ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The Best Habits of Highly Successful Sales Managers

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Dec 23, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the best habits of highly successful salespeople and sales managers.  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. 

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The sales management activities that you perform today create the results that you achieve 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 skills
  • Gets to decision makers
  • 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 skills 
  • 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.

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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. 

 

Topics: sales management secrets, sales management success, Sales Management Training, prospect engagement, develop talent, buyer, sales differences, deal or no deal, extra mile, getting introductions, close the deal, sales challenges, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, solution, professional sales training, corporate sales training, buyers journey, hire better people

Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the concepts behind real, tangible sales growth and ask the question, "Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?" 

Sales growth is dependent upon Closing More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins and we are here to show you how you can accomplish this within your organization!

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This morning, my wife (and ACTG's President CEO Linda) and I were watching Morning Joe while talking business.  We were discussing our brand promise of:

"When you lie awake at night worrying about sales growth, we lie awake at night.” 

We compiled a list of questions that often haunt managers throughout the day and into the night when they should be preparing for a good night’s sleep:

As we’re talking, we see a news banner at the bottom of the screen about a man who was arrested for breaking and entering a home.  He was apprehended after the police entered the home and saw his feet dangling from the chimney.  As usual, I automatically started thinking about how that related to sales, sales management, performance management, coaching, pipeline, pre-call strategies, etc.

And, since it's that time of the year, it also made me think of this great scene in The Santa Clause: 

 

My first question, however, is this: 

  1. “Do you have sales opportunities that are important/critical for hitting your goals and growing sales that are stuck?”

My second, but maybe the most important question, is:

    2. “Is this particular opportunity a repeat offender?” 

 

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING OPPORTUNITIES

Now, there are 2 things to consider when attempting to answer that second question.

  1. Is that opportunity familiar to you and the salesperson who has entered the opportunity into your pipeline management system? (This isn’t the same as your CRM). If we’ve worked on this opportunity before and they – the opportunity – “got away on a technicality”, then this would be defined as a “repeat offender”:
    1. Not the decision maker
    2. Wasn’t able to undo the current relationship
    3. Decided to not make a change
    4. Couldn’t arrive at the price point
    5. Really didn’t have a solution that fit the features and benefits they were looking for
    6. The timing wasn’t right
  2. Are other opportunities stuck in the pipeline/chimney for the very same reasons as this one?  The salesperson failed to execute the qualifying steps in your sales process:
    1. No compelling reason to make a change identified
    2. Competition unknown
    3. Incumbent still part of the equation
    4. Budget for investing time, money resources is a mystery
    5. Decision making process has not been uncovered
    6. Timing or urgency of making a decision not clearly understood
    7. Agreement on next steps unclear
    8. Did not ask the question – Is this a “want to fix” or “have to fix” problem?

CMBMQHM AND WHAT YOU NEED FOR SALES GROWTH

Sales growth is dependent upon this – CMBMQHM.  My staff hates it when I make up acronyms like this.  When I put these in our learning decks, the people in my office want to know what the acronyms mean. 

Close More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins

So, what does it take to accomplish CMBMQHM?

  • You must have a milestone-centric sales system – something that can be quantified, measured and evaluated for progress towards the objective of “getting a decision”. (This is not the same as “getting the sale”.)
  • You have to have a process for building a success formula for each salesperson based on that sales system.
  • You have to have complete buy-in to the use of your pipeline management process. Here are the guidelines to get that buy-in. It needs to…
    • Be easy to use
    • Be effective
    • Be beneficial to the user
    • Provide you with business intelligence
    • Automatically generate and send reports to you so you don’t have to go find the information
  • You have to have a system of pre-call strategy sessions for EVERY opportunity that meets or exceeds the benchmark of your top 33%.
  • You have to have a post-call debriefing session for every opportunity you discuss in the pre-call session.
  • You have to conduct a CSI – “Crime Scene Investigation” – for every deal you don’t get.
  • Finally, you have to conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions that are intentional.
    • They are based on the findings from your pre- and post-call meetings
    • They are based on what your data is telling you about the choke point(s) a particular salesperson is having or the most common choke point(s) for the group
    • The coaching needs to accomplish 1, if not 2, things:
      1. Change behavior
      2. Improve skill

Additional Resources:

Download the Success Formula Worksheet

Sign up for our Effective Selling System Online Demo 


 

Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Management Training, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hiring better salespeople, how increase sales, grow sales, sales growth problems, will to sell, sales challenges, life lessons, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools, budget, solution, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer

Why Prospects are Like Fruit and Why You Need to Pick the Right Ones

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Dec 02, 2019

In this blog post, we discuss the idea that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable! 

Prospects, like their produce counterparts, have a shelf life, and none of them will last forever.  You must "eat" them, find a way to preserve them, or get rid of them!

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Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline.  He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.

That phrase has stuck with me all these years.  We continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System workshops and when working with our new clients for Hire Better Salespeople.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"

Prospects:  They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others. 

Bananas – not so long.

Apples and mandarins – a little longer

Potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. 

The bottom line is that none of them last forever.  You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.

As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s (or future) meal, you must be somewhat selective so that the food you select today, is fresh enough for cooking and consuming over a short period of time.  I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks.  However, buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.

WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME

The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle.  They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week.  They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!

Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle.  The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio, where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel. 

When the day came, I went to Bill and told him I had a check in my pocket, and that I'd like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way, and would just let me buy!

Two hours later (car sales take awhile), I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.

***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance salespeople***  

Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market.  EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer.  Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.


DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH

Here is my real point.  When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready, or are already past their "prime" time for consumption:

  • Potatoes too green
  • Bananas too green
  • Tomatoes too yellow
  • Peaches too mushy
  • Stickers on meat packages that say “reduced”
  • Just renewed my insurance
  • Our lease expires in 11 months
  • We have to wait until this election is over

If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem(s). Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf.  Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready!

Additional Resources:

How Effective is Your Sales Process?

Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (salespeople) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator

How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard

Topics: Pipeline management, sales prospecting, closing sales

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Management Training, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, consultative selling, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

"Gone Fishing" for Sales Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 15, 2019

I’m sure the majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).  Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis, we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on them as their main resource for potential business.

They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities! If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads, they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given.  They also won’t try to uncover other opportunities and in the end, the sales manager (you), and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

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And, it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video.

Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identified!  After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform?

Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salesperson's job, although difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components:

  1. Go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities.
  2. Qualify those opportunities.
  3. Close for the business.

Don’t let your salespeople get by on just using your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job!

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Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”.   

Additional Resources:

Sales Productivity Tools

Must-Ask Questions Worksheet

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, increase sales leads,, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer

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

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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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