ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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

Practice Schedules: A Perfect Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

I started this series of articles by relating my experience coaching football to selling.  It is my goal now each week to focus in on one of the 9 football related tools that can be applied to selling.

Our first, the practice schedule, is one of the most important tools used by football teams.  Overall, practice is an essential contributing factor to success on the football field. 

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It is important to note that, in football:

  • Understanding your opponent is critical
  • Reviewing practice and game performance is needed
  • A team has to have a solid strategy in all aspects of the game
  • Great athletes must be able to make game time adjustments and decisions
  • And yes, an occasional good bounce can be additive

At the end of the day, however, improving skills, practicing the game plan, and getting feedback from the practice sessions are crucial for success!

4 Minute Practice Makes Perfect Video

But back in the day, before I retired from coaching, we used to have 30 practice sessions before each game.  Each session was at least 2 hours. For every hour on the field, there was at least 1 hour in the classroom and at least 1 hour of film study or playbook study.  This was all for about 8-10 minutes of actual action on the field.

How much time are you spending practicing to improve your sales management skills?  How much time are you spending coaching your people to improve their craft?  And don’t tell me:

  • We hire / I have experienced people
  • We hire adults — we expect them to do what they need to do to get better
  • I’ve been at this for 20+ years, I think I know what I’m doing

Tell that to the greatest coaches of any sport in the game and they will tell you how wrong you are to believe that experience, or years in the profession, means that less time is needed in practice.

Tell that to Tom Brady.

Now let’s talk about practice as a sales productivity tool.

Malcom Gladwell’s oft quoted “10,000 hours” of practice to become expert in a skill may in fact be more of a platitude than a fact.  What appears to be a fact is that there are contributing factors to practice that are connected to competency and eventual expertise in a skill.

One of those contributing factors is a feedback loop“A feedback loop [provides]…the necessary information for adaptive measures to achieve the desired levels of teaching and learning objectives.”  Brunel University Study

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have delivered workshops and focus on the concept of an ideal week in all of our training programs.  To support the ideal week, we help our clients develop their ideal week.  Within that ideal week is time allocated for practice.  Regardless of the outcome of the "10,000 hours" debate, there is no debate about implementing practice as a requirement to improve a skill or performance across the board.

What should practice look like?

Your practice should include the following sales practice components:  Drill for Skill, Role-Playing and Strategy Development.  To accomplish these exercises, you should have pre and post call checklists as well as phone call scorecards and data from your sales huddles. All of these data points act as ‘video’ of how you or your people are actually performing. Using the data and real time information allows you to make your coaching and practice sessions more intentional.

To find out more about the ideal week and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:

https://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/sales-productivity-tools

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For those of you that like to do the research on the research:

Practice Makes Perfect – Science Daily

Deliberate Practice – Business Insider

How To Learn any Skill With Your Own Weekly Plan – Kayla Mathews MUO Blog Post

 

 

Topics: practice, Sales Enablement, sales practice, creating new sales opportunities, football, sales and sports, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools

Why Sales Practice is Important

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jan 13, 2016

Sales managers, why is it important to practice sales skills?

I watched two field goal kickers kick the ball in the closing minutes of two different games this past weekend. If you’re not a football fan, you probably don’t care about this but you may have heard about it. One kicker kicked a 35 yard winning field goal with 14 seconds left in the game. The other kicker missed a 27 yard field goal with 22 seconds left in the game. One team moved on the other went home.

I don’t know anything about the habits of these two kickers. I can only speak to the kickers I saw practice when I was at the University of Connecticut, the University of Cincinnati and Iowa State University. Greg Sinay, Rich Karlis and Alex Giffords. All three of them spent HOURS on the sideline during practice kicking. Kicking down the sideline, kicking into nets, kicking over goal posts. At the end of practice we would practice ‘special teams’ where the kickers would come onto the field and kick in ‘game like’ situations.

They were prepared to do their best when they were needed the most.

Unlike other position players kickers are called on maybe 3 to 6 times depending on the game. Also sometimes they are called upon to make a play that decides the game. Very rarely are other players ever put in that position.9723670_xxl_team_hands.jpg

How often are your sales people put in a position where they need to be at their very best? How often do you have them practice so that when that moment comes they can perform at their very best? How often do you create ‘game’ situations so that they are prepared for anything a prospect ‘throws’ at them?

Effective selling is a combination of:

  • An effective, consistent approach to the market
  • A strategy to conduct sales calls that focuses on
    • Uncovering the ‘have to fix’ problems of the prospect
    • Providing a solution that fits the requirements of the prospect
    • Presenting a solution so that the prospect values the value proposition
    • Asking for and getting a decision
  • Sales skills
  • Sales DNA

With the right sales DNA, a solid approach to the market and a strategy that is proven to be effective the only piece to the puzzle left is the set of skills piece.

Like all physical and mental skills, sales skills can and will deteriorate over time if not honed. Borrowing from president Lincoln who when asked what he would do if he had 4 hours to cut down a number of trees he responded that he would spend time sharpening the axe. Abe was known as the ‘rail splitter’. He knew how to wield an axe, but he realized that occasionally the axe needed sharpening.

To improve the productivity, the effectiveness and the efficiency of your sales team make sure you spend 1 on 1 time with the and time during sales meetings to practice perfecting sales skills.

 

Additional resources:

On-Line Library Demo - On Demand Sales Training Content

Talent AssessmentOn-Line Sales Evaluation

Sales Management ResourcesSales Management Environment Certification

Call / Text Tony – 513 226 3913

Topics: sales practice, highly successful sales people

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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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