ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

Topics: improve sales, sales management secrets, sales meetings, individual sales success, sales management responsibility, humor, inspect what expect, sales management skills, 8 Steps for Closing, hiring salespeople, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales management success, improving sales results, sales metrics, inspiration, sales problems, hiring sales managers, sales management, sales success, keys to selling, sales pitch, sales performance management, sales prospects, how to manage salespeople, sales onboarding, hiring better salespeople, sales menagement, sales management tools, #1 sales assessment, hunting for sales prospects, how to improve sales results, initial sales meetings, how to get a commitment to buy, how increase sales, hiring top salespeople, sales recruitment, sales motivation, how to close a sales deal, how to hit goals in sales, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement, how to prospect, sales productivity tools, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, online sales management training, insurance prospecting system, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales 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?

red-people-outside-sport-2207

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

Sell Better. Coach Better. Hire Better.

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Tue, Nov 05, 2019

In today's blog or "vlog", we bring you our newest Anthony Cole Training Group's brand video.

Give it a watch below as we show you how we help build sales organizations into selling, coaching, and hiring better and what that means for their success: 

 

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, hire better salespeople, sales performance management, sales management tools, consultative selling, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video

Sales Coaching for the Sales Coaches

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jul 08, 2019

In this article, we focus on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.  Often, in sales, the sales manager is not held to the same standards as those on the sales force.  While sales people are monitored on their calls, emails, CRM activity, and follow-up methodologies, the same cannot always be said for sales management.

To fix the problem, organizations must take action by understanding the exact qualifications and skills they are looking for in sales management, using the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool, and having the systems and processes in place to execute a Sales Managed Environment.athlete-baseball-boy-264337

When you Google "Sales Coaching", what you would most likely find is the following:

  • Sales Rep Coaching
  • Top 20 Sales Coaching Company
  • 30 Minute Free Consultation / Increase Sales by 56% of More
  • Sales Coaching Sales Coaching / Move the Needle with LevelJump

But this post is not about those things.  If you want information on how to effectively coach sales people go here:

Why is Selling So Damned Hard.

Instead, this is about coaching the coaches. Why would we focus on that you might ask?  Let me lean on my good friends at Objective Management Group and John Pattison for some BIG DATA information.  This is what they know, and by extension, what we know about successful sales management and successful sales organizations.

  • When you have an effective sales coach, sales grow annually at an average of 26%.
  • Only 18% of the 100,000+ sales managers assessed, have over 60% of the required skills to be effective at coaching.
  • A much smaller percentage spends at least 50% of their time coaching.

Let’s do the math – if you have 10 sales managers, about 2 of them will be effective at coaching.  If you are looking for a sales manager and interview 10 of them, only 2 of them will be effective at coaching.

THAT is why I am focusing on Sales Coaching for Sales Coaches.

So, how and why do sales managers end up in the role, and why do companies continue to fail massively in an effort to effectively build and execute a sales managed environment?  Here are the answers to those questions, and yes they are in order of likely answers:

  1. Career path – Most organizations promote sales people because that seems to be the logical career path for a successful sales person.
  2. Great sales skills – The ‘career path’ sales candidates have great skills! Those include persuasion, interviewing well, presenting well and negotiation.
  3. Candidates that have a ‘sales management’ resume impress Presidents, HR recruiters and hiring managers with great talk and expertise about performance management, sales metrics, the number of sales people they have hitting  sales goals, using CRM and pipeline management technology.
  4. Companies don’t invest time money or effort to train and develop people to be effective sales managers. They assume that they come wired for success. This is kind of buying Salesforce out of the box – it won’t do the things you need it to do without hiring a Salesforce consultant to customize and build out the tool.
  5. There is failure to hold sales managers to the same rigor of performance management and coaching that is expected of sales people. Sales people are required to report sales activities and enter opportunities into the CRM. With our clients, sales people are taken through a discussion about achieving extraordinary results and building a success formula to achieve that goal. Sales managers do not typically report on the number of:
    1. Joint calls conducted
    2. Pre and post-call debriefing sessions
    3. 1-on-1 sales skills and behavior improvement coaching sessions
    4. 1-on-1 sessions to review the business plan and update the success formula
    5. Prospect / recruiting meetings they had or networking events they attended to find new sales people
    6. Sales management classes enrolled in or books they’ve read to improve skills
    7. Data analysis reports they’ve run to determine how well the bottom 2/3 of the sales team is doing as compared to the top 2/3

To ‘Fix” the problem, organizations and current sales executives must do the following:

  1. Understand the exact qualifications and skills you are looking for in the role and hire / develop the talent that can execute the skills necessary to get those outcomes
  2. Make sure that you use the Objective Management Sales Manager assessment tool to determine if the candidate has the Will to Succeed in the role, the right Sales Management DNA, and enough of the Sales Management Competencies so that you don’t have a extend yourself and your team to develop what you should have hired
  3. Have a system and process in place that clearly outlines the necessary tools, systems and processes to execute a Sales Managed Environment:
    1. Performance management and developing an no excuse sales environment
    2. Coaching for Success
    3. Motivation that Works
    4. Upgrading the Sales Force
    5. Recruiting talented sales people

Topics: sales management skills, sales management success, Sales Management Training, hiring sales managers, sales management tools, responsibilities of sales manager, develop talent

Sales Management Tools: The Performance Formula

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Aug 17, 2016

Performance management is a major component of our Sales Management Certification program.  When we graphically represent a sales managed environment, the pyramid below is how we communicate the components, how the environment is built and the order of importance.

sme-pyramid.png

A great friend of mine, Keith Walker, has let me borrow a video series by David Cook PhD called “The Mindset of A Champion”.  In the introduction, Dr. Cook describes the formula for performance as:  Performance = potential – interference.  I found this interesting and I would like to share my thoughts with you today.

Years ago, when we would discuss the potential of a new recruit at Iowa State University, our head coach would tell the rest of the staff, “Potential will get you fired.”  I didn’t understand it then, but over the years I have learned to understand it as it relates to performing not just in athletics, but also in business, particularly in the business of sales.  This all ties very well into Dr. Cook’s equation.

When you think about all the salespeople you have on your team today, there isn’t a single one that you hired or have been keeping on staff with the thought that you really need some people on the staff to not live up to their potential.  Nope, this is not the case, now or ever.  Every hire, every person on the team, has potential and, if you are like most sales managers, you live for the day that they live up to their potential.

Are you disappointed?  Are you surprised?  Are you frustrated?  Are you out of different tactics to take to try and get them to perform at their potential?  If so, then read on and I believe you will find some great solutions.  If you are not sick and tired yet, then come back to this article when you are ready to make changes.  For the people who are ready now, here are some suggestions to correct the problem.

  1. If you hire for potential, then set a realistic time frame for the potential to be reached.
  2. If you hire for potential, that means you are hiring a project: a project that requires an investment of time, money and resources. If you don’t have the bandwidth, the right systems and processes in place or the required bias toward coaching and developing people, then don’t hire people with “potential”.
  3. Hire people that are plug and play.
  4. To find those that are plug and play make sure you use a pre-hire assessment tool that is specific to sales success and has a high predictive validity score. (Objective Management Group’s pre-hire assessment is THE only one we use and recommend.  It tests exactly what needs testing and has a 92% predictive validity.)
  5. Evaluate your own contribution to the problem.
  6. Understand these two really IMPORTANT truths
    1. Your recruiting, on-boarding and development programs are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today. If people in your charge are not performing, then something in your system has to change, including you!
    2. The people that are underperforming – you either hired them that way, tolerate them being that way or made them that way. (This last item is kind of like the Olympian that finishes last.  No one trains to be last). There isn’t anyone on your team that has the intention of being last.

Let’s go back to the pyramid.  Performance management is THE base for the entire SME process.  It supports everything else that needs to be done within the sales environment.  If people are not being held accountable, then you have a problem.  If people are able to perform at an average level without consequences, then you have a problem. If you have people that are un-trainable and un-coachable, then you have a problem.  If you don’t have a system data collection – both observed and collected – then you have a problem(s). Actually, two problems:

  1. You don’t have anything to hold them accountable to.
  2. It is virtually impossible to conduct intentional coaching if you don’t know how effectively they are executing the sales process. Only data can tell you that.

Lets go back to the formula from Dr. Cook.  I believe what he is trying to tell us is that the performance of all people trying to do anything will suffer when there is interference.  In order to improve performance, the sales manager must first understand that performance management is the most important job they have.  This does not mean that they have to spend most of their time in this area – that is reserved for coaching.  But it does mean it is the priority. 

Given that it is the priority means that you, as the sales manager, must have systems and processes in place to help you determine the “interference”.  And, finally, when assessing yourself, you must determine if you have the strength of conviction and commitment to succeed in your role.  In other words, what is interfering with your potential as a sales manager? 

In my next post, I will identify – using the Objective Management Group's sales management assessment findings – common interferences for sales managers.

Additional resources:

Postwire Sales Portal link to access helpful information about:

  • Hiring Better Sales People
  • Coaching
  • Performance Management
  • Assessing Sales People
  • Sales Management Certification

Topics: successful sales teams, sales management, sales performance management, performance formula, sales management tools, david cook

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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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