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

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!

american-football-ball-brown-2570139 (1)

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

How Do You Turn “Old Farts” Into Sales Legends?  Not So Easy 1, 2, 3

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Aug 29, 2017

I doubt that you, in public, have a group of producers that you call ‘old farts’ or some other term of endearment.  But what I really wonder is this; Do you have a group that you consider ‘Sales Legends’.  My guess is that the answer is no.  There are reasons for this.

producers, sales legends, sales strategy, top producers

Before I provide suggestions for a solution, let me explain the title:  I recently played in a member guest golf tournament at Triple Crown Country Club with my good friend Jerry Barron.  I’ve known for a long time that since his retirement Jerry plays a lot of golf with his buddies on a regular schedule throughout the golf season. What I didn’t know is that for many years this group was known as the “Old Farts’ gang.  Apparently some people thought that this was a bit insensitive so the pro decided that the group would become known as “The Legends”.

This got me thinking about many of the sales teams we work with and the problems associated with growing revenue when a segment of the sales population isn’t motivated to or can’t grow their book.

The problem associated with the ‘old fart’ team really isn’t about age but rather about three very distinct phases in a sales person’s career.  These phases include but are not limited to those that have been with you a long time and are survivors. Those that do manage a large book of revenue and spend a great deal of time ‘managing the book’ and either cannot or will not grow the book.  And finally you have some people that really are ready to retire but haven’t told anyone yet. Let me clarify these 3:

  • The Survivor: Those who have been with your organization for a long time and who have survived the ups and downs of economic swings and changes in your (re-engineered / right sized) company. These people have stayed just off the radar and when ever talent discussions come up they survive the discussion:  “What do we do with…?”
  • Large Account Managers: The next challenge is with those in the sales population who handle a couple of key accounts or control a large book of revenue that you really don’t want to lose. These people hold you “hostage”.  Your rationalization is that you are afraid that the business will go with them if they leave or you justify keeping them while saying ‘They cover their compensation so they really aren’t costing me anything.”
  • Retired On The Job: Finally you have people who are in fact in the later years of their careers and don’t have the same ‘fire in the belly’ that they did when they first started.  They are empty nesters, have a solid retirement plan, generate a comfortable income from the incentive comp plan and also conveniently may hold the opinion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Find Out More about our Fall Sales Workshops

Case Study:  Why Retiring on the job is a problem for sales companies.  An insurance agency had a group of mature producers who controlled a revenue block of 5,000,000 dollars in revenue.  The holding company of this agency set a growth goal for this market as well as it’s other markets around the country at 20% gross growth per year  (The company made assumptions of 5% unknown losses in revenue and 10% known loses – non-recurring revenue streams.)  This group of mature producers had stopped producing new business and had no motivation to do so.  That meant that the 1,000,000 dollars of growth on the 5,000,000 dollars had to be produced by the rest of the group who struggled to grow their own book!).

Let’s look at some outside-the-box ideas to build a plan to have a team of legends who leaves a legacy of desire and commitment to excellence and a team of rookies who has the right stuff to grow your sales.

Do This 1 Thing: Eliminate sales goals for them and in exchange, change their comp model to one that is appropriate for managing accounts plus an incentive. 

Do These 2 Things:

  • Take the top 1/3 of their book and make it clear that in order to qualify for the maximize incentive comp as an account manager they will be responsible for maintaining their newly assigned book of business at 100%. (1/3 of their book, 33% will equal approximately 90% of their revenue.). 
  • To maintain the book at 100% they will have to engage organizational partners, look for opportunities to discuss other product offerings AND ask these BEST of the BEST for introductions.

This is something that institutions and agencies have attempted to do for years but have failed.  (See data and resources below.)

Do These 3 Things: 

  • Hire a ‘junior’ producer, officer, or advisor and assign the remaining two thirds of the original book to them. The balance of their compensation comes from an incentive formula associated with new sales and cross selling. This person has the responsibility for growing the remaining book and supporting the “Legend”.
  • Establish metrics and ‘high’ standards of performance that will be used to determine success for both parties (entire organization).
  • Implement a performance management culture where mediocrity is not accepted, excuses for lack of effort will not be tolerated and data will be used to gain business insights so your sales manager can conduct 1-on-1 intentional coaching sessions.

I recognize the potential fatal flaw in these steps:  Your high producer might be tempted to take an offer from a competitor that is poaching top talent by offering attractive financial packages to lure them.  The questions you have to ask are:

  • How well has that strategy worked for you in the past?
  • What problems do you inherit when you’ve hired a high priced producer?
  • Does the book of business and list of clients they promise ever show up?
  • How well have you treated your top people all along?
  • When people have left you for greener pastures have you ever heard stories that the promises made to them didn’t come true?

Extra Help – From HBRGiving Top Performers Feedback – A Key to Keeping That Talent With YOU!

Find Out More about our Fall Sales Workshops

Topics: Effective Coaching, sales tips, getting better sales results, sales producers

When Your Sales Prospect Wants to Shop Around

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

prospect-looking.jpg 

A guest post by Mark Trinkle, Chief Sales Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

“My momma told me, you better shop around…shop, shop…oh yeah, you better shop around.”

Perhaps you recognize those lyrics from the 1960’s hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.  Maybe (and it probably depends on how old you are) that triggers memories of the good old days.  If you are a salesperson, maybe it triggers emotions around how frustrating it can be when your prospect goes shopping.  Smokey Robinson wrote those lyrics from the perspective of a mother’s advice to her son about making sure he finds the right girl to marry.  Of course, prospects use those lyrics to make sure they don’t “marry” the wrong supplier or the wrong vendor.

You and I both know that prospects shop…that is to be expected.  We use the term “buy cycle” to talk about the process that people go through when they make a significant purchase.  And most people have a buy cycle that is heavily influenced by lessons learned over many years of being a consumer.  Throw in some early lessons they might have learned from mom and dad like “don’t buy the first thing you see” and then add to that the messages that they receive from advertisers such as “you can get it for less here” and it is no wonder that buyers today are more convinced than ever that going shopping makes sense.

So, what can you do about it?  What can you do when your prospect wants to go Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on you?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Understand that is perfectly normal for your prospect to take the buy cycle they use as an individual consumer and apply it to the purchases they make as a business.
  2. Remember that their buy cycle has generally benefited them as a consumer as it has probably saved them money.
  3. Remember that while it is ok to challenge their buy cycle, you don’t want to confront or challenge them directly. You should ask, “I’m curious; could you tell me more about the process you are going to follow for making this decision?”  As Stephen Covey has said, “Seek first to understand before being understood.”
  4. Be strong enough to ask, “What are you hoping to accomplish by shopping?”
  5. Deal with their buy cycle upfront. The best salespeople always understand two things:  why the prospect will buy and how they will buy.  Address that early in the sales cycle as opposed to worrying about it after your presentation.

 

That’s all for now, folks. Now, go sell like a champion today.

SUMMARY

When your sales prospect wants to shop around, remember these 5 things:

  1. It’s normal for your prospect to have a buy cycle in their business purchases.
  2. Their buy cycle has generally benefited them as a consumer to save money.
  3. Ask, “Could you tell me more about the process you are going to follow for making this decision?”
  4. Ask, “What are you hoping to accomplish by shopping?”
  5. Deal with their buy cycle upfront.

Topics: sales prospecting, sales tips, shopping around

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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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