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How to be Successful in Sales in 2021

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Aug 05, 2021

Here at Anthony Cole Training Group, we are always striving towards helping our clients achieve sales success. We interviewed our Sales Development Experts for a curated list of how to be successful in sales for 2021. Their advice includes successful sales traits, habits, and characteristics. Use this detailed resource to your advantage, and boost your sales success in 2021!

How to Be Successful in Sales

Salespeople are measured against one thing and one thing only; closing deals.  However, salespeople know that there's so much more to getting results than picking up the phone and calling.  It takes a combination of attitude, work ethic, and personality to be a good sales person.  It's not easy being a salesperson, but if you can possess some of these traits and habits, you're on your way to becoming a more successful salesperson.

Successful Sales Traits

trait: a distinguishing quality or characteristic, typically one belonging to a person.

  1. Commitment
    Oftentimes, one of the reasons salespeople struggle to see great sales success is because they aren’t as committed as they need to be. Be willing to try and do whatever it takes, even when you are uncomfortable.
  2. Have an attitude of success
    Selling can feel like a solitary pursuit and you need to believe you will get there. Half the battle of success in sales is owning your own style and having faith in your skills, knowledge, and abilities. If you believe you will win, your likelihood of winning increases substantially.
  3. Do the work
    Selling is hard work and cannot all be done sitting at a computer. Get out and meet with current clients to leverage the relationship and ask for introductions. Also, attend networking events to meet different experts in your or target industries.
  4. Have a sense of urgency
    Send the follow-up email the first time you think of it. Make the return phone call when you first get the message. Work when your competition isn’t.
  5. Stick to the schedule
    Different things can get in your way daily- emails, internal meetings, proposals, etc. Highly successful salespeople build and stick to a time-blocking schedule religiously. Identify what your key activities are when the best time is to do these activities and build a schedule you can live by.
  6. Never Answer the Unasked Question
    One of the key sales characteristics that elite producers have is the ability to only answer the question in front of them. Salespeople will often get ahead of themselves, fall into pitch mode, and divulge too much information too quickly.
    For example, when a prospect asks “how big is your company?” they usually aren’t concerned with how many employees there are or how many locations you have. They are trying to identify if you have the bandwidth, expertise, and/or time to work with them. The key is to slow down, take a breath, and ask for clarification before answering.

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Successful Sales Habits

habit: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior

  1. Stop worrying about selling and focus on helping
    Stop offering to come by and visit the prospect and instead ask “would you find it helpful if….”  Ask prospects what you can do to help them without regard for whether or not there is a sale involved. It is why the 3-step inoffensive close ends with:  Do you think I understand your problem? Do you think my firm can help you solve your problem? Do you want my help?
  2. Every exit is an entry somewhere else
    Don’t give up or be let down just because someone said no – maybe they can help you with a referral or you’ll land a client with that next phone call or meeting after the discouragement.
  3. Have a sales goal that you are committed to reaching
    Most salespeople focus on just hitting their year-end goal, not exceeding it. When you strive towards an extraordinary goal (roughly 20% above your year-end goal), and that’s your only focus, even if you don’t hit it, you will likely meet or exceed your company goal.
  4. Be OK with “no”
    It frees up the conversation and lowers the walls of resistance when the prospect knows that it is OK for them to say “no.”  There are three different parts in the sales process where the salesperson should be letting the prospect know it is OK to say “no”: (1) on the phone setting up the first appointment, (2) at the last meeting before the proposal is delivered and then finally (3) at the meeting where the proposal will be shared.
  5. Be a giver
    Support your internal partners as they prepare for conversations and presentations. Make sure that your ‘selling’ is all about asking great questions and listening to understand so that you can help your clients grow (vs sell them something).
  6. Build a rapport
    To many, bonding and rapport means liking the same sports team, enjoying the same weekend activity, or frequenting the same restaurant as a prospect. To us, bonding and rapport means proving you deserve a seat at the table. Your proven benefit and value are more critical to developing trust and relationships than similar taste in food. Ask your prospect what the key challenges for their business and industry are for the year or what is in the way of their growth.
  7. Utilize social networks
    LinkedIn can be your best fishing net and your best safety net. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to make connections and develop relationships, as well as explore new opportunities.
  8. Develop yourself as an industry expert
    Continue to educate yourself on new trends, the changes in your market, and developing different techniques. This will help you stay relevant in your space and position yourself as a leading professional.
  9. Celebrate the successes
    It’s difficult to win these days so don’t forget to enjoy those moments- no matter how big or small. Every sale gets you one step close to hitting your personal and professional goals.

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Successful Sales Characteristics

characteristic: a feature or quality belonging typically to a person

  1. Persistence
    Stay with it whether it is making calls, following up, or following through. What we know is 80% of sales are made between the 5-12 outreach to a prospect so persistence to win business is crucial.
  2. Be coachable
    In other words, be willing to admit there is a lot that you don’t know and always ask for help.
  3. Be resilient  
    Don’t let prospects squash you with think it overs, stalls, objections, and “no’s”. There is always another door to try- it’s just about asking the right questions of the right person at the right time.
  4. Don’t get in your own way
    Eliminate roadblocks and excuses from your headspace. Don’t let the anxiety of being turned away keep you from picking up the phone. Don’t allow internal “noise” interrupt what you get paid to do- which is hunt, qualify and close business.
  5. Don’t get happy ears
    Don’t let soft buying signals like “This looks great. It makes a lot of sense. I’m interested” rush your process. Keep a level head and really drill down with your qualifying questions to identify if a prospect is really interested or just blowing smoke.
  6. Be unique
    Those that don’t look, sound, or act like the other salespeople in the marketplace have greater overall sales success. Follow the sales process, remain professional, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. The “human element” is what makes a difference in closing more business.

We hope this helps you achieve greater sales success in this coming year! Successful selling in 2021 from your friends and partners at Anthony Cole Training Group.  Call us if you need help!

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Topics: key to sales success, sales success, successful sales habits, successful sales traits, successful sales characteristics

The Secret to Improving Sales Success

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Dec 23, 2020

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things build momentum when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.

pexels-pixabay-34514

Guidelines to Sales Success

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

How to Have More Sales Success

We all want to become a better sales rep, and ask ourselves how to be successful in sales?

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you. 

There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

 

Sales Guidelines

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the race you are running

What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production? 

Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Need Help?  Check Out Our  Sales Growth Coaching Program!

Topics: key to sales success, improve sales, sales prospecting, sales success, increase sales

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

Book Review – You Gotta Have Balls – By Brandon Steiner

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, May 19, 2016

brandon_steiner.png

I just heard Brandon speak at the recent Objective Management Group’s Annual International Sales Conference.  The sub-title to the book is:  How a Kid from Brooklyn Started from Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire.

A couple of things before I get into the book:

  • If you are in a position to hire someone to speak to your sales team or organization, Brandon is a very good hire. His soft-spoken, easy going manner will not irritate anyone in the meeting by coming across as a brash, aggressive sales guy from New York.  I think that’s a plus.
  • His close is really good.
  • His story about Michael Jordan is very entertaining.
  • There are some great life and business lessons don’t hit you over the head but are really good.
  • I like that he loves and credits his Mom with so much of his success.

Some of my noted captions in the book:

Getting into Syracuse University

  • Brandon had applied to Syracuse and he was getting ready to go into the interview to meet with the admission counselor. He states, “As I went into it, I thought, ‘I don’t want this to be the last time I see this place.’
    • I think this is important because it’s similar to pre-call planning. The first step is to identify the objective of the call.
    • It helped him craft the conversation he needed to have in order to tip the scales in his favor to meet the objective.
  • Here is how he states he started the conversation: “I don’t have any money, my SAT scores are kind of low and my grades are pass/fail.  I’ve been working full-time since I started high school; I’ve contributed to every student club I could fit into my schedule; I’ve been involved in so many activities I can barely remember them all, and if you give me an opportunity, I promise you I will use every inch of this school.  You will never regret letting me in.”
  • How good is that as an opening statement that doesn’t look, act and sound like every other applicant?

Getting the job at Hard Rock Café in NYC

  • Negotiate your first raise before you even get started
    • He was turned down the first time he applied.
    • He went back and suggested they hire him as a consultant.
    • They wanted to hire him for $22,500.00 to be the manager.
    • He declined the offer and countered with:
      • What you need is someone to come in and take charge.
      • Hire me as the assistant general manager at $36,000.
      • Give me a two-month trial period and, if it works out, I want my salary to be $41,000.
      • If it doesn’t work out after three months, you get rid of me.
    • Great advice for hiring the high-priced sales person that is asking for premium dollars to move to your organization.

Not overselling is an underrated part of selling.

Play the game, not the score

  • When you have players on the team that are playing the game and not the score:
    • You cannot tell if they are at quota, above or below. They just keep doing the things they are supposed to do.
    • On Derek Jeter, captain of the NY Yankees: “Watching Jeter at the end of the season you couldn’t tell if they were headed to the playoffs or in last place in the division.”
  • A valuable employee – one playing the game and not the score – will look like a valuable employee no matter the situation or circumstances. Consistency over time equals credibility.
  • This is important when evaluating current a new talent. When someone comes to you with a grievance or suggestion is that the someone that day in and day out performs as an all-star… or one that rides the wave when things are good and complains when things are bad? Pay attention to the source of complaints or suggestions – are they credible?

Selling when you are selling

  • When you make a big sale, keep going and make the second big sale.
  • Don’t worry about celebrating the win or mourning the loss.
  • Shoot your way out of a slump.
  • In his presentation, Brandon told a story about calling a prospective influencer 99 times in two days. Playing the game and not the score!
  • Before you try and sell someone something, make sure you know where their heart is and what makes them tick. That information is at least as valuable as whatever sales statistics you can offer up.

Steinisms:

  • In negotiating, a big part of getting what you want is helping other people get what they want.
  • Your true value is determined by how much you give in value rather than how much you receive in payment.
  • Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  • It’s risky to not take risks.
  • If you use your head, you don’t have to use your feet.

Topics: Sales Strategies, sales success

Fishing/Selling – It’s an Exact Science… Kinda

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Apr 27, 2016

I went fishing with a very good friend of mine from First Citizens Bank in NC and he took me to his favorite fishing hole - Lake James.  Keith claims it is the most beautiful fishing lake in the country.  I don’t know if it is - I’ve not seen them all, but this is one beautiful lake!

fishing.jpg

 

Equipment - You gotta have equipment.  According to my guide, Keith Walker, there is no such thing as too much equipment.  I didn’t count everything, but I’m guessing we had 12 fishing rods and rigs, well over 100 different types of lures, and enough different types of hooks for another 25 different types of plastic lures.

Electronic Technology - Two radar screens to determine depth of water, temperature of water, structure underneath the water and visuals to determine schools of baitfish and predator fish.

Boat - A boat well-equipped to handle two people, rod holders, bait well, and a 40 hp four-stroke Suzuki engine to get us to various spots on the vast lake where the fish might be feeding or nesting. And a trolling motor at the bow of the boat so that we could quietly and slowly approach fishing areas.

Intelligence - Most importantly, we had human intelligence.  (That's a bit of a stretch with Keith… but I’ll give him credit for intelligence in fishing, North Carolina basketball J and managing a team of investment advisors.  Any other intelligences attributed to Keith is questionable as it is with all former coaches of any kind as they never fail to let the facts spoil a good story.) All the fishing enablement tools are needed but, without the human intelligence to put the pieces together to develop a strategy to find the fish, lure the fish, and catch the fish, the equipment and technology is, well, just equipment and technology.

As an example, the first place we fished is a place known as the rock pile.  It a rather shallow place in the lake with very clear water and, about 7 feet down, you can see rocks, lots of rocks.  Without the human intelligence, I would have not known to go there first thing in the morning, but that is exactly where we were at 6:30 AM on Saturday where we landed 3 fish and hooked another 3.  Then we moved on… because, after about an hour after sunrise, the fish move on.  Human Intelligence.

The same is true in selling.  You can leverage all the technology available to you, but at the end of the day, the technology cannot do what Dan Sullivan described many years ago in his great book - Selling for the 21st Century Agent.

Technology cannot replace what human intelligence and skill can do:

  • Development mutually beneficial relationships
  • Provide creative solutions to people’s problems
  • Get people to take action

If you find yourself not doing those three things on a consistent basis, then you will find yourself in a boat, in a lake and wonder why you aren’t catching any fish.

Topics: sales success, selling skills, fishing

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    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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