ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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?

red-people-outside-sport-2207

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

5 Strategies to Increase Sales and Have Your Best Year Yet

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Jan 07, 2020

Welcome to our newest blog series titled, "2020: The Year For Sales Growth".  These blog posts will specifically focus on helping you drive (and increase) sales in the new year. 

Starting with today's post, we bring you 5 strategies to help increase your sales to have your best yet!

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Somehow, it is already time to start thinking about your goals and resolutions for the coming year so that you can:

  1. Fix problems
  2. Leverage opportunities
  3. Become the best version of yourself
  4. Scratch an itch
  5. Re-commit to previous resolutions

In a nutshell, we make resolutions to either achieve pleasure or avoid pain.  Unfortunately for many, the pleasurable outcome isn’t significant enough, or the pain isn’t severe enough, to make the resolutions stick. 

So, let’s do away with resolutions for a moment and talk about 5 Strategies that will help you have your best year yet.

#1 – Show Up and Show Up on Time.  When I was a product rep for Provident Life and Accident, my manager told me on my first day that the most important key to success in the business was to show up, and to show up on time. If you do that, you will already be ahead of the competition.  I believed that then back in 1990, and I believe it still holds true today.

  • Show up –Just get there.  Be in front of the people that you need to be in front of to tell your story, discover their needs, uncover their desires for a great outcome or to avoid pain. 
  • Show up on time – showing up on time demonstrates more about who you are than what you do. If you are a manager, make sure you show up on time for your 1-on-1 coaching sessions, your pre and post-call debrief meetings, and your sales meetings as well.  When you show up late or cancel/reschedule, you are sending a message to your people that showing up late (or not showing up at all) is okay.

#2 – Focus on Green, "Go-To" Activities.  I call them Green Activities because these are the activities that make you money. Make a list of all the things you do during the day, and then carve out about 20% of those activities that lead directly to making sales/money. 80% of your time should be spent on “Go-To” activities. Too often, we get caught up doing the other stuff that allows us to stay busy as opposed to focusing on what matters most. Don’t misunderstand me. I know other activities such as preparing for meetings, responding to emails and calls, and helping current clients are part of your role, but it’s important to prioritize the go-to activities to make sure they get done first.

#3 - Work with the Best of the Rest. Assume for a minute you have 50 clients.  Focus on asking your top 36% (18) of them if they know at least 5 other people like them.  That gives you a potential pool of prospects of 90! Let’s say your average revenue from your top 18 clients is $27,000. The potential revenue of the prospect pool is $2.4m.  Assuming ½ of the 90 will meet with you (45) and half of those people will be qualified prospects (22.5) and half of those people would buy from you (11.25), that means you could generate about $300,000 from that pool of prospects. The question I want you to answer is this:  How many of your bottom 36% clients would you have to sell to equal just 1 of your top 36%?

#4 – Answer the Question – What is Holding Me Back? Many salespeople and sales organizations go year after year without performing as expected.  Individuals and companies invest in training and sales enablement tools but still they find over 66% of the team members fail to reach goals.  There are exceptions but the studies we’ve done consistently tell us two things:

  1. The top 1/3 of the sales team generates close to 80% of the revenue
  2. The bottom 1/3 generates less than 5%

Sometimes what is holding someone back from being their best has nothing to do with technique or their ability to build relationships.  If your onboarding, training, development and coaching program does not focus on items where they specifically struggle it won’t matter or make a dent in your results. Stop treating symptoms and thinking you must work harder!  Find out what is holding you back and focus on the root cause. If you are a Sales Manager, VP or President: What is holding your team back from selling more business, more quickly at better margins?

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#5 – Be Coachable.  Every great professional gets to be the best for reasons other than natural ability or God given talents. The example I normally use is baseball but choose any profession you like, and I guarantee you that the best of the best are coachable and they practice to perfect their skills.  Here is an example:

  • José Carlos Altuve is a Venezuelan professional second baseman for the Houston Astros. The Astros signed Altuve as an amateur free agent in 2007, and he made his major league debut in 2011. From 2014 to 2017, Altuve recorded at least 200 hits each season and led the American League (AL) in the category. He won three batting championships as well as:
    • 6 time MLB All Star
    • MVP for the American league in 2017
    • 5 Silver Slugger Awards
    • 1 Golden Glove

The question is this, when spring training starts in February what does Altuve do? Does he sit on the sidelines and just watch because “he’s a pro”?  Does he participate in some of the drills and exercises but omits others because “he knows how to do that”? Does he skip batting practice or taking infield? The answer is no, no, no and no.  He’s a professional, he’s coachable and he recognizes that he can always be better.  

If you are going to continue to grow you must have the motivation, desire and commitment to become the best version of yourself. That is what will help you be coachable.

For more information on how to implement and execute these 5 strategies email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, Schedule a meeting using this link:  Schedule A Meeting or text “5 Strategies” to (513) 226-3913.

Topics: hiring salespeople, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, extraordinary sales, sales habits, sales productivity, sales productivity tools, sales effectiveness training, corporate sales training, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, driving sales growth 2020

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

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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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