ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

3 Things That Will Increase Sales in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Jack Kasel on Wed, Feb 12, 2020

The most successful salespeople are always challenging and adapting their personal sales process to be more effective.  However, they don’t challenge the notion of the importance of making prospecting their "A" priority every week. 

They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline.  If you really want to increase sales this year, you MUST block off time every week for prospecting new clients.

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As we think about all of the things as sales professionals that we're supposed to do, it really comes down to three things that actually get us paid: 

  1. Find Opportunities
  2. Qualify prospects
  3. Get a decision

I want to focus on the first thing we get paid to do and that's to find opportunities.  There are many ways we can find opportunities⁠—cold calls, drop ins, direct marketing, social selling (LinkedIn and Twitter), getting introductions, etc. 

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Although there are many ways we can prospect, some provide a higher return on the biggest investment we can make, and that’s our time.  In a previous blog, I tried to debunk the “time management” problem.  It isn’t a time management problem, it’s a priority management problem

As we focus on prospecting, the least return on our investment is cold calling.  For all the time you invest in cold calling, the actual return (speaking to a decision maker) is extremely low.  We know it’s a necessary evil, but not a permanent problem.  On the other hand, it is a proven fact, the highest return on our prospecting time is in getting introductions.  

So here is what I would like you to consider:

  1. Time blocking
    • Do you have time set aside each week to prospect? If you don’t, you would be well-served to block time to prospect
  2. Allocate your time within the time block you’ve scheduled
    • If you have allocated an hour a day, my recommendation would be:
      • If you have allocated 15 minutes to cold call, you should be able to get 15 calls in within that time. If you call 15, you will probably speak with two people.  How long does it take to NOT talk to 13 people?  You can make a lot of calls in 15 minutes if you are focused.
      • 15 minutes for social selling to find introductions—maybe not sell, but find introduction opportunities.
        • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—whichever you are allowed to do within your work rules, do it on a regular basis.
      • 30 minutes on getting introductions
        • Calling people and saying “I’m looking to expand my base of contacts” Or “I’m looking to meet great people such as yourself, when can we get together to determine if we can help each other?”
        • Identify your 15 best clients and make it a goal to get three introductions from each of them. How much success would you have with 45 new names to call?

This is just a rough outline on what you can do but the big takeaways are this:

  1. Prioritize prospecting—make it a significant part of your week.
  2. Prioritize how you are prospecting—get introductions—it will provide the highest return on your time invested.

Someone needs what you do, so go find them and start prospecting today to find more of them!

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, create & convert leads, sales challenges, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, buyers journey, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020, sales training workshops

The Best Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Dec 23, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the best habits of highly successful salespeople and sales managers.  Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming. 

It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, consistent activity and patience. 

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The sales management activities that you perform today create the results that you achieve today.

What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution, and systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople

I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople.  Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management skills
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer-service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business.  Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that "fogs a mirror"
  • Poor prioritization skills 
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results?  Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coach, one of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader.  To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

  • Debriefs sales calls effectively
  • Asks quality questions
  • Controls emotions
  • Allows salespeople to fail
  • Implements and manages the execution of a consistent sales process
  • Motivates when coaching based on individual/personal goals
  • Coaches to improve skill and change behavior
  • Gets sales people to follow through on commitments

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

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Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, consistent activity and patience. 

Like the coach of a winning team or conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and the lives of your salespeople and company. 

 

Topics: sales management secrets, sales management success, Sales Management Training, prospect engagement, develop talent, buyer, sales differences, deal or no deal, extra mile, getting introductions, close the deal, sales challenges, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, solution, professional sales training, corporate sales training, buyers journey, hire better people

Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the concepts behind real, tangible sales growth and ask the question, "Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?" 

Sales growth is dependent upon Closing More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins and we are here to show you how you can accomplish this within your organization!

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This morning, my wife (and ACTG's President CEO Linda) and I were watching Morning Joe while talking business.  We were discussing our brand promise of:

"When you lie awake at night worrying about sales growth, we lie awake at night.” 

We compiled a list of questions that often haunt managers throughout the day and into the night when they should be preparing for a good night’s sleep:

As we’re talking, we see a news banner at the bottom of the screen about a man who was arrested for breaking and entering a home.  He was apprehended after the police entered the home and saw his feet dangling from the chimney.  As usual, I automatically started thinking about how that related to sales, sales management, performance management, coaching, pipeline, pre-call strategies, etc.

And, since it's that time of the year, it also made me think of this great scene in The Santa Clause: 

 

My first question, however, is this: 

  1. “Do you have sales opportunities that are important/critical for hitting your goals and growing sales that are stuck?”

My second, but maybe the most important question, is:

    2. “Is this particular opportunity a repeat offender?” 

 

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING OPPORTUNITIES

Now, there are 2 things to consider when attempting to answer that second question.

  1. Is that opportunity familiar to you and the salesperson who has entered the opportunity into your pipeline management system? (This isn’t the same as your CRM). If we’ve worked on this opportunity before and they – the opportunity – “got away on a technicality”, then this would be defined as a “repeat offender”:
    1. Not the decision maker
    2. Wasn’t able to undo the current relationship
    3. Decided to not make a change
    4. Couldn’t arrive at the price point
    5. Really didn’t have a solution that fit the features and benefits they were looking for
    6. The timing wasn’t right
  2. Are other opportunities stuck in the pipeline/chimney for the very same reasons as this one?  The salesperson failed to execute the qualifying steps in your sales process:
    1. No compelling reason to make a change identified
    2. Competition unknown
    3. Incumbent still part of the equation
    4. Budget for investing time, money resources is a mystery
    5. Decision making process has not been uncovered
    6. Timing or urgency of making a decision not clearly understood
    7. Agreement on next steps unclear
    8. Did not ask the question – Is this a “want to fix” or “have to fix” problem?

CMBMQHM AND WHAT YOU NEED FOR SALES GROWTH

Sales growth is dependent upon this – CMBMQHM.  My staff hates it when I make up acronyms like this.  When I put these in our learning decks, the people in my office want to know what the acronyms mean. 

Close More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins

So, what does it take to accomplish CMBMQHM?

  • You must have a milestone-centric sales system – something that can be quantified, measured and evaluated for progress towards the objective of “getting a decision”. (This is not the same as “getting the sale”.)
  • You have to have a process for building a success formula for each salesperson based on that sales system.
  • You have to have complete buy-in to the use of your pipeline management process. Here are the guidelines to get that buy-in. It needs to…
    • Be easy to use
    • Be effective
    • Be beneficial to the user
    • Provide you with business intelligence
    • Automatically generate and send reports to you so you don’t have to go find the information
  • You have to have a system of pre-call strategy sessions for EVERY opportunity that meets or exceeds the benchmark of your top 33%.
  • You have to have a post-call debriefing session for every opportunity you discuss in the pre-call session.
  • You have to conduct a CSI – “Crime Scene Investigation” – for every deal you don’t get.
  • Finally, you have to conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions that are intentional.
    • They are based on the findings from your pre- and post-call meetings
    • They are based on what your data is telling you about the choke point(s) a particular salesperson is having or the most common choke point(s) for the group
    • The coaching needs to accomplish 1, if not 2, things:
      1. Change behavior
      2. Improve skill

Additional Resources:

Download the Success Formula Worksheet

Sign up for our Effective Selling System Online Demo 


 

Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Management Training, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hiring better salespeople, how increase sales, grow sales, sales growth problems, will to sell, sales challenges, life lessons, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools, budget, solution, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer

Using Old School Sales Tools in New Ways

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Dec 09, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea of using older (yet effective) techniques to find success in the chaos of today's selling landscape.  Let's face it; with the influx of social media, apps, and online distractions, it is actually harder to reach a prospect than ever before. 

However, we are here to help you stand out in the market and avoid sounding like every other salesperson.  It is important to strike a balance between both new and old school sales techniques when selling in today's world.

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I’ve heard it said before, 

“Never throw out your clothes, just wait 10 years and they will be back in style”. 

In some ways, the same thing can be said about how people should think about selling. 

Like many things, technology can be used for good or bad.  The good, specifically on the topic of sales; is that it's a great way to increase your opportunity to reach potential clients.  With a few clicks or keystrokes, my message can be transported along the information super highway to its intended recipient via e-mail

Using Twitter, I can, in 280 characters or less, tweet or retweet, something I read, attach an article, share my own content, send it to my followers, and more.  Through the use of blogging, I can assimilate my thoughts, write (and edit) them online, and make them available to whoever has access to the Internet.  

All of these methods are fabulous and can be a great way to get your message out to a target audience or to the general public. 

However, technology can be used as a crutch, or, even worse, it can lump you in with everyone else.

One of the keys to being a successful sales professional is your ability to differentiate yourself from the competition.  One of the ways to be different is to actually be different.  What do I mean by this? 

In this age of new technology, there is an older (sometimes forgotten or ignored) device that can help you stand out in the market: the good old-fashioned telephone. It’s not pretty, it’s not cutting edge, but it is still available and can be useful when used properly. Let’s face it, nine times out of ten when you call someone, you will get their voicemail. 

Here is another way to set yourself apart—try not to sound like a typical salesperson. 

Avoid saying,

“Hi, my name is Jack Kasel and I represent my company calling about my product . . . blah, blah, blah."  

No one wants to hear it.

Stop!  Be different!  Leave a compelling message that doesn’t sound like everyone else and then follow up and when I say follow up, I mean follow up until you get a response.  Statistics prove it will take between 13-15 calls before you get a response.  It was never supposed to be easy.  Don't give up!

Don’t discard the new, but don’t forget the old.  Try using an old sales tool, in a new way to be, act, and sound different than your competition. 


Additional Resources

Finally, if you haven’t read this post from Dave Kurlan, I suggest you take seven minutes to do so.  It's a great read on the next game changer for salespeople.

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/the-next-cant-miss-game-changer-for-salespeople

 

Topics: sales techniques, closing sales techniques, sales producers, sales challenges, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, professional sales training, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

Sales Inspiration from Two Basketball Legends

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 30, 2019

The buyer's cycle has changed. These days, when a buyer wants to make a purchase, they have all of the tools located in the palm of their hand.  If you are not making the buying process as frictionless as possible, then you are most likely going to lose out on a sale. 

Even if it's a long buying cycle, it still needs to be a seamless one!  In this article, we discuss valuable lessons for salespeople and their sales leaders, including an excerpt from legendary UCLA Head Coach John Wooden and his former player (and NBA star) Bill Walton.

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The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don’t like doing.”  

This is a quote from Dave Kurlan’s blog post about Bill Walton and John Wooden (see Additional Resources below).  Dave uses role-playing as an example.  I see this all the time!  Ask someone to role play in front of the group and they shut tight like a clam. 

How can you possibly get better at pressure situations if you don’t practice under pressure?

Bill has published and is now marketing his book, Back from the Dead.  I read a couple of lines from an interview with GQ and immediately went to my Amazon add-in and downloaded the book with my 1-click.

Here was my amazing buying experience:

  • I read an article that got my attention.
  • I clicked on a button in my Firefox ribbon at the top of my page.
  • I searched Amazon for “Bill Walton”.
  • The book popped up.
  • I clicked on the little thing on the right side of the page that said, “Buy Now using 1-click.”
  • I wanted the Kindle version so I could read it on the plane without carrying a big book, so when Amazon asked me if I wanted it downloaded to my iPhone, I clicked “yes.”
  • This all took less than a minute.
  • And that, my friends, is today’s sales cycle.

In your sales world, it might not take as many steps or it might be more.  In your sales cycle, it probably takes more than a minutemaybe 30 days, maybe 120, maybe a year.

Bottom line: There is something that stimulates the buyer. The buyer gets the information they want and then… when they want to buy… they want to make the process easy and they want options.

If you are not doing those things (stimulating the buying response – providing information to make a buying decision – giving them options – making it easy), then you are going to lose the sale to those that do those things. 

Not only will you lose occasionally, but sooner or later, it will become a permanent condition.

Now, my favorite Bill Walton and John Wooden story.

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Watch the video to get the whole story, but in short, the lesson for the Sales Leader is this:

  • You’ve been hired to do a job – drive sales growth/win market share
  • Part of that responsibility is to put the best team in the market.
  • As the coach, you establish the culture for winning; you set the team rules.
  • You can lead people but you cannot make them do something – players have free will.
  • If someone violates the rules, something has to be done – bend the rules, keep the rules
  • If a salesperson wants to exert their independence, let them. But let them do it somewhere else.
  • They have to want to play for you and win more than compete against you and lose.

Additional Resources:

Dave Kurlan’s blog:
The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Unless you have strong leadership, the money you spend on sales training is wasted. Stop wasting money.  In addition to great players, the key to a sales team built for growth is great sales management Leadership and Management. Read more about our Sales Management Certification.

Make sure you get great players who are committed to winning for you – Hirebettersalespeople.com

Topics: NCAA, Bill Walton, John Wooden, close the deal, sales challenges, life lessons

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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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