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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?

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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

What Great Sales Meetings, Massages and Colonoscopies Have in Common

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 30, 2017

START WITH "WHY"

Let’s look at Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Formula and go right to the heart of the issue – “why”. (If you have not watched this video on Ted Talks, do so; it is a must for anyone in leadership, management AND sales.)

Golden Circle.png

“Why” is the most important thing to uncover when…

  • attempting to alter behavior,
  • move towards a specific outcome or
  • understand why someone would be willing to go through the pain of change when it is so much easier to deal with the status quo.


PAIN... IS A POWERFUL MOTIVATOR

Years ago, when I heard Tony Robbins speak in Cincinnati about Pain and Pleasure, he stated:

“People will do whatever it takes to avoid the pain they have today,
the pain they foresee in the future or to arrive at a pleasurable outcome. 
Avoiding pain will always trump pursuing pleasurable outcomes.”

Sales meetings, great massages and colonoscopy visits – when conducted and executed well - change behavior, improve skill and impact future outcomes.  However, yes, they can be painful. 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND TO GET THINGS ROLLING

This week, I had a massage… as well as a colonoscopy (although I realize that is more information than you wanted to know…).  During the massage a couple days ago, they found a pressure point in the middle of my right shoulder blade that was tense with stress. When the masseuse applied pressure, there was definite pain.  But, once I got through the pain, I was rewarded with less stress and now the impinged shoulder isn’t as painful.

Today, I had my colonoscopy.  Now, if you’ve done this in the past, you know the drill and the “pain” of it all.  The pain or discomfort isn’t so much with the procedure, but with the prep. That god-awful stuff you have to drink, the endless hours on the commode, the cramps in your intestines as well as all the good-natured ribbing you get at work (What? You don’t share this moment with co-workers?).  And then, you have some definite discomfort at the end when you are trying to relieve the pressure while in the post-op “GAS CHAMBER”.

HOW ALL THIS RELATES TO SALES MEETINGS

So, after laying all that as a foundation, I’m sure you are wondering, “Why is Tony talking about sales meetings, massages and colonoscopies?!?” Well…

  • Too many sales meetings are conducted like a great massage:
    • Soothing
    • Relaxing
    • No tension
    • Positive environment
    • People leave without any kind of stress or care

  • Too many sales meetings are also being conducted like colonoscopies
    • People that have been to them before don’t want to do them again
    • The prep for both is critical for success
    • Often, if the environment isn’t controlled, there ends up being a lot of gas expelled
    • Sometimes, depending on the doctor, the anesthesia and/or the meeting, people are put to sleep or, at a minimum, in “twilight”
    • Everyone is starving for something productive to happen during the “meetings”, but too often they come to “the table” hungry and leave hungry
    • Everyone is thrilled that they only have to go through all that once in a while

Do you see any correlations? You might find yourself agreeing to many of the bullet points above.  You might also be able to relate to some of the things that aren’t too good about the sales meetings you have attended or conducted.  The purpose of this writing is to help shed some light on the right combination of things in a meeting that should happen so that:

  • Meetings are productive
  • No one wants to miss your meetings
  • People learn and grow their practices as a result of the meetings
  • They don’t have to sit through painful re-enactments of each salesperson’s pipeline discussion (Truly, this is like multiple colonoscopies on the same day!)

WHEN THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE PAIN 

Here are the correct procedures for sales meetings, massages and medical procedures that will result in a clean bill of health:

  • At a certain age, colonoscopies are non-negotiable. Effective sales meetings are not negotiable any time for any company of any age.
  • Preparation is required to have a great outcome
  • You know you have great outcomes if: (These are in BOLD because they are IMPORTANT!)
    • People never miss, leave early, or arrive late
    • Your people learn something that they can implement right away to help them grow their business
    • The meetings are all about selling and driving sales growth
      • No ops discussions
      • No underwriting discussions
      • No business strategy discussions but “foot soldier” discussions on strategies to gain entry into markets
      • Anything that can be communicated via email should be done so
    • People should leave the meeting re-invigorated, but also mindful of what it takes to maintain a stress-free existence in the organization
      • Activity and production requirements must be met
      • Mediocrity is unacceptable
      • People will be coached with a disciplined approach for improvement if they begin failing at activity or production
    • And finally, just like after a colonoscopy, people may not always want to return for another one; but the upside is that benefits (health and sales success) outweigh the pain of the procedure!

WHAT I GAINED FROM THE EXPERIENCE 

During my exam, they found 5 polyps and removed them all.  Don’t panic; the doctor did not indicate that I had a problem. It’s just when you get to a certain age, you find little skin things hanging off of your body all over the place. Why should the colon be exempted? (Again, too much information? Ha ha) 

Here are my other massage and colonoscopy outcomes:

  • I learned from it: keep doing the right things – exercise, diet and sleep
  • I am now stress-free for a while because I have a clean bill of health on my colon
  • I feel 5 pounds lighter, which is always a good thing
  • I came home and slept soundly for another 5 hours after only getting 3.5 hours of interrupted sleep the night before. Admit it, you would all like to sleep like that once in a while and you KNOW it would be good for you
  • It brought my wife and I closer together. We both had the chance to be supportive because she also went through this; hers was last week.  It was an opportunity to put the world outside for a while and just focus on each other.

 WHAT YOU CAN GAIN FROM THE EXPERIENCE

Positive outcomes of a great sales meeting:

  • Unsuitable opportunities (that actually create an unhealthy approach to prospecting) are jettisoned from the pipeline
  • Something is learned that can have a positive and dramatic impact on sales success
  • Salespeople, who are getting the right results and doing the right things, get recognized
  • Sales skills are improved because upcoming sales or prospecting calls are role-played and practiced
  • People left the meeting feeling like part of a successful team – where everyone cares about one another and knows they are all fighting for the same successful outcomes

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Topics: sales meetings, close more sales, building effective sales teams, top sales performers

Take Charge of Your Sales Meetings

Posted by Walt Gerano on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

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A guest post by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Prospects are great at being prospects; let’s face it, they get plenty of practice.  Every salesperson that calls on them gives them a chance to try things out to see what salespeople do when the prospect asks a certain question or responds in a certain way.  Advantage prospect.  Probably not the position salespeople want to be in on their next sales call.

So, let's ask the question, “Who’s in charge here?”

Sometimes salespeople are so happy to get in front of a prospect that they allow prospects to control the meeting.  Whatever question the prospect asks, the salesperson answers it.  Whenever the prospect asks for information, you give it to them.  When they want a proposal or quote, you go back to the office and begin to work on it. Who’s in charge?

If you don’t have an effective sales process and a methodology to prepare, you wind up answering questions, being on the defensive and have a difficult time finding out if prospects even qualify to do business with you.  After all, isn’t that why you are there?

I would agree that we should be ready for some of the questions designed to put you on your heels, but you must also have a “counter-attack” planned as well.  Suppose prospects ask you a question like, “Why should I do business with you?”

First off all, you should be ready for it and find out the real question.  Sometimes it’s a throwaway question… meaning that they toss it out there hoping you will spill the beans and give them some helpful information without any commitment. Or they have a problem and are trying to find out if you are good enough to help them.  Find out the real question and then answer it.

How will you use what you learned on the phone call to set up the appointment to help you qualify the prospect?  You must prepare questions in advance that help you discover the “Big 4”.

  1. Do they have a problem (PAIN) that they are committed to fixing?
  2. Do they have the time, money and other resources to commit to a solution?
  3. Do you know their decision making process and have you met with all decision makers prior to agreeing to present a solution?
  4. Did the prospect agree to a decision, yes or no, when you present?

If you answered “yes” to those 4, you have a prospect.

Regardless of the things the prospect does to derail you, remember these 4 things:

  1. You must find out why they took time to meet with you – the “why am I here?” question.
  2. You have to be of the mindset that they have to qualify to do business with you.
  3. You have the right to get all the information you need to do the job being asked of you.
  4. You have the right to make decisions that are not popular with others… and the right to walk away as well.

“Why should I do business with you?”  Tell them, “maybe you shouldn’t”, but if they have the Big 4, you should at least talk about it.

SUMMARY

Remember: To take charge of your sales meetings, find out if you have the Big 4:

  1. Do they have a problem (PAIN) that they are committed to fixing?
  2. Do they have the time, money and other resources to commit to a solution?
  3. Do you know their decision making process and have you met with all decision makers prior to agreeing to present a solution?
  4. Did the prospect agree to a decision, yes or no, when you present?

Topics: sales meetings, sales prospecting, effective sales process

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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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