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A Pre-Call Checklist is Your 7th Must-Have Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 21, 2019

In our 7th installment of Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results, we bring you the pivotal and "must-have" Pre-Call Checklist.  Going into a sales call without a plan is similar to going into a football game without a game plan; it's a recipe for disaster!

woman-writing-on-a-notebook-beside-teacup-and-tablet-733856

Going into a sales call without a documented, practiced, and rehearsed plan would be equivalent to playing a football game without film time, practice time, meeting time and strategy development.  It would be like a coach showing up in the locker room and telling the team,

“I think we’ll wing it today."

The head coach might have an idea of the plays and drills he wants to run, while the players might have some idea of what is expected of them, but subtract the preparation required to succeed, or a pre-game strategy; and that team is sure to fail.  And so, that's how it goes with salespeople and sales teams that "wing it."

What we know from extensive research (over 1.9 million salespeople evaluated) done by the Objective Management Group, and with our use of their Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis, there are certainly specific characteristics that make salespeople successful.

Aside from being extremely strong in the competencies you would normally want in a salesperson, such as being a great Hunter or a Consultative Seller, Selling Value, Qualifying, and having a great Presentational Approach, they also have 76% of the skills needed to be competent in executing a consistent, milestone-centric sales process. That means that more often than not, their pipelines will be more accurate, their sales cycle will be shorter, and their closing ratios will be higher.

Why?

Because They Follow A Process!

Back in the day, Marsh McLennan (following the tenets of Strategic Selling,) "Blue Sheeted" opportunities to determine if it was qualified and closable. This process forced salespeople to identify information that wasn’t uncovered and steps in the sales process that weren’t taken as well.  

In our Sales Managed Environment Program, we take our clients through a very specific and detailed process of building, implementing and executing pre and post call meetings and worksheets.  This process of using a scorecard more accurately defines the probability of closing and identifies the steps that a salesperson must take PRIOR to presenting a solution.

If you must close more business, more quickly and at higher margins, then developing a Pre-Call Checklist is a must!

Schedule a Meeting with one our Sales Development Experts to Help you Build a Pre-Call Checklist and Probability Scorecard

You can check out all of our Sales Productivity Tools below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: effective sales coaching, Sales Coaching, sales coaching skills, increase sales, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training

Huddles: The 3rd Sales Productivity Tool That Will Change Your Results

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Oct 09, 2019

In this article, I discuss "Huddles", the 3rd tool on the sales productivity tools list.  Over the years, I have used football huddles as an example of how sales huddles work.

Your huddles should provide real-time information, so that you can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching.  But just like in football, you must not only collect the data in a huddle, you must then gain business intelligence from the data and share that business information with the team.

ftball

I was first introduced to the idea of "Sales Huddles" when I heard Verne Harnish, Founder and President of Gazelles, speak at Objective Management Group’s Annual International Conference.  At that conference, Verne described Huddles as:

  1. A communication process or system that allows for sharing of real-time information
  2. An opportunity to focus on "burning platform" issues for a team or company
  3. A way to bring sharp focus and attention to a critical business driver
  4. The most important 15 minutes in any company

Over the years, I have used football huddles as an example of how sales huddles work.  Generally speaking, there are two types of huddles. One is what you see in the middle of a football field where the players gather around a single individual to get instruction on what they are going to do next. The other type of huddle is one that you would see on the sidelines after a unit comes off of the field. They gather around the offensive or defensive unit coach to receive information about what was seen in the press box, and how that relates to what they will attempt to do the next time on the field.

Your huddles should provide real-time information, so that you can make real-time decisions and provide real-time feedback or coaching.

This one very important point about huddles is what makes them so valuable to sales teams and salespeople. This is one of THE KEYS to driving more immediate and productive results from a sales team. If you wait 90 days as a manager to get data about how your team is conducting itself on a daily basis, it will be outdated and may not be of any use to you or your salespeople.

One of my favorite questions when working with sales managers in our Performance Management Class is this:

“When you get lost, when do you want to know that you're lost”? 

The answer to that question 100% of the time is,

“As soon as possible."

And that is why you must have huddles!

Gathering real-time information allows you as a salesperson or manager to make real-time adjustments to either a specific sales situation or in your overall sales growth strategy. But just like in football, you must not only collect the data in a huddle, you must then gain business intelligence from the data and share that business information with the team.

Only then will the team benefit from the huddles, thus reducing resistance to the process. Additionally, you can make in-the-moment decisions on sales opportunities and long-term decisions on training and development, recruiting and talent.

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

Sales Productivity Tools

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Coaching, sales productivity, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training

Football & 9 Sales Productivity Tools That Will Change Your Results

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Sep 16, 2019

We often find there is a direct connection between sales and competitive sports. Due to his time on the football field as both a player and coach, Tony Cole has identified 9 Sales Productivity Tools that will help your producers build better plays, hit harder on the field, and come home with more wins. 

Over the next several weeks, Tony will be releasing a series of blogs discussing the 9 Sales Productivity Tools mentioned below in greater detail. Stay tuned for more information!

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I recently started working with the Moeller High School football team and am inspired to share some of my experiences in this blog and with my followers. I will try not to get too carried away with my football stories, analogies or metaphors but I will likely fail.

Coaching football and coaching sales have so much common ground. My current experiences at Moeller have helped me identify 9 football related sales productivity tools that I will introduce below and write about for the next 9 weeks. It's the season!

When these sales productivity tools are used by managers and salespeople, they will create more productive and effective sales results.

From 1963 to 1984, I either played football or coached football.  It was in my blood, it defined me, and it was all that I thought about.  It’s how I framed my world.  My language and thoughts were always tied to the game, the sport, and the competitive nature of football.  I still think and talk like a football player/coach:

  • You’re out of bounds
  • That’s a Hail Mary!
  • You must have played without a helmet
  • He’s on the all shorts team
  • That’s a long shot
  • What do we have to do to win?

If you are not a football fan, you are missing out on something great.  No other sport requires the same level of commitment, skill, discipline, courage and motivation as football. But I’ve been out of football since 1984.  However, this spring, my friend Tim Mackey asked me to go to lunch to discuss an opportunity he was offered at Moeller High School. That is how I am now involved in one of the most storied high school football programs in the country.

As I started working with the team and other coaches at Moeller, I discovered the linkages between coaching these two great sports: sales and football. The sales productivity tools I describe below are inspired by working with our football players and will help all of the salespeople we coach as well. 

Dig in!

9 Football Related Sales Productivity Tools

  1. Practice Schedule – All professionals need practice. Every team I have ever been part of has a schedule for practice.  In that schedule, the game is broken down into units where each specific aspect of the game is practiced:  Offensive line, defensive line, running backs, linebackers, special teams, two-minute drill, punt return.  You get the picture; you need to have a practice schedule for your sales skills!
  2. Probability Sales Scorecard – The probability scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field. The markers tell you how many yards you must go to score or how many yards you have to protect to keep from being scored upon. The probability sales scorecard will tell you, with a high level of accuracy, what the likelihood is that you will either win or lose the deal.
  3. Huddles –Just like in football, huddles are a communication system that provides coaches with real time information so you can make real time decisions.
  4. Goal Setting – Most teams have a period prior to the season when the staff discusses objectives and goals for the season. The discussions are based on previous performance, expected competition and the talent level of the returning and newly recruited team.
  5. Success Formula –Each team knows or anticipates what it needs to do to win a game. They need to identify metrics such as: How many yards on first down do they need? What are the average yards per completion and what is the completion percentage? How many passes need to be completed?  How well does the punt return team have to perform and what is expected of the defense in the ‘red zone’.   You will have the opportunity to download the success formula sales productivity tool in a future blog or you can get it now at:  Sales Pipeline Calculator
  6. Ideal Week – Every team goes into a game with their ideal game plan. In other words what plays do they want to run in various situations on offense and what defenses will they call given field position and tendencies of the opponent.  Very little is left to chance. However, there must be flexibility because field position can change in an instant.  You need to have a game plan week in and week out and that is done by first identifying what your ideal week looks like.
  7. Pre-Call Checklist – In football, plays are most often called by the offensive coordinator from the sideline. However during weekly practice, the coordinator goes over a series of pre-snap situations with the offense so they can quickly adjust to the play called depending on what the defense does.  You and your salespeople should go into EVERY appointment with a pre-meeting or pre-call checklist so that they are better prepared to execute the play (sales plan) on the call.
  8. Post-Call Checklist – After every game and sometimes after every practice, the coaches review film and compare it to the plays or defenses called. This allows for a measurement of performance against the planned execution (pre-call checklist).  The post-call process allows for corrective action / training and more appropriate follow up steps with the prospect.
  9. Performance Recording Tools – Back in the day, we used 8-millimeter films to review our game performance. Now digital audio and video devices give football teams instant feedback on practice and game performance.  These tools must be used to record practice, and in some cases, live scenarios, so that actual performance can be observed. Observing what someone does is a lot more impactful for both the performer and the coach than attempting to coach based on hearsay or just data reports.

Each of these sales productivity tools will be discussed in detail and available to you in future articles so subscribe to Tony's blog today. As a bonus, sign up below for your 10th sales productivity tool- our Weekly Sales Brew!

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Topics: sales tips, sales development, sales success formula, building sales relationships, Sales Tools, sales productivity, football, sales and sports

"I Could Sell More if Only I Could _____"

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Nov 08, 2018

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I've got a fill in the blank for you.

Are you ready?

"I could sell more if only I could _____."

What comes after could? We had the chance to ask that question around the country with a variety of companies both large and small and it's interesting to hear what salespeople say when you ask them to fill in this particular blank.

Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say excuses. Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say, valid reasons for why they're not selling as much as they would like or their manager would like. When we hear that answer, we immediately think about the core steps in the sales process.  

You have to go see people. You have to call them first. Then you must go see them, you must have meetings, you must qualify them and deliver presentations, and of course, you have to win your fair share. 

As you think about calls, meetings, dials, qualifying prospects, and closing deals, ask yourself these major questions.

If you're not where you want to be in 2018, ask yourself,

  1. Why are you there?
  2. How long have you been there?
  3. Are you fully committed to getting back on track?
  4. What's going to be required to get back on track?
  5. Do you have to get there?
  6. What happens if you don't?
  7. What is the problem costing you?
  8. Do you have to fix it?

If you know anything about our organization, you know that is how we encourage the unveiling of the sales process. 

Asking your prospects questions like:

  • What is going on?
  • What do you have to fix?
  • How long has it been a problem?
  • What have you done to try and fix it?
  • Do you have to fix it?
  • What happens if you don't fix it?
  • What's this problem costing you? 

All of that fits into one of two categories: Excuses or reasons

Just remember as you answer the question, "I could sell more if only I could ____."  If your answer is an excuse...

"Excuses are the nails used to build houses of failure."

Now go out there and get it done!

Topics: sales productivity, solving sales issues, how to hit goals in sales, self management

Why Sales Coaching is to Growing Like Low & Slow is to Tasty BBQ

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 15, 2017

It’s this simple:  If you want great barbeque ribs, brisket or chicken, the key is low temperature and slow cooking. Having said that, if you want maximum flavor and tenderness, make sure you sear or char the meat first, then go low and slow.  This is an undeniable truth.  Just read the Science of Cooking and discover all the neat things you can do to improve the outcome of any meal.

EXPERIENCE DOESN'T GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESS

20 years in sales does not guarantee future success.  Just ask anyone that has lost a sale at any time in their career.  Something always happens just a little bit differently.  If there isn’t an adjustment, a lesson or some learning as a result, then the salesperson is prone to repeating the sames mistakes or errors over and over again.

When you effectively coach your people, they will get better.  When they get better, you will close more business, more quickly at higher margins.  This is undeniable as well.  Just look at the information provided by The Sales Management Association.  **FYI - it’s also undeniable that a lack of coaching has a negative impact on sales success and talent development!

(Bob Rotella – coach to PGA Tour Players – Author – How Champions Think)

golf-coach.jpg

THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO COACH

In our Sales Management Certification Program, we discuss 5 Keys to Coaching for Success in our coaching module. These 5 keys cover what to do and how to do it when you are face-to-face with your salespeople. Many managers, before going through our certification, complain/tell me/make excuses that there isn’t enough time to effectively coach their people.  I don’t buy it. There are several opportunities for coaching without adding to an already busy schedule:

  1. Sales meetings
    1. Segment on sales training
    2. Role-playing phone calls to get appointments
    3. Role-playing conversations to get appointments with internal partners
    4. Role-play how to position financial planning
    5. Overcoming objections
    6. Appropriately dealing with questions, and stalls.
  2. Pre–call strategy sessions
  3. Post-call debriefing sessions
  4. 1-on-1 intentional coaching sessions
  5. Ad-hoc moments when they ask you if you have a minute
  6. Every time they give you an excuse for lack of effort or execution

IN-THE-MOMENT COACHING VS. COACHING FOR SUCCESS

Coaching does take place today, but most of it is in the moment. Kind of like when a coach calls a time out in a game. The team is gathered around the coach and a strategy is developed to take advantage of the “in the moment” opportunity. Normally, that’s the type of coaching that takes place in sales – in the moment.  That type of coaching helps close a sale, get an appointment, and/or move an opportunity through the pipeline, but it does nothing to change behavior or improve skills!

Do you find yourself or your sales managers constantly covering the same ground to close deals, improve effort or refine execution?  Are opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline in the same spot for the same reasons over and over?  When you look at the performance (effectiveness and productivity, not just the results), do you see actual improvement in sales ratios like average size sale, conversion ratios from opportunities to closes and average production for each quintile in the team?

Those are the types of metrics that determine if your coaching is effective!  Failure to collect that data leads to failure of the effectiveness of your sales manager and your sales team.  Collecting the data and then doing nothing about it leads to lackluster enthusiasm for entering data, thus limiting the integrity of your forecasting.

THE 5 KEYS FOR COACHING SUCCESS

So, let’s assume for a second that 1) you are collecting data and  2) you are creating opportunities to coach people.  We can now discuss The 5 Keys for Coaching for Success.

  1. Gain insight from data points: Your data points have to include data (numbers representing leading and lagging indicators), observational opportunities via joint calls, and observations made during role plays in meetings.

    The data points you have should not be a secret to your people. Share with them what you know and what you’ve observed.  Prior to meeting with them, call them to set up the coaching meeting. Tell them that the data you have indicates there might be some problems with them hitting their established extraordinary goal.  (Remember the extraordinary goal discussion?) Then tell them that you want to meet with them during your established coaching hours. Set the appointment.
  1. Provide feedback: Now that you both have the date, you don’t have to ask the worse possible question in your meeting, “So, Joe, what’s going on?”  Instead, you acknowledge that you’ve looked at the numbers and they’ve looked at the numbers and then you ask a question about the problem that you see.

    Let’s pretend that you see a choke point where his conversion of conversations isn’t leading to the assumed number of appointments. All the other assumptions look good, but - because the conversion is off - the number of appointments isn’t meeting the goal.  Without this information, the only coaching you can do is to tell Joe that he needs to see more people. But, with all the data, you see that the effort is there – the dials and discussions – but that effort isn’t leading to appointments.

    Instead of pointing that out, you ask Joe what he sees when he looks at the conversation ratio compared to the model in the success formula.  Assuming Joe sees the same thing as you, you are now in a position to ask further questions.  The key here is that both parties must agree as to what the problem is.

  2. Demonstrate what you expect to be done: In this case, you would listen to Joe’s approach to converting conversations to appointments.  You would identify areas where he might need to change or improve his approach and you demonstrate what that would look/sound like.

  3. Role–play: Now that you’ve demonstrated what you expect, you role-play various situations with Joe giving him several different responses.

  1. Action step: It is critical that every coaching session ends with an action step.  An example of that would be to agree to a number of calls that Joe is going to make over a short period of time (i.e. by the end of the day or week) and then instruct him to report back to you (on a specific day and time) the outcome of his effort.

(Click here for 9 critical coaching skills)

STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY ON SALES TRAINING

Understand that this might be an ongoing process for Joe, and you may have to take a more disciplined approach to his coaching and execution of the skills he is struggling with.  At the end of the day, the key is to recognize that improvement is vital for sales growth.  You cannot expect to grow sales without improving effort and/or execution. If you want to improve sales, invest your money in developing your sales managers and stop wasting money on sales training until your managers can and will coach.

Additional Resources:

Demo online Sales Learning Module

Sales Managed Environment® Certification Module – Free Document

Topics: Sales Tracking, Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales productivity

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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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