are your leadership heroes and what takeaways do you take from each? Maybe a parent or teacher provided great leadership qualities. What qualities do you hold yourself to? What qualities do you hold others to?

Identify areas where you are strong and defend your position. What would others say about your list? What are necessary areas of improvement for you? Where are your gaps? What impact do these gaps produce? Are they problematic? Must they be addressed and if so, how will you fix them?

Finally build your own plan for improvement. Then share the plan with others and express your expectations of them. The best way to do that is to tell a story. What is your story?

Need to Improve Your Leadership Skills?

Topics: sales management success, sales leadership development, Leadership Skills, traits of successful people

Leadership Development: How a Mentoring Approach Can Lead to Positive Outcomes & Increasing Sales

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Thu, Apr 23, 2020

Guest Blog Post from Gaia Hawkes

In this week's blog post, guest blogger Gaia Hawkes offers her insights into leadership development within sales organizations and explains how taking a mentoring approach can lead to positive outcomes and increasing sales.

In sales and sales coaching, the process of mentorship is crucial to passing on expertise and knowledge to more junior team members. It enables sales teams to drive growth and success, leading to increased performance and sales across the board.

In a previous article on growing a successful sales team by Tony Cole, he describes how certain weaknesses in your sales team can lead to dissent and chaos. For instance, prioritizing your own agenda and being a bad team player can impact the team’s overall success. To remedy this, leaders should act as mentors to improve and change their attitudes. Maryville University explains how a degree in organizational leadership can help you introduce positive change through superior employee training and collaboration.

Being a strong leader and mentor will help your team follow your lead when it comes to driving sales productivity. With that in mind, here are some ways in which developing a mentorship program can greatly benefit your organization.

Identifying strengths matters

If you don’t know where your team members excel, you’re not working with them to achieve their true potential. It may seem basic, but conducting personality tests conducive to learning your salespeople’s unique strengths can give you key insights moving forward.  For instance, if a particular salesperson excels in nurturing and providing for others, you can put them in a role as an onboarding companion for hiring better salespeople. 

In addition, you can find ways to help them use their empathy to work with clients.  Ensuring that everyone feels appreciated and valued will help your employees feel like they are a key member of the team. In the long run, they’ll be more willing to step up and take on greater responsibilities to help increase sales within your organization.

Why empathy matters

Because selling is a numbers-oriented business, sales leaders might put pressure on specific goals and money milestones within the organization. On the other hand, Kevin Kruse describes why successful sales leaders need to show that they care. He explains that apart from dealing with the tasks at hand, you should also take the time to get to know and interact with your team members.

Address them by name, greet them every morning, learn about their families, and ask about life outside of work. Sometimes, outside life gets in the way and affects productivity, but if you’re understanding and approachable, you can help your team members get over these road bumps more quickly.

Why feedback and recognition matter

Without assessing your team’s progress and providing regular opportunities for candid feedback, improvement will be a slow process. An Entrepreneur article on the art of mentorship explains that one-on-one time between a mentee and a mentor is crucial to adjust targets and modify goals if necessary.

Creating a well-designed plan involves identifying the issues at hand, setting realistic sales goals, and providing actionable steps to meet them. Growth can be a challenging process, but by giving recognition and praise where it’s due, you’ll keep your mentees motivated and energized to meet and exceed expectations.

Ultimately, mentorship programs not only steer team members to success, but sales mentors are also rewarded with the fulfilling experience of seeing their mentees succeed. In fact, a 2018 research study on Business News Daily found that 76% of respondents considered mentors important to their success. If you don’t already have one, it’s better late than never to start implementing a mentoring approach within your sales organizations.

Topics: Sales Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Skills, increase sales


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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