ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Achieving Sales Team Excellence with a Coaching Culture

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Mar 08, 2024

Most sales managers spend less than 10% of their time on coaching, and only one third of managers actually coach their people on a weekly basis. Yet, the Coaching Competency is the most critical part of a sales manager's responsibilities; it is also the most difficult skill set to learn and master. There are many reasons for this, but among them are: the managers themselves were not coached or they had a bad experience with coaching; they were elevated to a team lead or manager position based on their sales success and not their coaching performance; and they have not had any coaching training, either formal or informal. The have no best practices or systems and processes to help them succeed.

Some sales managers believe that coaching means helping salespeople with pricing and technical questions on an ad hoc basis but these discussions, while valuable, do not focus on skill development. Effective coaching involves scheduling multiple coaching conversations with salespeople each week to improve their skills and help them win more sales. This is called Intentional Coaching and is the path to building a sales coaching culture.

The good news is that there are concrete steps managers can take to initiate high-touch coaching that will help develop the necessary sales skills in their salespeople and contribute to a coaching culture that will lead to sales team excellence. These must be executed well and consistently of course, to make an impact.

  1. Consistent and Frequent Coaching executed well, will lead to improved skills and bottom- line impact.
  2. Effective Debriefs on a regular basis, focusing on why they got a particular outcome and working backward to uncover the causes.
  3. Asking Enough Questions and understanding the importance of not dominating the conversation, by frequently asking questions.  Just as in selling, successful coaching requires frequent question-asking.
  4. No Need for Approval from your salespeople, meaning you aren't overly concerned with whether your salespeople like you, which allows you to coach them to be more effective.
  5. Able to Stay in the Moment while selling, you may find yourself becoming emotionally involved in situations, causing you to listen to your own inner voice instead of the customer. By improving this tendency, you will be able to more effectively coach your salespeople.
  6. Having and Coaching to an Effective Sales Process will help you address areas for growth in your salespeople.
  7. Passion for Coaching is possibly the most important component and as a coach, you must have a true inner passion to develop others to perform at their very best.
  8. Beliefs Support Coaching meaning you strongly believe in the role and importance of coaching.
  9. Uncovers Compelling Reasons to Buy while selling, you have been effective at uncovering prospects' compelling reasons to buy. As this is a critical factor in Consultative Selling, this makes you a more effective coach to your salespeople.
  10. Knows How People Buy involves developing a strength in getting prospects to tell you how they will reach a buying decision which allows you to coach your salespeople to be more effective.
  11. Doesn't Rescue the Salespeople means you are willing to let your salespeople fail giving them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
  12. Effective at Getting Commitments means you are adept at getting your prospects to agree when they will make a decision. By improving your personal skills in this area, you will be able to coach your salespeople to be better at it as well.
  13. Handles Joint Sales Calls Effectively means you go on joint calls, avoid heavy participation in the call and instead observe the call and then provide coaching feedback.

Here is the unfortunate truth. New sales managers, as well as the companies who promote them, believe that the very things that made them successful salespeople will make them successful sales managers. Then, continuing that belief into a sales manager’s tenure, sales managers don’t ask for and aren’t offered sales management training and coaching which emphasizes how to coach salespeople. As a result, new and growing sales managers must rely on the sales manager they reported to when they were in a sales role for what sales management is supposed to look like. That of course leads back to the beginning of this article that states the problem, less than 10% of a sales managers’ time is spent coaching their salespeople. To achieve sales team excellence and build a coaching culture, companies must put specific coaching activities in place consistently, and provide development opportunities for their sales coaches to achieve excellence in their role.

Can we help you find the right  approach for your company?

 

 

Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, sales team excellence, coaching culture

Why Hiring a Fractional Sales Manager Can Drive Sales Results

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Mar 01, 2024

Running a company is very different than managing a sales team, so you need someone skilled in the specific strengths of coaching and motivating your sales team. Companies have choices and often it makes sense to hunt, interview, hire and pay for a full-time sales manager, but this is a position very difficult to fill. It will take time, money, lots of effort and then onboarding to your systems, people and culture. It might make sense to consider a seasoned Fractional Sales Manager who will work closely with your company to fully understand your growth objectives, industry nuances and company culture, is experienced in your niche industry and is not on your payroll. Here are some of the areas a Fractional Sales Manager can focus on:

  • Driving Accountability – working with your leadership, they can determine the critical sales activity and behavior that must be tracked. A Fractional Sales Manager will keep your people on track weekly, uncovering the how and the why and providing sales ideas at each weekly meeting. Just this one step of establishing more accountability will help your company see an immediate lift.
  • Coaching Opportunities – acting as their dedicated sales coach, the Fractional Sales Manager will help your people prep for important opportunities so that they are ready to put themselves into a winning position. Pre-call and post-call will be part of their ongoing role to help upgrade the pipeline and develop skills. They will train your salespeople in this important sales skill preparing for a meeting so that it becomes a sales habit.
  • Improving Results – make sure to work with an organization that has a history of helping companies manage their sales teams and has a proven history of driving revenue growth. Talented Fractional Sales Managers have years of personal sales and sales management experience and draw from their experience of working with salespeople in your industry. They come with the built-in skills you need to help your team achieve goals.

Speaking of results, here are some real comments made by salespeople coached by one of our Fractional Sales Managers. There are advantages to working with a skilled coach outside of your company as they bring experience and expertise to your table. These are the kinds of results and testimonials your company should look for as they consider a Fractional Sales Manager.

Fractional Sales Manager Testimonials

  • Once I asked "What would have to go on in this meeting for you to feel like it was a good use of your time?" 5 minutes later he asked his office staff to give me all the policies to look at. It is an Oct. 15 renewal about $140,000 in premium. Thank you for your help.
  • Just wanted you to know that I just bound that client we spoke about and made $11k! AND they just sent an account to me from RT for the renewal. Hard work and the methods you have taught me are paying off!!
  • I just wanted to thank you for your time and help a couple of weeks back. I have had several conversations with prospective clients, and your approach has proven to be very effective.  I have been able to establish parameters and have started binding business with a couple of the new clients. Of course, the job is never done, and I will continue to prospect and use your approach.  
  • I have capitalized on some HOT introductions from some existing agents. It amazes me who people know in other states or other parts of this state (not competition to my clients) that they will gladly give an introduction to.  
  • It is great to have someone like yourself who cares and is willing to invest their time to help.

Hiring a Fractional Sales Manager is not forever. The goal is to enhance your organization, create effective sales strategies, systems and practices, and help your company gain momentum, setting up your sales team for future success. And a Fractional Sales Manager can make a huge impact for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full time person.

 

Contact a Fractional Sales Manager!

 

 

Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, fractional sales manager

Do Your Salespeople Have the Ability to Push Back?

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Feb 23, 2024

One of the most important skills that a salesperson needs to possess is the ability to engage in what I refer to as “appropriate and respectful confrontation” with a prospect…at least when the need arises. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just refer to that as the ability to push back.

If you go on enough sales calls or have enough sales conversations with prospects, there is going to come a time when the prospect will say something that you disagree with. Maybe the prospect is just factually incorrect. Perhaps the prospect has reached a conclusion that is simply not well founded. What if the prospect is making forward looking statements about you or your company that don’t sit well with you? 

The elite level salespeople that I coach have two skills that are very helpful in dealing with the scenarios listed above:

  1. They have the confidence and the courage to push back (they are willing to challenge)
  2. They know the right way to push back (appropriately and respectfully)

I believe that most sales calls come down to just a few moments that really matter in terms of their ability to impact the call. And no doubt that one of the big moments is when the prospect says something that you just don’t agree with. When that happens, you have two options:

  1. You can play it safe and let it go
  2. You can push back

And do you know what the sad news is with all of this? Most salespeople are afraid to push back because they think it will upset the prospect. But the reality is this: not only will the prospect not mind, it is actually the conversation they want to have….as long as the push back is not aggressive and as long as the push back in non-emotional.

So here are the two words to remember: warning and permission. Salespeople who excel at pushing back always give the prospect fair warning that they intend to push back…and they ask for the prospect’s permission to do so. It might sound like this:

Bob, you said something just a few seconds ago that I have a different view on…would you be ok if I challenged your thinking just a bit and shared with you why I see that issue differently?”

I learned long ago that the word fear is an acronym that stands for “false expectations appearing real.”  Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen if you push back? Of course, maybe you don’t want to push back. If that is you, would you be ok if I respectfully challenged your belief?  Would that be ok?

Need Help?  Check Out Our Sales Growth  Coaching Program for Managers!

 

Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips

Achieving Sales Team Excellence – No Micro Managing!

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 15, 2024

Most organizations and sales managers think of accountability or performance management as “micro-managing.”  Jim Collins has been quoted as saying “There is no such thing as 'micro-managing.' There is either managing or not managing.” There is a lot that a manager must bring to the table to be effective at setting standards and gaining accountability with their team. And it is a difficult job to gain that fine balance of supporting and guiding your team without crossing over the line, providing your recommended solution. This ultimately does not allow your salespeople to navigate the sales situation and figure it out. Helping them self-discover is how salespeople become more skilled and effective sales leaders can achieve sales team excellence.

What are the competencies and behaviors of those leaders who seem so talented at helping others achieve their very best? We rely on the pioneer and #1 sales management evaluation by Objective Management Group to help understand exactly what it takes to create effective accountability with your sales team. The Accountability Competency measures if a manager holds their salespeople accountable to measurable, forward-looking metrics. By using forward-looking indicators rather than lagging indicators, especially with longer sales cycles, you can make adjustments and mid-course corrections.

Here are the Accountability Competencies below.

  • Manages Behavior
    You can improve your ability to hold your salespeople accountable by measuring their success based on KPI's related to daily behaviors, as opposed to lagging activities such as sales.
  • Doesn't Accept Mediocrity
    You are not willing to accept mediocrity, even if that means salespeople may be unhappy with you.
  • Takes Responsibility
    Your tendency to take responsibility when you don't achieve results helps you hold your salespeople accountable when they don't meet expectations.
  • No Need for Approval from Salespeople
    You are able to hold your salespeople accountable without worrying about how that might affect whether they like you.
  • Beliefs Support Accountability
    Your beliefs related to sales management tend to be strongly aligned with the role and importance of holding salespeople accountable.
  • Asks Enough Questions
    You have good listening skills, which encourages your salespeople to share their concerns, frustrations, expectations, problems, and feelings with you, and in turn helps you hold them more accountable.
  • Manages Pipeline
    Your strengths in the Pipeline Management Competency support your ability to hold your salespeople accountable

Performance management and accountability are all about setting higher standards for success, holding people accountable to the effort and execution to hitting those standards and changing the definition of ‘good’ in an organization. Take a few minutes to evaluate your effectiveness on these accountability competencies listed above.  The path to achieving sales team excellence includes your ability to become better at and ultimately master these skills.

Request Free  Sales Force Performance  Evaluation Samples

 

Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, Fractional Sales Management, fractional sales manager

Should Your Company Hire a Fractional Sales Manager?

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Fri, Feb 09, 2024

Many companies are struggling with finding talent in today’s environment, and it is particularly difficult to find top-notch sales management talent. Depending on the industry, this role can be a very expensive one to fill, and it is critical to get it right. Every organization needs to grow revenue, and this person is the driver of keeping your sales team focused on the right activities, target clients, industry knowledge, technology solutions, and most importantly, sales skills. The list of responsibilities is long. Unfortunately, most sales managers have no formal training in leadership, management and coaching skills, so how do you find the right person?

There are assessments in the marketplace to identify the strengths needed for sales leadership and we recommend and utilize the Sales Management Insights from Objective Management Group. These assessments can be used to screen candidates to see if they have the skills needed to lead your team to achieve the revenue growth goals of your company.  But sometimes, it is very difficult to find quality sales management candidates.

What is a Fractional Sales Manager?

Simply stated, a Fractional Sales Manager would run the sales management activities for your organization without being an employee. They would become well-versed in your company’s sales systems and culture, but they spend part of their time with your organization and the rest of their time working with other companies, so hence the “fractional” title. And of course, your company pays a fraction of their cost. They are part of your company, not part of your payroll. Something to consider as you evaluate your options:  We know from 30 years of data that: Salespeople reporting to a sales leader with strong coaching skills tend to have 28% more close-able late-stage opportunities.

Many companies do not have strong sales managers and struggle with finding the right person for that critical position.

Your Company Might Consider Hiring a Fractional Sales Manager if You:

  • Have a team of less than 10 salespeople
  • Are tired of trying to find the right sales manager
  • Don’t have the budget for a full-time sales manager
  • Senior leadership is not equipped to coach and drive accountability
  • Company does not have a consistent sales process
  • Sales team is lacking motivation and are not driving leads
  • You need to drive revenue and grow!

What Activities Would a Fractional Sales Manager Perform?

Every company is different and has nuances that they must address and therefore, they have varying needs, so it is important that you are able to select from the custom components and activities that a Fractional Sales Manager would perform. Here are the activities that you could consider for a customized Fractional Sales Management program:

  1. Robust Sales Meetings – Your Fractional Sales Manager will schedule and run sales meetings, establish standards, and keep your salespeople on track. These meetings are the ideal time to provide sales ideas and track the results. An experienced Fractional Sales Manager (FSM) will uncover new motivation in your salespeople.
  2. Weekly Huddles – A Fractional Sales Manager will make sure your salespeople are focused on the right activities and report on the metrics that matter, mobilizing the team and adding a competitive tone.
  3. Monthly Pipeline Review – The Fractional Sales Manager will dive into your pipeline details, continually upgrading your prospects and coaching your people on the quality of leads, which is an essential component to driving results.
  4. 1-on-1 Coaching –Each individual on your team needs personal help to drive skill improvement and optimize calls. Your Fractional Sales Manager will spend the time needed to get to know them, their sales goals and provide 1-on-1 time to help them close more deals.
  5. Updates with Leadership – Your Fractional Sales Manager will keep the leaders updated and report on accountability measurement improvements.

Let us know if we can help your company with a Fractional Sales Manager. We’ve been doing this for over 30 years- 30 years of experience developing sales leaders to more effective levels of performance management and coaching. Our Fractional Sales Management program is targeted and strategically aligned with the companies we work with, so there is an immediate lift in productivity and revenue.

 

Contact a Fractional Sales Manager!

 

 

Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, achieving sales success, sales training tips, Fractional Sales Management, fractional sales manager


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    About our Blog

    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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