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Hitting Your Sales Goals – 3 Challenges to Overcome

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Aug 26, 2019

In this article, we discuss the 3 challenges facing salespeople today: 

  1. Will to Sell
  2. Sales DNA
  3. Sales Skills

During training discussions over the course of more than 20 years, the #1 most common answer when asking sales leaders how their teams could sell more consistently over the years has been, “If I had more / better prospects to call on.”

In order to address the problem of getting more qualified leads, sales leaders and salespeople need to first understand these three challenges.

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In the last 30 days, I’ve talked to more than a dozen company executives, sales people and sales managers.  I’ve asked them, “What is the #1 constrictor to hitting your sales goals?”  The answer every time was: getting more qualified leads.  I know this is not a large sampling and I would be concerned about the validity of this finding if only 25% of them said that getting more qualified leads was the main problem. But that isn’t the case.  The consistency of answer in this survey indicates a trend to focus on.

There is further validation of the current finding:

During training discussions over the course of more than 20 years, I’ve asked sales executives, presidents and sales teams to complete the following statement:  I (we) would sell more, be more productive, more effective if only I (we) … 

The #1 most common answer consistently over the years has been “If I had more / better prospects to call on.”

In order to address the problem of getting more qualified leads, sales leaders and salespeople need to first understand these three challenges:

  1. Will to Sell
  2. Sales DNA
  3. Sales Skills

Let me use an example to explain.  We are currently working with a financial institution that is hiring a new private banker in an expanded market.  Using the pre-hire assessment from our partner Objective Management Group, we created a ‘tailored fit model’ based on the performance of the top and bottom current private bankers.  Then, we assessed the 5 candidates they were still considering.

Take a look at these findings:

Figure 1 – How well did the candidates match the clients’ work history criteria for success?  The client created a profile that indicated that the non-negotiable sale success criteria where: 1) must be competition resistant (successfully sold in a competitive environment), 2) Successfully sold value rather than price, 3) Sold to executives, 4) Has successfully hunted and sold new business (this addresses challenge #3 sales skills – specifically skills for hunting/ prospecting), 5) Is an entrepreneurial seller.  As you can see all the candidates being considered marginally met the client criteria for success with 3 of the 5 having an 80% match.

When we look at other findings, we find the 3 challenges most common to organizations that are trying to consistently hit / exceed their sales goals.

Figure #1 -When we look at Challenge #1 – ‘Will to Sell’ we find the following:

Only 1 candidate meets all the criteria for Will To Sell. The question becomes:  How important is the will to sell when attempting to overcome the challenges of finding qualified prospects to talk to?

If 1/3 of your current team lacks the will to sell, what is the likelihood  - despite all the ‘prospecting’ training you provide them – that they will actually execute?  Also note that one of the candidates with strong desire, commitment and outlook will still be prone to making excuses for not prospecting, asking for introductions and networking. (Desire for Sales Success)

Figure #2 – Sales DNA (Sales DNA Audio) findings for the 5 candidates looked like this:

This post won’t go into the definitions of all the criteria you see here, but understand that green is good, and red is not so good.  If you look to the right of the graph and look at the Total Sales DNA, the scores in green and red told our client what they needed to know.  If everything else is equal in the equation, then your people with strong sales DNA are more likely to do the activity of prospecting and will be more successful.

*Candidate #2 meets the criteria of the client, has a very strong will to sell, and has the highest sales DNA score.  How many of the people on your sales team measure up to this ‘elite’ candidate?

The world of selling is certainly different today than it was just 5 years ago.  Your prospects in the marketplace have more ways to find more information about you, your products and services. They have more ways to compare you against your competition and all of this happens without you or your salespeople even making contact with them.

To meet the challenges of today, you need a sales team with the right stuff to get the job done!

 

Topics: sales skills, Sales DNA, developing sales skills, will to sell, sales challenges

10 Keys to Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 09, 2019

Recruiting new sales talent is complicated and time consuming. 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 today!

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What are the keys to hiring better salespeople? In short you must kill spiders.

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. 

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 that to a job site or telling your influencers that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. As Alex Cole describes here, 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.

 

Interested in taking a step towards more effective hiring practices? Email alex@anthonycoletraining.com for a free job description analysis and to schedule a conversation with our hiring specialist.

 

 

Topics: sales skills, Interviewing, pre-hire evaluations, hire better salespeople, upgrade your sales force

What to Keep Doing, Part 3 of 3

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Apr 04, 2016

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I continue to learn from my clients and the training director of a large national bank once said to me, “This is what we would like to keep doing. This is what we would like to start doing. And this is what we would like to stop doing.” Of course, all of this was framed up with lists of actions and initiatives because we were meeting to discuss coming years of training content, focus and delivery. However, this simple take-away can be applied to nearly any complex situation.

Some thoughts on What to Keep Doing:

Keep Learning 
As human beings, we continue to age and evolve. In order to thrive and survive, we must keep learning. Imagine if a child stopped learning—say your son turned 12 and stagnated and did not move forward mentally. Of course, you would find this odd and abnormal and you would go to great lengths to uncover issues so that you could fix this.

Unfortunately, adults sometimes do this and salespeople often feel like they know enough about selling. While a sales person may know that he must learn about new products, he often does not continue education in his craft of selling. Yet, to compete well in an ever evolving environment, one must know as much as possible and be well-rehearsed—after all “Perfect practice makes perfect performance.”

Play Like this is Your First or Last Game or Performance 
In the final season of Hall of Famer George Brett’s career, he was asked what he would like his last at-bat to be like—a signature double to right center field? A rocket single to left field? Brett said “No, I want to hit a hard ground ball to the second baseman and run as hard as I can to first base so that every young guy on our team will know that that’s how the game is supposed to be played.”

Prepare as though You’ve Never Done this Before 
It is an unfortunate fact of life that we tend to get sloppy over time. We think we know what we are doing. We think we don’t need practice or preparation.

Captain Edward John Smith had been commanding vessels for over 25 years. In 1012, he took command of an unsinkable cruise ship- The RMS Titanic. We all know what happened. While the stakes in selling do not usually involve hundreds of human lives, we cannot lose sight of the need for preparation. After all, “Perfect performance is a result of perfect practice.” (Am I repeating myself?)

Continue to Risk
Sailing in calm waters doesn’t teach.”  I don’t know the origin of that expression, but it defines this particular Keep Doing.  I majored in physical education while at University of Connecticut. In physiology, I learned the SAID principle, which I believe in and continue to preach.  SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.  In other words, your muscles don’t grow unless you put them under strain – put them in a position that exceeds their ability. 

I believe our brain power and our emotional stamina work the same way-- In order for us to grow, to learn, to become better, stronger, sharper, we must take on risks, including the risk of failing.  Get outside of comfortable. 

Continue to Fall Down & Get Up 
As we get older and have more experiences, we learn that life is up and down. One day is great successes and the next brings difficulty and defeat. This is particularly true in sales, since rejection and loss of a prospect/proposal/sale is a common occurrence. So, I imagine you have a long history of falling, dusting yourself off and getting up.  

Unfortunately, as we get more tenured in our professional career and accumulate a revenue stream, we can get knocked down and decide to be comfortable with what we have amassed over the years. We can get comfortable because we don’t have the drive and motivation that we once had. SO--

Set Higher and Bigger Goals 
Identify the goals that inspire you to do all the Keep Doing activities above.

  • Set goals that require learning something new or different
  • Set goals that excite you
  • Set goals that risk failure because they are a stretch

 

Topics: sales skills, key to sales success, keep, start and stop

Sales Training and Development

Posted by Pete Caputa on Wed, Apr 09, 2008
Very few people we get a chance to get in front of for training are excited about being there the first time. By the second session, there begins a process of acceptance and, by our third visit, we normally have 90% of the room fully engaged and wanting more.

This says a great deal about the participant, as well as our approach to training and development. My focus today is on you, the participant, and how to get the most out of any training that you participate in either voluntarily, or as a sponsored program from your employer.


1. Remember that whatever you are ready for is ready for you. As an example: If you are ready to learn how to upgrade your prospect and client list, then the information is available to teach you to do that.
2. Not everything in a training session or program is going to connect with everyone in the room. That is an impossible objective, so go into the meeting looking for ‘one' thing to take with you. There is always at least one thing.
3. Open your parachute. We tell our new clients that 'the mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open.' Keep an open mind as you will surely hear something that is new and different.
4. Get involved in the session. It is easy to hide in a session and just wait for time to pass. It is uncomfortable to participate, to role play, and to ask those questions that you think might be stupid or challenging. The more you put into a session the more you will get out.
5. Implement something. I heard Tony Robbins say years ago that knowledge is not power, but knowledge in action is power. Take something that you've learned and put it to action. Commit to doing something different, new, and uncomfortable, even though you might fail; then try it again.

At Anthony Cole Training Group we love training and coaching. We love it when someone tells us in subsequent meetings that they ‘tried something and it worked.' Often they don't believe it will and so they've learned. What may be just as important is trying something new and it doesn't work. That is learning to take risk and growing, which is a valuable lesson in training and development.

Finally, make sure that outside of any training program you participate in, engage in reading. I remember Mark Victor Hansen quoting Charlie Jones: "Except for the people you meet, the books you read and the audio material you listen to you will be exactly the same person 3 years from now that you are today."

Not a good place to be is it?


Topics: sales skills, Selling Attitude, Self Development

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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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