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5 Strategies to Increase Sales and Have Your Best Year Yet

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 07, 2020

Welcome to our newest blog series titled, "2020: The Year For Sales Growth".  These blog posts will specifically focus on helping you drive (and increase) sales in the new year. 

Starting with today's post, we bring you 5 strategies to help increase your sales to have your best yet!

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Somehow, it is already time to start thinking about your goals and resolutions for the coming year so that you can:

  1. Fix problems
  2. Leverage opportunities
  3. Become the best version of yourself
  4. Scratch an itch
  5. Re-commit to previous resolutions

In a nutshell, we make resolutions to either achieve pleasure or avoid pain.  Unfortunately for many, the pleasurable outcome isn’t significant enough, or the pain isn’t severe enough, to make the resolutions stick. 

So, let’s do away with resolutions for a moment and talk about 5 Strategies that will help you have your best year yet.

#1 – Show Up and Show Up on Time.  When I was a product rep for Provident Life and Accident, my manager told me on my first day that the most important key to success in the business was to show up, and to show up on time. If you do that, you will already be ahead of the competition.  I believed that then back in 1990, and I believe it still holds true today.

  • Show up –Just get there.  Be in front of the people that you need to be in front of to tell your story, discover their needs, uncover their desires for a great outcome or to avoid pain. 
  • Show up on time – showing up on time demonstrates more about who you are than what you do. If you are a manager, make sure you show up on time for your 1-on-1 coaching sessions, your pre and post-call debrief meetings, and your sales meetings as well.  When you show up late or cancel/reschedule, you are sending a message to your people that showing up late (or not showing up at all) is okay.

#2 – Focus on Green, "Go-To" Activities.  I call them Green Activities because these are the activities that make you money. Make a list of all the things you do during the day, and then carve out about 20% of those activities that lead directly to making sales/money. 80% of your time should be spent on “Go-To” activities. Too often, we get caught up doing the other stuff that allows us to stay busy as opposed to focusing on what matters most. Don’t misunderstand me. I know other activities such as preparing for meetings, responding to emails and calls, and helping current clients are part of your role, but it’s important to prioritize the go-to activities to make sure they get done first.

#3 - Work with the Best of the Rest. Assume for a minute you have 50 clients.  Focus on asking your top 36% (18) of them if they know at least 5 other people like them.  That gives you a potential pool of prospects of 90! Let’s say your average revenue from your top 18 clients is $27,000. The potential revenue of the prospect pool is $2.4m.  Assuming ½ of the 90 will meet with you (45) and half of those people will be qualified prospects (22.5) and half of those people would buy from you (11.25), that means you could generate about $300,000 from that pool of prospects. The question I want you to answer is this:  How many of your bottom 36% clients would you have to sell to equal just 1 of your top 36%?

#4 – Answer the Question – What is Holding Me Back? Many salespeople and sales organizations go year after year without performing as expected.  Individuals and companies invest in training and sales enablement tools but still they find over 66% of the team members fail to reach goals.  There are exceptions but the studies we’ve done consistently tell us two things:

  1. The top 1/3 of the sales team generates close to 80% of the revenue
  2. The bottom 1/3 generates less than 5%

Sometimes what is holding someone back from being their best has nothing to do with technique or their ability to build relationships.  If your onboarding, training, development and coaching program does not focus on items where they specifically struggle it won’t matter or make a dent in your results. Stop treating symptoms and thinking you must work harder!  Find out what is holding you back and focus on the root cause. If you are a Sales Manager, VP or President: What is holding your team back from selling more business, more quickly at better margins?

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#5 – Be Coachable.  Every great professional gets to be the best for reasons other than natural ability or God given talents. The example I normally use is baseball but choose any profession you like, and I guarantee you that the best of the best are coachable and they practice to perfect their skills.  Here is an example:

  • José Carlos Altuve is a Venezuelan professional second baseman for the Houston Astros. The Astros signed Altuve as an amateur free agent in 2007, and he made his major league debut in 2011. From 2014 to 2017, Altuve recorded at least 200 hits each season and led the American League (AL) in the category. He won three batting championships as well as:
    • 6 time MLB All Star
    • MVP for the American league in 2017
    • 5 Silver Slugger Awards
    • 1 Golden Glove

The question is this, when spring training starts in February what does Altuve do? Does he sit on the sidelines and just watch because “he’s a pro”?  Does he participate in some of the drills and exercises but omits others because “he knows how to do that”? Does he skip batting practice or taking infield? The answer is no, no, no and no.  He’s a professional, he’s coachable and he recognizes that he can always be better.  

If you are going to continue to grow you must have the motivation, desire and commitment to become the best version of yourself. That is what will help you be coachable.

For more information on how to implement and execute these 5 strategies email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, Schedule a meeting using this link:  Schedule A Meeting or text “5 Strategies” to (513) 226-3913.

Topics: hiring salespeople, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, extraordinary sales, sales habits, sales productivity, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, corporate sales training, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020

Four Reasons Behind Sales Madness

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 28, 2019

In our follow up to last week's March Madness write-up, we discuss the idea of "sales madness", and the notion that it can be defined similarly to insanity, or doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.

There are four reasons that make up our judgement into sales madness.  They are:

1.) Uncoachable Salespeople

2.) A failure to recognize that the game has changed

3.) Being allergic to hard work

4.) A failure to add value

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Like many of you, I always enjoy the month of March.  The temperature at least is supposed to start trending in the right direction…my birthday occurs in March (thanks to all of you who sent gifts)…and last, but certainly not least, is the NCAA basketball tournament that we have come to know as March Madness.  Wall-to-wall basketball with good food and good friends is something we look forward to each year here at Anthony Cole Training Group.

As a sales coach, there is another kind of madness I see that is not exclusive to the month of March.  I refer to it as "Sales Madness."  I define sales madness just like others have defined insanity: doing the same thing over and over while at the same time expecting a different outcome.

So, what about this other kind of madness?  Where does it come from?  I sense there are several reasons why salespeople keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but, to keep our theme of March Madness alive, I give you my “Final Four” reasons that make up the madness. 

They are:

  1. Uncoachable salespeople - Some salespeople are simply averse to changing their game.  Maybe they are stubborn.  Maybe they have an inflated sense of how good they really are at putting the ball in the basket.  For whatever reason, the salesperson will push back when anyone attempts to coach them to higher levels of performance.
  2. A failure to recognize that the game has changed - It still surprises me how many salespeople are trying to sell like the famous musical artist Prince – like it is 1999.  Buyers today are on a journey.  They are more informed than ever before.  They are starting the process on their own instead of waiting for a salesperson to reach out to them.  Almost 80% of C-Suite level prospects have indicated they will not even come to the phone for a conversation with a salesperson they do not know.
  3. Being allergic to hard work - Some salespeople have concluded they can continue to have the same (or even better) results without hustling even more for rebounds and loose balls on the floor.  That won’t cut it.  There is more competition to deal with…not less.  Prospects are more cautious…not less.  Buying cycles (note that I did not say sales cycles) are longer…not shorter.  Sure, you might be really talented.  But remember this – hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
  4. A failure to add value - Two things happen when salespeople don’t provide value along the buyers' journey that prospects take:  they don’t differentiate and they don’t build relationships.  Add those two things together and it might explain those unreturned emails and voicemails.

I always like asking the salespeople I coach one simple question: 

  1. How much are you willing to put on the table in terms of what you are willing to change?  Those that are willing to take the scary route of change generally score more often.

Enjoy your Spring…and here is to confining the madness to the hardwood!

 

Topics: sales career, coaching sales people, sales habits, getting better sales results, highly successful sales people, sales madness

Did Your Salespeople Grow Up on the Farm?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Nov 14, 2016

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You and your salespeople are a product of mom and dad, the people met, the experiences had and the education/knowledge acquired:

  • Nature and Nurture
  • Heredity and Environment

Recently, I read a Jack Reacher novel.  Jack is a fictional character in many of Lee Child’s novels.  Jack is a former military police officer and states to himself, “You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you.”  I stopped and thought about that comment and related it to my own life and realized, “You can leave the farm but the farm doesn’t leave you.”

Those that know me and have heard me speak or train know that I reference my youth and growing up on the farm in Hammonton, New Jersey.  Hammonton is the blueberry capital of the world, home of the Hammonton Hawks, the Hammonton Blue Devils and Bruni’s Pizzeria.

I am a product of those experiences as well as the numerous people I’ve met, places I’ve been, books I’ve read, speakers I’ve heard and work/fun experiences I have had since I was 18.  But, I am pretty sure much of what I am today - how I think and how I act - are a result of those first 18 years.  The farm and growing up the son of Ray and Geri Cole laid the foundation that is me today.

The core values and beliefs I learned on the farm that still guide me today:

  • When all else fails, hard work works.
  • Get up early and go to work.
  • Go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Learn how to hunt and provide for your family.
  • Working piece meal pays you your true value (i.e. working on commission).
  • Don’t try to control what you cannot control (i.e. Weather and the rate at which blueberries ripen for harvest).
  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Someone will always have it better/worse than you.
  • Two things have to happen – death and taxes.
  • God will provide wisdom, strength and courage – you have to do the work.
  • Not everyone gets to play.
  • Winners are rewarded.
  • God provided us with two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you talk.
  • You have to be in great shape to play college football.
  • Thank and love Mom, Dad and God.
  • 4th place didn’t get a medal.
  • If you hoe long enough, blisters will become calluses.
  • Trucks run better with all four tires.
  • Hard work can be fun.
  • Make your handshake mean something.
  • All we have is our integrity.
  • Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be answer, ask and it will be given.
  • The only way to get a pretty girl to go out with you is to ask her out for a date.
  • Your heart will be broken and mend.
  • If you plant trees in good soil, take care of them with food and water and shelter them from harm, they will last a long, long time (See my picture of the sugar maple my dad planted over 60 years ago).
  • Love grows best in little houses.
  • Kids taking care of pets learn about responsibility, life and death.
  • Hugs are free.
  • There’s always room for Jello
  • Money doesn’t grow on trees.
  • I’m not a Rockefeller.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Take care of your equipment and your equipment will take care of you.

Most, if not all, of this list has served me well over the years. There is also a list of things I had to unlearn/undo because it didn't/ doesn't serve me well.

  • Don’t talk to strangers.
  • Life isn’t fair.
  • Rich people are ‘rich bastards’.
  • You want people to like you.
  • Don’t upset the apple cart.
  • Fit in.
  • Play it safe.
  • Don’t trust salespeople.
  • Biases based on gender, religion and color of skin.
  • You can’t be wealthy and happy.

I’m sure I could add more, but I’m also sure that this is getting boring, so I’ll get to the point.  That point is this: you have to do more in your training and development program than just teach tactics and techniques.  There’s lots of stuff in your head -  and in the heads of your people - that influences what you do and won’t do.  To get the most out of any training and development program, you have to understand the “root” cause.

Understanding who your people are is critical in getting them to perform. Understanding who you are will help you help them.

Here is a way to learn more about how your people think when it comes to sales and sales management:  Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.

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Topics: managing sales people, record collection, coaching sales people, sales habits

Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Nov 02, 2016

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The sales management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving today.  What activities are you doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?  It is up to us as sales leaders to set higher standards for sales behaviors and hold people accountable so that we get better results.

It is a given that successful sales management requires contributions on many levels:  skill, time, effort, effective execution and systems and processes to support coaching, performance management and recruiting.

To help understand what makes a successful sales manager, it is helpful to review the Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople. I recently asked the participants of a workshop to identify and share those habits that they believed contributed to the success of their best salespeople.  Below are some of the common habits identified:

  • Develops great relationships
  • Networks regularly
  • Good time management
  • Gets to decision makers
  • Is selective in prospecting
  • Provides exceptional customer service

Then I asked them to talk about the flip-side of the list – those habits that inhibited or hurt a salesperson’s ability to close more business.  Below are some of the habits they identified:

  • Sells on price
  • Inconsistent prospecting
  • Procrastinates
  • Presents to the wrong people
  • Sells to anyone that fogs a mirror
  • Poor prioritization
  • Is too comfortable

How about you and your habits?  What are those habits that you can point to that you KNOW have a positive impact on your team’s sales behaviors and results?  Here are some that I observe and hear about:

  • Coaches: in-the-moment to get a deal closed
  • Reports sales results
  • Makes joint calls
  • Sets goals
  • Conducts regular sales meetings
  • Reviews and reports pipeline

This is a good list and with some additions, it can become a great list when we identify the skills of a great Coach, one of the most critical roles of an effective sales leader.  To examine what else you might want to consider, take a look at the following list of elements necessary for successful coaching:

  • Debriefs sales calls effectively
  • Asks quality questions
  • Controls emotions
  • Allows salespeople to fail
  • Implements and manages the execution of a consistent sales process
  • Motivates when coaching based on individual/personal goals
  • Coaches to improve skill and change behavior
  • Gets sales people to follow through on commitments

It’s not enough to just have the skill.  In order for managers to be successful at having a sales team built for growth, the manager must be in the habit of using those skills.

Being an extraordinary sales manager is grueling and time-consuming.  It requires attention to detail, the ability to have tough conversations with those who are not meeting their numbers, the desire and commitment to grow yourself and your salespeople, consistent activity and patience.  Like the coach of a winning team or conductor of an extraordinary symphony, you have the ability to positively affect the success and the lives of your salespeople and company. 

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Topics: sales management, managing sales teams, sales habits, highly successful salespeople

Who is Your Superstar?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Apr 14, 2016

Kobe Bryant will be retired from NBA basketball when the final buzzer sounds in tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz.  If you are not a basketball fan or sports fan, this may mean nothing to you.  My intent is to frame a very important discussion about performance around a living legend of the LA Lakers and NBA.

As I listened to ESPN Radio Mike and Mike in The Morning, I heard commentary from former teammates, coaches and opposing players. There was a common theme in there discussion about Kobe Bryant and elite performers in athletics.  To be clear, I don’t believe the common theme is limited to athletic top performers.

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As I started this article, I sent a question to my niece, Laura Wehrmeyer Fuentes.  Laura is an elite performer and vocalist who performs in the greater DC/Baltimore area.  I asked her if she ever bailed on a performance because she felt a little off or hadn’t prepared properly.  Her response:  “No way!  I’ve sung through bronchitis and pneumonia hopped up on steroids when I had to.  The show must go on!”

Elite performers prepare and perform at the highest capabilities regardless of the situation, the score, the environment or circumstances.

Some comments made about Kobe made me think about the content and theme of this article.  Here is just a sampling of what was said about Kobe and other top performers:

  • They demanded the best of others. When others were not performing at their best, giving it their all in practice or in a game, they call them out.
  • When it’s game time, nothing else matters. When Kobe’s family came to LA to watch him play, they stayed at a hotel instead of his spacious home.  He focused on the task at hand.
  • Regardless of the score of any game, if you watched Kobe play, you would swear that the Lakers must be down by 20. His intensity for playing the game rather than playing the score made him elite.
  • When comparing Kobe to Magic Johnson, the comment was made about Magic after they lost the championship to the Lakers. “You couldn’t find Magic in LA.  Here is a guy that likes to be out, is normally seen out and is everywhere where the lights are.  After the loss you could only find him in one place – the gym.”
  • Elite players make other players better. They recognize that they are a big piece of the puzzle, but still only one piece.  They elevate the game of others in order to win the team
  • Elite players have a tendency to rub others the wrong way. Not because they are arrogant individuals, but they have an arrogance about how they view the game and how it should be played and how one should be prepared to play.  They are haters – haters of losing and those un-willing to pay the price to win.

I could go on, but this makes the point and takes me to the question in the title of this article – Who are your elite players and are they doing the things that superstar/hall of fame players do? 

  • Are they elevating others?
  • Are they demanding of others?
  • Are they team-objective focused or focused on their own stats?
  • Do they do everything possible to win individually and get others to win as a team?
  • Are they your go-to people in a crisis?
  • Do they grind and grind to get it done?
  • Do they work relentlessly on their skills?
  • Do they focus on the details of the game so as to eliminate repeated errors or mistakes?
  • Do they call others out?

*Data on approximately 100,000 sales managers

  • Have, on average 43% of the Sales Coaching Competency 
  • Only 39% have at least 50% of the Sales Coaching Competency.  
  • Only 7% have more than 75% of the Sales Coaching Competency and
  • Only 3% spend at least 50% of their time coaching their salespeople
  • Only 7% of sales people assessed fall into the elite status based on performance, sales DNA and 21 core sales competencies.

As a CEO, president, national sales manager, vice president of sales or sales manager, the responsibility you have is to drive revenue.  When that seems difficult or impossible there needs to be more to the solution than work harder, see more people, increase the marketing budget, do more social networking, expand the sales force, etc.  Just like you would look into the numbers (expenses) to figure out how to improve profit, you need to look at the root problems impacting revenue.

It isn’t the latest sales enablement technology that improves sales results.  It is the human technology that drives sales today and will drive sales tomorrow.

Helpful Links/Resources:

Objective Management Group – White Paper on Talent Selection

Anthony Cole Training Group – Link to Sales Management Certification Program

Hirebettersalespeople.com – Self-explanatory link

Burning platform issue – You have a problem now, You want it fixed now – call me directly:  Office: 513.605.1301 or call/text  Mobile 513.226.3913.

 

Picture of Kobe – link to YouTube

Topics: hire better sales people, increase sales, sales habits, upgrade your sales force

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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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