ACTG Sales Management Blog

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How a Pickup Truck Relates to Driving Sales Growth in 2020

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 03, 2020

In this blog post, we compare an IH 1210 pickup truck to driving revenue growth within your sales organization.  Like an engine that needs three things to run, your sales organization also needs three things to run.

They include: 

  1. Sales Talent acquisition
  2. Sales Talent development
  3. A crew chief with desire, commitment and skills

blue-single-cab-farm-truck-on-brown-grassland-2961048

I’ve been working on this post for over a week. For some reason, it took a little while to pull it all together.

I think I was making it too complicated, so here it goes:

  • In 1971, my dad got his new pickup truck, a powder blue IH 1210.
  • Dad “pimped his ride” by installing an 8-track player with Panasonic speakers.
  • My dad was a slow driver. No matter where we were going or how far, he’d drive 45 mph even when the speed limit allowed 55. 
  • I thought it was a result of his old beater of a pickup.
  • I thought for sure he’d drive faster with his new truck.
  • Nope, he still drove 45 mph in a 55 mph zone.

I’ve been trying to connect this experience with the experience of watching sales organizations look for solutions to drive revenue growth.  Like an engine that needs three things to run, your sales organization also needs three things to run.

Spark, fuel and combustion are required to start an engine and make it run. If you have those things, the engine will run.  Get all three at a grade “A” level and the engine runs really well.  If you want the vehicle that the engine is meant to move to perform at “A” level, you need something else.  You need a driver.

Not just any driver; you need a driver that has two things: Competency and Drive.  Certainly, there are other contributing factors that determine if the driver is right for your vehicle, but basically speaking:

  • Without competency, you might go fast, but there will be lots of damage, crashes and failures.
  • Without drive, there will be no risks taken, no failures and no success.
  • Without drive, there will be a lack of coachability and trainability.

My point is this:  The engine size, the transmission, the gear ratios, the tires, the steering, the paint job, the aerodynamicsnone of these things really matter if you don’t have a driver or a team of drivers with competency and drive.

When you get ready to put your budget together and are considering where to invest money, time and effort in order to drive revenue growth, focus on three things:

  1. Sales Talent acquisition
  2. Sales Talent development
  3. A crew chief with desire, commitment and skills

CRM and other sales enablement tools are nice but, just like my dad’s new pickup, it doesn’t matter unless you want to grow, and grow fast.

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Topics: driving sales, sales candidates, upgrade your sales force, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, driving sales growth 2020

The 9th (and Final) Sales Productivity Tool: Performance Recording

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 18, 2019

In our 9th and final installment in the Sales Productivity Tools blog series, I dive into an essential item on the list: the Performance Recording tool.

In a smartphone filled world, it has never been easier to record a conversation than it is today, and the usage of audio recording can be used to improve skills in selling through roleplays, 1-on-1 coaching, and analysis. 

It is a vital tool that must be utilized in your organization!

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In my previous Sales Productivity Tools blog, I talked about the film room as an essential tool for improving skills on the football field.  As indicated, these film and audio tools should exist for sales managers and salespeople alike. 

In our world, audio recording is constantly being used to improve skills, check on compliance issues, and improve the quality of customer service.  Just think about the last time you called to check on a bank statement, a credit card charge or to make a change in a flight reservation. 

"This call will be on a recorded line." 

When that happens, what do you do?

  1. Do you hang up because you don’t want the conversation to be recorded?
  2. Stay on the phone because you don’t care if it’s recorded?
  3. When you do get a real person on the phone, ask that the conversation not be recorded?

If you are like most people, you stay on the phone and don’t give it a second thought.  When it comes to recording conversations in regards to the law, you should know the following information as is copied from Digital Media Law website:

"Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-person conversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. See 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d). This is called a "one-party consent" law. Under a one-party consent law, you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation. Furthermore, if you are not a party to the conversation, a "one-party consent" law will allow you to record the conversation or phone call so long as your source consents and has full knowledge that the communication will be recorded."

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I’m not suggesting that you start an immediate campaign to record conversations between your salespeople and every prospect or client, but I’m not discouraging you from doing that either. The bigger problem you will have isn’t with the Federal or the State government, but more likely with your internal legal and HR departments. 

So, assuming for a minute that recording live conversations is off the table, let’s talk about what is on the table, and what you should be doing to improve your skills and the skills of those on your team.

  1. You should take time to roleplay in every sales meeting.
  2. On occasion (once or twice a week), make sure that someone records the roleplay, and then play the recording back for discussion.
  3. Use scorecards to evaluate the objective and responses during the exercise. It's helpful to ask yourself, or your people, these questions after the roleplay is complete. 
    • Did they get the prospect involved in the conversation as soon as possible by introducing themselves and then stop talking?
    • Did they ask permission to tell the prospect why they were calling?
    • Did they look, act and sound like a typical sales person?
    • Would you have continued to listen?
    • Would you have scheduled an appointment?
    • Was there value proposition compelling enough to get you to ask questions?
    • Did they start "selling on the phone" (talk too much)?
    • Did they get invited out to visit or did they invite the prospect to visit?
    • On a scale of 1-10, how well did they handle objections or questions?
  4. Record your 1-on-1 coaching sessions (especially when you demonstrate what you expect your salespeople to do on an appointment or call). 
  5. Make audio and video recording part of any training program.
  6. Provide objective feedback to recordings sent to you by your sales team.
  7. Occasionally use video recording but silence the audio so that you can focus just on the body language of the participants.

Here is something to consider when starting the process- expect some push back and resistance.  You have to be numb to that.  These are salespeople that should be strong enough and confident enough to allow themselves to be recorded. If they don’t, then that tells you something about what you’ve recruited.  Next, give your people planned vs. canned scripts to follow so that you can measure one performance against another. 

Finally make sure you do these three things:

  1. Keep and archive the really good performances and use them for training new people and for conducting more effective sales meetings.
  2. Give your people several chances to record so that they can practice to get it right and submit the one they feel is their best effort.  This leads to the improvement of skill through self-practice and evaluation.
  3. Create a bit of a competition – Our Company Has Talent!  Kind of a round robin event where everyone starts the competition, they work within team structures, the teams nominate their best participant and those nominated compete against others.  The winner gets the prize, as well the team represented.

Yes this takes work, yes this will work, and yes we can help.  Here is your call to action. Call us (877-635-5371) or email our team to inquire about a 1-day workshop on any sales topic you can think of.  We will consult with you on the skills and behaviors that you want improved within your organization!

Email a member of our team below: 

Jeni@anthonycoletraining.com – COO & CMO

Tony@anthonycoletraining.com– Founder & Chief Learning Officer

Alex@anthonycoletraining.com – Recruitment Specialist & 1-on-1 Coaching Expert

OR, you can schedule a meeting here: 

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Topics: hire better sales people, Sales coach, Sales Coaching, increase sales, sales performance management, sales productivity tools, sales conversations, sales effectiveness training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales training courses, social selling, online sales training, hire better people, train the trainer

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

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

"Gone Fishing" for Sales Prospects

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Nov 15, 2019

I’m sure the majority of people have heard the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This, of course, means it’s more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).  Well, I’ve created a new proverb. A sales proverb, if you will:

“Give a salesperson a prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for a day. Teach a salesperson to prospect, and you strengthen their pipeline for their career.”

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of the companies we partner with supply their new, or tenured, salespeople with leads consistently. In theory, this sounds great but it can cause problems long term. If you are feeding leads to your salespeople on a regular basis, we encourage you to continue to do so. However, your salespeople can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on them as their main resource for potential business.

They should be capable of replicating the process and generating their own opportunities! If they produce solely off of inbound marketing leads, the salesperson will just survive and not thrive within your organization. If they don’t know how to effectively create, cultivate and generate leads, they will only do what is required of them to sell and close the leads they’re given.  They also won’t try to uncover other opportunities and in the end, the sales manager (you), and the salesperson, will be disappointed with their performance.

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And, it’s not just a matter of teaching them how to prospect but how to prospect effectively. Anyone can go out and get a list of names but how they contact those names, what they say, what questions they ask- all play a role in effectively “fishing” for leads.

So how can you help your salespeople?

Start by setting a new lead expectation. Making it mandatory to produce fresh opportunities on a weekly basis will force your salespeople to go out and make the dials. Next, identify your “Zebra” or ideal prospect persona. For a better understanding of the concept and best practices on identifying “Zebras” watch this short Sales Guy Unplugged video.

Don’t let your salespeople call on anyone other than those that fit the personas identified!  After, research the best ways to reach your ideal prospect. Is it via email or phone call? Is LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter their preferred social media platform?

Knowing how and where to reach your target persona will positively impact your salespeople’s’ ability to hunt, qualify and discover potential new business.

A salesperson's job, although difficult to do, is not difficult to understand. There are 3 major components:

  1. Go out in the marketplace and uncover opportunities.
  2. Qualify those opportunities.
  3. Close for the business.

Don’t let your salespeople get by on just using your internal leads- fishing for prospects is 33% of their job!

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Need more help? Download our free E-Book “Why is Qualifying a Prospect so #%&@ Hard”.   

Additional Resources:

Sales Productivity Tools

Must-Ask Questions Worksheet

Topics: hiring salespeople, Sales Management Training, hire better salespeople, consultative selling, increase sales leads,, sales effectiveness training, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, sales training courses, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, train the trainer

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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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