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Busting 5 Myths (Secrets) of Successful Selling

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jun 05, 2017

Ok, let’s start here - there are no secrets!  The Internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated ignorance and secrets to success in sales... and about how to do almost anything else.  All you need is a mobile device (could even be a watch) with access to the internet and you can find just about anything you want to know.

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Myth Busters used to be one of my favorite shows.  I searched google to find the Discovery Channel episode about lifting a car with duck tape. Here is the link (but, unfortunately, you won’t get the complete show).

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 Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Since I short-changed you a little on the video, I will share a list of some other common myths:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon – Pink Floyd led us astray (Here you go, rockers!)
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

THE BEST METHOD - GET TO THE ROOT 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 certification

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 has been game changer for every one of the clients in our niche:

“The Sales Person Skills Assessment Tool has enabled us to discover some interesting information about our sales process, current sales capabilities as well as potential opportunities for growth and improvement in sales competencies. This assessment tool has also changed how we go about hiring for our sales force.”

President & CEO
F&M Trust

One of the most interesting segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs.  Each of us has personal beliefs that dictates 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. 

5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE

Here are the beliefs that many salespeople hold near and dear to their hearts that simply are not true:

  1. People buy from people they like – Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you liked, but the “liking” 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 autobyel.com, the cheapest car available today is the Hyundai Accent SE with a MSRP $15,580.00.  If you own one, then you are a rare breed.  The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2016 was only .38% of all vehicles sold in the U.S.  If people simply bought on lowest price, 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 personally conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers and private bankers severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right – Actually, the customer is rarely They are more right today than they USED to be when it comes to product knowledge, availability, options and pricing as a result of information available on the Internet; but to assume they are right about everything is just SO wrong. 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 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 to go through when executing their buying process. g.  If a prospect was completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who just cold-called them that they just got a renewal that they think 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 still are performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are still “at leasters” 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 beliefs were never addressed.

I grew up on a farm.  I know about planting things and making them grow, and if it’s a fruit tree or bush (blueberries), I know that there is a time to harvest.  What I also know is that you can buy the best plants and trees in the world, but if you don’t take care of the root system with good soil, fertilizer and water, they will not produce.

GIVE ME A CALL - I WILL HELP

For more about growing blueberries, peaches and salespeople, call me! This is your call to action to get more productivity out of yourself or your sales team, so call me NOW at 513.791.3458.

Additional Resources

  • # 1 Sales Assessment in the world
  • Identify Your Systems and Processes – The Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample (SEIA)
  • How do my salespeople compare to industry standards – Get 3 people on your team (the best three that do the right things, have the right fit and blow out their numbers consistently) to take the sales skills inventory assessment and compare. Be prepared to take a call from us, discuss the results and answer the question: Do you want our help?

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Topics: close more sales, managing salespeople, assessing sales talent, getting consistent sales performance

28 Sales Traits to Identify When Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 08, 2016

So, what are you looking for in your next great sales person?  I guess the most important question is this: Are you really looking for the next great sales person or are you looking for a sales person that will fill the FTE allocation?  Will you settle for someone that is “at least as good as” your average sales person?

No one in their right mind would say “yes” to those questions, but if your sales organization is large enough, the data would support that your hiring practices are getting you exactly that.  According to Geoff Smart (Topgrading), 75% of the hires made are not as good as or only as good as the person they are replacing.

If we were to look at the 80/20 power curve in your organization, we would probably find out what we normally do – that about 36% of the sales force is responsible for over 90% of your sales results.  So, what is the other 64% doing?  How did they end up on your sales team?

In order to get the right people, you have to know what you should be looking for.  In conjunction with Objective Management Group, we have studied our clients.  We have evaluated their top performers and non-performers.  Looking at over 100 data points, we know what separates those who will sell from those who won’t sell.  Do you?

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Ignore the words and numbers.  Just look at the sea of green which is representative of performers and compare that with the sea of red representing non-performers.

Here is the list we’ve come up with after analyzing the sales teams of 5 of our clients in the financial services/banking business:

  1. Strong desire for success in selling
  2. Strong commitment/motivated to do everything possible to succeed in selling
  3. Trainable
  4. Has a strong figure-it-out factor
  5. Possesses Sales DNA Competencies
  6. Has no need for approval
  7. Controls emotions
  8. Has supportive beliefs
  9. Comfortable discussing money
  10. Handles rejection
  11. Hunter
  12. Sales posturing
  13. Consultative seller
  14. Qualifier
  15. Closer
  16. Follows consistent sales process
  17. Compatibility with top performer profile
  18. Prospects consistently
  19. Schedules meetings
  20. Reaches decision makers
  21. Recovers from rejection
  22. Does not need to be liked
  23. Comfortable talking about money
  24. Has a strong self-image
  25. Loves to win
  26. Motivated by recognition
  27. Loves competing with others
  28. Rejection proof

What I find interesting about some of the items is that there are a few that have a significant variance between the performers and non-performers:

  1. Commitment – The commitment to succeed in selling is 77% GREATER in performers than in non-performers.
  2. The trainability in performers is 34% HIGHER.
  3. The hunter skill in performers is 112% HIGHER.
  4. Performers have a 48% HIGHER figure-it-out factor.
  5. Performers score 119% HIGHER in handling rejection.
  6. Those that hit sales goals score 87% HIGHER in sales posturing
  7. This one blows me away – neither group is particularly strong in closing: non-performers have only 13% of the closing skills required.  Even though top performers OUTSCORE their counter-parts by 150%, they still only have 33% of the required closing skills.

How do you explain that last item?  Look at the others strengths:  Desire, commitment, trainability, hunter, figure-it-out qualifier, consultative, posturing… they are REJECTION proof! 

The purpose of this post is to get you to think more seriously about what it is that you really know about the candidates you are looking to hire as well as what you really need to know before proceeding with the interview and hiring steps.

Any questions? Please call or write:
513.226.3913 tony@anthonycoletraining.com

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Topics: Sales DNA, managing sales teams, managing salespeople, top sales performers

The Best of the Best, Sir!

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 20, 2016

In a scene from Men in Black, Will Smith’s character, Agent J, asks, “Why are we here?” (He is in a meeting room with the head of Men in Black, Agent Zed, along with several other recruits all from various branches of the military.)  Agent Zed asks one of the recruits to answer the question.  The young recruit stands and declares, “We are the best of the best, SIR!” (link to watch youtube video)

Isn’t that what you should be looking for when recruiting sales and sales management talent?  Yesterday, I wrote a post about hirebettersalespeople.com.  In the post, I mentioned the book, Who.  In that book, Geoff Smart and Randy Street suggest that you create a scorecard to help in the evaluation process.  The scorecard is supposed to be used to find that someone who has a 90% chance of doing what only the top 10 salespeople can do.  I think that is a stretch and unrealistic.

Now, to be fair to the authors, I believe they do a nice job of explaining that an “A” player for a company in New York is probably different than an “A” player for a different company in Manchester, NH.  In other words, not all “A” players need be the same nor are they created the same.  But, aside from that, I still have an issue.

If you look at many great “A” players in sales, the arts or in sports, they just didn’t show up that way.  Many have been groomed and developed over many years to become that “A” player.  The key is to look for the “A” DNA in someone.  We know what that DNA is.  (Click here to request a sample of the ideal fit candidate analysis)

What I believe makes sense is to look for someone that has a 92% chance of success at helping to contribute to the 96% of your results.  Let me explain.

You may or may not have read other articles I’ve written in the past about the 80/20 of the 80/20 and Perry Marshall’s book – The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing.  If you follow the method I’ve described (based on Marshall’s book), you arrive at the following in Figure 1:

8020-talent-chart.pngFigure 1

If you have revenue of $20,000,000 generated by 50 salespeople and then conduct the 80/20 of the 80/20, you discover that $19,200,00 of the 20,000,000 (96%) is generated by 18 of the 50 salespeople (36%).  Based on this, I believe that your best recruiting strategy is to find people that look like your top 36% or have the same DNA as that top 36% that are generating 96% of your revenue.

I’m sure the authors of Who would question the wisdom of this.  “Why…”, they might ask, “would you settle for salespeople that are less qualified than those that are at least as good as your very best?”

It’s not a matter of settling.  It’s a matter of understanding the today’s marketplace and understanding that talent has to be developed

First… the market place:

There has not been a single prospect or client that I’ve talked to in the last 5 years that has not shared with me the challenge of finding, recruiting, hiring and successfully on-boarding new talent - with the biggest challenge being the “finding.”  There are a couple of reasons for that huge challenge:

  • Most companies don’t work at it consistently and so they suck at it when it comes time to recruit.
  • There isn’t a process/system in place that utilizes filtering processes to attract the right candidates.
  • The pool of available candidates is smaller today than it was with the boomer generation.
  • Those available in the candidate pool today have a tendency to find jobs other than sales.
  • The un-steady economy has kept experienced salespeople from seeking other opportunities for fear of “last in, first out”.

Next… talent development.

As stated above, talent just doesn’t fall off of trees and, unfortunately, everyone in your market is vying for the same “A” talent.  If you cannot offer the same compensation as some of your competitors to attract and hire “the best of the best”, then you have to make great selections from the talent that is currently available.  In order to do this, you should have a very good understanding of what your talent looks like. Specifically, you should start looking at the 36% of your current talent that is generating 94% of your results and stop looking for and hiring people that look like your bottom 64%.

  • Identify the results being generated by the top 36%.
  • Identify the activities and behaviors of this top group.
  • Identify the following:
    • Will to sell
    • Sales DNA
    • Figure-it-out factor
    • Trainability and coachability
  • Determine if you have the talent in the management role to:
    • Coach
    • Motivate
    • Manage performance
    • Mentor, grow and develop people

I grew up on a farm where we primarily grew peaches and blueberries.  I just visited the old homestead and, though many things have changed, one thing has not changed.  In the farm acreage, there are various plots of blueberry plants.  Some plots contain plants that are mature enough to be harvested while others have plants that are still being developed and grown to produce.  In the nursery plots, there are plants with solid DNA that are being cultivated, fed and cared for so that, at the right time, they can be productive.  The same should be done with the talent in your organization.

For further assistance, call us at 513.791.3458 and ask for Alex – our expert at hiringbettersalespeople.com. 

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Topics: managing salespeople, hiring better salespeople, Geoff Smart, Randy Street, recruiting sales talent, 80/20 Principle

Desire and Performance Variability

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 06, 2016

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“What you can conceive and believe you can achieve.”  - Napolean Hill

This is so obvious that any meaningful information could probably be expressed simply by stating:

If you have people with various levels of desire for success in sales, you will have variability in performance!

Done. 

Not really, but this isn’t going to take a long time either.

Many years ago, I heard Mark Victor Hansen (author, speaker and all-around good guy) present to the Cincinnati Association of Life Underwriters.  It was at our annual conference and he was our keynote speaker.  His topic was “Visualizing is Realizing.”  During his presentation, he made the comment, “Motivation is an inside-out job.”  I wrote that down in 1990, and I’ve used that phrase over and over again in our 23-year history as a company.

Time and again, sales managers, sales executives and presidents of companies ask me, “Tony, how do I keep my team motivated?”  I tell them that they cannot do that because it’s something their people have to come wired with. That's mostly true. Companies do have to have an environment where it’s possible for people to create reasons for staying motivated.  Compensation, contests, incentives, and recognition all play a part in keeping people motivated.  However, in the end, people have to have a really good answer to the question: “Why do I desire success in selling?”

Success in selling is very specific.  It isn’t just success in a vacuum.  It’s success in a very difficult role with very difficult challenges.  I was once asked why I was in life insurance sales.  I responded that I liked people.  The prospect said, “Bullshit. You’re in sales because you want to make a lot of money.”  I said, “Fair enough; you’re right. I do want to make a lot of money.”

But, money in and of itself is not the root desire.  It’s one of the basics that drive the desire. It’s represented in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Money is just a way to take care of food, shelter, clothing, freedom from harm and security.  Traditionally, people that are very successful in selling have this one thing in common – they have lots of s**t to do that requires money.

Yes, sometimes people have a desire to be recognized as the best.  And they want to have self-satisfaction for a job well-done; but I assure you that none of that matters if there are bills to pay, kids to be fed, a college/mortgage/wedding to pay for or new cars to be driven.

With that as the foundation, let me make this as simple as I can to help answer the question, “So, how do I minimize variability in performance by focusing attention on desire?”

  1. Recognize that it is an inside-out job… so that means you have to recruit people that have huge desire for success in selling.
  2. Traditionally, desire is a result of people establishing goals.
    1. Your manager has to be leader in this. If they are not a goal setter (personal goals), then chances are your salespeople won’t be either.
    2. Your manager also has to set the example of goal achievement.
    3. Your manager has to create an environment/opportunity for personal goal setting.
  3. Your manager has to have the mindset that they must know what motivates their salespeople – why do they desire success in sales?
  4. The sales manager needs to recognize that it is their responsibility to help people raise their self-esteem by recognizing success in all forms when it happens.

As I stated in the beginning, the connection between desire for success and selling and the variability of performance is pretty obvious.  If you want to minimize variability in success, minimize the variability in desire for success.

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Topics: managing sales teams, desire for sales success, managing salespeople, variability in sales performance

Top 14 Truths About Managing Salespeople & Increasing Sales

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

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If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you know that there are several phrases that I use when discussing sales outcomes, sales management, recruitment and talent development:

  • Your organization is perfectly designed for the results you get today.
  • When you evaluate talent that is not performing as expected, you must ask yourself: “Did I hire them this way or did I make them this way?”
  • Hire people you cannot afford.
  • Hire great people when you find them, not when you need them.
  • Catch them early (refers to performance management).
  • You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
  • When all else fails, hard work works.
  • They (your underperforming salespeople) either are lying about their activity or they suck at what they do.
  • You should begin the exiting process of an underperformer the moment you have the first thought.
  • All prospects lie all the time.
  • Don’t look, act or sound like a salesperson.
  • When goals are clear, decision making is easy.
  • Events happen to us all, destiny is what happens next.
  • They’ll only do it once.

That's about it.

Do you have favorite business phrases? Share your feedback and comments below!

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Topics: sales management, managing salespeople

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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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