ACTG Sales Management Blog

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What is the Most Powerful Management Question Ever?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Jul 31, 2019

In most companies, we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service).

So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

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While driving into work a few years ago, I heard an incredibly powerful performance question while listening to the Dan LeBetard with Stugatz ESPN radio show. An ardent Michigan Football beat writer asked this question during the Big 10 media day

“You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

I immediately thought about all the sales managers we’ve worked with over the last 25 years and the challenges they faced getting their salespeople to perform as expected. Let me explain for just a minute:

  • New hires are not hired hoping/expecting that they will be average
  • Hiring managers search for, find, interview, screen, and contract new producers thinking/expecting them to be great
  • According to Geoff Smart in his book Topgrading – 75% of new hires are no better and often perform worse then the people the replaced.

In most companies, we find that the bottom 40% of producers are responsible for less than 20% of the total sales production (in many cases less than 10% of new business- even when we take out new hires with less than 2 years of service).

So the question must be asked– did you hire them this way or make them this way?

So let’s look again at this reporter's brilliant question:

Reporter's Question: “You came to Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you’ve got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you’re 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?”

Your Question: “You came into ABC company with high expectations and a strong track record of success that we thought you would continue here. Here we are two years later and in our stack ranking for new business you have finished 9th and 10th. And your pipeline is consistently 66% of what it is supposed to be and your average size sales is $10,000 instead of the anticipated $15,000. What do you have to do over the next 120 days to demonstrate to yourself and to the company that you are on the path to achieving what we hired you to achieve?”

This is the question you should be asking your non-performing people NOW!

This question should have been asked of an underperformer within 6 months of the end of the expected ramp-up period. In other words, if your ramp-up period is 18 months and Jamie is at 12 months and not projecting to meet and exceed expected performance, this conversation needs to take place.

Be brave, ask the tough questions about performance, improve your coaching and get better results.

If you liked this article, please share it with friends, family and colleagues below!

Topics: management, sales performance management, self management, questions for sales teams

"I Could Sell More if Only I Could _____"

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Nov 08, 2018

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I've got a fill in the blank for you.

Are you ready?

"I could sell more if only I could _____."

What comes after could? We had the chance to ask that question around the country with a variety of companies both large and small and it's interesting to hear what salespeople say when you ask them to fill in this particular blank.

Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say excuses. Sometimes, you'll hear...dare I say, valid reasons for why they're not selling as much as they would like or their manager would like. When we hear that answer, we immediately think about the core steps in the sales process.  

You have to go see people. You have to call them first. Then you must go see them, you must have meetings, you must qualify them and deliver presentations, and of course, you have to win your fair share. 

As you think about calls, meetings, dials, qualifying prospects, and closing deals, ask yourself these major questions.

If you're not where you want to be in 2018, ask yourself,

  1. Why are you there?
  2. How long have you been there?
  3. Are you fully committed to getting back on track?
  4. What's going to be required to get back on track?
  5. Do you have to get there?
  6. What happens if you don't?
  7. What is the problem costing you?
  8. Do you have to fix it?

If you know anything about our organization, you know that is how we encourage the unveiling of the sales process. 

Asking your prospects questions like:

  • What is going on?
  • What do you have to fix?
  • How long has it been a problem?
  • What have you done to try and fix it?
  • Do you have to fix it?
  • What happens if you don't fix it?
  • What's this problem costing you? 

All of that fits into one of two categories: Excuses or reasons

Just remember as you answer the question, "I could sell more if only I could ____."  If your answer is an excuse...

"Excuses are the nails used to build houses of failure."

Now go out there and get it done!

Topics: sales productivity, solving sales issues, how to hit goals in sales, self management

Your Future Self Cannot Be Trusted! 

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Mon, Nov 05, 2018

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Today, I want to talk to you about time management vs self management. Now, here's one thing we know about time, it manages itself very, very well. In fact, you don't have to worry about time managing itself, what you do need to worry about, at least what we see around the country as we coach and train salespeople, is the concept of self-management.

The reason why you need to worry about it is because of this fundamental truth, your future self cannot be trusted.

How many times do you go to the grocery store and decide that, this is the week I'm going to eat healthy only to throw away most of it by week's end?  That's right, your future self cannot be trusted.

So, one of the things that we'd like to talk about today is the concept of what do successful salespeople do when it comes to managing themselves?

Self management, not time management.

I want to give you four things that we think successful salespeople do. 

  • Successful salespeople do not waste time Here's a number, 1,440 - or better yet, the number of minutes in a day.  Successful salespeople DO NOT waste even one of them.  So, make them count!

 

  • They abandon to-do lists - They abandon to-do lists. Sounds crazy right? However, research has indicated that about 41% of things put on a to-do list never get accomplished.  Instead, successful salespeople schedule tasks directly onto their calendar, which has a much greater likelihood of these tasks actually getting accomplished.

 

  • Successful salespeople only check their email a couple times a day! Maybe once when they get to the office, maybe once after lunch and maybe once before they leave for the day. Is it really necessary when that beep or that ding goes off to look and see "Oh my goodness, what is that?" It interrupts your flow of energy on the tasks you're working on and successful people do not allow email to be a "time suck" on their day.

 

  • Successful salespeople do the hard things first - I think it was Brian Tracy that said, "If you gotta kiss a frog in your day, kiss it early."  Successful salespeople embrace that. They do the hard things first. Including scheduling the hours that they will prospect. 1,440 - I've used 3 or 4 of them this morning...it's up to YOU to use the rest. Have a great day!


So, now that we've given you OUR top four, what are some other habits that YOU think successful salespeople should follow? 

Leave a Comment below for a chance to win a Free copy of our "9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success" booklet! 

 

Time Management vs. Self Management Video:

https://anthonycoletraining.com/self-management/

Topics: time management, Sales Leadership, self management, future self, sales advice

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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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