ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Why Success Formulas and Sales Plans Fail

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Aug 02, 2019

If you have followed my blog, read our sales newsletters or listened to our audio sales brews, then you’ve heard me talk about success formulas.  The concept is pretty simple.  If you follow the steps and execute the required activities to the required standards, you will be successful. Well, guess what? It doesn’t always work that way, especially if you are missing critical pieces of the process.

Success or Failure Sign

For most people, the success formula is a new exercise designed to create a logical and systematic approach to their sales process. It requires that one has clearly mapped the sales process and has some idea of what the conversion rates are from one step of the process to the next step of the process. It also requires an exercise where personal goals are identified and there is a financial or monetary value attached to the identified goals.

But… goals aren’t enough. There are a couple other critical criteria you must meet.

1. The goals have to be non-negotiable, AND...

2. The sales person has to be willing to do everything possible to succeed.

Without these criteria being met, then the success formula becomes just an exercise to complete rather than a fundamental business process that will increase the opportunity for success.

Once non-negotiable goals and a “whatever it takes” attitude have become established, then you can go about the process of building a success formula. This leads us to the next challenge and that challenge is data. Unless you’ve collected data on your sales results, then you won’t know the conversion rates or the amount of activity required to be successful. The success formula then becomes a “guess at success”. And that can be the problem with success formulas.

If you have gone through this process and you aren’t at the level of success that you had predicted, then you’ve got to back to the drawing board and re-calculate your formula. If you aren’t successful, it can be attributed to one of the following 3 things:

1.  Lack of performance of the required activity – In other words, just a flat-out lack of effort.

2.  The formula was wrong because the assumptions of conversion ratios or average size accounts were wrong or…

3.  The goals were actually negotiable and you, the sales person, are not doing everything possible to succeed. Not just in effort, but also in those steps in the sales process that are difficult or contrary to your personal belief systems, your buy cycle, or your need for approval.

The sales formula was never designed to be a perfect solution to cure poor or failing sales performance. The intent again is to provide a sales professional with a logical and progressive way to approach selling. If you are executing your formula at 100% and you aren’t getting the results, review the goals, the assumptions and the conversion ratios.

Make needed adjustments and go back to work. One important thing to keep in mind: If you are not performing as effectively as you thought you would, then you must examine what it is that you’re failing to do to get the appropriate conversion rate. Your course of action will always be one of two actions: work harder or work smarter.

The choice is yours.

 

Topics: Sales Effort, Effort in Sales, success formula, sales success formula, things to do for sales success

Why Success in Sales Leads to Personal Freedoms

Posted by Walt Gerano on Thu, May 09, 2019

Achieving the work-life balance sales professionals all hear and dream of starts with having a personal vision and a set of non-negotiable goals.

In this article, we will discuss the 4 must-do sales activities and the characteristics that all successful salespeople share when striving for the freedom of success.

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We recently celebrated Cinco de Mayo, which is an annual celebration held on May 5th. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's (unexpected) victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza.

So today let’s commemorate the victory and personal freedoms that comes from success in sales.

There are two freedoms that successful people enjoy: the freedom of time and the freedom of choice. You see, when you are always playing from behind, you never feel like you can take time off or treat yourself to that vacation or long weekend.

Successful people aren’t successful by chance or luck. They all have (at least) four things in common.

  1. They all have a vision of where they want to go, starting with the end in mind.
  2. They have a mission. The “how you will achieve your vision” -in other words what are the behaviors associated with success.
  3. Goals become the mile markers that let you know when you’ve “left the road”.
  4. And they have a “WHY”- why they keep going when they don’t want to.

So, decide what freedoms you want. Determine what those freedoms require. Build your plan to get there.

  • It all starts with your success formula, the behaviors you must execute day in and day out to accomplish your goals.
  • Track your behaviors weekly and be accountable to someone other than yourself (we’re too good at explaining to ourselves why we didn’t do something).
  • Know your SMART numbers- what are the key metrics that really drive your business, those can’t miss numbers.
  • Build your Unique Sales Approach (USA) that is compelling to the people in your sandbox; those that fit your profile.

Finally, don’t do all of this and stick it in the drawer. You should review your vision, mission and goals annually and your success formula and SMART numbers quarterly.

Now go out and sell something and celebrate the freedom of success.

Topics: success formula, Sales Plan, freedom, achieving sales success

7 Rules of the (Prospecting) Road

Posted by Walt Gerano on Wed, Apr 10, 2019

There are a certain number of rules that must be followed when it comes to prospecting in sales. 

These include, but are not limited to, making the commitment to get out of the cold calling business, identifying who you will ask for introductions and referrals each week, ensuring exactly how you will evaluate your success, and creating a pre-call plan for every single call and/or face-to-face meeting.

9836407_xxl road to success sign

Some people say that rules were made to be broken. You might want to think twice about breaking some of these rules for prospecting.

The most successful salespeople I know are always challenging the ideas and methods of those that have succeeded before them, but they don’t challenge the notion of the importance of making prospecting their A priority every week. They know that no matter how successful they are, if they don’t continue to add new relationships, that eventually, their business will decline. 

Here are some rules to help you prospect and prosper:

  1. Play in your sandbox. Make sure you have a profile of who you need to be in front of. Call on the people and businesses where you have expertise, and can leverage that, along with your experience.
  1. If you are dependent on making cold calls, make the commitment to get out of the cold calling business. You will schedule appointments and make sales cold calling but the acquisition cost per sale is much higher than with referrals and introductions. Not to mention the sales process is generally longer.
  1. Look at your schedule each week and identify who you will ask for introductions and referrals. It could be face to face meetings, networking events or a meeting with a center of influence. Have a process for asking that makes it easy for people to help you. Bring your list of top 10 prospects to every meeting and ask them who they know on the list that would take a call from you? Better yet, make use of LinkedIn and look through their connections for people and businesses that look like your target prospect.
  1. How will you evaluate your success? Make sure to set objectives whether it is with a success formula or a commitment to specific behaviors and then TRACK IT!
  1. Have a telephone approach that when calling for appointments helps you sound like someone they want to speak with. What is your unique selling approach? What problems do you fix and why do people meet with you? It must be compelling.
  1. Do a pre-call plan for every call, on the phone or face to face, to help you stay on track. Know what questions you will ask, what questions you need answered and the tough questions they will ask along with how you will respond.
  1. Don’t quit, be persistent! Rejection is part of the process. It’s not falling down it’s staying down that defeats us all.

Topics: introductions, Cold Calling, Referrals, persistence, success formula, pre call sessions, effective sales process, hunting for sales prospects, ideal prospect persona, sales acceleration, salespeople, sales opportunity

7 Effective Sales Management Steps to Take NOW

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Dec 14, 2016

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Sales management, sales leadership and sales presidency require special diligence this time of year. Actions taken now will assure successful sales results in the coming year. In order to transition smoothly, here are 7 sales management steps that should be completed before the end of the year.  

By now, you should have:

  1. Evaluated the individuals on your team for the year. Unless you have anomalies at the end of the year, your team’s individual outcomes and results are pretty much set.
  2. (Based on the evaluation) Begun to have meetings with all your people. The meetings are similar to performance reviews, but they’re not the corporate type of review that gets put in the HR file.  These reviews put your team members in 1 of four groups. You then have a discussion about what group they are in.
    1. Met or exceeded sales goal and sales activity requirements group
    2. Met or exceeded sales goal but currently not at sales activity targets group
    3. Met or exceeded sales activity targets but failed  to hit sales targets (below 100% is failing)
    4. Has not met sales or sales activity targets

(If you would like information on what the conversation should sound like for people in each of these groups, call me or text me at 513-226-3913.  If I don’t answer, just leave a message with your name, mobile number and email requesting, “Where’s Walter?” information.  You can also email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com.)

  1. Reviewed performance, actual effort and execution effectiveness results against targets for the year.
  2. Assessed where the choke points are for people on the team who are not succeeding. To do this, you look at the conversion ratios in your sales success formula that was built last year and reviewed every quarter.  (Don’t have a success formula?  Click here –> Success formula download)
  3. Revised the success formula for 2017 based on each person’s commitment to performance via the “extraordinary discussion”. (Haven’t had that discussion? Ask Jeni at Jeni@anthonycoletraining.com to send you that information.)
  4. Conducted an offsite where your salespeople identify personal goals, translate the personal goals into a personal income requirement and translate that into a work plan that you will follow up with every quarter. (Yes, we have information on what that offsite should look like.  Even though it’s late to be doing that now, conducting the session in January would be better than not conducting one at all.  Let us know if we can help: 513-791-3458)
  5. Talked to your HR department about additional FTEs for the coming year to grow your sales team and replace the people that are not performing. Think about this: Suppose you had to hire better salespeople (3) but can only grow your sales team by 2 – who would you let go?

These 7 things are the minimum functions for sales management at this time of year.  Failure to execute on these 7 steps will pretty much guarantee that your next 12 months will look like the past 12 months:

  • Only a few people will meet or exceed the goal
  • Most of the people will miss the goal by at least 10% and some as much as 20%
  • The bottom 33% of your sales force will represent less than 5% of your new business revenue
  • Salespeople that fail will continue to make excuses
  • The salespeople that had a “one-off” great year will coast in the next year and live off the laurels of this year.
  • Your top performers will continue to be frustrated by lack of attention, support and recognition for their outstanding contributions.

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Topics: success formula, managing sales teams, effective sales management

Sales Managers, Start with the End in Mind

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 24, 2016

In his ground breaking book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey states that highly successful people start with where they want to be – “the end” - and then work to get there. That’s great advice for managers attempting to lead for results, manage activity and coach behaviors.

In a Sales Managed Environment®, a sales manager - in order to get the most out of their team - must execute two critical functions:

  • Performance management
  • Coaching

Both of these are contingent on knowing where your individual salespeople want to end up. What is it that is important to them? What is their motivation to do what they have to do to succeed in selling? Knowing that information and using that information to build a solid sales success plan is critical. In addition, gaining personal commitment to achieve personal goals is the only way to improve the probability of professional sales success.

I recall having a discussion with a COO of a large insurance holding company. He was about to address one of the agencies the following day and, as we were eating dinner, he was sharing with me his message. Most of the message was about the company growth and the importance of shareholder value. As gently as I could, I reminded him that the group he was addressing the next day didn't really care about shareholder value. They were more interested in making college payments, getting out of debt and building the cabin on the lake.

And so it is with your salespeople. Unfortunately, you can count on at least 75% of your people failing in the area of setting goals and having a solid goal achievement plan.


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The information in this chart comes from the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis produced by Objective Management Group – the world leader in sales team evaluations. In a group of 50 salespeople, you can see that 77% of them do not have written goals or a goal management plan.

What does this have to do with a sales manager and starting with the end in mind, you ask? Everything.

  • The people that you have today who are performing in the middle of the bell curve or the wrong end of the 80/20 power curve:  Did you hire them that way or make them that way?
  • Those salespeople who seem to have gotten stuck at a certain level of performance - could it be that they just stopped thinking bigger or are comfortable?
  • Why is it a struggle to keep your sales team motivated?
  • With changes in comp plans and implementation of incentives, why isn’t there more movement toward improvement in results?
  • Why do you find yourself always talking about the same people who don’t seem to be “lifting their weight”?

All of these questions are tied to motivation or the lack of motivation. And that starts with management. If you don’t hire motivated people, you cannot make them that way. And… even the most motivated people need a “shot in the arm” once in a while. Starting with the end in mind, your job/task/responsibility is to create an environment where your people have the opportunity to dream the big dream and have a plan of achievement.

So, start today with these resources:

 

Topics: success formula, sales management, motivating salespeople

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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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