ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Jan 16, 2019

people-2588594_1920Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.


One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the 2019 race you are running?  What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production?  Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Topics: sales competition, sales growth and inspiration, things to do for sales success, how to improve sales, sales advice, sales acceleration, salespeople

The 19 Keys to Selling Success

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Jan 04, 2019

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2018 was a great year here at ACTG and we are excited to wish you a Happy 2019!

However, the new year can be a bit overwhelming, don't you think? 

It's a new year filled with new quotas, new clients, new goals and so much more.

So, we decided to interview our Sales Development Experts here at ACTG with their keys to selling success this year and beyond.  What were they? 

Check out all 19 below!

  1. Stop worrying about selling and focus on helping.  Stop offering to come by and visit the prospect and instead ask “would you find it helpful if….”  Ask prospects what you can do to help them without regard for whether or not there is a sale involved. It is why the 3-step inoffensive close ends with:  Do you think I understand your problem? Do you think my firm can help you solve your problem? Do you want my help?
  2. Persistence. Stay with it whether it is making calls, following up or following through. What we know is 80% of sales are made between the 5-12 outreach to a prospect so persistence to win business is crucial.
  3. Be committed to doing what it takes. Often times, one of the reasons salespeople struggle to see great sales success is because they aren’t as committed as they need to be. Be willing to try and do whatever it takes, even when you are uncomfortable.
  4. Every exit is an entry somewhere else. Don’t give up or be let down just because someone said no – maybe they can help you with a referral or you’ll land a client with that next phone call or meeting after the discouragement.
  5. Have a non-negotiable extraordinary sales goal that you are committed to reaching. Most salespeople focus on just hitting their year-end goal, not exceeding it. When you strive towards an extraordinary goal (roughly 20% above your year-end goal), and that’s your only focus, even if you don’t hit it, you will likely meet or exceed your company goal.
  6. Be OK with “no”.  It frees up the conversation and lowers the walls of resistance when the prospect knows that it is OK for them to say “no.”  There are three different parts in the sales process where the salesperson should be letting the prospect know it is OK to say “no”: (1) on the phone setting up the first appointment, (2) at the last meeting before the proposal is delivered and then finally (3) at the meeting where the proposal will be shared.
  7. Be coachable and vulnerable. In other words, be willing to admit there is a lot that you don’t know and always ask for help.
  8. Be a giver. Support your internal partners as they prepare for conversations and presentations. Make sure that your ‘selling’ is all about asking great questions and listening to understand so that you can help your clients grow (vs sell them something).
  9. Have an attitude of success. Selling can feel like a solitary pursuit and you need to believe you will get there. Half the battle of success in sales is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.
  10. Be resilient and tenacious.  Don’t let prospects squash you with think it overs, stalls, objections and “no’s”. There is always another door to try- it’s just about asking the right questions of the right person at the right time.
  11. Do the work. Selling is hard work and cannot all be done sitting at a computer. Get out and meet with current clients to leverage the relationship and ask for introductions. Also, attend networking events to meet different experts in your or target industries.
  12. Have a sense of urgency. Send the follow-up email the first time you think of it. Make the return phone call when you first get the message. Work when your competition isn’t.
  13. Don’t get in your own way. Eliminate roadblocks and excuses from your head space. Don’t let the anxiety of being turned away keep you from picking up the phone. Don’t allow internal “noise” interrupt what you get paid to do- which is hunt, qualify and close business.
  14. Properly build bonding and rapport. To many, bonding and rapport means liking the same sports team, enjoying the same weekend activity or frequenting the same restaurant as a prospect. To us, bonding and rapport means proving you deserve a seat at the table. Your proved benefit and value are more critical to developing trust and relationships than similar taste in food. Ask your prospect what the key challenges for their business and industry are for the year or what is in the way of their growth.
  15. Stick to the schedule. Different things can get in your way daily- emails, internal meetings, proposals, etc. Highly successful salespeople build and stick to a time blocking schedule religiously. Identify what your key activities are, when the best time is to do these activities and build a schedule you can live by.
  16. Utilize social networks. LinkedIn can be your best fishing net and your best safety net. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to make connections and develop relationships, as well as explore new opportunities.
  17. Constantly focus on developing yourself as an industry expert. Continue to educate yourself on new trends, the changes in your market and developing different techniques. This will help you stay relevant in your space and position yourself as a leading professional.
  18. Don’t get happy ears. Don’t let soft buying signals like “This looks great. It makes a lot of sense. I’m interested” rush your process. Keep a level head and really drill down with your qualifying questions to identify if a prospect is really interested or just blowing smoke.
  19. Don’t forget to celebrate the successes. It’s difficult to win these days so don’t forget to enjoy those moments- no matter how big or small. Every sale gets you one step close to hitting your personal and professional goals.

We hope this helps you achieve greater sales success in this coming year! Successful selling in 2019 from your friends and partners at Anthony Cole Training Group.  Call us if you need help!

 

Topics: goal setting, Selling Success, setting sales goals, reaching sales goals, setting goals, sales advice, 19 keys to selling success

What Makes a Champion Salesperson?

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Dec 11, 2018

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Welcome to our first audio blog here at ACTG!  In today's episode, we talk about and explain the traits of what makes a champion salesperson. 

Listen as our Chief Learning Officer Tony Cole digs in on some of these 10 traits including:

  • Their strong desire to be successful in selling
  • Their commitment to success in selling
  • Their coachability
  • And so much more!

Check out his takes below.

Traits of a Champion Salesperson

 

Topics: coaching salespeople, sales characteristics, sales activities for success, sales advice, sales champion, coachability

Motivating Sales People: What Does it Take?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Dec 07, 2018

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Frequently I am asked the following question: “How do I keep my salespeople motivated to sell?”

My response 100% of the time is: “You cannot motivate your salespeople. You can only recruit and hire motivated salespeople and create an environment in which they motivate themselves.”

Many years ago, I saw Mark Victor Hansen at a Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting. During his presentation he said, “Motivation is an inside-out job”. In other words, motivation comes from within a person. We cannot motivate someone from the outside. I believed this then and I believe it more now.

As some of you know, I grew up on a blueberry farm in New Jersey. My dad, Ray, was the foreman of the farm and if he hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant. Does that give you a picture of the type of guy he was? Dad was a “no-excuses”, get-it-done, “if you want to make more money, work harder and longer” kind of guy. He didn’t just teach his kids this discipline. He lived it.

I benefited genetically, environmentally and in countless ways from him. No doubt, his leadership and encouragement enabled me to attend and graduate from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on full scholarship. Earning this scholarship did not start when I entered high school. It didn’t start when I made starting center position my junior year. It didn’t start when I was named co-captain my senior year. It started when I was born with Dad’s DNA and a nurturing but disciplined environment that cultivated a relentless desire and commitment to succeed.

This commitment to succeed was present early on, when I worked alongside grown men, performing the same job, at the age of 10. It was probably evident long before then when I refused to be less than the winner of any game I played with my older and bigger brother. And the commitment to succeed was certainly present when I told my dad that I wanted to play football at the age of 9.

When he asked “Why?”, I replied that it looked like fun. When he asked me if I was sure and reminded me that if I committed, I must always give it my best effort, I was sure. He told me it would be hard and, that while he would get the name and number, it was up to me to call and tell Coach Gazzara I wanted to play.

My dad met me as I came off the field after my first practice and asked me what I thought, to which I replied, “I loved it. I’m going to college someday so I can play football!” Once again he asked me if I was sure and told me that college football players work hard to stay in great condition and that I would have to do the same. I said “okay.”

He helped me remove my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then told me to start running laps around the field. When I asked, “How many?”, he said “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

Fast forward 13 years to the afternoon I played and lost my final college football game against Holy Cross. Oh, was I sad. I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again play this game that I loved and that had led me to a college degree, the unique and fulfilling camaraderie of team work and experiences far beyond the reach of a poor and uneducated farm boy.

Of course, since then I have found other different, age and life appropriate, “games” at which to succeed. My personal history is an example of internal motivation. I didn’t know about scholarships. I had not thought about a college education. I had no idea that I would fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18 years old. I might never have gotten to travel, to visit Bangor, Maine or The Military Academy in Annapolis. My motivation was to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to do this and do it well.

  • Do you have an internal desire and commitment?
  • Do you have salespeople on your team who have these necessary traits?
  • Have your motivational techniques and incentives had any long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or moving the sales-results needle?
  • How many salespeople do you have who will do the things they need to do? How many will perform as necessary?

Through the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA), we have learned that motivation is as much internal as it is external. There was a time when we thought that salespeople were externally motivated (money, recognition, etc.) but now the data that tells us that as often, the motivation of sales people is internal (satisfaction). This means that we must find those who have the drive, those who have the desire and who have the willingness to do whatever it takes. 

Topics: Motivating, motivating sales people, sales motivation, building sales team, sales advice

What is the Most Powerful Management Question Ever?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 19, 2018

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While driving into work earlier this year, I heard an incredibly powerful performance question while listening to the Dan LeBetard with Stugatz ESPN radio show. An ardent Michigan State Football beat writer asked this question during the Big 10 media day.

“You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

I immediately thought about all the sales managers we’ve worked with over the last 25 years and the challenges they faced getting their salespeople to perform as expected. Let me explain for just a minute:

  • New hires are not hired hoping/expecting that they will be average
  • Hiring managers search for, find, interview, screen, and contract new producers thinking/expecting them to be great
  • According to Geoff Smart in his book Topgrading – 75% of new hires are no better and often perform worse then the people the replaced.

In most companies we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service). So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

So let’s look again at this reporter's brilliant question:

Reporter's Question: “You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

Your Question: “You came into ABC company with high expectations and a strong track record of success that we thought you would continue here. Here we are two years later and in our stack ranking for new business you have finished 9th and 10th. And your pipeline is consistently 66% of what it is supposed to be and your average size sales is $10,000 instead of the anticipated $15,000. What do you have to do over the next 120 days to demonstrate to yourself and to the company that you are on the path to achieving what we hired you to achieve?”

This is the question you should be asking your non-performing people NOW!

This question should have been asked of an under performer within 6 months of the end of the expected ramp-up period. In other words, if your ramp-up period is 18 months and Jamie is at 12 months and not projecting to meet and exceed expected performance, this conversation needs to take place.

Be brave, ask the tough questions about performance, improve your coaching and get better results.

If you liked this article, please share it with friends, family and colleagues below!

Topics: managing sales people, Sales Effort, sales management responsibility, successful sales teams, sales advice

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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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