ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 11, 2019

In this blog, we discuss the concepts behind real, tangible sales growth and ask the question, "Is Your Sales Growth Stuck in the Chimney with Kris Kringle?" 

Sales growth is dependent upon Closing More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins and we are here to show you how you can accomplish this within your organization!

man-in-santa-claus-costume-716658

This morning, my wife (and ACTG's President CEO Linda) and I were watching Morning Joe while talking business.  We were discussing our brand promise of:

"When you lie awake at night worrying about sales growth, we lie awake at night.” 

We compiled a list of questions that often haunt managers throughout the day and into the night when they should be preparing for a good night’s sleep:

As we’re talking, we see a news banner at the bottom of the screen about a man who was arrested for breaking and entering a home.  He was apprehended after the police entered the home and saw his feet dangling from the chimney.  As usual, I automatically started thinking about how that related to sales, sales management, performance management, coaching, pipeline, pre-call strategies, etc.

And, since it's that time of the year, it also made me think of this great scene in The Santa Clause: 

 

My first question, however, is this: 

  1. “Do you have sales opportunities that are important/critical for hitting your goals and growing sales that are stuck?”

My second, but maybe the most important question, is:

    2. “Is this particular opportunity a repeat offender?” 

 

QUESTIONS FOR EVALUATING OPPORTUNITIES

Now, there are 2 things to consider when attempting to answer that second question.

  1. Is that opportunity familiar to you and the salesperson who has entered the opportunity into your pipeline management system? (This isn’t the same as your CRM). If we’ve worked on this opportunity before and they – the opportunity – “got away on a technicality”, then this would be defined as a “repeat offender”:
    1. Not the decision maker
    2. Wasn’t able to undo the current relationship
    3. Decided to not make a change
    4. Couldn’t arrive at the price point
    5. Really didn’t have a solution that fit the features and benefits they were looking for
    6. The timing wasn’t right
  2. Are other opportunities stuck in the pipeline/chimney for the very same reasons as this one?  The salesperson failed to execute the qualifying steps in your sales process:
    1. No compelling reason to make a change identified
    2. Competition unknown
    3. Incumbent still part of the equation
    4. Budget for investing time, money resources is a mystery
    5. Decision making process has not been uncovered
    6. Timing or urgency of making a decision not clearly understood
    7. Agreement on next steps unclear
    8. Did not ask the question – Is this a “want to fix” or “have to fix” problem?

CMBMQHM AND WHAT YOU NEED FOR SALES GROWTH

Sales growth is dependent upon this – CMBMQHM.  My staff hates it when I make up acronyms like this.  When I put these in our learning decks, the people in my office want to know what the acronyms mean. 

Close More Business, More Quickly, at Higher Margins

So, what does it take to accomplish CMBMQHM?

  • You must have a milestone-centric sales system – something that can be quantified, measured and evaluated for progress towards the objective of “getting a decision”. (This is not the same as “getting the sale”.)
  • You have to have a process for building a success formula for each salesperson based on that sales system.
  • You have to have complete buy-in to the use of your pipeline management process. Here are the guidelines to get that buy-in. It needs to…
    • Be easy to use
    • Be effective
    • Be beneficial to the user
    • Provide you with business intelligence
    • Automatically generate and send reports to you so you don’t have to go find the information
  • You have to have a system of pre-call strategy sessions for EVERY opportunity that meets or exceeds the benchmark of your top 33%.
  • You have to have a post-call debriefing session for every opportunity you discuss in the pre-call session.
  • You have to conduct a CSI – “Crime Scene Investigation” – for every deal you don’t get.
  • Finally, you have to conduct 1-on-1 coaching sessions that are intentional.
    • They are based on the findings from your pre- and post-call meetings
    • They are based on what your data is telling you about the choke point(s) a particular salesperson is having or the most common choke point(s) for the group
    • The coaching needs to accomplish 1, if not 2, things:
      1. Change behavior
      2. Improve skill

Additional Resources:

Download the Success Formula Worksheet

Sign up for our Effective Selling System Online Demo 


 

Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Management Training, How to Increase Sales, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hiring better salespeople, how increase sales, grow sales, sales growth problems, will to sell, sales challenges, life lessons, creating new sales opportunities, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools, budget, solution, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, buyers journey, social selling, online sales training, politics, hire better people, insurance sales training, brand video, train the trainer

Creating Your Sales Success Formula: The 5th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 01, 2019

In our 5th Chapter of our Sales Productivity Tools blog series, we discuss the idea of creating a Success Formula for your sales team, which only works when you have a team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

athletes-ball-field-186076

To support my objectives and goals of one day playing college football, I realized I had to have a success formula.  I had to have a workout routine for strength and conditioning.  I had to be coachable.  I had to eat the right foods (My dad always threatened to tell Coach Cacia if I didn’t eat my salad). And I had to take care of the bumps and bruises.

When I got into the "real" sales world (Insurance business vs. taking orders for Nautilus Exercise Equipment) I was introduced to the One Card System created by Al Granum.  At National Life of Vermont, we were given a box with index cards and a Success Manual.  We were trained to use the cards to identify the various stages where a prospect was in the sales process, and we used the Success Manual to record our activity.  Today that entire process exists in whatever CRM your company uses.

A Success Formula is an old school sales tool that works but only if...

You have a sales team that is committed, motivated, and takes responsibility for their decisions and outcomes.

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Every salesperson knows what the right behaviors are to be successful. They know they have to reach out to prospects, schedule appointments, disqualify people and companies that don’t fit their business model, close and service accounts, and much more. There isn’t anything mystical about what it takes to succeed.  But the challenge is for the salesperson to be disciplined themselves to do the things they need to do based on their own success formula.

When salespeople fail, it isn’t because they lack the skills or product/industry knowledge needed to succeed. Most salespeople fail because they won’t do the things required to be successful

The answer as to why a producer won’t do those things lies in the findings of the pre-hire assessment and sales force evaluations.  To gain a better understanding of someone’s potential to be successful in sales, it would be important to have a deep understanding of the following:

  • Will to Sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Sales Competencies
  • Sales Skills

Not having this information would be like trying to coach a football team, direct a play, or construct a building without knowing the desire, skills and tendencies of the people you are relying on to meet your objective. 

To assess your current or incoming talent and their ability and willingness to make the right decision – be prudent – then it helps to have findings such as those identified in Objective Management Group’s – Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis.


Check out some of our additional resources below!

Sales Productivity Tools

Why is selling so #%&@ hard

How Do Your Salespeople Compare?

Topics: Sales Training, sales evaluation, hiring salespeople, Sales Coaching, increase sales, hire better salespeople, sales skill assessment, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, hire better people

Goal Setting is a Crucial Sales Step: Our 4th Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Oct 22, 2019

In our fourth installment of the 9 Sales Productivity Tools, we bring you the next tool in our series, Goal Setting.  When we talk about goal setting, we start with personal goals and then help our clients convert those personal goals into business plans.

Those business plans have goals for activities that need to be performed, as well as practice management objectives to be accomplished.


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I remember when I set my first goal at 9 years old.  I had just walked off the field from my first day at football practice, and my dad asked how it went. I told him that I loved it, and that someday I would go on to play college football. He asked me if I was sure and I said YES. Then, he told me to take off my helmet and shoulder pads and to start running laps around the field. He said, "If you are going to play college football, then you have to be in great shape." So I started running and didn’t stop until the end of my career at UConn.

To this day, winning is still an important goal for our clients and my team and I here at Anthony Cole Training Group.  However, to think that winning is the only goal that needs to be set, and that everything else will take care of itself, is faulty thinking. When we talk about goal setting, we start with personal goals and then help our clients convert those personal goals into business plans. Those business plans have goals for activities that need to be performed, as well as practice management objectives to be accomplished.

What are the personal things your people want to achieve in their lives and what are the daily tasks they must accomplish in order to achieve the BIG things? If the big thing is to be the top producer in the company, then they need specific sales goals for:

  • Increasing their average size sale
  • Improving their closing ratios
  • Asking for and getting more introductions

But these goals don’t drive the behavior the commitment, desire or motivation to succeed. Those goals look more like:

  • Send my kids to the college of their choice without debt
  • Have a cabin on the lake
  • Provide enough income so that my spouse can make a choice about being a stay-at-home parent or not
  • Eliminate all debt
  • Have a financially independent lifestyle at retirement

Goals have to be non-negotiable. They have to be shared with others that care enough to give you a slight correction when you head off course.

These are goals that the sales manager must know about so that they can more effectively keep individuals motivated.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t operate this way.  In your sales organization, anywhere between 7% and 25% of your team do not need you to create an environment where a goal setting session takes place. But, and this is a BIG but, that leaves at least another 75% of your sales team that does need this type of environment and guidance.

If you're interested in conducting a personal goal setting workshop, shoot me an email at tony@anthonycoletraining.com with the Subject - Personal Goal Setting Workshop and we can get started!


Additional resources below: 

 

Sales Productivity Tools Resource Page: 

Sales Productivity Tools

 

 

Check out our 2MSM Video on Motivation That Works: 

 

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Management Training, Leadership Training, increase sales, sales performance management, consultative selling, sales productivity tools, consultative sales coaching

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

The Probability Scorecard: The 2nd Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Tue, Oct 01, 2019

In this article, Tony discusses the Sales Probability Scorecard, the second tool in our 9 Sales Productivity Tools series.  

Comparative to the yard markers on a football field, the Probability Scorecard gives salespeople and sales managers a clear, definitive look at how much ground needs to be covered in a sale, and the overall likelihood a specific sales opportunity will close.  Read more about this predictive sales productivity tool below!

crystal

As I stated in my initial blog about the top 9 Sales Productivity Tools, the Probability Scorecard is like the yard markers on a football field.  The yard markers give you a clear, definitive look at how much ground has to be covered before you score points; or in the case of defense, how much ground you have left to defend.

An effective Sales Probability Scorecard tells you almost exactly how much ground you have to cover and the likelihood of closing a specific opportunity.

You may already use a tool or system like this in your sales environment that is meant to track, collect, manage, and create movement in your sales pipeline. It may provide forecasting, and (supposedly) increase sales.  But if the sales enablement tool you are using isn’t built around specific criteria, activities and a milestone-centric sales process, your predictive capabilities and forecasting are no better than looking into a crystal ball.

The milestone-centric sales process breaks down the step-by-step accomplishments required to effectively create, qualify and close business. Normally, salespeople check off the major items on their checklists accomplished in the sales process—like uncovering a compelling reason or “pain”.  An effective probability scorecard tool provides the salesperson with a list of secondary objectives that must be accomplished. Here is an example of the first step identified in our Effective Selling System and the required secondary objectives:

Uncovering Compelling Reasons (to move, change, buy)

  • Compelling reasons are: “have to fix” problems, rather than “want to fix” problems.
  • The result of not making a change has been monetized
  • There is a “personal” reason why the problem has to be fixed
  • The incumbent has been unable to solve the problem and the prospect can/is willing to change providers

Checking off those secondary items gives the salesperson, and the sales manager, a more complete picture of what was actually accomplished and what is left to be done. If those secondary items cannot be accomplished, everyone now has a much clearer view of the “real” opportunity, or lack thereof.

The salesperson now knows what they need to find out from the prospect to make it a more closeable deal. This also allows for more intentional coaching on the part of the sales manager to help their salesperson develop into a more consultative seller.

In order to accomplish this, your Sales Probability Scorecard should:

  • Establish the factors important to qualify the prospect (can be industry specific)
  • Identify the most important or predictive factors
  • Have a baseline for what a "closeable opportunity" is (i.e. 70% score is considered closeable)

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

Sales Productivity Tools

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Topics: Sales Training, hiring sales people, Sales Coaching, increase sales, consultative selling, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training

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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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