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Do You Have a Sales Action Plan?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Sep 16, 2021

A goal without a plan is only a wish. An effective sales action plan starts with collecting, measuring, and inspecting key success metrics that directly impact the end goal.


Have you ever noticed that some of the sayings you heard the most when you were growing up have turned out to be incredibly accurate? In this blog article, I want to focus on one that I absolutely grew sick and tired of hearing, and that was “People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.” I might not have liked hearing it over and over, but there is no arguing the accuracy of the statement.

And you really can’t argue the veracity of this axiom when it comes to sales action plans that are built from solid sales metrics. I am stunned (and perhaps I should not be) at the number of salespeople and sales organizations that do not operate with sales action plans. They simply come up with a number for a sales goal, and then they hope the team gets to that number. But as Rick Page wrote in his fabulous book by the same title, hope is not a strategy.

A strategy would be a sales plan that is built on sales behaviors that the sales team is expected to execute on a weekly basis. A strategy would be having a sales action plan that allows the sales leaders to hold their teams accountable with agreed-upon, reported sales metrics. A strategy would be knowing the critical conversion ratios in the sales process – meaning the number of first appointments that result in opportunities, the number of opportunities that reach the proposal stage, and the number of proposals that result in wins.

Every single step in the sales process can be measured, and the data you need is easy to collect. At Anthony Cole Training Group, we know that salespeople fail for one of two reasons:

  1. Lack of effort
  2. Lack of skill

Why not engineer out #1 by having a sales plan tied to weekly sales metrics? And if you don’t grab that data, how do you even begin to know which parts of your sales process need more coaching?

That sounds like a plan.

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Topics: sales metrics, sales action plan

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...


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

Success is Not a Resolution but a Revolution!

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Jan 03, 2019


Sales success starts with a resolution, but finishes with a revolution.

Some important Revolution dates for reference:

1516 - Protestant Reformation

1776 - Colonial Revolution

1789 - French Revolution

1861 - Civil War

1800 - Industrial Revolution

1971 - Technology Revolution

These revolutions came about because individuals had resolved to "change". The changes were not easily started, executed or finished. There were significant costs in terms of money, resources and lives lost. In the end, however, the end justified the means.

Here are the changes I would like to make in 2019:

  1. Go Green. Not environmentally, but from an execution perspective. I will be tracking 5 metrics for success in 2019 and will inspect them weekly. When I meet or exceed my goal, I will inspect that effort and duplicate it for future efforts. I will also recognize that anything below 90% of my activity goal is a failure.
  2. Re-align my time usage to reflect my priorities and track my actual time usage for the first 90 days of 2019. By then, I should have developed my habits to reflect my objectives and priorities.
  3. Have an attitude for success. Half the battle of sales success is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.

If you are going to have a "different" year in 2019 than you had in 2018, then something must change. Aside from solely talking about change, you must have a concrete plan to actually change, along with a process to stick to that plan. It will not be easy, it will probably not be fun for a while, and you will have your doubts. But you must "burn the boats" if you are going to succeed.

Happy New Year and best of success for you!

If you liked this article, check out more of our material at ACTG

Topics: time management, sales attitude, sales metrics, Selling Attitude, habits for success

What Would You Do with a Non-Performing Stock?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 28, 2016

Suppose… you had a non-performing stock (salesperson).

If you had a stock that hadn’t performed as expected, how long would you hold onto it? Six months, a year, 18 months? Maybe it’s performing like the rest of the stocks in a similar portfolio but not growing as you expected. What do you do with that individual stock? What do you do to the entire portfolio when it’s under-performing?

The answer is simple – you manage it!

As portfolio manager, you:

  • Set metrics for success and standards for each of those metrics.
  • Conduct research/due diligence to make sure that you are adding investments to the portfolio that are consistent with your investment and long term financial goals and risk standards (Cash, Income, Income with growth, Aggressive growth, International growth or a Hybrid)
  • Determine your strategy on buy, hold or sell
  • Establish a method of inspecting what you expect
  • Gain intelligence from the information you gather from quarterly reports and you determine next steps
  • You either buy, hold or sell based on the information you have and the impact that an investment is having on your ability to achieve your goals

What can be accepted as true is that every portfolio is perfectly designed for the results it generates. There is cause and effect. If you are not happy with your results, you change your objectives or portfolio management strategy, right?

Well then, how about the portfolio of investment advisors you have on your team? As program/sales manager you have objectives that you have set out for the entire team/portfolio and when you added investments (people) you had performance expectations. Based on performance, what has to change if anything? Are individual performers pulling their weight or are they a drag on the performance of the team? When you assess your investment in each of the individuals on the team, where do you need to buy, hold or sell? Finally, when you assess the managers managing the portfolio, how effective are they?

You have the awesome responsibility to the stakeholders to put together the best portfolio in order to maximize return on investment. Failure to do so creates a failure in fiduciary responsibility.

See you tomorrow.

Topics: sales management, sales metrics


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    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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