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Coaching for Success – Great Sales Growth Results Require Great Coaching

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 29, 2022

In an economic environment that is like the one we are in heading into 2023, your growth strategy may not be so much about sales growth, but rather more about holding on to what you have! If your clients are deciding to participate in the assumed upcoming recession, then your biggest questions / challenges won’t be:


  • Can we be competitive with our pricing?
  • Are our salespeople skilled enough to qualify and close business?
  • Will we have enough revenue to keep our people?
  • Can we meet demand?

No, your biggest challenge will be with your own sales team and their willingness, drive, and commitment to do what needs to be done to reach out each and every day to find new names / logos to add to their pipeline.

Addressing and solving this problem requires great coaching from your sales leadership and sales management people. Your sales managers and people responsible for developing sales talent MUST HAVE a coaching bias. They MUST have an innate desire to help people improve skill, attitude, will to sell, and behaviors. The will to sell alone though, is not enough. There are a set of skills / competencies that will either support the coaching effort, or hinder the coaching effort.  

If you follow Anthony Cole Training Group regularly, you know we are one of the top distributors for Objective Management Group suite of sales talent assessments and evaluations. We are a top distributor because we are absolutely convinced of the truth as spoken by our own sales development expert, Mark Trinkle, “You cannot fix what you cannot see.”


What you see in this graphic is information that we have when we assess an organization's sales management team. When you look at this, what jumps off the page at you? I don’t know about you, but I see three things that would hinder sales coaching effectiveness:

1.     Consistently coaches and debriefs

2.     Beliefs Support Coaching

3.     Doesn’t rescue the Salespeople

And just for good measure let’s add this one:

4.     Effective at getting commitments

Each one of these has a video that you can access for further clarification.  But for the purpose of this article let me attempt to craft the narrative this way.

You have a sales manager that really loves to coach and develop people, but:

  • Doesn’t spend enough time coaching to improve skill and change behaviors. The coaching takes place only when the salesperson needs to discuss a strategy for creating the solution or attempting to figure out how to deal with competitive pricing – how much lower can we offer our product?
  • In addition to that, this manager believes that only those new people need coaching, and their experienced, tenured salespeople already know what to do and are hitting their numbers.  (The question that needs to be asked is this:  Is hitting their numbers the same as producing to the available opportunity?)
  • When this manager does joint calls with prospects, they fail to let them fail.  Rescuing the salesperson once they make a mistake is also tied to beliefs. They believe that it is more important to make the sale, not look bad, make corrections then it is to let a salesperson fail and let them learn from mistakes.
  • Finally, when a manager of this make up does meet with their salespeople, they don’t get caught up in the ‘emotions’ of the minute, they won’t sugar coat questions because they are afraid of the salesperson not liking them, but they will struggle with getting a firm commitment to do the right activity, engage in training to improve skills and change behaviors.

As you can read from this narrative, the bias towards coaching is important and yes, even critical, but the skills to execute are just as critical. Here’s an analogy: I loved playing basketball and thought my road to an NCAA scholarship was via basketball. I had a couple of problems that overwhelmed my enthusiasm for the game: I couldn’t jump or shoot. I played basketball like a football player. The good news is that my love for football paid off and I attended UCONN on scholarship!

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Topics: Sales Growth, getting better sales results, coaching for success

Successful Salespeople Understand that the Small Stuff Does Matter

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 19, 2022

I will have to agree to disagree with Richard Carlson, Author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. My view is that the little and or small things do matter and often they matter a great deal.

We have a newborn in our family. Born July 1st 2022, she came into the world just over 7 pounds. The parents knew in advance that their child would be born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). With that came the understanding of the complications at birth and the lifelong disease associated with CF. You see, they already have 1 child with CF.

The baby was in the hospital for 5 weeks due to complications with her digestive tract issue, not uncommon with CF patients as they often don’t produce the enzymes to process protein and fat and as a result don’t ‘poop’. That is a problem.

The baby had to gain a defined amount of weight a day for a rolling number of consecutive days before they would release her to go home. That amount is 30 grams a day. I don’t convert easily from the metric system to the decimal system, so I had to look it up.  28.3495 grams equals 1 ounce. 1 ounce is .0003125% of my total body weight (200 lbs). A very small amount I think we would all agree.

So how important is the small stuff? Ask the parents, and they will tell you that day in and day out that while they waited to bring her home from the hospital, it was not such a small thing.

Another example to consider: The diameter of the moon is approximately 2,158 miles.  If the NASA scientist missed the calculation to moon landing site by just 1 degree, the Apollo 11 moon landing would have missed the landing site by: 

Screen Shot 2022-08-19 at 3.36.35 PM

What does this have to do with selling? Everything. Understand I am a salesperson that happens to sell sales growth training and development programs to community banks, insurance brokerage agencies and investment advisory firms. I came from a background of recruiting and selling young athletes to come to our campuses at UConn, the University of Cincinnati, and Iowa State University. I sold Nautilus exercise equipment and life insurance.

The lessons of small stuff didn’t hit me until I got into the insurance business and had to track my weekly sales activity in my success manual. I didn’t think it was that important, it was a pain in my backside to report this every week to my manager Bob and when I didn’t hit my numbers, I just made them up to keep Bob off my back. 

If you are reading this and you are an experienced and successful banker, insurance agent or advisor you can relate to this especially if you are one of our clients and have been introduced to the manager’s extraordinary discussion, the success formula, and huddles (video). You probably think it’s a waste of time and why does missing my call number, or my conversion number really matter? The graphic below shows you how much it matters.


The quarterly plan called for approximately 3.38 calls per day over the period of 1 quarter / 65 working days. If you miss that mark by just 10%, assumed conversion rate of outreaches is 18% instead of 20% and, your average size loan is 2,025,000 and finally you don’t renew all of your current 20,000,000 portfolio you end up at 88% of your goal!

So, the little things do matter and if you end up with a couple of little things not adding up, you miss the Big thing. Your personal goal!

(Personal Note: As of this writing the baby continues to grow, their oldest is almost 2 going on 5, you would never know she has CF. Mom and Dad are juggling what life has sent their way. They really do appreciate the small things.)

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Topics: Sales Growth, Sales Leadership, Sales Activities

6 Lessons for Sales Organizations I Learned on My Summer Vacation: Part 2

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Sep 03, 2020

Being successful in sales requires continuous growth and learning from day-to-day experiences. Identifying those buyer's you can actually help by doing great research and keeping detailed prospect notes, it part of that success.


Last week, I wrote a blog that covered the first 3 lessons I learned during my recent RV vacation to Michigan with my wife, Linda. If you missed it, here it is! This week, I review the final sales lessons I took away from our time on the open road.


4. Do your homework! We booked a spot at the Bluff of Manistee. Sounds nice, right? I will not throw them under the bus, but let’s just say that we left after a very brief deliberation about the “concrete jungle”. We immediately started googling and found a spot at Orchard State Beach in Manistee.  

  • It makes sense to do some homework before you call on someone, especially when cold calling. You must get a feel for their business, challenges, organizational structure, and find out anything you can about their current business state. This helps you frame your questions so that you sound well-informed about them and their industry. This knowledge and understanding help you more quickly establish credibility.
  • Understand that what you think you know might not be true. Not that a company would intentionally lie or be misleading but understand that they are looking to put their best foot forward. So be cautious, ask more questions, and work to validate what you think you know and inquire about what you don’t.

5. Record the adventure when you travel. Take too many pictures. Make too many notes. It will help you remember why things went well or why you might do something different in the future. You will also be able to share that information and help someone else. One thing we learned about every RV’er we met is that they were all willing to share.

  • Record your notes in your CRM. Check off steps as you complete them. Any documents you send, make sure you upload them to the prospect's file. Be willing to discuss your opportunities with others so you can learn, and they can learn.
  • Go back and look at your notes so that as you progress through the process, you do not have to remember everything. It’s DOCUMENTED! This will free you up to pay closer attention when you are meeting with your prospect.

6. Someone always needs help. The “someone” in this case happened to be the horses at Reality’s Chance in Lake Pleasant Michigan. It’s a wonderful spot: a sanctuary for at-risk horses founded by a wonderful person and run by a group of volunteers that care so much about the work they do. It seems like it would be an endless quest to save all the horses, but helping just one at a time makes a difference to THAT horse.

  • There are plenty of people in your marketplace that need help. Not just any help but specialized help. Kind of what Lauren does for Mustangs at Reality’s Chance. You must be the provider of that specialized help.
  • To be that specialized resource, you cannot look, act, and sound like everyone else. You must have a different approach, have different conversations, and focus on presidential issues and business solutions instead of your products and services.

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Topics: coaching sales, Sales Growth, sales development, Business Development, driving sales growth 2020

Catching a Wave with Hispanic Consumers

Posted by Sebastian Fuentes on Tue, Sep 01, 2020

Within 10 years, Hispanics will account for over 21% of the population in the United States. There is a valuable opportunity to understand and proactively adjust to this coming shift in demographics.


What are you and your organization doing to appeal and speak to this growing group of consumers?



Many people know the basic Spanish word for hello is hola. Do you know what happens when you drop the “H”? The resulting word, ola, means wave. And wave is the perfect word to describe the Hispanic market in the United States; it’s growing by the day, gaining lucrative force, and coming your way! Moreover, if you don’t give any consideration to how it will affect your business, the opportunities could be washed out to sea. 


Business in our country is becoming increasingly cognizant of Hispanic consumers because they are becoming increasingly powerful. The purchasing power of Hispanics was forecasted to hit 1.7 trillion dollars this year. Look for the signs in your own consumer experience…How many times have you called a customer service line to hear “for English press one, para Español oprima dos?” Even your entertainment experiences are increasingly highlighting Hispanic actors, characters, or subjects. ABC’s Magnum P.I. reboot features Mexican-American actor Jay Hernandez as the iconic Thomas Magnum. Netflix makes our stomachs growl with Street Food: Latin America and our hearts pound with Money Heist (the most popular non-English show on the entire platform).    


By 2030, Hispanics will make up over 21% of the population of the United States. Take a moment and think about what that means for your business. The fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population will make up 1 out of 5 consumers in fewer than 10 years. No other segment is even close to that pace of growth. Even if you’re not currently operating in a state with a large Hispanic population (think California or Texas), that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the numbers. There is a valuable opportunity to understand and proactively adjust to this coming shift in demographics. Is your business ready to make a splash?  


Simply translating your current advertising, sales, or service materials into Spanish is valuable, but you can’t stop there; Hispanic consumers can’t be won over by a solely linguistic sales approach. This market segment is multi-dimensional, intersectional, and language is only one element. Think of it this way- Colombians and Mexicans speak Spanish, as do Cuban-Americans hailing from South Florida. Are these Hispanic communities alike? Absolutely not. The vibrant tapestry of Hispanics in this country may share a linguistic thread, but it’s essential to acknowledge their distinct cultures. In fact, a study conducted by PwC shows that reaching Hispanic consumers has become less about language and more about connection with the content. Culturally relevant news sources such as Mitu and the increasing visibility of Hispanics in media (remember Magnum P.I.?) show the power of representation.


So how does all of this affect your business strategy? You have to start by thinking about the specific populations that are already where you are, or where you want to be. What do those cultural pockets respond to positively? Are the most influential Hispanic consumers in your operational area older or younger? First-generation? Third-generation? Are you making an effort to understand them?      


Here are some important points to consider regarding your business and its positioning with Hispanic consumers:

  • What is the regional scope of your business? In other words, are you always going to operate in a singular geographic area, or are you in multiple places?
  • How populous is the Hispanic community in your regional scope? The numbers may surprise you!  
  • Do you have a strategy that is properly equipped to sell to Hispanic consumers? (We’re not talking about overhauling your sales strategy. We are talking about honestly examining your sales/market penetration strategy so you’re getting the most out of it.)  
  • Even if your Hispanic customer base is small in numbers, that’s OK. Use this opportunity to think about your long game and generate ideas about how you could adjust if your regional scope were to see a change in demographics.    


Chances are, one or several of these considerations will present you with an opportunity for improvement. That’s a good thing because addressing areas in need of reinforcement now could translate into bigger opportunities for the future. Winston Churchill once said, “If you don’t take change by the hand, it will take you by the throat.” Give your business the attention and positioning it needs to meaningfully connect with this important demographic and you’ll gladly say “Hola, ola!

Topics: develop relationships, closing more sales, Sales Growth, Target Marketing, relationship selling

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.


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


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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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