ACTG Sales Management Blog

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3 Keys to Professional Sales Training

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Oct 21, 2021

In my 40+ years in and around sales training, I have experienced many different sales training methodologies either as a participant or facilitator and now as a marketer.

There are many good training programs out there, some of them free and virtual, but there are three key things that differentiate professional sales training that will "stick".

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Professional Sales Training Tips

Professional sales training begins with the most basic of skills. Professional sales reps are trained to establish relationships, listen attentively and ask good questions that allow them to understand their customers' needs. Professional salespeople tend to be very personable, enthusiastic, and empathetic.

When hiring new sales representatives it is important for companies to provide effective training programs.  Here at Anthony Cole Training Group, we offer online sales training courses and a suite of sales training programs that can help grow and scale your sales team's operations.

 

#1 Systems

First, it must be systematic.

Any organization (including ours!) can come in and do a keynote or workshop and address a sales or sales management skill to get your team revved up.

But that approach is short-lived, and while your salespeople may get something out of it, they likely will not change sales behavior long term.

Professional sales training that has an impact must have a process.

For example, if your company needs to find more leads, create more outreaches and prospects, then you must implement a system to introduce desired behaviors, coach to improve skills, and inspect activity.

In our organization (we call our prospect's "ducks") we have a goal and track how many duck calls and appointments we have daily, weekly, and monthly.

Our CGO then coaches to that behavior using weekly huddles and 1-on-1 coaching time.

The duck tracking is shared with the entire sales and management team so that all activity is transparent.

Without a doubt, when we implement, coach, and track this activity, our pipeline of qualified prospects goes up.

 

#2 Customizable

The second key is that effective professional sales training is customized.

You can certainly learn some basic sales skills from a one-size-fits-all selling system, but today's buyer is informed and more sophisticated.

Today, salespeople must be more consultative, starting with a deeper understanding of their prospect’s business, their concerns, and what is getting in the way of their growth.

So professional sales training is most effective when it addresses the nuances of certain industries.

For example, we work with many community banks so we must understand that many banks are dealing with compressed margins, are flush with deposits, and must attract loan portfolios to maintain profits.

When we understand what is driving the business, we can ask the right questions to understand what is on the hearts and minds of our community bank CEOs.

That way we can better provide input and potential recommendations to help them.

If you are evaluating professional sales training, make sure it is customizable to your industry.

#3 Leadership

The third key to professional sales training is your leadership.

We have the benefit of working with a super-regional bank who, many years ago, told us about the money they had spent over the years on sales training, wasted.

They had determined that without top-level leadership, and skilled sales management, the sales training would not stick or change behavior.

Probably the most important key to professional sales training is that the Leader is involved, understands their role as steward, and inspector of adoption – we call this the Shadow of the Leader.

Starting with an evaluation to understand specific sales management skills, a professional sales training program should begin with sales managers, helping them with the essential skills of performance management, coaching, motivating, recruiting, and coaching an effective sales approach.

Once your organization has that in place, only then should you implement a sales training program.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

 

If your company is looking for a team of certified sales coaches and trainers, contact us today to start perfecting your sales process.

Check out our related pages and see how we can help your sales team grow.

Sales management training

Our sales training approach 

Online sales resources

Topics: professional sales training, sales training programs, customized sales training

5 Keys to a Better Banking Sales Training Approach

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Aug 26, 2021
In this blog, we discuss the 5 keys to choosing and implementing a better banking sales training program.
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We talk to hundreds of community banks a month about their growth plans and how they are doing against their target production goals. Typically, they fall into one of two cultural categories: Service or Selling. We know right away if a bank CEO is OK with the concept of their people selling. They expect their managers to lead sales, they have sales metrics in place and they are comfortable with the idea of developing the sales skills of their frontline people. They are in the community selling the bank themselves every day. They recognize that their relationship managers or lenders or business development people’s primary responsibility is selling. Sometimes that selling is by developing additional relationships with a current client but it also includes bringing in new client names and companies. It always involves putting the client’s needs, goals and preferences first. These bank CEOs must grow their banks and they know that a banking sales training approach will help them by putting a structure in place for all to follow.

Here are 5 things to consider if your bank is thinking about a more effective banking sales training approach:

  1. Do some soul searching. Does your bank really need to know the answers to questions like; What are our current sales capabilities? How motivated are our salespeople and how are they motivated? Can we generate more business? Can we be better at reaching actual decision-makers? Can we shorten our sales cycle? Can we sell more consultatively? If so, time to look for a better banking sales training approach. Check out these 19 questions to help.
  2. It is hard to fix something you cannot see. In order to have a more effective banking sales training approach, you will need to take a peek beneath the hood, meaning that you must evaluate your sales team, managers, and salespeople. We utilize the #1 sales assessment in the world with our clients which provides them with information about the Will to Sell (and Manage), Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies of their people. You must have an X-ray to develop the treatment plan. Your evaluation should provide a clear picture of who to train, strengths and weaknesses, what priority areas of selling and sales management.
  3. Start your banking sales training development plan with your Management team and put consistent sales management practices, sales systems, and processes in place. We recommend a 4-pillar Sales Managed Environment® program that will make your managers better at setting standards, motivating their sales team, coaching, and upgrading/recruiting. Get your sales leaders a few steps ahead of the sales team and then implement a consistent sales process for all your team to follow. This should complement and align with your CRM so that everyone is evaluated on a consistent approach and your deals can follow a stage-based process. We know from working with thousands of salespeople that “elite” salespeople always have a consistent selling approach.
  4. People learn in different ways so make sure that your banking sales training program offers an integrated learning path with in-person, online modules, live virtual, video, online resources, and even phone coaching to talk about actual deals in the pipeline.
  5. Keep an eye on progress because as the saying goes, you must inspect what you expect. We also call this the shadow of the leader. The banks that are successfully implementing a banking sales training approach are led by CEOs and sales execs who have a passion for growing and inspect sales behaviors and metrics regularly and celebrate the wins. No one can hide from the expectation that they must help grow the bank.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

Topics: banking sales training, professional sales training, advanced sales training, customized sales training

What Motivates Your Sales Team? How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 16, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss motivation in sales.  The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of their sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  

Without knowing what motivates his/her employees, how could you possibly create a motivating environment?

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How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Sales is the lifeblood of most businesses.  If you're a sales manager, or sales leader, you might be wondering how to better motivate your sales team.

Unlike most sales activities that can be measured, motivation is a more difficult metric to assess, but still vital to your sales team's success.

Here are a couple of ideas to help inspire your sales team.

How to Motivate Sales Team:

  • Build trust among your sales reps
  • Understand what motivates them 
  • Set daily, weekly, monthly sales goals
  • Give and promote recognition
  • Lead with empathy

 

As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for. 

The process helps us (and our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

 

6 Factors That Determine Sales Motivation

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here to inquire about the pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because,often, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question,

“How do I motivate my sales team?”


ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality

I have to ask: Why?

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship. 

Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, and success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

Without knowing what motivates your salespeople, how could you possibly create a motivated environment or sales team? 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leadership development, sales motivation, sales skill assessment, sales growth and inspiration, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, sales training programs, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

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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!

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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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    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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