ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Success in Selling: The 5 Myths

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 10, 2020

Selling is hard. Especially with the easy access prospects have to critical decision-making information. However, the struggle often begins with how and what we think.

In this blog, Tony discusses the personal beliefs and myths that often get in the way of a sales persons ability to see greater overall success. 

black-and-white-blackboard-business-chalkboard-356043

There are no secrets in sales! The internet and the digital world have pretty much eliminated any secrets to success in sales, and how to do almost anything else. All you need is a mobile device with access to the internet, and you can find just about anything you want to know.

With facts and strategies being so readily available, why do most salespeople (about 80%) still struggle to be successful? A lot of it has to do with beliefs and myths. What about you? Do you accept any outdated myths as facts? Some may include:

  1. People only use 10% of their brains
  2. There is a dark side of the moon
  3. Behavior is affected by the full moon
  4. Sugar makes children hyperactive
  5. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

So what is the best method to move past the myth and see success? It starts by getting to the root cause of the problem.

As many of you know, Anthony Cole Training Group has specialized in providing specialized sales growth solutions for banking, investment advisory, and insurance. Primarily, those growth solutions include:

  1. Hiring better salespeople
  2. Executing an effective sales process
  3. Sales Management training

During our years of developing and delivering content to hundreds of sales organizations, we have used the #1 sales assessment tool on the planet. Not only is the accuracy of the sales inventory assessment tool unbelievable, but the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis have been a game-changer. One of the most compelling segments revealed in the assessments is about personal beliefs. Each of us has personal beliefs that dictate our behaviors and thus determines our outcomes. This holds true for all areas - sales, sales management, and sales leadership. Whether aware or not, we all have beliefs about what we do that impacts our opportunity for success. 

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

5 MYTHS MOST SALESPEOPLE BELIEVE

Here are the myths that many salespeople believe to be fact:

  1. People buy from people they like. Now, you may have purchased something from someone that you like, but that didn’t drive your decision. What drove your decision was your confidence and trust in the person, the product, and the company behind the product.
  2. People make buying decisions based on price. Staying with you and your purchasing habits for a second, let’s talk automobiles. According to MotorTrend, the cheapest car available today is the Chevrolet Spark with a base price of $14,095. If you own one, then you are a rare breed. The volume of sales of this vehicle in 2019 was only .75% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. If people only bought the lowest priced item, this would not be the case.
  3. Closing skills are the most important. This might be surprising to you, but in the last three studies I conducted in the banking segment, the top 33% of bankers, wealth managers, and private bankers who severely lack closing skills still led their teams in sales.
  4. The customer is always right. That is not the case. Due to information access, they're more educated regarding product knowledge, availability, options, and pricing but to assume they are right about everything is incorrect. However, this in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is this; if salespeople believe this, then they will never be gutsy enough to execute the challenger sale, the value-based selling system, the SPIN System, or our Effective Selling System.
  5. Prospects are always honest. 95% of respondents in all of our studies believe prospects are honest. That is until we conduct our first meeting with our clients and go through the process that buyers go through when executing their buying process. If a prospect were completely honest, they would tell the insurance agent who cold-called them that they got a renewal that is too high, and they want some competitive bids to keep the incumbent honest. We all know that doesn’t happen!

TRAINING ALONE DOES NOT GET LASTING RESULTS

Time and again, companies spend money on sales training to introduce them to a new:

  • sales language
  • sales approach
  • prospecting method
  • time management process
  • cross-selling strategy

What happens is that the company spends a lot of time, money, and effort, and yet, at the end of the event or training, they cannot point to any discernable difference in outcomes. Behaviors stay the same, problems that existed before are still there, effort changes for a while but soon returns to pre-training levels and salespeople still blame the economy, the company, or the competition for lack of success.

Top people are still performing at the top, people in the middle of your sales bell curve are maintaining, and your bottom 20% are not performing any better than the bottom 20% you had the year before. Why? Because the root problems associated with these beliefs were never uncovered.

For you, your team, and your organization to see greater success, it's critical to identify, address, and build strategies to overcome the myths or beliefs that are hindering personal growth.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: sales succes, improving sales results, increase sales, key to successful hiring, sales performance coaching

Do You Have a Coaching Bias?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Oct 08, 2020

In every sales training and coaching program we work with individuals to help them write and deliver their phone scripts, value propositions and elevator pitches. These are important components for salespeople to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. And this exchange should begin the relationship on the right foot by getting the audience engaged.

Here is the approach I use when calling on executives that fit our ideal prospect profile:

Hello John, this is Tony Cole. (pause)

Yes Tony, how can I help you?

Well John, I’m certain of two things: 1. You were not sitting by your phone today waiting for a call from me and 2. If you are like many of our clients there is currently a lot of pressure and concern about making revenue and budget numbers.

Pause – and wait for a response.

Can I tell you why I called? Sure.

Our clients are those that recognize that their current sales structure is perfectly designed for the results they are getting today. And today the results may not be enough to make budget projections. I’m calling to find out how much you, as president of the company can relate to that scenario. Pause. Can I ask you a question?

In a word how would you describe the overall results of your company as it relates to taking the full advantage of the opportunity in your markets? (Assume the prospect says, “pretty good”.)

Why just pretty good? What is missing? (Engagement begins)

You must understand the game

Years ago, one of the lead execs from our client Key Bank shared an article called, “What it takes to be a Coach”. It began with You Must Understand the Game.

9_keys_to_successful_coaching_cover

At the time, most did not understand that the ‘game’ is the game of selling. Managers and internal trainers must really understand the game of selling. Unless internal trainers have strapped a headset on, make hundreds of dials, asked for introductions, been rejected, sold big cases and started with small sales, then they cannot understand the game. It would be like taking flying lessons from a pilot trainer that did all of their flight learning in a simulator. Would you want them as your flying coach?

Most sales managers end up in their manager role because they were good to great salespeople and the company was looking to replace a current position.:

Rarely if ever does that person go through an intense, fully integrated sales training development program to help them effectively execute the required skills of an effective coach.

As an example, in the script above an effective coach will teach their salespeople to get a prospect involved in the conversation as quickly as possible. This is done by executing two steps:

  1. Saying your name and then being quiet
  2. Informing the listener that it may not make sense for the call and ask for permission to proceed

Ideally, the prospect gets involved in the conversation within 3 seconds and then gives the salesperson permission to make their value proposition or elevator pitch. That takes coaching knowledge and skill. You must know the game.

Peter Jensen is an Olympic coach from Canada and author of the book “The Third Factor”. I met Peter at Bill Ekstrom’s EXSELL Conference many years ago. He states that the first two factors for success in anything are nature and nurture. The Third Factor, specific to coaching, is:

You must have a coaching bias.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

This is what it takes to be successful at coaching: you must love coaching and the game of selling. You must thrive on developing others to be the best versions of themselves. It must be about helping others gain the spotlight, success and financial rewards or a job well done. It requires sacrificing ego and the need to be right for the other person to discover their path, develop their skills and become the expert.

There are assessments in the marketplace to help people identify if they have what it takes. We use Objective Management Group’s Sales Manager Evaluation. Three key findings are identified and scored:

  1. The Will to be successful specifically in the role of manager or sales leader
  2. The Sales Manager DNA
  3. The Sales Manager Competencies

The evaluation provides an index percentage that tells the evaluated sales manager how they rank against other who have taken the evaluation. If their percentage is 80%, they are better than 80% of the managers who have taken the evaluation. Our 20+ history has verified that most sales managers have less than 10% of the skills needed to be an effective sales coach.

In summary, most sales managers struggle to get their salespeople to perform for one of the following reasons:

  • The manager doesn’t have what it takes - the skills - to be good at the job
  • The manager doesn’t take the time or doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle the job and spend appropriate time coaching
  • There isn’t a consistent ‘Sales Managed Environment’ to execute to so that day in and day out, it’s a different process.

We may well be entering into a new reality when it comes to sales and business success moving forward. In order to stay ahead of the curve, and competition, companies need salespeople who are as can differentiate themselves in a virtual environment. They need sales managers or coaches with a coaching bias who can monitor and track each individual’s sales activities, coach, and hold them accountable to behaviors that will produce revenue.

Need to Improve Your Coaching Skills?

Topics: effective sales coaching, Effective Coaching, sales management success, coaching sales people, sales performance coaching

10 Things to Start & 3 Things to Stop When Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Feb 24, 2020

Recruiting new sales talent and hiring better salespeople are complicated and time-consuming processes. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates, or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force and increase sales starting today!

30184505_xxl hiring recruiting man point-1

What are the keys to hiring better salespeople?

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing.

The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask you tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

Download "9 Tools to Increase Sales" Whitepaper

Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting it to a job site, or telling your network that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. Use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff".  Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.

Sign up for a Personalized Demo

 

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, 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, driving sales growth 2020, 5 keys to sales coaching, handles rejection, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation

What are the 5 Keys to Coaching?

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Tue, Oct 30, 2018

5 keys

Coaching salespeople is hard work and it helps to have a consistent and effective process to help keep you on course. As a sales coach, there are five critical steps that you must know and execute in order to get the best effort and results out of your salespeople.

These are the 5 Keys to Coaching!

 

  • INSIGHT As a coach, you must be able to see what is happening and what is not happening out in the field.  Without real insight into what is going on, you will have difficulty understanding their choke points so that you can coach them.

        5 Keys to Coaching - Insight

 

  • FEEDBACK - As a sales coach, you must continually give your salespeople specific feedback on their activities.  This includes both positive and constructive feedback.  If you ask your salesperson if they will allow you to coach them to help them reach their goals, you will usually gain permission.  And that makes the journey better for everyone.

        5 Keys to Coaching - Feedback

 

  • DEMONSTRATEPart of a sales leader’s job is to be effective at demonstrating the behavior they want their salespeople to execute in the field.  And they must take time out of their busy day to schedule time with their team members and demonstrate specific situations from a sales call or meeting, role play with their team, identify gaps in the selling process, ask specific questions, and most importantly, coach their salespeople to become better salespeople!

       5 Keys to Coaching - Demonstrate

 

  • PRACTICEWe have all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect”. This is particularly true in selling. Practice is essential in improving selling skills, specific techniques, interpersonal skills, and attention-to-detail in the selling process.  Without practice, your salespeople will only go so far, and as a sales coach, you must role play with your salespeople in order for them to practice and achieve success!  Be prepared, they might not like it but they must do it.

       5 Keys to Coaching - Practice

 

  • ACTION PLANIt is essential that YOU as a sales leader take time to sit down with your salesperson and establish an action plan – what are the specific prospecting and networking activities that they must do in order to reach their goals?  This will undoubtedly include utilizing LinkedIn, attending association meetings with the intent to meet the right target profile client, etc.  This action plan SHOULD include getting introductions from current clients.

      5 Keys to Coaching - Action Plan

 

To learn more about the 5 Keys to Coaching and our specific available coaching packages, check out the link below!

5 Keys to Coaching

Topics: sales performance coaching, sales motivation, sales growth and inspiration, 5 keys to coaching sales improvement

Defining Sales Success – The Art and Science of A Sales Managed Environment®

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Mar 14, 2017

I'm sure someone from the Harvard Business Review or the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business could prove otherwise, but when it comes to defining success, I don’t believe there is an art to it.

Artbusiness.com

  • DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Jorge Luis Borges wrote," Art has become, in the experimental 20th and 21st centuries, impossible to define."
  • Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: "Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold."cat art.png

I don’t have the space to include, and you don’t have time to continue to read, all the articles available when I google "What Makes a Work of Art Successful", so we’ll let these two quotes validate that, when it comes to defining sales success, it is best not to be arbitrary or hope for a consensus.

Science Defined by Merriam Webster:

1:  the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

2a :  a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology  b :  something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science.

It is safe to say that if, within your sales managed environment®, you have "defining success" down to a science, then you will be in a better position to identify:

  • Metrics that determine success
  • What leading indicators lead to success (kind of like a math problem – although there are a multitude of formulas you could use to arrive at the number 4, there are probably only a couple that people would use:
    • 2 +2
    • 3 +1
    • The square root of 16
  • Define the goal to be achieved – it’s a number or a definitive outcome.

But…

Maybe there is something beside the math/science that has to go into it.  I’m not sure it’s art (so I would love to hear from you what you think it is…) but here is what’s been noodling in my head for a couple of days.

This basketball season, Northwestern University of the Big Ten Conference, beat Michigan (Sorry, Jack, Mark and Marty...) with a buzzer beater full court pass and short jump shot.  Take a look here:  NCAA Video

In the aftermath, every sportscaster was talking about how this was the most wins in NWU history, it will be the first time EVER that the school has made it to the NCAA tournament and the coach, Chris Collins, has increased the number of wins every year he has been the head coach at the University.  With the win over Michigan, they recorded their 21st win of the season.  This information would lead us to believe that Coach Collins is successful because you are comparing his results to a standard that is generally accepted as success:  Winning 20 games a season and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The head coach at Columbia University with the most wins is Lou Little.  Lou coached the Lions to 110 victories!  When Coach Ray Tellier retired from Columbia in 2002, the article announcing his retirement declared that he was the 2nd all-time “winningest” coach in Columbia’s history behind Lou Little.  When I read this, I was impressed and happy for him; Coach Tellier was an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut when I played there.

What I didn’t know at the time of the article, but found out later, was that Coach Tellier, over a 13-year period, lead his teams to victory 42 times - a 30.7% winning record.  And he was second on the list at Columbia.  Coach Little, with the most wins, had a winning percentage of 48.8% and averaged just over 4 wins a season over a 26-year career as the head coach at Columbia.

What does this have to do with selling and determining sales success? Everything.

Companies collect lots of data and sales managers do their very best to spin a good story when outcomes are not equal to or greater than expectations (goals).  Here are some examples of how outcomes are described when attempting to put a good spin on a bad outcome:

  • We are trending the right direction
  • Our year over year production is positive
  • We are outperforming our peer group
  • We have gone from #____ in stack ranking to #______
  • We will finish in the top percentile of our district
  • _____% of our team will qualify for incentive compensation

Those descriptions tell you nothing about how a team is actually performing.

What to do instead:

  • Identify metrics that are critical success factors for your organization. (In most organization the #1 metric is revenue – it pays the bills.)
  • Establish standards for those metrics that exceed previous performance levels and are consistent with what the market will allow. (You wouldn’t expect an operating unit in Bangor Maine to produce the same loan revenue as you would an operating unit in Manhattan.)
  • Make sure you are looking at execution metrics so that your success is duplicable and you can identify choke points when there is failure.

Do this now:

  • Call me about Scorecards for sales opportunities – 513.226.3913

Topics: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager, how to hit goals in sales

    Follow #ACTG

     

    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.

     

    Subscribe Here

    Most Read

    Recent Blogs