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11 Concepts For Managing Yourself and Your Employees During Change

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 15, 2020

In today's blog, we discuss the notion that effective sales leadership requires leaders to meet the challenge during times of major change. 

In this article, we bring you 11 concepts to adopt for managing yourself and your salespeople; to help increase sales, productivity, and trust within your organizations.time-for-change-sign-with-led-light-2277784

  1. What would you do if today where your first day on the job?
  2. What kind of attitude would you have?
  3. How would you respond to the responsibilities of your new job?
  4. You would you interact with your new co-workers?
  5. You come in the 2nd day of your new job and the company asks you to do something different. How do you respond?
  6. Who is more valuable in the marketplace, someone that adapts or someone that resists change?

Consider this: “You think you understand the situations, but what you don’t understand is the situation has changed.”  Putnam Investment advertisement

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Concept #1 – Commitment is a gift you should give to yourself

  • What are you committed to?
  • If you are not committed to do whatever it takes to succeed and increase sales, then you must:
    • Set personal goals that are non-negotiable
    • Have a vision of where you want to go (and where you want to end up)
  • Failure to do these things will lead to failure to fully commit 

Concept #2 – Senior management must empower all others to think like a CEO.  If senior management can accomplish this, then non-managers will think and act like they are CEOS; looking out for the entire company, and not only for themselves.

  • Support people to make decisions
  • Train them on how to make decisions
  • If bad decisions are made, it is because of the following:
    • Leadership hired the wrong people
    • Failure to communicate well
    • Failure to train on decision-making

Concept #3 – The use of technology

  • You must use it and demand it of yourself and your team!
  • If you have people that have a belief that ‘You can’t treat old dogs new tricks’, get those people off of your stage

Concept #4 – Flexible thinking and changing beliefs are critical.  There are some truths that you will have to accept.

  • Life isn’t fair!
  • Life isn't fair!
  • Life isn't fair!

Concept #5 – Companies are curious:

  • How can you increase my top line?
  • How can you add to the bottom line?
  • How will you prove it via accountability to measurable achievements?

Concept #6 – Your company will be asking, “Why should I keep you”? 
You must demonstrate that:

  • You are a good employee
  • You work hard
  • You get things done
  • You are capable of learning
  • You have experience that is valuable to YOU and to the future of the compnay

Concept #7 – Lifetime learning

  • Information doubles every 5 years
  • Power and speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months (Moore’s law)
  • The cost of computing drops roughly 30% every year while working faster and better
    • Are you twice as smart today as you were 5 years ago?
    • Have doubled your capacity in the last 18 months?
    • What are you doing today to be twice as smart in 18 months?
    • How much are you costing the company? Are you a better “buy”

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Concept #8 – Job security

  • The ability to initiate new relationships
  • Being able to create and sell creative solutions to qualified buyers
  • Your ability to facilitate decisions to buy from you

Concept #9 – Make sure you contribute more value than you cost

  • The company’s perception about contribution vs cost is the reality
  • You are not entitled
  • Prove your worth
  • If you consider leaving, would the company do whatever it takes to keep you?
  • How is your value measured by the company?
  • How is your cost measured?
  • The value of every company is outside the company (The marketplace) what are you doing to bring that value into the company?

Consider This: “The factory of the future will only have two employees, a man / woman and a dog.  The person will be there to feed the dog and the dog will be there to make sure the person doesn’t touch the equipment.”  Warren Bennis


Concept #9 – Serving others

  • What does it take to please them (everyone in your sphere is a "them")
  • How can you contribute to the success of others?
  • The person at the next desk, down the hall on another floor; make no mistake they are your clients and customers.
  • The "Best Bargain" is based on the value you bring. The consumer will seek and find the best bargain. They will either get it from you or from someone else

Concept #10 – Ownership / Responsibility / Accountability

  • You are responsible for your attitude
  • Philosophy > Attitude > Behavior

Concept #11 – Be a fixer, not a problem creator

  • Create or find solutions vs. announce and identify problems
  • Base conversations and actions on principles rather than your own personal position
  • Focus on getting outcomes instead of creating rules regulations and procedures.

Consider This:  Who are you holding captive for your success, you or your employer?

How appropriate are these concepts today?  Everyone of these thoughts, ideas and action items can and will help you lead yourself and others through challenging times. 

What I think you might find interesting is that these notes are a result of a book I read by Pritchett and Associates titled: The Employee Handbook of NEW WORK HABITS FOR A RADICALLLY CHANGING WORLD.

Price Pritchett does a great job of outlining 13 ground rules for job success in the information age. The booklet was written in 1994!  However, the principles and ideas make as much sense today as they did back then.  Some of the technology data might be a bit off given the advancement of the IT science but if anything, the technology has gotten smarter and faster due to big data capabilities.

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Go For The "No" Early in the Sales Process

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, May 12, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss the technique of going for the "No" early in the sales process.  It may seem counterintuitive, but countless studies have shown that humans desire what they can't have.  

When we go for the "No", we force a prospect to think of the value we bring to the table as salespeople. Are they really interested?  Will something more come from this meeting?  Go for the "No" early to ensure that you are on the right path with your prospect to increase sales, or move on to the next one!

brown-paper-with-handwritten-text-3826681 (1)

One of the keys for more effective selling is going for the "No" early in the sales process. I learned this concept years ago especially when I was vulnerable to "Think It Overs" (TIO). I would get TIOs at several stages in the sales process and maybe you have received them as well:

  • On the initial phone call when you’re trying to get an appointment –
    Let me think it over.  Give me a call next week.
  • At the end of your initial meeting –
    This sounds really good and something I should consider. Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days.”
  • When you finish your presentation and you ask for the sale – 
    You made a very compelling presentation and we are impressed with your depth of knowledge and your very creative solutions to our problems. Let us meet as a group and go over this one more time and crunch some numbers.  Let’s plan on talking next week.

Sound familiar?

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These TIOs are keeping you from being more effective in your sales process. That’s nice to know or consider but the question becomes,

“What do I do about it?”

Your potential buyer will tell you that they need to "Think it Over" because:

  • They really don’t intend on making any changes, but you impressed them with some information that they want to take to their current provider.
  • They have a "need for approval" and instead of telling you they are not interested, they want to let you down easy. Telling you they want to "think it over" gives you hope and get’s them off of the hook until the next time you talk.

To fix the problem, you must eliminate "Think it Over" as an option for your prospect!

Let your prospect know that when you finish the next meeting, next conversation, or the final presentation, they will have everything they need to make a decision then and there.

You can tell them that you will be prepared to answer all of their questions and when you are finished, they will be in a position to make a decision – a "yes" or a "no."  Then, simply ask what objections they have to that process. 

No hard feelings.  Nothing personal.  Just business.

This one key will help you close more business, more quickly, and at higher margins.

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4 Steps to Create Loyal Client Advocates

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, May 08, 2020

In today's blog, we discuss how your organization can go above and beyond to create loyal client advocates for your business. 

If you are looking to increase sales in 2020 and beyond,  it is important to create a consistent experience for your customers and those that chose you to work with in the first place. 

If you are not providing a superior experience, your clients might start asking "Then, who will?"

woman-in-blue-suit-jacket-2422293

Today's question is this: “What are you doing to keep your clients coming back and telling their peers about your business?"

Is your organization providing an excellent consumer experience for your clients? 

Are you getting to know the wants, needs, and pain points of your customers each and every single day?

Are you under promising and over delivering results? 

Now, can you think of a place where you go and wait in a long line, spend a lot of money, and yet, can’t wait to tell others how great your experience was?  Well, that could describe a number of places, but the frame of reference I want to use today is the Disney experience.  

No one would argue with the success that Disney has in exceeding expectations and creating loyal advocates. When you go there your first time, it is more beautiful than you ever imagined.  You have such a magical time that you forget about how much things cost or how long the lines are for almost everything.  

In his book, Inside the Magic Kingdom, author Tom Connellan explains the seven keys to Disney’s success and how they work to create a dazzling experience for all of their guests.  As you read the book, you can only imagine what would go into building and sustaining that kind of relationship with your customers.  

In order to achieve “dazzling”, you must have a process that is consistent and predictable.  People need to know what they can depend on when they trust you with their business.  In other words, it’s not a once-in-a-while thing; it is just the way you do things.

Keep in mind that it does not have to be the same thing for all of your clients.  The way you support your top 20% needs to be different from how you support your bottom 20%.

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But, at the heart of it all, everyone gets the basics.  However, if you want to increase sales within your organization and stand out from the competition, your organization must be willing to impress, dazzle, and treat your advocates like members of your family.  It may sound drastic to some, but there is a reason that some companies truly stand out in a crowded market.

It's the little things that matter in business.

So, how do you create loyal advocates for your organization?

  1. You have to find out what they wantHow do you do this?  Ask!  Give them a list of things to choose from with the option to add things that might not be on the list.
  2. Next, prioritize critical areas. The key here is to find out what they won’t tell you.  How many times have you left a restaurant after you told your server everything was fine when they asked?  Some of your clients may do the same thing.
  3. Identify performance levels and find out where they are setting the bar; don’t assume you know.
  4. Negotiate expectations. Now is the time to deal with anything you are not willing to agree to. Sometimes we say “yes” because we think it’s a deal breaker; just ask and then decide.  If it is outside your process, then you are better served to move on because, unfortunately, it will always be a struggle and they will never become an advocate anyway.

The only way to exceed your customer’s expectations is to know what they actually are, not what you think they are.  Start by having that conversation first and soon you will have them coming back for more and telling their friends.

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Develop Your Sales Talent to Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 25, 2020

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent in order to increase sales in 2020 and beyond.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement. 

You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business, and then you must take key steps to help you determine if they lack the skills to get the job done, or if they are making excuses for their lack of success. 

pexels-photo-248547

Companies are constantly trying to figure out how to drive organic growth by:

  • Acquiring a revenue stream by buying a business or lifting out talent from a competitor
  • Developing current talent

If you are not in the acquisition business, then you must develop your talent.  One of the keys to doing that is to understand how to drive sales improvement.  You must determine what is really happening with your salespeople when they fail to acquire a new piece of business. 

Are your people just making excuses for failure or do they have deficits in the required sales competencies or will to sell?

To be successful in determining the real issues with your salespeople, you must have a system.

I read a blog the other day by Dave Kurlan.  We’ve had a strong business partnership with Dave and his company OMG (Objective Management Group) for most of our 24 years in business.  With OMG, we have the ability to determine the answer to the question – is it excuses or is it a talent issue?

Dave’s post  - 12 Reasons They Didn’t Like You Enough To Buy From You – helps address some of the issues associated with “not getting the business”.  It primarily focuses on the area of matching styles.

This got me thinking about the issue of “style” as it relates to talent, which relates to sales competencies and excuse making.  The challenge for the sales manager is determining if the reason a salesperson did not get the sale was really a talent issue, or an excuse issue.

To determine the root cause of the results, a sales manager must work more closely with the relationship managers and implement a process that Bill Eckstom calls “intentional coaching”.  This process of working closing with your RMs is addressed in our Sales Management Certification Program in the Coaching for Success Module.

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Here are the 5 steps you must take to help you determine if your salespeople lack the necessary skills to succeed or are making excuses for their lack of success:

  1. You must gain insight. You gain insight by using various data points. The data points you MUST use are: 
    1. Observational joint sales calls – You do not run the sales call; you observe your RM
    2. Data from your CRM or SAT program (SAT – Sales Activity Tracking)
    3. Sales meetings – In all of your sales meetings, you need to include a segment on skill development where you drill for skill, role play and conduct strategy development discussions
    4. 1-on-1 coaching – Each week, you should have time set aside for 1-on-1 coaching with those people that are NOT in the 1st quadrant of the “Where’s Walter?” matrix
  2. Provide feedback. In advance of the discussion about lost opportunities, you want to provide your RM with the data you have – no ambushing.
    1. You discuss – ask the RM questions about what they see in the data
    2. You provide them feedback based on what you see and where the problems might be
    3. You discuss what the future might look like if the current trends continue
    4. You agree that there is a problem
  3. Demonstrate – Once you identify the problem as either an excuse or a skill issue, you demonstrate to the RM what you expect them to execute.
    1. If they are making excuses – "They didn’t understand the value of our offering” – You ask, “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse what would you have done differently?”
    2. If it’s a skill problem – “I asked them if they had a budget and they said yes.” “When you asked them what it was, what did they say?”  “They said they didn’t want to tell me.”  “When you asked, ‘why not?’, what did they say?”  “I didn’t ask that question.”
  4. Role play – The scenario above allows you to now role play with you acting as the prospect. You need to start with Drill for Skill and then graduate to the full role play.  Getting them to practice what you expect them to do takes patience and repetition.  Do not believe for a second that one role play will be enough.  You need to start your RM on a weekly coaching session repeating the required skills over and over again. 
  5. Action steps – Each coaching session must end with action
    1. "Bill, so what I want you to do is call Mary and have this conversation we just role played."
    2. "I want you to report back to me by end of business today what happened as a result of that conversation."
    3. Hold your salespeople accountable while also coaching them along the way! 

Implementing a process of gaining insight, providing feedback, demonstrating, role playing and establishing action items will go a long way in helping your team discern the difference between making excuses for failure and the need for skill development.

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How to Move Forward and Increase Sales During Uncertain Times

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Mar 16, 2020

In this blog post, we pray for the health and safety of those at risk or sick during this time in human history.

We also discuss that NOW is the time to ensure that your sales growth efforts are stronger than ever to help increase sales in 2020 and beyond!

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"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin 1809

I don’t mean that as it relates to the Covid-19 virus, though the expression will certainly bear that out during this pandemic.  For those that are sick or know those that are sick or at risk, we at Anthony Cole Training Group pray for your health and safety.  In the meantime, there is the business of trying to keep your business alive as well as the businesses of your clients.

To that end, I’m referencing Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  If you Google “Only the Strong Survive”, here is what you may read:

Natural selection is the theory that only the strong survive. For example, the animals that can outrun their predators live to pass on their speedy genes; the slow are eaten.” 

When the markets go down, the competition for market share gets aggressive and companies are faced with making budgets and decreasing revenues. 

NOW is the time to make sure that your sales growth efforts are stronger than ever.  If you don’t put time, money and resources into sales then you will have a difficult time surviving.  You might survive but the climb back up will be long and painful.   It is CRUNCH time!

I recognize that crunch time might mean tightening the financial / budget belt and eliminating "non-essential" expenses.  That list normally includes but is not limited to:

  • Marketing
  • Technology
  • Travel and entertainment
  • Benefits
  • Training

As you go about crunching those numbers, consider the following:

  • Be strategic – Think outside of the box and get creative with using money and resources to drive revenue. It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to cut expenses.
  • Stop thinking “non-essential” – If those expenses and resources were non-essential, then you wouldn’t currently be spending money on those items.
  • Think about wise investing. Where could you invest time, money and resources that could be additive to your objectives and keep you in the hunt for new business and revenue?
  • Look through a new lens when considering how to handle your sales staff and how to help them become better during a difficult period.

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As you go about crunching, one thing we recommend is strategically pairing down your sales team to improve your ROI and profitability DRAMATICALLY.  As an example, 3 years ago we assessed a commercial lending group of 60 lenders.  Of the 60, this is how the numbers worked out:

  • The top 1/3 of the group (20) represented over 70% of the revenue from new and portfolio business. This should not be surprising as it is consistent with the Pareto Principle.  It’s the next item that should get your attention.
  • The bottom 1/3 of the group (again 20 lenders) represented less than 6% of the new and portfolio revenue. As an aside, this is NOT an outlier.  We see this EVERY TIME we do a quintile analysis of a sales group.
  • When the president of the group was asked what the profit impact would be if they eliminated the bottom 20, the answer was; “We would add $2,000,000.00 to the bottom line.”

My strategy here isn’t to offer early retirement in order to manage expenses but be more strategic in who you let go.  Look at the right numbers and not just years of service or those close to retirement.  Additionally, you should consider how you go about new hires.  Yes, you should be hiring now.  Many companies will downsize the wrong people for the wrong reasons.  Now is a great time to pick up great sales talent. 

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Again, you want to be selective.  By using the Objective Management Group pre-hire assessment, you can accomplish a couple of critical objectives:

  • Using the "Ideal fit" you can identify EXACTLY what it takes to be successful in sales at your organization.
  • You can match all candidates against the ideal fit and have great insight as to what the candidates Will to Sell, Sales DNA and Sales Competencies are.
  • Using the Stat Finder you can compare your sales team in 21 sales core competencies against over 1.8 million other salespeople & over 26K companies. And, specifically you can measure your team against those in your industry. If you are in banking or financial services, you can stack your team against 500 other companies.
  • Using the information from the STAT finder you can build and deliver micro learning / training sessions to help your people become more effective in this difficult market.

Finally, you must make the decision that training and developing this current team that hasn’t experienced these competitive conditions before is critical.  To accomplish what you can, take advantage of technology and distance conferencing to improve the skills of your team and change their behaviors.

No longer do you have to pull people out of the field into a conference room for a full day to have an impact on sales skills.  With a micro-focused strategy to address specific “choke points” in the execution of your sales process you can conduct 90-minute sessions that involve drill for skill, role-play and strategy development.

Yes, you will take action over the next several days, weeks and probably months to outrun the competition and not be eaten. But to do that your sales organization must be faster and stronger than ever before.

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Topics: creating new sales opportunities, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, handles rejection, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, insurance prospecting system, assessment tools for salespeople, life insurance call script, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, prospecting personality definition, star sales training, keys to selling

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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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