ACTG Sales Management Blog

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How to be Successful in Sales

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Nov 11, 2021

Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling?

In this blog, we will discuss the four key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

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Whether you are just starting out in sales, or a company executive planning your sales growth for next year, wouldn’t it be important to know how to be successful in sales? And wouldn’t you like to know what attributes and skills need to be mastered in order to be successful selling? For many years, before I came to work at a sales training company, I heard things like the best salespeople have the gift of gab. They are extroverts and like to talk to people. Sound familiar? Well, it turns out, there are actually specific skills, in fact, 21 core sales competencies that when mastered, will help you or your salespeople to be successful in sales. Let’s focus on what we consider to be the most important four competencies.

If you are investing in a sales training program, make sure that the training includes skill development on how to be a hunter, differentiate with a value approach, follow a strict sales process, and be a consultative seller. Why you ask? Because, these are four very key skills that top, or elite, producers have mastered.

Let’s break them down and as we review these four in more detail, please be thinking of your own skills or those of your salespeople. We can actually help you with a free assessment if you are a sales leader with more than 3 salespeople, but more on that later.

It all begins with hunting. If you need to know how to be successful in sales, you first need to get better at hunting. Of course, one reason is that it is a numbers game even if you are in a narrow market like agricultural banking. You still must consistently and effectively reach out, call, contact, link in, email, you name it. The first thing on your calendar each week and day must be prospecting time. And here is the most important reason. Your pipeline must be so full that you (or your salespeople) are not desperate when a deal doesn't happen! Hunting is all about filling the pipeline so that you are not held hostage by too few prospects.

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The second key skill is differentiating with a value approach. What exactly does that mean? It means understanding your prospect SO well that you know what is of value to them! Every prospect has parameters around what is important to them and their business so if you focus on your products, your service, your company, you are out of bounds. Elite producers operate as business advisors and understand more than just the product area for which they provide solutions. Their value is defined by understanding how what they offer interacts and affects how their prospect’s business is run, and how it may contribute to the growth of that business. Stop for a minute and reflect on your approach or the approach of your salespeople. Do you differentiate with a value approach? By the way, there is no shortcut to value selling. It is a long-term play.

The best way to understand why following a sales process (the 3rd skill) is important is to compare selling to a baseball diamond. In baseball, you must first hit the ball (hunt and find a prospect), then run to first base (uncover the prospect’s problems and severity of pain), then on to second (determine time, money, and resources to address problem/pain), then on to third (gain commitment and timeline to take action), and then home base to score! And that of course is the sale. So, what happens if a salesperson runs from first to third in baseball? They get thrown out! And the same is true in selling. If you do not effectively follow a sales process, you will miss very important steps to helping the prospect discover they need to make a change and so, they will not. This is how to be successful in selling; follow a sales process. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes training on an effective sales process.

The 4th and perhaps most important skill is becoming a consultative seller, a second cousin to value selling, and this skill is all about asking enough of the right questions at the right time. Consultative salespeople are not really selling. They ask their prospects solid discovery questions to help them understand if they need to change. And listening. It is very easy to ask a question, then hear one piece that validates that a prospect might need what you have to offer. But a consultative seller will listen and then probe further, not offering a solution until the prospect has led themselves to that spot by answering your questions. This is a skill that takes practice, a genuine interest, and concern for your prospect. Consultative selling is key to becoming more successful in selling but it also means mastering enough of the right questions in your toolkit and using them comfortably. If you are in search of a sales training program, make sure it includes a focus on consultative selling.

If you are interested in more information or would like to take advantage of a free assessment of your sales team (minimum three) on the 21 core sales competencies, click below.

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: sales training programs, How to be successful in sales

3 Keys to Professional Sales Training

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, Oct 21, 2021

In my 40+ years in and around sales training, I have experienced many different sales training methodologies either as a participant or facilitator and now as a marketer.

There are many good training programs out there, some of them free and virtual, but there are three key things that differentiate professional sales training that will "stick".

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Professional Sales Training Tips

Professional sales training begins with the most basic of skills. Professional sales reps are trained to establish relationships, listen attentively and ask good questions that allow them to understand their customers' needs. Professional salespeople tend to be very personable, enthusiastic, and empathetic.

When hiring new sales representatives it is important for companies to provide effective training programs.  Here at Anthony Cole Training Group, we offer online sales training courses and a suite of sales training programs that can help grow and scale your sales team's operations.

 

#1 Systems

First, it must be systematic.

Any organization (including ours!) can come in and do a keynote or workshop and address a sales or sales management skill to get your team revved up.

But that approach is short-lived, and while your salespeople may get something out of it, they likely will not change sales behavior long term.

Professional sales training that has an impact must have a process.

For example, if your company needs to find more leads, create more outreaches and prospects, then you must implement a system to introduce desired behaviors, coach to improve skills, and inspect activity.

In our organization (we call our prospect's "ducks") we have a goal and track how many duck calls and appointments we have daily, weekly, and monthly.

Our CGO then coaches to that behavior using weekly huddles and 1-on-1 coaching time.

The duck tracking is shared with the entire sales and management team so that all activity is transparent.

Without a doubt, when we implement, coach, and track this activity, our pipeline of qualified prospects goes up.

 

#2 Customizable

The second key is that effective professional sales training is customized.

You can certainly learn some basic sales skills from a one-size-fits-all selling system, but today's buyer is informed and more sophisticated.

Today, salespeople must be more consultative, starting with a deeper understanding of their prospect’s business, their concerns, and what is getting in the way of their growth.

So professional sales training is most effective when it addresses the nuances of certain industries.

For example, we work with many community banks so we must understand that many banks are dealing with compressed margins, are flush with deposits, and must attract loan portfolios to maintain profits.

When we understand what is driving the business, we can ask the right questions to understand what is on the hearts and minds of our community bank CEOs.

That way we can better provide input and potential recommendations to help them.

If you are evaluating professional sales training, make sure it is customizable to your industry.

#3 Leadership

The third key to professional sales training is your leadership.

We have the benefit of working with a super-regional bank who, many years ago, told us about the money they had spent over the years on sales training, wasted.

They had determined that without top-level leadership, and skilled sales management, the sales training would not stick or change behavior.

Probably the most important key to professional sales training is that the Leader is involved, understands their role as steward, and inspector of adoption – we call this the Shadow of the Leader.

Starting with an evaluation to understand specific sales management skills, a professional sales training program should begin with sales managers, helping them with the essential skills of performance management, coaching, motivating, recruiting, and coaching an effective sales approach.

Once your organization has that in place, only then should you implement a sales training program.

Learn More About Our  Bank Sales Training Approach

 

If your company is looking for a team of certified sales coaches and trainers, contact us today to start perfecting your sales process.

Check out our related pages and see how we can help your sales team grow.

Sales management training

Our sales training approach 

Online sales resources

Topics: professional sales training, sales training programs, customized sales training

What Motivates Your Sales Team? How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 16, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss motivation in sales.  The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of their sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  

Without knowing what motivates his/her employees, how could you possibly create a motivating environment?

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How to Motivate Your Sales Team

Sales is the lifeblood of most businesses.  If you're a sales manager, or sales leader, you might be wondering how to better motivate your sales team.

Unlike most sales activities that can be measured, motivation is a more difficult metric to assess, but still vital to your sales team's success.

Here are a couple of ideas to help inspire your sales team.

How to Motivate Sales Team:

  • Build trust among your sales reps
  • Understand what motivates them 
  • Set daily, weekly, monthly sales goals
  • Give and promote recognition
  • Lead with empathy

 

As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for. 

The process helps us (and our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

 

6 Factors That Determine Sales Motivation

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here to inquire about the pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because,often, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question,

“How do I motivate my sales team?”


ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality

I have to ask: Why?

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship. 

Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, and success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

Without knowing what motivates your salespeople, how could you possibly create a motivated environment or sales team? 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leadership development, sales motivation, sales skill assessment, sales growth and inspiration, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, sales training programs, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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?

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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

11 Concepts For Managing Yourself and Your Employees During Change

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 15, 2020

In today's blog, we discuss the notion that effective sales leadership requires leaders to meet the challenge during times of major change. 

In this article, we bring you 11 concepts to adopt for managing yourself and your salespeople; to help increase sales, productivity, and trust within your organizations.time-for-change-sign-with-led-light-2277784

  1. What would you do if today where your first day on the job?
  2. What kind of attitude would you have?
  3. How would you respond to the responsibilities of your new job?
  4. You would you interact with your new co-workers?
  5. You come in the 2nd day of your new job and the company asks you to do something different. How do you respond?
  6. Who is more valuable in the marketplace, someone that adapts or someone that resists change?

Consider this: “You think you understand the situations, but what you don’t understand is the situation has changed.”  Putnam Investment advertisement

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Concept #1 – Commitment is a gift you should give to yourself

  • What are you committed to?
  • If you are not committed to do whatever it takes to succeed and increase sales, then you must:
    • Set personal goals that are non-negotiable
    • Have a vision of where you want to go (and where you want to end up)
  • Failure to do these things will lead to failure to fully commit 

Concept #2 – Senior management must empower all others to think like a CEO.  If senior management can accomplish this, then non-managers will think and act like they are CEOS; looking out for the entire company, and not only for themselves.

  • Support people to make decisions
  • Train them on how to make decisions
  • If bad decisions are made, it is because of the following:
    • Leadership hired the wrong people
    • Failure to communicate well
    • Failure to train on decision-making

Concept #3 – The use of technology

  • You must use it and demand it of yourself and your team!
  • If you have people that have a belief that ‘You can’t treat old dogs new tricks’, get those people off of your stage

Concept #4 – Flexible thinking and changing beliefs are critical.  There are some truths that you will have to accept.

  • Life isn’t fair!
  • Life isn't fair!
  • Life isn't fair!

Concept #5 – Companies are curious:

  • How can you increase my top line?
  • How can you add to the bottom line?
  • How will you prove it via accountability to measurable achievements?

Concept #6 – Your company will be asking, “Why should I keep you”? 
You must demonstrate that:

  • You are a good employee
  • You work hard
  • You get things done
  • You are capable of learning
  • You have experience that is valuable to YOU and to the future of the compnay

Concept #7 – Lifetime learning

  • Information doubles every 5 years
  • Power and speed of the microchip doubles every 18 months (Moore’s law)
  • The cost of computing drops roughly 30% every year while working faster and better
    • Are you twice as smart today as you were 5 years ago?
    • Have doubled your capacity in the last 18 months?
    • What are you doing today to be twice as smart in 18 months?
    • How much are you costing the company? Are you a better “buy”

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Concept #8 – Job security

  • The ability to initiate new relationships
  • Being able to create and sell creative solutions to qualified buyers
  • Your ability to facilitate decisions to buy from you

Concept #9 – Make sure you contribute more value than you cost

  • The company’s perception about contribution vs cost is the reality
  • You are not entitled
  • Prove your worth
  • If you consider leaving, would the company do whatever it takes to keep you?
  • How is your value measured by the company?
  • How is your cost measured?
  • The value of every company is outside the company (The marketplace) what are you doing to bring that value into the company?

Consider This: “The factory of the future will only have two employees, a man / woman and a dog.  The person will be there to feed the dog and the dog will be there to make sure the person doesn’t touch the equipment.”  Warren Bennis


Concept #9 – Serving others

  • What does it take to please them (everyone in your sphere is a "them")
  • How can you contribute to the success of others?
  • The person at the next desk, down the hall on another floor; make no mistake they are your clients and customers.
  • The "Best Bargain" is based on the value you bring. The consumer will seek and find the best bargain. They will either get it from you or from someone else

Concept #10 – Ownership / Responsibility / Accountability

  • You are responsible for your attitude
  • Philosophy > Attitude > Behavior

Concept #11 – Be a fixer, not a problem creator

  • Create or find solutions vs. announce and identify problems
  • Base conversations and actions on principles rather than your own personal position
  • Focus on getting outcomes instead of creating rules regulations and procedures.

Consider This:  Who are you holding captive for your success, you or your employer?

How appropriate are these concepts today?  Everyone of these thoughts, ideas and action items can and will help you lead yourself and others through challenging times. 

What I think you might find interesting is that these notes are a result of a book I read by Pritchett and Associates titled: The Employee Handbook of NEW WORK HABITS FOR A RADICALLLY CHANGING WORLD.

Price Pritchett does a great job of outlining 13 ground rules for job success in the information age. The booklet was written in 1994!  However, the principles and ideas make as much sense today as they did back then.  Some of the technology data might be a bit off given the advancement of the IT science but if anything, the technology has gotten smarter and faster due to big data capabilities.

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Topics: hire better salespeople, online sales training, hire better people, insurance sales training, online sales management training, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales candidate assessment, sales force performance evaluation, sales team evaluation, keys to selling success, keys to selling, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, hire better people cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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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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