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4 Rules to Help Your Salespeople Have Better Initial Calls

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Feb 02, 2024

How important is it that you or your sales team close more business, more quickly at higher margins? We can guess that it is pretty important.

If you think are leaving dollars on the table and need to find a solution to that problem, there are two things I want you to recognize:

  1. Your current sales process is perfectly designed for the results you (or your team) are getting today – if you are not closing as much as you believe you should, then there is something in your process that must change.
  2. That change starts at the beginning – the phone call to set up the appointment.

The quality of the phone call will always determine the quality of the appointment. If your salespeople must have better initial calls, then they must improve the quality of the phone call. 

To get you started, here are 4 rules to share to help your salespeople have better initial calls:

  1. How you say what you say is more important than what you actually say. You must ask questions and then really listen. If you tell stories, use metaphors and analogies. You need to have appropriate eye contact and body position, voice inflection, and background especially in today’s virtual world.
  2. Nobody really wants to talk to you – this seems like a harsh rule- but if you know this going in, that will help you be better prepared to nurture the discussion.
  3. You have 10 seconds to make a GREAT first impression. If you show up late for the zoom call or meeting, you’ve already lost. If you don’t have compelling and CEO-like questions to ask that really engage your prospect, you are behind the 8-ball. If the prospect cannot connect with you in the first 10 seconds, everything is downhill from there.
  4. Finally, practice and record your opening dialog. Listen to it. If you were someone you’ve never met before - would you engage? (Sales coach, you should listen and provide feedback that is helpful to your salespeople)

Salespeople must have a strategy or plan for success going into the meeting. Not a plan that is developed in the car during the drive to the appointment, but rather one that is thought out in a pre-call strategy session. Here are your two objectives:

  • The overall objective should be to have a go or no-go at the end of the meeting – that doesn’t mean buy or don’t buy, it just means that you move to the next step or don’t.
  • The secondary objective is discovering as much as you can about your prospect’s motivation to meet and have the discussion you are having. Normally this involves a pain they want to eliminate or an opportunity that they want to leverage. Find out their compelling reason to take time out of their schedule.

One thing we know for sure, prospects don’t take time out of their schedules unless there is an underlying reason. A salesperson’s job is to find out what that reason is.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices

Achieving Sales Team Excellence – the Motivation Competency

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Jan 25, 2024

The dream of every dedicated sales leader and the key to achieving sales team excellence is understanding what drives and inspires their people to perform at their highest potential. What are the competencies and behaviors of those leaders who seem so talented at helping others achieve their very best? We rely on the pioneer and #1 sales management evaluation by Objective Management Group to help understand exactly what it takes to ‘motivate’ a sales team. Simply stated: The Motivating Competency measures how effectively a sales manager understands what motivates their salespeople and how they can keep them motivated.

Motivation Activities to Drive Sales Team Excellence

Let’s break this definition down into activities that have been identified by the assessment that as a sales leader, you can utilize to help motivate your people. If you want to be an effective sales leader with a strong motivating competency, you will:

  • Know What Motivates Salespeople - By learning what uniquely motivates your salespeople, you will likely find that they will work harder and more effectively because their actions will support their goals. 
  • Give Recognition - By more regularly praising your salespeople when they are positively performing, you can raise their self-image and may find that they are more effective.
  • Run Effective Sales Meetings - By making a conscious effort to include motivation in your sales meetings, you can help ensure the motivation of your salespeople does not wane and protect against negative sentiment.
  • Beliefs Support Motivation - Some of your beliefs related to sales management may be misaligned with the role and importance of motivating your sales team. In other words, to be effective, you must believe it is important!
  • Have a Good Self-Image - Your strong self-image helps you be brave while selling, and it also helps you motivate your salespeople. With both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors in play, it is often difficult to understand but you must have the courage to get personal and build relationships with your salespeople. 
  • Develop Strong Relationships - By addressing areas for growth in the Relationship Building Competency, you will be able to build stronger bonds with your salespeople that will provide insights into how you can motivate them. More on the Relationship Building Competency in our next post in this series.
  • Take Responsibility - Your tendency to consistently take responsibility helps motivate your salespeople, as they know that you will not blame them for negative sales outcomes.
  • Won’t Accept Mediocrity - You have high expectations for your salespeople and don't except mediocre performance, even if that makes your salespeople unhappy with you.
  • Have Goals and a Plan - By improving your personal goals management system, you can also motivate your salespeople to be more goal oriented.

Take a moment to review and rate yourself on these 9 competencies of a successful motivational sales leader. It has been stated that motivation is an inside-out job meaning that as a sales leader, you must understand what motivates your people internally in order to help drive the external results – more clients, more sales, larger average accounts, more network, etc. You cannot create motivation in your people, but you can become better at understanding how they are motivated to tap into what it takes to drive their individual inspiration. One by one, taking the time to more fully understand these motivational factors for each salesperson on your team, will help you get closer to achieving sales team excellence.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices

A Non-Disruptive Transformation for Community Banks

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Jan 19, 2024

For centuries, community banks have invested in their local communities and promoted relationship banking. They have been founded on the bank's knowledge of community families, their spending histories, or their small business's finances. Enter the world of high-speed tech, digital banks and AI, offering options never even dreamed about ten years back. Protection of those community bank roots is critical – to take care of the people in the community they serve. How do community banks offer a non-disruptive transformational approach to leverage all of these tech options yet still serve the client in a personal, relationship banking manner?

Drawing from this recent article in Inc., How to Revitalize Your Industry Without Needing to Disrupt It, “Non-disruptive transformation is a journey back to the roots, where the customer is not merely a transaction but the focal point of every endeavor. As industries evolve, this approach offers a blueprint for sustainable growth, ensuring that innovation serves the fundamental purpose of meeting customer needs and enhancing their experience.”

While all financial institutions are heavily investing in the technology necessary to stay competitive and viable in today’s virtual world, the community bank must not lose site of it's original mission to personally serve that client. At the other end of those tech systems and data are the frontline people in your bank and answering your customer service lines. Are they as skilled as they can be to have engaging conversations? Are they skilled enough to listen to learn, probe for deeper understanding, not pitch solutions too soon and become financial guides for their clients and prospects? That is the role of the new community bank. To leverage all of the information at their fingertips, provide seamless knowledge and advice in a holistic and personal manner for their local families and businesses.

To do this in a non-disruptive way, banks can focus on developing their people, their most important asset. As you hire and bring new people in the door, make certain that they have the skills to ask those courageous questions and delve deeper. It may require an investment to upgrade the skill levels of those who work in the local branch and operate in a business development role, developing them to a great level of advisory service.

Drawing from the Inc. article again; “In the ever-evolving landscape of industries, non-disruptive transformation emerges as a strategic and sustainable approach to innovation. Businesses can carve out a niche while maintaining continuity and stability by focusing on fundamental tasks, breaking the status quo, and returning to the industry's original concept.”

Success in the future for community banks lies in aligning and differentiating with the core values that have defined the industry's essence for centuries.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices

Strong Sales Performance Management Begins with Setting Standards

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 12, 2024

The sales performance management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving today. Many or few, consistent or irregular, planned or impromptu, the sales performance management activities that we, as sales managers, use to motivate, train and hold our sales team accountable are at least partly responsible for the success or lack of success of those we manage. You must ask yourself, what activities are you, or your sales manager, doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?

The old adage, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten” comes to mind. It is up to you as sales leader to set higher standards for the behaviors and activities and hold people accountable so that you get better results.

A characteristic of truly successful individuals is that they welcome the opportunity to explore and implement new ideas and practices. Even if some of the territory that we will explore does not seem to apply directly to what is going on in your company, recognize that you cannot achieve different results until you are receptive and welcoming of analysis. You may find some unexpected value in the following information that will positively affect your team’s sales as we focus on the most common issues. We will show you how to build a framework that will help you make a most dramatic difference in your business results.

Step One: Strong Performance Management begins with Setting Standards

Most companies set annual standards for sales teams and salespeople. Certainly goals are established and communicated and are probably tracked and inspected on a somewhat regular basis. Typically the process for setting goals is part of an annual business planning process, usually an arduous ordeal in which the sales team has little say. Thus, it is neither enjoyed nor embraced by those who are actually responsible for the goals and the activities that support the goals. 

However, if this process is approached with the right attitude and the goal of helping the relationship manager make more money, this annual business and goal planning process can be a positive experience that will truly motivate individual salespeople (See The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly) and bring sales teams together. See how this can happen for your company. 

The following exercise will help you develop an effective process for setting standards and upgrade your sales performance management. In this case you will use the table below to analyze and set standards for your entire team’s Annual Gross Sales Number, but you should use this exercise with individual sales people as well.


Step 1: Write your team’s current Annual Gross Sales Number goal in the box next to GOOD. This is what is expected this year. Achieving any number less than this will be considered poor performance. 

Step 2: Now pick the Annual Gross Sales number of an okay year from the past, but choose one when your team did not achieve its assigned goal. Choose a year when your team worked hard and put forth great effort, but did not quite reach the assigned number. Write the actual number achieved in the box next to POOR. Understand that this number is poor because your team did not reach goal. If you frame the year as pretty good, i.e. “we almost made it”, you have communicated that you will accept less than GOOD. You will have accepted mediocrity, thus eroding the new standards you are trying to set.

Step 3: Select a number that would be completely unacceptable for your team and write this in the FAILING box.

Step 4: Select a number that would make an extremely good year, one in which your team exceeded goal. Write this number next to the EXCELLENT box. 

Step 5: Select a number that would make a truly amazing year, a year that would go beyond expectations, far surpassing the current sales goal. Write this number in the box beside EXTRAORDINARY. 

As you can see, you have clearly identified and raised the standards. This newly defined level of standards will become your communication platform for setting extraordinary expectations with your team, one by one. Next step, take each of your salespeople through this exercise to establish their extraordinary sales goal, then have regular accountability meetings to keep them on track.


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices

Are Your Salespeople ATMs?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 05, 2024

Bank ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) have been around for a while. According to Investopedia, Barclays Bank of London in 1967 was the first to have an ATM in use. I remember using my first ATM – Jeanie Machine – in Cincinnati in 1979. But the ‘ATMs’ I’m referring to have been around, well a long, long, long time.

I’m talking about ‘Automatic Talking Machines’ – also known as salespeople. This bothersome but necessary part of every economy has been in use since trade began over 15,000 years ago. You may remember a cartoon of a general with a sword telling his staff that he doesn’t have time to talk to a “pesky salesperson” (who was selling a gatling gun). He had a battle to fight. And so, that is the story of salespeople and selling. Salespeople are defined as being pesky, and potential buyers are always too busy. But to my point…

So why do I call them ATMs? Well, because they operate in pretty much the same way. When using a banking ATM, you provide a code, and the ATM gives you money. 

A suspect, prospect, or potential buyer provides one of many codes to get salespeople to give them information, and salespeople just start talking. Automatic Talking Machines. Don’t believe me? Give it a try with your sales team in your next one-on-one coaching session or sales meeting. Here are some of the codes that prospects use and you can use them to test your ATMS:

  • Why should I do business with you?
  • What makes your company different?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Your competitor is cheaper, I can get it for less?
  • What happens if I want to exchange for a different…?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have any references I can call?
  • Tell me about your product and how it could help me?
  • What is the service model? Does it have a guarantee?
  • What is your unfair advantage against your competitors?
  • Why should I change companies?

I promise you most of your sales team will start talking with an answer to the question. You can expect perhaps 10% to 15% of your salespeople to not give up the information. So, with a team of 40 or so about 5 of your people will respond ‘better.’

‘Better’ is anything that is like: “That’s a great question. Before I get into that can I ask you something?” If your salespeople are not taking control of the conversation by asking a question, then you have ATMs.

Give a shot!

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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, banking sales training, sales training tips, sales coaching best practices


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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