ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Identifying Sales Coaching Needs: An Analysis EVERY Company Should Execute

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jun 14, 2023

Regardless of the current state of affairs, GREAT organizations go through a constant assessment of where they are. They look at lagging metrics, leading metrics, and success metrics.  They consider that data to help them identify the answer to these three questions...

  1. What should we keep doing?
  2. What should we start doing?
  3. What should we stop doing?

Note: Often the 3rd question is the most important of the three.

Here are examples. 

  1. There is a scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber, where is Lloyd talking to Mary and he asks her about his chances of them being an “item”. She says “not very good”. He asks something about the odds. Mary responds with 1 out of a million. Lloyd responds with; “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
  2. The second example is personal. I kid with my family that all babies and dogs love me. They know that to be NOT exactly true. Dogs have a tendency to hunker away, and babies often run the other way. Alex’s daughter, Harper, is a great example of the latter.  Jeni’s dog Stella is the dog that hunkers or sneaks away whenever I am in the kitchen cooking.  Juliet, Alex’s youngest, on the other hand gets this radiant glow on her face, smiles, waves, signs “more” and starts the motion of playing patty cake. She loves me. This morning I am having that discussion with Alex and she says the following: “Well, there was bound to be one [that liked you].”

My point is stop doing this one thing: Stop believing that isolated instances are a trend.  Just because one of your salespeople:

  • Had 1 good month of activity
  • One nice size sale
  • Got an introduction from a client
  • Showed up at your sales meeting without complaining

To identify sales coaching needs, trends, potential of current team members, and candidates for sales you need data. To get this data, START DOING the following:

  • Do a complete assessment of your current sales team so that you can identify their Will to Sell, Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies. With 92% predictability, this will help you identify what coaching areas need to be addressed so that your people can get better. Click here to learn this information about your sales team.
  • Build a Sales Success Formula based on Milestone-Centric Sales Process. This Milestone-Centric Sales Process should have workflows and checklist.
  • Implement huddles. Read information from Verne Harnish on the value of Huddles and or click here to learn more.


Free eBook Download: Find Out if Your  Bankers Can and Will SELL

Topics: Sales Process, sales skills assessment

Just Keep Running: What Bankers Can Learn from the Navy Seals

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jun 08, 2023

I am an admirer of all the brave men and women who serve in the armed forces. Their service and their sacrifice make them the best our nation has to offer. Lately, I have had the extreme honor to meet a few Navy Seals. Those meetings have propelled me to learn as much as I can about how they think and how they build the discipline that is necessary to do what they do.

While physical strength and endurance are obviously key requirements to become a Seal, it turns out what really makes them unique is their mental strength, specifically their ability to process information quickly and under extremely adverse circumstances. They build an incredibly strong and resilient mindset – and that term is defined as how they see and process the world around them. 

One of things I have discovered really resonated with me.  I have always known that “Hell Week” is one of the times that cause many in the training program to quit. The attrition rate for Navy Seal training is about 80%. The training is designed to make you quit…to sort those people out and to sort them out early. What I find fascinating is that many of the trainees quit on day 1 over a fairly simply running exercise. 

Think about it for just a minute. If you go to Seal training, you are certainly in excellent physical condition, so running should not be much of a challenge. But here is the catch – the instructors don’t tell the trainees how far they are running, nor do they tell them how long they will be running. Not knowing those answers causes many to quit. They can’t deal with that uncertainty. And one more thing – the run is not timed. You don’t have to run fast…you just can’t quit running.

This makes me think of the incredible challenges that bankers have had to deal with in recent months. It has been far from easy. And your mindset has been tested like perhaps no other time in recent years. This applies to selling as well. Selling is a tough lonely road to travel.  Selling is a process and if you fall in love with the process, (making calls, asking for referrals, attending networking events) the process will always love you back. But the challenge is you don’t know when it will love you back. And that uncertainty, just like the uncertainty of an indefinite run, can cause great discouragement. Some even quit.

My encouragement to you today is simple – just keep running. Maybe even keep walking. Skip if you want or crawl if you must.  Just keep moving because the process (if loved) will eventually love you back.

It will not be easy.  But as the Seals say…the only easy day was yesterday.


Free eBook Download: Find Out if Your  Bankers Can and Will SELL

Topics: Sales Process, sales skills assessment

Four Activities of Top-Performing Banks

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Jun 07, 2023

There are four critical things that separate high-performing banks from others in the industry in terms of their sales and revenue growth.


We know that there are four things that separate high-performing banks from their peers in terms of their sales and revenue growth.  Banks who embrace these four things will almost always outperform their peers. These activities are validated by the Objective Management Group's 30-year stats history of sales assessments across the country. 

First, top-performing banks assess the skills sets of the existing lenders and relationship managers. They do this because it is really hard to change that which you cannot see. There are a set of specific 21 core sales competencies that drive success in selling, and CEOs across the country are accessing this information to understand and improve the skills of their current teams as well as hire new high-performing lenders and relationship managers.

Free eBook Download: Find Out if Your  Bankers Can and Will SELL

Secondly, top-performing banks don’t make the mistake of hiring new lenders without assessing them using a sales skills assessment that is both sales-specific and also predictively valid. Sure, there are plenty of assessments out there but the vast majority are personality-based and do not uncover if a salesperson can and will sell for your bank. When looking at sales skills assessments, make sure that it comes with a proven history of working as well as a recommendation to hire or not hire.

Third, top-performing banks adopt a sales process that is both stage-based and milestone-centric. Then they hold their lenders and relationship managers accountable to following that process.  On average, this step alone generates a 15% increase in loan production. This focus on stage-based allows a leader and sales coach to see where in the sales process a lender may need help and targeted coaching. It is a fact that “elite salespeople”, those in the top 7% of all salespeople, follow a consistent sales process.

Fourth and finally, top-performing banks make an investment in sales leader and sales management training before they even think about training their salesperson.  They equip their leaders with skills in setting standards and accountability, coaching, recruiting, and motivation. These are the top four skills that sales managers should be spending 85% of their time doing. Since most sales managers typically are promoted up through their specialty area in banking, the sales management skills assessment consistently shows that sales leaders do not have the skills or a process needed to drive consistent sales growth with their teams.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

Topics: Sales Process, sales skills assessment

6 Lessons for Sales Organizations I Learned on Summer Vacation: Part 1

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 28, 2020

Everyday, there are things that can be learned that can impact our personal and professional lives.


In this week's blog, our Chief Learning Officer Tony Cole will discuss a few of the sales lessons he took away from his summer vacation.


Linda and I just came back from our first big RV camping trip where we visited Michigan. Upon my return, I received an email from Alex asking me if I had any brilliant insights to share with you all from my trip that might relate to growing sales. Here are the first 3 of 6 lessons I learned during our trip.


1. Enjoy the journey. We learned that there is normal travel time, and then there is RV time. My google maps would tell me I had a 240-mile, 4-hour journey, and I would arrive at 2:14 PM. I would drive for 30 minutes, look at my google map only to discover that I now had a 241-mile journey and I would arrive at 2:22.

  • As you plan your sales success, you must understand that the journey will take longer, and you will likely run into detours, accidents, and slowdowns.

  • If you do not slow down and enjoy each stop along the way, you will become irritable and frustrated. This will cause you to move things along faster and, when you do, you will miss steps and sights along the way, damage relationships, and potentially get lost.


2. Have a process and follow the process. For those of you that have RVs, you understand what I am talking about. You have to make sure that certain steps are taken so that you don’t; rip vents off of the roof, have contents falling out of your storage bins, leak your freshwater reserve, run out of propane, or get a flat tire.

  • What we know thanks to the Objective Management Group is that 95% of Elite or Strong Salespeople (roughly only 25% of all 2 million salespeople assessed) follow a consistent sales process. What is important to note today though, is that the process is more of an approach so that the salesperson can focus on the buyer’s process.
  • Don’t assume you’ve followed the process. Have a milestone-centric system within your CRM system (Membrain) so that you can check off each step along the way. There were at least 3 occasions on our trip when Linda would ask me, “did you…” and I would have to review my steps just to make sure I covered every detail.

3. Sales growth requires nurturing. Driving through Ohio and Indiana, you will see more corn then you ever imagined. As you get into the western region of Michigan you start to see signs for cherries, apples, blueberries, corn, peaches, and all manner of fruits and vegetable stands. It reminded me of my days on the farm and how we had to nurture plants to maximize production. It did not matter how old or young the plants were. They needed soil, water, sunshine, and food.

  • No matter where you are in your career, you need nurturing. You need to be replenished with new information, be reminded of what you’ve done in the past that led to success, and receive coaching to improve skills and change behaviors.
  • Nurturing requires balance. Too much of one thing is not good. So micromanaging is not a solid strategy. Self-management and openness to corrective coaching is the solution for consistent sales growth.

I am Interested in the  Sales Growth Coach

Topics: Sales Growth, sales development, Sales Coaching, Sales Process, driving sales growth 2020

Go for the "No" Early in the Sales Process

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 20, 2018


One of the keys for more effective selling is going for the ‘no’ early in the sales process. I learned this concept years ago especially when I was vulnerable to ‘think it overs’ (TIO). I would get ‘think it overs’ at several stages in the sales process and maybe you get them as well:

  • On the initial phone call when you’re trying to get an appointment – “Let me think it over, give me a call next week.”
  • At the end of your initial meeting – “This sounds really good and something I should consider. Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you in the next couple of days.”
  • When you finish your presentation and you ask for the sale. “You made a very compelling presentation and we are impressed with your depth of knowledge and your very creative solutions to our problems. Let us meet as a group and go over this one more time and crunch some numbers.  Let’s plan on talking next week.”

Sound familiar?

Of course it does and these ‘think it overs’ are what is keeping you from being more effective in your sales process. That’s nice to know or consider but the question becomes, “What do I do about it?” (click here to listen to a 3-minute audio clip on eliminating TIO)

As I learned early on is to get ‘no’ as soon as you can. What is important to understand about getting ‘think it overs’ is the mindset of your potential buyer. Your potential buyer will tell you that they need to think it over because:

  • They really don’t intend on making any changes but you impressed them with some information that they want to take to their current provider and see if they can do what you can do.
  • They have a need for approval and instead of telling you they are not interested they want to let you down easy. Telling you they want to think it over gives you hope and get’s them off of the hook until the next time you talk.

To fix the problem, eliminate ‘think it over’ as an option. Let your prospect know that when you finish the next meeting, next conversation, the final presentation, they will have everything they need to make a decision. You can tell them that you will be prepared to answer all of their questions and when you are finished, they will be in a position to make a decision- yes or no. Then simply ask what objections they have to that process.

This one key will help you close more business, more quickly at higher margins.

For more tips on how to uncover a prospects real reason for wanting to ‘TIO’ watch our Sales Guy Unplugged video on the “Question Behind the Question”.

Topics: Sales Process, effective selling, effective sales process, think it overs


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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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