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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.

MIVacation2

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?

pexels-emiliano-arano-1295138

 

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.

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

Driving Sales Growth and Asset Management – A Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious Part II

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jun 04, 2018

In my previous blog article, I discussed the importance of looking at your sales production in terms of the 80/20 rule and flipping it so you can see the impact your bottom performers are having on your overall sales growth goal. If you have not already done so, click here to read the article.

With all of that said, here are some analytics of organizations we work with.  Before we begin our engagements I ask for production reports so that I can get a feel for how the team is actually performing. This starts the process of gaining an initial ‘augmented view’ of the sales team. The more in-depth augmented view comes when we complete the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.

Note: Company B:  Investment Advisory (Above 300,000 is considered above goal)

3rd quintile chart

4th quitile chart

Note:  Many, if not all, of those in the bottom quintile were reassigned to a different business unit of banking that was more consistent with their skill set and level of expertise within their newly assigned market. In other words, they had good people on the bus but they were just in the wrong seats. But aside from that, it’s difficult to ignore the rest of the data. 

If we eliminate the bottom quintile as a relevant factor, we still need to look at the 3rd and 4th quintile and wonder what is happening with this group. They are being outperformed by the 1st quintile 4.67 to 1 and 10.42 to 1! Normally, in banking, what I hear is that the most successful lenders are the most experienced-- as you can see here that is not the case. The years of service is insignificant other than the 3rd quintile which has almost as much experience as the first four quintiles.

Here is a final note on this group before I get into the actions taken to begin addressing the sales growth opportunity. The top 1/3 of the group is responsible for 83.6% of the loan production and the bottom 1/3 is responsible for 6% of the production. If you were on my board and I made this announcement to you about my sales team, what would be your reactions, questions or comments?

Suppose this was reflective of your team as well?

If you haven’t already done so, download our e-book "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?" If you need additional information, check out our e-book on "Why is Qualifying A Prospect So #%&@ Hard?"

Topics: Sales Growth, effective sales management

Prospecting or Selling: Which One Really Drives Sales Growth?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, May 09, 2018

I’m stuck this morning. I’m reading “Building A Story Brand” by Don Miller and I'm looking over my own book “The Best Prospecting Book Ever Written”.  Don points out in chapter 7 that in order to get a prospect to push the ‘buy now’ button they have to trust that everything is going to turn out okay. That means that they have to trust you and everything you’ve said and presented to them. That’s a tall order if you are selling high-ticket items.

In my book, I just read the intro to Chapter 11 where I recount a meeting with Ron Rose at a Cincinnati GAMA meeting. I was a rookie in the Insurance business where Ron, on the other hand, was a 30-year veteran and multi-year MDRT (Million Dollar Roundtable) agent. I asked him what his best method for gaining prospects was and he took me through a series of questions that started with: “If I had your family locked up in a closet with a bomb, that was going to go off in 24 hours if you didn’t make a sale, who would you call on first?” I said, “somebody I already know”.

And that’s how I got stuck. 

Over the last 25 years, I have literally spent thousands of hours learning more and more about how to; build a sales practice, craft a strong sales message, present solutions to get people to say yes and more effectively guide my prospects through their buying process. Having said that, there are very few books, articles or presentations I’ve read that didn’t address prospecting. I’m in the middle of writing a script for our Instructor Lead Training Session on Getting Introductions. In the process of writing the script, I googled ‘Getting Introductions-- Tony Cole’ to see what else I may have written about the subject and that search took me to my book.

And that's where I got stuck.

7125889_xl shaking hands

You see, in Don’s book he points out that in order to help someone with the trust issue you have to provide your prospect with a plan. A plan that helps them arrive at the ‘buy now’ button on their own. Or a plan that helps them feel more confident after they’ve pushed the ‘buy now’ button. He used the analogy of putting down stones for the prospect to cross a creek.

That lead me to think about you and your sales approach. It caused me to stop and ask this question – what is your test drive? How do you help people get comfortable enough with you and your process so that the anxiety of making a mistake is minimized?  Imagine you’re buying a $50,000.00 vehicle without a test drive. Now put the number at $500,000.00.

And that is where I got unstuck.

Imagine how much easier it is for any prospect of yours to make a decision if you made it a habit of getting introduced to the person that is eventually going to ask you to write a check for $500,000.00. Doesn’t getting introduced eliminate some of the anxiety and stress because someone you already trust and have confidence in has taken the test drive?

If you’re are looking for a better, more effective way to maximize your sales growth, register now for the upcoming live broadcast The 8 Strategies to Reach Your Company’s Sales Growth Opportunity Gap“.

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Topics: introductions, Sales Growth

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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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