ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Get Your Sales Action Plan in Action!

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Mar 31, 2022

There are three core sales competencies indicative of a salesperson who will set stretch goals and create an action to reach those goals.

However, identifying and establishing personal goals, as well as following an 8 step process, is critical to creating an effective sales action plan.


At the beginning of our goal-setting sales training, we always start with this: What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? This is a great question to kick off the thought process and discussion around establishing goals which are the basis for creating a sales action plan. Think about those on your team whom you know you can rely on to establish their goals, do the activity necessary and bring in the results. What skills and characteristics do they have? There are a couple of findings from the Objective Management Group sales evaluation that are indicative of a salesperson who will set stretch goals and create an action to reach those goals. Here are three of those core sales competencies:

  1. An action-oriented and successful salesperson will always take responsibility for their efforts and their results. They will not blame the company, the market, or anything else if they do not reach their goals. They take ownership and will address the problem with a statement such as “I did not do the activity needed to reach…” While responsibility can be taught, you should be on the lookout for this quality when you interview new candidates.
  2. Goal and action-oriented salespeople enjoy selling. That may seem obvious however there are plenty of sales folks who do not score that well in this finding. If you enjoy selling, you are more likely to naturally do what it takes; the hard work of calling prospects, getting plenty of rejection, not letting it get you down, and getting back on the phone. The enjoyment of selling helps these salespeople create and live their sales action plans and they have fun doing it!
  3. Successful salespeople establish personal goals (different from company goals) and they are meaningful goals like a safari next June or a vacation house on the lake. These salespeople also have a plan to reach their personal goals with activities, a timeline, and a system to track their progress. Usually, their goals are non-negotiable, however, their plan to reach them may shift as needed. The OMG evaluation identifies these traits and you need to know these when you are hiring.

Sales Action Plan Ideas

“You do not decide your future. You decide your habits and your habits decide your future”- F.M. Alexander. This post is about how to make an action plan for sales but just a few comments about the goal-setting process. We recommend starting with way too many goals, in fact around 100, so that you think broad and deep and expand your thinking. Then categorize those 100 goals into types such as personal, business, spiritual, wellness, etc. After, boil them down to the top 12 non-negotiable goals with details and timelines, and don’t forget to set your BHAG (big, hairy, aggressive goal). This is the one goal that is really shooting for the stars. If you want to know more about the goal-setting process for your company or personal purposes, reach out and we will share the Extraordinary Goal Setting Process.

Here are the 8 steps for your Sales Action Plan:

  1. Establish your personal goals
  2. Create a Success Formula for new business
  3. Determine your key initiatives
  4. Establish your Smart numbers – your key measurements for success
  5. Figure out what you should Start and Stop Doing
  6. Create your sales & marketing plan
  7. Review, respond and redirect as needed
  8. Don’t forget to celebrate your success!

For more details on this approach, you can download our Sales Action Plan template today and get started. Remember, the best time to plant a tree is today so get started now growing your sales action plan and results.

Download your Personal & Business Work Plan for Free

Topics: sales competencies, sales action plan

5 Critical Sales Competencies: The Will to Sell Factors

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, Mar 11, 2022

There are 21 critical sales competencies that salespeople must have in order to achieve great sales success.  But there are 5 Will to Sell factors that make up the foundation of that success. 


We talk to salespeople every day who tell us they want to achieve more, they are going to change their ways, and the results will follow.  If only it were that easy.

The Objective Management Group, an organization that has evaluated over 2 million salespeople, has identified the 21 sales competencies that are crucial to success for salespeople.  There are 10 Selling Competencies(skills), 6 DNA traits (behavior), and finally, 5 that fall under the category of “Will to Sell”.

Of course, they are all important but today I want to tell you why I believe that the Will to Sell competencies are the most important of all, and without them, success will be much harder.

Desire – desire measures how badly you want to achieve greater success in sales, in other words, do you “really” want it?

Commitment – the willingness to do whatever it takes (assuming ethical conduct) to achieve your success.  Commitment is not conditional; you are either in or you are out.

Motivation – there are two parts to motivation:

  1. Are you motivated?
  2. How are you motivated?

Knowing the power behind your motivation helps you plow through behaviors when you get stuck.

Outlook – how do you feel about yourself, the company you work for, the people you work with, and finally the people you call on.  When any of these are out of alignment, we struggle to do the behaviors we know we need to execute to succeed.

Responsibility – do you take responsibility when you don’t get the results you want, or do you make excuses?

Of course, all 21 sales competencies are important but when you have a strong Will to Sell then you are coachable and able to understand what behaviors need to change (DNA) and possess the desire, commitment, and motivation to change.  The same thing is true for the selling competencies, these are learned behaviors.  Without them, it is a tough road.

As the saying goes where there is a will (to sell) there is a way!

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: sales skills, sales competencies, competencies required for sales

Three Keys to Banking Sales Training

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Jan 27, 2022

With the past couple of years working remotely, many of your bankers’ skills are rusty and they may not be using the tech tools they should be. During these times, they must be better than ever before at reaching out and communicating effectively and consistently.

Here are 3 keys to evaluating the right banking sales training program that will help your relationship managers adjust to the new selling environment.


It’s no surprise that, with continuing pandemic issues and concerns, many clients and prospects are avoiding our bank lobbies. And why not, with online access to almost everything? So how will your salespeople continue to build relationships and keep your best customers? With the past couple of years working remotely, many of your bankers’ skills are rusty and they may not be using the tech tools they should be. During these times, they must be proficient, actually, they must be better than ever before at reaching out and communicating effectively and consistently. This is key for most banks to sustain and build relationships, grow loans, and achieve higher net interest margins.

Here are 3 key ideas to make sure that your banking sales training is helping your relationship managers adjust to this new normal, and increasingly remote selling environment:

  1. Make certain that your bank is focused on helping your salespeople blend the value of human touch with digital assistance. According to a recent Banking Exchange article, this is the new frontier in customer engagement. So, what does that mean? They must be able to assist customers and prospects in navigating these digital options and provide a holistic, consultative approach. Because of our new “anywhere economy,” our customers expect the ability to conduct all their business remotely and on any device. Think about your own experiences with digital platforms – you might love the convenience but often need that human interaction to make the experience successful. I am working with a new platform for prospecting called ZoomInfo Intent. The system helps to understand what companies are searching for keywords that describe our services, which could be very helpful but I have encountered the need to have human help along the way. This is your relationship manager’s greatest opportunity – to be ready to ask the questions to help more fully understand and serve the client. They must be adept at answering the question at hand and comfortably probing further to more fully understand the goals of the client. How good are your people at doing this?

  2. Speaking of prospecting… There are so many different tools to be explored to connect and build relationships virtually but it is harder. The second key to your banking sales training is to make certain that your salespeople are proficient at using the tech tools to connect. Some may want to avoid this but today, there is no choice. Calling is still a prospecting option but with so many people working remotely, you must have cell phones to connect with any consistency. Here are some of the “must-haves” in prospecting now:
    • Regular outreach and activity on LinkedIn every day
    • Industry research and pre-call planning tool like IBISWorld
    • ZoomInfo or a similar tool to gather company and contact data of your target
    • HubSpot or similar marketing platform to identify lead activity on your website
    • Strong and effective use of video email – take a look at OneMob as a tool
    • Networking opportunities with target audiences – conferences are back in person
    • A strong and compelling value statement to share
    • A system to consistently ask for introductions (not referrals) from your clients and COIs

  3. The third key is understanding The Will to Sell of your sales team. Do your bankers have the desire, commitment, outlook, and motivation to sell despite the challenges? Do they take responsibility for their actions and outcomes? Let’s face it, many industries have been affected by the pandemic; some have suffered and others have thrived. What does your bank need to do differently within its own culture to adapt, grow, and achieve 2.0 ROA and NIM over 5? Your client-facing salespeople are key and they must be highly skilled. There is a blueprint for elite performance and science to selling – the 21 cores sales competencies, identified by the industry-leading sales evaluation company, Objective Management Group.

    21 sales comps-1
    Make certain that you know why your top performers are so successful and how your sales team stacks up against the other banks. Make sure that your banking sales training is focused on helping your bankers be stronger at the 21 core sales competencies listed above. When mastered, these skills will help your lenders and relationship managers differentiate from fintech firms and other banks and position their value so that they can hold pricing steady when your competitors are dropping their rates.

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: sales skills, sales competencies, competencies required for sales

7 More Sales Core Competencies

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 12, 2018

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In 2008, I posted two blogs covering 14 of the 21 core competencies identified by the Objective Management Group Sales Person Assessment.  Between then and now, much has taken place that I've written about, and as I fly from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon, I have some time to write about the remaining 7 core competencies.  I know that you've been waiting with baited breath.

1.  Establishes early bonding and rapport:  The ability to quickly establish confidence and trust in the first meeting, rather than taking several meetings to develop a strong relationship.

2.  Uncovers actual budgets:  The skill and the consistency in knowing what the investment parameters are going to be so that you eliminate money, time or resource objections at time of presentation.

3.  Discovers why prospects will buy:  As elementary as this sounds, most sales people do not find out exactly "why" a prospect will buy. They know what is important, they have an idea of what a prospect will consider or look at, but that is entirely different than knowing exactly why someone will buy.  You know that you have this competency when you get decisions instead of "think it overs".

4.  Qualifies proposals and quotes.  Those that have this competency and execute it consistently will make sure that they will get a decision or, at a minimum, a very clear future once they present.  Those with this competency only make proposals and quotes when they know that the prospect is committed to buying.

5.  Gets commitments and decisions:  This competency manifests itself prior to making presentations.  It needs to happen once you have uncovered the compelling reasons someone will buy, you have their commitment to buy, you know the budget issues and you know that you are talking to the decision maker(s).  Once these items have been covered, a great sales person simply asks the prospect to make a decision, yes or no, when the presentation is completed.  More importantly, they make the commitment to decide stick.

6.  Possesses a strong desire for success in selling:  this is defined as being passionate about your success.  It is someone that enjoys selling.  Someone with the appropriate desire is someone that looks forward to generating new relationships and is passionate about pursuing and achieving their goals and the goals of the company.  They don't just set goals; they achieve them.

7.  Commits to succeed in selling:  I have identified three types of commitment:  1) WIT: Whatever it Takes.  2) WITALAIITU:  Whatever it Takes as Long as it Isn't Too Uncomfortable.  3) Coast to Coast: When they are just going through the motions and coast from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.  However, there is only one level of commitment that contributes to extraordinary success:  WIT.

Think about these 7 core competencies and how they relate to your ability to execute an effective sales process.  These 7, along with the other 14, should be considered the "root causes" of your sales issues.  If you are to continue your improvement in sales, then you might consider working at the correct end of your problems:  Theses 21 core competencies of selling.

DOWNLOAD our FREE eBOOK -   Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?

Topics: sales competencies, improve sales, OMG assessment, sales improvement

5 Sales Activities that Lead to Success: Are Your Salespeople Assertive Enough?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Dec 30, 2016



Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others.  They care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the deal in order to make sure the prospect or client makes the right decisions.  Does that describe your people?  Are they assertive?

When we say assertive, what do we mean?  What sales habits do assertive and successful people do day in and day out?  In 2010, I wrote a blog entitled 5 Direct Sales Activities That Lead to Sales Success that has been one of my highest readership blogs.  I went back and reviewed and here are the five steps:

  1. Activities that lead to getting names - networking, speaking engagements, sponsored seminars, meeting with centers of influence and/or asking for introductions
  2. Calling a suspect on the phone for an appointment
  3. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  4. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  5. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

Steps 1 and 2 have changed dramatically in the last 6 years.  Social selling and the evolution of the buyer’s process utilizing all of the multiple channels of information has completely changed the process of prospecting for business.  Step 2 - getting a suspect on the phone - is virtually impossible with voicemails and phone trees.

Our Own Prospecting Case Study

Earlier this year, we decided to test the waters for our hiring business solution,  We had some initial success right off the bat with our launch in January of 2016, but then activity seemed to cool down.  We purchased a local lead list based on company size and title and I began calling.  Here are the calling results:

  • 66% of the dials took me directly into a recorded phone tree
  • 25% of the calls took me to a receptionist who was very helpful and informative but transferred me to voicemail
  • Of the remaining 9%, I had in depth conversations with 3 people, met with one and generated one sale from that contact

3 people fit our profile; I met with 1 and sold that one… but not to help them hire better salespeople, but rather to help them test, train and track some of the salespeople that were not “hitting their weight”.  The second was not interested at the time and the 3rd introduced me to someone in the home office. That contact has put us in the middle of negotiations for a 5-figure initial engagement.

I tell you that story to make the following points about step #2:

  • Calling prospects on the phone doesn’t work like it used to.  
  • It requires more attempts and effort than ever before - you have to have a different tactic and message to differentiate yourself.
  • Once you make contact, you have to be extremely good at what you do and have a compelling reason for people to listen and stay on the phone. THAT is where being more assertive makes a difference.

Steps 3, 4, 5:  How to be More Assertive at Qualifying, Presenting and Getting Decisions

In our primary markets of financial institutions, investment services and insurance brokerage, we ARE the resource for sales growth solutions.  We coach our clients on the fact that the reason for either their sales growth or loss is due to their peoples’  1) effort or 2) execution.  But what does assertiveness have to do with Effort and Execution of steps 3,4 and 5?  In a word, EVERYTHING.

Steps 3,4, and 5:

  1. Conversations and meetings to qualify a suspect
  2. Gathering additional information that leads to a presentation meeting
  3. Presentations/pitch meetings that lead to decisions

In each one of these steps, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time is critical.  In our selling system, we explain that -  in order for a prospect to qualify - they must:

  1. Have compelling reasons to buy, make a change, do something different
  2. Have the capability and willingness to invest the right time, money and effort required for the purchase/change
  3. Be in a position of decision making and be able to make the decision to find a solution to the compelling (have to fix) issue,  can make the money decision, can leave a current or add to a current relationship, and say yes or no.

There are lots of questions that need to be asked in order to find out if the prospect qualifies in these three areas.  Some of these questions require a sales person to be assertive.  Questions such as:

  • How will you go about telling your current broker/banker/relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?
  • If you don’t have the money, how will you solve the problem?
  • The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?
  • What will you tell your partner when they say they don’t want to make the change?

Additionally, sometimes statements are required that would be considered counter-intuitive to selling, gutsy and risky.

  • Based on our experience and deep domain knowledge about your business, your best action to take would be this: ________.  If that doesn’t seem to work for you, then there’s a possibility that we won’t be a good match.
  • If I treated my clients the way you’ve been treated, then I would expect to be fired.
  • When we finish our presentation, solve all of the problems you’ve asked us to address within your budget and answered all your questions, I’ll need for you to be in a position to make a decision on whether we’ll do business together or not.
  • Maybe the most important thing for you to consider is “fit”.  If there isn’t a fit between our two companies, then our products and pricing really don’t matter.

Imagine for a second that you had salespeople that were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. What would happen?  You might fear that you would lose more business. But… suppose that wasn’t the case.  Suppose by being more assertive and gutsy, your salespeople eliminated tire kickers earlier.  Suppose this lead to the elimination of “think it overs” and actually got people to decide.  Imagine for a second that your salespeople stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes”.  What would happen?

Your people would sell more, more quickly, at higher margins.  They would stop wasting time, stop getting delays, stop being shopped by a prospect that was just trying to keep a current provider honest.  

Here’s How Sales Managers Can Get Their Salespeople to be More Assertive

Sales managers must hold their salespeople accountable to the right level of sales activity.  To do this, you must have a success formula and a well-defined sales process so that you can identify where the choke points are for individuals when they fail to close “sure thing” opportunities.  You must also have a pipeline tool that actually helps you predict the possibility of an opportunity closing rather than a tool that just reports that there is activity in the pipeline.  And, finally, you must have a full pipeline – an anemic pipeline makes cowards out of salespeople. These are the tools you will need to help your salespeople be more assertive and close more business, more quickly, at higher margins.


Topics: sales competencies, sales management, sales prospecting, Sales Strategies, asking sales questions


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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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