ACTG Sales Management Blog

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How to Get Your Sales Leadership Questions Answered

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Sep 23, 2021

When executives think about their sales teams, they often ask themselves if they have the right people in the seat and how they can become more effective.

In this blog, we will discuss the leading questions sales executives face when considering their current producer team and how to get the answers they need.

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If you are a Jimmy Buffett fan (that would make you a Parrot Head), you recognize the title of his 1973 release by the same name. Buffett wrote the song about a one-armed veteran of the Spanish Civil War that he met during a show in Chicago.

So, what does any of this have to do with sales leadership? Here are just a few lines from the song:

He went to Paris
Looking for answers
To questions that bothered him so

Now that makes me think of the executives we speak with all over the country who “have questions that bother them so.” But their questions don’t have anything to do with travel, relationships, fishing, and drinking (not saying executives don’t think about those things). When executives think about their sales teams, here are the sales questions that “bother them so”:

  • Do I have the right people, on the right bus, and sitting in the right seats?
  • How much more effective can my sales teams become?
  • What will be required to make them more effective?
  • Why do we consistently have a hit-and-miss approach to hiring salespeople?
  • For my salespeople who disappoint me, did we hire them that way or did we make them that way?
  • Why do my salespeople so quickly cave on price instead of selling our value?
  • What are the common traits in my top performers that separate them from my bottom performers?

So here is my question for you: do these questions bother you? Do you need to get answers to these questions? If so, you don’t need to go to Paris. You just need to click on the link below to land on my calendar for a fifteen-minute phone call. I can get you the answers and you don’t even have to pay to get the answers. You just need to be bothered.

See you In Paris!

Topics: Sales questions, Sales Leadership, sales leadership development

Lessons from a Few Great Leaders

Posted by Linda Cole on Thu, Oct 01, 2020

Many Great Leaders precede us and the mentorship these leaders provide can help us move our businesses forward if we study and implement some of their learnings and accomplishments. A myriad of basic business tenets demonstrated in the leadership of many influential historical figures have the potential to help us plan our next expansion, create or grow with exploding demand or navigate unprecedented times of change.

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Charles Schwab comes to mind. His book, Invested; Changing Forever the Way Americans Invest, provides us the biography of his revolutionary consumer-direct investment concept. Schwab led the way for the birth of an industry with his passion, beliefs and tenacity in the face of a traditional and hostile Wall Street. The take-aways from his book are numerous and inspirational. Most notably, Charles Schwab had an unwavering vision. His commitment, tenacity and fortitude are demonstrated throughout the book.

Abraham Lincoln created a team composed of able political rivals-- People who were unafraid to voice their opinion or disagree with him. These people were confident in their own leadership abilities. Early examples of diversity and inclusion, Lincoln’s actions help us understand how much better we can be if we find and recruit people from differing perspectives who challenge our thinking. This is particularly relevant for attracting and representing differing constituents--when we are looking to expand our appeal to various market segments or different types of employees. 

Beth Mooney of Key Corp, became the first female CEO and Chairman of a top 20 US bank in 2011. Mooney led the way for women to become management and executives in banking. In an interview with Barron’s published April 3, 2020, she tells the story that in 1979 she was a secretary for a bank in Texas. She applied and interviewed for a management training program, then refused to leave the interview until she was accepted. Which she was, with the caveat that she earn her MBA.

Clearly, Beth Mooney was ambitious. She demonstrated commitment and a stubborn focus throughout her career. She knew firsthand the challenges that women and minorities faced in the white-male dominated banking space and through her determination and actions, Mooney made it possible for many women, minorities and LGBTQ to succeed.

Jesus had a servant heart. “The least of you shall be the greatest.” Focus on the needs of those people for whom you are responsible. Balance conviction with passion – Do not bend from your objectives when correcting behavior or outcomes. At the same time, do not “break the backs” of your people. The bricks and mortar of your business may crumble but armed with great followership you can remain strong and prosper. Leadership skills will only take you as far as your character allows. No amount of skill will overcome a lack of transparency, integrity or honesty.

Margaret Thatcher, the autocratic leader, was known as the “Iron Lady”. Her conviction and values along with her determination enabled her to set goals and see them through, even in the face of personal threat. An example of this was her reducing the influence of mining unions in the UK in 1984-95 , regardless of the push back from public and private opinion. A controversial leader, Thatcher believed that too much government involvement stymied economic growth and she worked untiringly transitioning the economy into the hands of the British people and businesses. Believe in your guiding principles with your heart and soul. If you fail, fail as a result of execution rather than belief. 

Who are your leadership heroes and what takeaways do you take from each? Maybe a parent or teacher provided great leadership qualities. What qualities do you hold yourself to? What qualities do you hold others to?

Identify areas where you are strong and defend your position. What would others say about your list? What are necessary areas of improvement for you? Where are your gaps? What impact do these gaps produce? Are they problematic? Must they be addressed and if so, how will you fix them?

Finally build your own plan for improvement. Then share the plan with others and express your expectations of them. The best way to do that is to tell a story. What is your story?

Need to Improve Your Leadership Skills?

Topics: sales management success, sales leadership development, Leadership Skills, traits of successful people

Leadership in Times of Change

Posted by Steve Jones on Thu, Aug 20, 2020

As a leader, have you ever wondered why your salespeople don't adapt to and follow the new guidelines you have established? Often, managers focus their energy on defining procedures and identifying expectations during times of change. However, they fail to understand the impact and personal needs of the employees that are responsible for following these new requirements. 

In today's blog, we discuss why it is so critical for leaders to understand the overall impact change has on employees and how to best get new policies in place with everyone on board. 

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“Due to the virus restrictions, we have had to institute many new procedures. Surprisingly, some of my best employees are struggling to adapt to them!”

“We had to shrink our sales team due to business performance. This required us to juggle some client assignments among the remaining staff. Some have jumped right in, but a few are resisting. We have been clear about why the business needs to make these changes. They should be happy they have kept their jobs, but you’d never know it.”

What’s going on? In the past, our team has risen to every challenge and met every new goal with excitement and enthusiasm. Our compensation is more than competitive. Our competition hasn’t introduced any new products or services that we can’t compete against. We were very clear on the new procedures and assignments, and our performance expectations are basically the same as they have always been.

What could be going on is that you and your managers have focused your energy on clearly defining new procedures and expectations but may not have spent enough time focusing on the personal needs of the employees. When things are changing, employees will often take a step back to understand how the changes affect them personally before they focus on how the changes will benefit the business. They need the time to understand what they need to do differently and to what extent their world is being changed.

They might be asking:

  • “Do these changes affect my work schedule, which will in turn affect my schedule outside of work?”
  • “Am I going to need to rely on or develop a skill I never really needed in the past? Do I feel confident in that new skill? Am I willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the new procedure?”
  • “Will my selling style match well with the new clients I have been assigned, or will I need to adjust? Will I be able to adjust? Do I want to adjust?”

When change happens in our lives, it is natural for us to resist at first, particularly if we thought things were going well before. If the status quo was comfortable for me, I would prefer to leave things as they were. Unconsciously (or maybe consciously), I am hoping that if I resist the change then it will go away. You will let me continue to operate in my comfort zone.

The mistake we make as managers is that we believe all we need to do is clearly explain what needs to be done and why. If we do that, everyone will see the need for the change and jump on board. However, as long as your people are in resistance mode, they are not ready to listen to your arguments on why the changes are good for the company. They are taking care of themselves first.

The next time you need to institute changes take a more balanced approach:

  1. Be clear about the need for the change and the long-term benefits of everyone successfully adopting the new procedures.
  2. Acknowledge that this is a change and seek to understand what concerns your employees may have about adapting to the changes. Be sincere in your understanding that change can be confusing, time-consuming, and scary. If you have the flexibility to accommodate an individual’s specific concerns, let them know that.
  3. Discuss what the employees need to get comfortable with the changes. Do they need more information? Do they need time to learn new procedures before they are implemented? They certainly will need your patience as they adjust, and your understanding if they are not initially skilled at the new behaviors.
  4. As a leader, you need to define the desired outcome. Allow your employees to participate in figuring out the best way to achieve that outcome. If you do this, you will find they will more quickly “own” the new procedures and behaviors.
  5. When your employees struggle with the new “rules of the game” – and they will – be forgiving at first and encourage them to keep working at it. Acknowledge the effort to change, and they will feel you appreciate that it isn’t easy.
  6. When you feel the majority of your folks have successfully transitioned to the new way, take some time to celebrate. Remind them how far they have come, thank them for their efforts, and revisit the benefits of making the changes. This will help them continue to move forward even when they have setbacks.

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Given the choice, most people will choose to not change what they feel has been working for them. Don’t try to manage the change by focusing on processes, measurements, and results. Instead, try to lead them through the change by partnering with them and supporting them along the new path you have set for them.

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Topics: Sales Leadership, sales management success, managing sales teams, sales leadership development, increase sales, motivating salespeople

What Motivates Your Sales Team? How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 16, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss motivation in sales.  The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of their sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  

Without knowing what motivates his/her employees, how could you possibly create a motivating environment?

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How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Sales is the lifeblood of most businesses.  If you're a sales manager, or sales leader, you might be wondering how to better motivate your sales team.

Unlike most sales activities that can be measured, motivation is a more difficult metric to assess, but still vital to your sales team's success.

Here are a couple of ideas to help inspire your sales team.

How to Motivate Sales Team:

  • Build trust among your sales reps
  • Understand what motivates them 
  • Set daily, weekly, monthly sales goals
  • Give and promote recognition
  • Lead with empathy

 

As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for. 

The process helps us (and our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

 

6 Factors That Determine Sales Motivation

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here to inquire about the pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because,often, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question,

“How do I motivate my sales team?”


ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality

I have to ask: Why?

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship. 

Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, and success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

Without knowing what motivates your salespeople, how could you possibly create a motivated environment or sales team? 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leadership development, sales motivation, sales skill assessment, sales growth and inspiration, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, sales training programs, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Call a Sales Audible!

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jun 11, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss the importance of calling a sales audible at the line of scrimmage.  Like an elite Quarterback, an elite salesperson must be willing to change things up when they're not working and be open to trying something completely different in the field.

We've all been there before and we all know the definition of insanity by this point.  So, what can you do about it when things aren't going your way and you are ready to increase sales?

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An audible is, "A change in the offensive play called by the Quarterback at the line of scrimmage."

A few years ago , I thought of that definition in Chicago, IL, as my Uber driver made several deviations from her GPS directions in transporting me from the Midway Airport into downtown.

As I rode along with the windows down on a beautiful and sunny day in the Windy City, my thoughts turned from sightseeing to salespeoplespecifically, the need for salespeople to make changes on the fly, whether that be during the initial phone call, the first meeting, or even at the time they present their solutions.  

Is there a better time than right now to try something different in your sales approach?

Anyone and everyone who has had any exposure to our company knows that we are completely sold on the importance of process.  We have table-pounding conviction around how important it is for a business driven by sales to have certain key processes in place regarding their sales infrastructure. 

And, of course, we believe that sales training creates the most return on a client’s investment when the salespeople and sales managers are following a sales process where opportunities are moving through the funnel in a stage-based and milestone-centric manner. 

We believe that firms who don’t have a consistent sales process (everyone following the same steps and using the same terms to describe stages in the sales process) but who implement such a process can often see a 15% to 20% increase in new business sales.

But, here is something worth rememberinglife is complicated.  Ferris Bueller (I can’t come to Chicago and not think of him) told us to slow down or we might miss something

And the same is true with selling.  Sometimes you just need to slow down and do something unconventional.  Sometimes you need to do something that is contrary to what even your training has taught you to do. 

Sometimes you just need to call an audible.

To be clear, usually your training is going to be correct.  But, sometimes, you will need to remember that selling is both science and art, and the art part means you might need to listen to your heart and occasionally let that heart override your mind. 

Of course, the best in the business know when to listen to their head and when to listen to their heart.  And if they get it wrong every so often, so what? 

They get back up and they keep going.

So, listen to your heart.  Sometimes you will need to call an audible to get back on the saddle and to increase sales within your organization.

Topics: sales performance, sales management secrets, sales succes, sales meetings, sales performance poll, sales plans, sales talent, sales priorities, sales management responsibility, sales professional, sales systems, sales skill improvement, sales thinking, sales trainers, sales myth, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales prospecting, sales techniques, sales tips, sales improvement, sales success, sales leadership development, sales problems, sales recruiting, sales onboarding, sales menagement, sales management tools, sales productivity, sales recruitment, sales skill assessment, sales madness, sales training courses, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales team evaluation, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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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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