ACTG Sales Management Blog

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6 Lessons for Sales Organizations I Learned on Summer Vacation: Part 1

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 28, 2020

Everyday, there are things that can be learned that can impact our personal and professional lives.

 

In this week's blog, our Chief Learning Officer Tony Cole will discuss a few of the sales lessons he took away from his summer vacation.

MIvacation

Linda and I just came back from our first big RV camping trip where we visited Michigan. Upon my return, I received an email from Alex asking me if I had any brilliant insights to share with you all from my trip that might relate to growing sales. Here are the first 3 of 6 lessons I learned during our trip.

 

1. Enjoy the journey. We learned that there is normal travel time, and then there is RV time. My google maps would tell me I had a 240-mile, 4-hour journey, and I would arrive at 2:14 PM. I would drive for 30 minutes, look at my google map only to discover that I now had a 241-mile journey and I would arrive at 2:22.

  • As you plan your sales success, you must understand that the journey will take longer, and you will likely run into detours, accidents, and slowdowns.

  • If you do not slow down and enjoy each stop along the way, you will become irritable and frustrated. This will cause you to move things along faster and, when you do, you will miss steps and sights along the way, damage relationships, and potentially get lost.

 

2. Have a process and follow the process. For those of you that have RVs, you understand what I am talking about. You have to make sure that certain steps are taken so that you don’t; rip vents off of the roof, have contents falling out of your storage bins, leak your freshwater reserve, run out of propane, or get a flat tire.

  • What we know thanks to the Objective Management Group is that 95% of Elite or Strong Salespeople (roughly only 25% of all 2 million salespeople assessed) follow a consistent sales process. What is important to note today though, is that the process is more of an approach so that the salesperson can focus on the buyer’s process.
  • Don’t assume you’ve followed the process. Have a milestone-centric system within your CRM system (Membrain) so that you can check off each step along the way. There were at least 3 occasions on our trip when Linda would ask me, “did you…” and I would have to review my steps just to make sure I covered every detail.


3. Sales growth requires nurturing. Driving through Ohio and Indiana, you will see more corn then you ever imagined. As you get into the western region of Michigan you start to see signs for cherries, apples, blueberries, corn, peaches, and all manner of fruits and vegetable stands. It reminded me of my days on the farm and how we had to nurture plants to maximize production. It did not matter how old or young the plants were. They needed soil, water, sunshine, and food.

  • No matter where you are in your career, you need nurturing. You need to be replenished with new information, be reminded of what you’ve done in the past that led to success, and receive coaching to improve skills and change behaviors.
  • Nurturing requires balance. Too much of one thing is not good. So micromanaging is not a solid strategy. Self-management and openness to corrective coaching is the solution for consistent sales growth.

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Topics: Sales Growth, sales development, Sales Coaching, Sales Process, driving sales growth 2020

Develop Your Sales Pipeline to Increase Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Jun 01, 2020

Sales pipelines are similar to the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears. " This one is too fat, this one is too skinny, and the rarest one of all; this one's just right. 

Why does this happen with pipelines and what should leaders be doing about it?  In today's blog, we discuss developing better pipelines to improve your coaching skills, increase sales within your organization, and to build better habits in 2020 and beyond.

man-in-blue-suit-999267

Fat Pipelines

This usually results from the overly optimistic salesperson.  They call on a prospect and come back thinking some iteration of this, “We really hit it off . . . They really liked what we can do . . . We have a LOT in common”. 

Another cause for a fat pipeline is that it feels like comfort food.  Their pipeline has $X amount in it and they feel pretty good about it.  I mean, come on, some of it has to close doesn’t it?  This type of thinking gives them great comfort.  Pipelines need two things:

  • The proper amount given their ability to win business (close ratio)
  • It must be properly staged

Here is where your leadership plays a critical role.  Your skills at asking great questions are absolutely essential.  Tone and tonality are of paramount importance, AND they must be fierce and helpful.  Questions like:

  • What did you hear the customer say that leads you to believe they would be a great customer for us?
  • When you asked them the impact of not fixing this problem, what did they say?
  • Who else in their organization will be impacted if they switch providers?
  • What did they say when you asked about their decision making criteria (not process, criteria, there is a difference)
  • When is the last time they chose a supplier that wasn’t the lowest cost?
  • How much is in their budget to make this problem go away
  • When asked them “How do you envision working with us”, what was their response?
  • How did they choose their current provider?

Never EVER ask, “How’d the call go?” It’s a waste of time.  Be great at asking questions.  By asking great questions, you are coaching your salespeople.  The questions listed above are the type of questions they should be asking the prospect.  Your coaching session is nothing but a sales call.  Be curious and when you coach, simply keep this in mind when meeting with your team, “Am I asking questions or am I making statements?”

Also, by asking great questions to your team, you find out where your people need to be coached.  If you hear your salesperson say, “I didn’t ask that question” during your pipeline discussions, you need to find out if they are unable to ask those questions (they need more sales training) OR if are they unwilling to ask those questions.

Skinny Pipelines

There are two main reasons that a salesperson might have a “skinny pipeline”.  They are getting beat up if something doesn’t close, or their activity isn’t where it needs to be.  My question to you as a leader is, “When a piece of business doesn’t close, what does your lost business conversation sound like?” 

There is no sin in losing a sale, the only sin that occurs is if nothing is learned from it.  Don’t let one loss beat you twice.  A couple of quick questions “What did you learn?” and “How will you get better because of it?” 

The other reason for a skinny pipeline is activity.  What are you measuring, how frequently are you measuring it (you need to measure weekly), and are you allowing excuses for poor effort?  Salespeople fail for two reasons:  Lack of Effort and/or Lack of Execution.  You need to know which it is. 

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Just Right Pipelines

These types of pipelines are the rarest of all because they require the salesperson and manager to have a great and open relationship, while staying committed to their sales process and understanding the metrics needed to win business.  For the salesperson, they need to understand what is their late-stage (close in 30 days) win ratio?  If their late-stage win ratio is 50% and their monthly goal is $100,000, they need to have a minimum of $200,000 in late-stage opportunity each month.   

The only reason a “Just Right” pipeline is possible because the salesperson is finding opportunities all-the-time.  They understand prospecting is an all-the-time thing.  They are constantly making calls, asking for introductions, and networking.  

It’s healthy to have a pipeline “flush” on a regular basis.  An opportunity moves through the pipeline or moves out of the pipeline on a regular basis.  If a salesperson wants to cling to an opportunity, and want to defend keeping it their pipeline, is probably because they have nothing else to take its place.   Coach them, encourage them, challenge them.

 

Topics: sales force development, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, hiring top salespeople, consultative selling, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, sales force performance evaluation, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

10 Things to Start & 3 Things to Stop When Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Feb 24, 2020

Recruiting new sales talent and hiring better salespeople are complicated and time-consuming processes. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates, or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force and increase sales starting today!

30184505_xxl hiring recruiting man point-1

What are the keys to hiring better salespeople?

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing.

The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask you tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

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Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting it to a job site, or telling your network that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. Use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff".  Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.

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Topics: Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, 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, 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

Increase Your 2020 Sales With These 9 Sales Productivity Tools

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Feb 14, 2020

It's a new year and we have some new content to share with you here at Anthony Cole Training Group.  If you're looking to increase sales this year and beyond, then you're in the right place!

These 9 Sales Productivity Tools are inspired by practices and systems that improve players and performance.  Selling is a competition, and, as in football, the right team, perfect practice, and planning wins the game and the sale. 

chart-close-up-data-desk-590022

Download our newest Whitepaper "9 Tools to Increase Sales in 2020" below:

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Some of these 9 Productivity Tools include:

Practice Schedule- Set a practice schedule for your salespeople to practice sales skills: asking for introductions, qualifying a prospect, maximizing the initial call, etc.

Sales Probability Scorecard- This scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field.  These markers tell you how many yards you must go to score and how many yards you must protect to keep from being scored upon.

Sales Huddles- Just like in football, huddles are a communication system that provide coaches with real-time information so you can make real-time decisions.

Personal Goal Setting to Business Plan- Set goals prior to each fiscal year based upon past year's performance, the competition, experience and sales talent of your team.

Download your copy below!

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/increase-sales-2020

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, corporate sales training, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars

Increase Sales in 2020| What Makes an Elite Salesperson "Elite"?

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Feb 04, 2020

In our second blog post focusing on increasing sales in 2020 and beyond, we discuss the differentiating factors between "elite" salespeople and the rest of the pack.  

What do elite salespeople do that makes them elite?  

In this post, we help answer this question, while providing advice for sales managers to help guide their salespeople into greatness.

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What do 11% of elite salespeople do that differentiates them from the remaining 89%, when they are faced with difficult questions, stalls and objections? 

According to Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group (out of every 100 salespeople):

  • 70 rush back to the office to begin work on a proposal to tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising, because all 3 prospects in the meeting were "very interested"
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and they'll do both eventually
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking more questions

Going back into our archives of the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, we find that those 11 salespeople that are still at the meeting have a pipeline that looks like the chart you see to the right. 

Those 89 that rush back to the office and/or make entries to propose and follow up with their prospect have a pipeline that is represented by the chart you see below:

The difference is that the elite salespeople do a great job of meeting people and qualifying them to a point where the prospect can be defined as qualified and closeable, based on specific criteria, or they can be identified as not qualified, or not closeable.

Weak salespeople on the other hand, when asked to score the same "closeable prospect", criteria questions fall considerably short of having a robust, and closeable pipeline. 

Normally, we find out that these salespeople:

·       Have not met with decision makers

·       Failed to uncover compelling issues to make a change or purchase

·       Do not have a timeline

·       Did not create urgency

·       Did not get an agreement on budget to be spent

So, the question becomes; “How accurate is your pipeline – really?” 

If the pipeline volume for your entire team reads $4,000,000 over the next 90 days, but only 11% of that actually has a chance to close, then you shouldn’t be surprised that only $440,000.00 shows up in sales. (when compared to the $4,000,000).

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The solution to the problem isn’t “run faster”; also known as “see more prospects”.  The solution is to get your people to schedule qualified appointments and then make sure they are capable of discerning between a suspectsomeone that is thinking about buying – and a qualified prospectsomeone that has made the decision to solve a problem.

To more effectively help your salespeople as a sales manager you must:

1.     Understand WHY they won’t qualify

2.     Get a complete understanding of their skills set for consultative skills, asking questions, creating trust and confidence and presentation skills

3.     Put less emphasis on closing skills and more emphasis on qualifying skills

4.     See how comfortable they are with having fierce and direct conversations

5.     Observe their commitment and willingness to do everything possible to succeed

6.     Understand their motivation to succeed and attain personal goals

7.     Gather data about their execution of the milestone centric sales process so that you can provide intentional coaching based on choke points.

The challenge(s), should you accept them are:

·       Find out exactly what the capabilities of your sales team are

·       Build and implement a milestone centric sales process and imbed that process in your CRM

·       Make sure that your sales managed environment includes the following elements:

  • Performance Management
  • Coaching for Success
  • Hiring Better Salesperson
  • Motivation that Works
  • Coaching an Effective Sales System

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

 

Topics: Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, consultative sales coaching

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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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