ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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

It's the Little Things in Selling

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Wed, Jan 16, 2019

people-2588594_1920Selling is a 'slight edge business' that is driven by one more phone call, one more prospecting effort, one more cold email outreach, one more social media push, and one more effort to build a new relationship and land a new client.

In this article, we cover the basic principles of control in sales and how the little things are actually the big things when it comes to selling effectively and separating yourself from the competition.


One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from salespeople is, What is the secret sauce to sales success? or, Can you just give me the magic?  I need to sell more business.  Actually, there is a secret sauce, and if you will permit me to enter your kitchen, I am going to serve it up to you.

There is no one thing that is a big thing in selling.  In our organization, we refer to selling as a “slight edge business.”  By that we mean that the line that separates high performers from mediocre performers is usually a very small difference.  Think in terms of maybe just one or two more conversations a week, or one or two more presentations a month.

The Olympics are a perfect example of this truth.  Think of almost any race, whether that be swimming, track and field or skiing.  Do you know what separates the athlete who wins the gold medal from the athlete who finishes just outside the bronze medal?  The answer is fractional seconds, sometimes even as little as tenths of a second.

There is very little you can control in selling.  You can’t make prospects take your call.  You can’t make prospects agree to meet with you.  You can’t make them move forward in your sales process and you certainly can’t make them buy from you.  There are only 3 things you are in control of:

  1. Your effort on a daily basis
  2. Your attitude on a daily basis
  3. Your investment in becoming a better or smarter version of yourself (self-improvement)

Selling is not going to suddenly become easier.  Leads are not likely to become more plentiful. So, the question that is worth asking is this:  What are you doing to shave fractional seconds off your sales time in the 2019 race you are running?  What are the little things that when done week in and week out will amount to big things in terms of your 2019 production?  Maybe it is the one more conversation you need to have each day with a prospect.  Maybe it is the one book you will read or the one new connection you will add to your network that will make all the difference.

Sometimes little things are so small you won’t even notice them when you look back at your sales success.  But that doesn’t mean that it is not a big thing to worry about the little things.

Topics: sales competition, sales growth and inspiration, things to do for sales success, how to improve sales, sales advice, sales acceleration, salespeople

What Makes a Sales 'Hall of Famer'?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Nov 15, 2018

baseball-crowd-field-89699

Assuming for a second that when you think about hiring for a position in your organization, you are thinking about hiring the best, especially in the early rounds of looking for talent. No one reasonably goes about writing a job description like this:

“ABLE Sales Company is looking for the most unbelievably average salespeople we can find. We already have enough top producers and those that are failing. What we really need are some people to bump up the middle of our bell curve. If interested, show up and you’ll get a job.”

No, you are not looking for average- you are looking for people who can get your organization to the next level. You’re looking for the best of the best.

Which leads me to today’s story: I was listening to ESPN radio and tuned into The Golic and Wingo Show. They were sharing stories about the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that a reporter had heard from each during his time as a sports reporter.

I would like to share 3 of those stories with you today and how they are great analogies for recruiting the best of the best.

Vladimir Guerrero: Vladimir is a Dominican born in 1975. He arrived to his first professional baseball try-out on a bicycle. He was wearing baseball shoes that didn’t match and one was so big he had to stuff it with socks so that it wouldn’t slip off. He was on the field for 5 minutes hitting, throwing and catching when the scouts told him he was finished. They signed him to a contract and now he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, how does this relate to recruiting talent?

  • When you got it, you got it
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover

Trevor Hoffman: Trevor was born in Bellflower, California in 1967. When he tried out to play professional baseball, he did so as a shortstop. However, after a few minutes of taking the infield, somebody told him he was terrible as a fielding shortstop and he was a weak hitter. They said if he was going to make it in the pros he might want to try pitching. He did and now he’s a Hall of Famer. What’s the hiring lesson here?

  • When interviewing people don’t be afraid to push a button that might upset them. It’s going to happen in their sales career anyway so you might as well find out how they are going to react. Will they absorb the challenge or get emotional?
  • Every candidate you interview and eventually hire is going to come with some warts. What you want to know is – are they coachable?

Chipper Jones: Chipper was born in 1972 in Deland, Florida and played his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Chipper was the #1 MLB draft pick in 1990. As the story goes, the Braves were ready to make him an offer but his dad was encouraging Chipper to hold off because he could probably get more money from another team. Chipper told his dad that he wanted to be the #1 draft pick and that the money didn’t matter. He knew that he was going to be successful and that he would earn his ‘big’ money based on his performance rather than what another club thought he was worth today. Again, why is this important when hiring salespeople?

  • You have to be patient. Just because it’s hard to find the right person, doesn’t mean you should hire one that is close. Close enough isn’t good enough (you already have some of those on your team and you don’t need more).
  • Hire people that are willing to bet on themselves. Often recruiting managers, HR, and recruiters shy away from those that don’t exactly fit the pedigree. When interviewing and working the compensation into the hiring contract, be bold enough to challenge the candidate to put some money at risk. If they are as good as they think they are they will make up for it in spades in the long run.

There is nothing easy about hiring. If you listen to the stories of these recent inductees you will find that there was nothing easy about getting into the Hall of Fame.

Need more help hiring the best of the best? Download our free Recruiting Success Formula document and Interview Questions guide to improve your recruiting process today!

 

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: solving sales issues, sales growth and inspiration, things to do for sales success, sales stories, building sales team

The Art of Asking Great Questions

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Oct 18, 2018

Watch Sales Guy Unplugged:  Are Your Sales Questions Courageous Enough?

Mark Trinkle, Chief Growth Officer

Need more information?  Download this free SalesTool with the Drill Down Questions.

Topics: things to do for sales success, how to improve sales, sales leads, create & convert leads

5 Direct Sales Activities that Lead to Sales Success? An Update

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jul 21, 2017

5 Keys to Sales Success

 

I originally posted this article in July of 2011.  Much has happened in the sales world in just six years.  For some reason, the original post is one of our most viewed articles.  I believe that is a result of a couple of things:

WHY THIS CONTENT IS STILL RELEVANT

  • In many cases, the fundamentals of generating sales is the same.  As my good friend, Tony Neuman, from AAA Insurance pointed out - activity leads to opportunities which lead to success.
  • Salespeople still want to know how to improve. Regardless of the technology and the sales enablement tools, salespeople recognize that, even today, it is still a people business.  With ALL of our clients, the business still depends on people buying from people.
  • The need/presssure to perform continues to mount.  Not just because of the pressure on companies to perform, but the pressure on families to meet their own financial goals, objectives and basic requirements.

With that in mind, I have taken a few minutes to revisit the original post and update some of the content so that it is relevant in today's sales climate.

Original 5 Keys article (Revised with notations)

 

THE 5 "GREEN" SALES ACTIVITIES FOR SUCCESS

Today, I'll focus on this: Identifying the activities that you MUST execute on a consistent basis to be successful. 

These activities MUST primarily be SALES activities or what I call GREEN activities.  GREEN means GO, which stands for "GO to the BANK".

Green activities would include and pretty much be limited to:

  1. Activities that lead to getting names - networking, speaking engagements, sponsored seminars, meeting with centers of influence and/or asking for introductions. Surprising as it might be, nothing is changed here.  As a matter of fact, the first thing on the list is still close to the top of the list in terms of ROTI (Return on Time Invested) View this YouTube Video with Seth Godin.  The only difference is you need to add  "social" to the networking. There is no doubt that today's sales professional must be extremely well-connected via the social media if they are going to be found and found to be relevant.  
  2. An outreach to assess interest or need - This step used to be focused on qualifying the prospect.  We still believe that, early in the conversation, you need to have discussions about what their needs are, what the investment perameters are and how will they go about making a decision. But, recently, I read Mark Roberge's book - The Sales Accelleration Formula. In that book, he has many great ideas and methodologies; but one that I believe is KEY to your success is understanding where the buyer (what he calls a persona) is in their buying journey.
  3. Conversations and meetings to uncover the buyers process - Another significant change in the process - Your first step now is really to help potential buyers uncover if, in fact, they have a problem that needs to be addressed. So often, prospects know they have a problem based on symptoms they see, hear or feel, but they need to know the severity of the problem.  In most cases, potential buyers don't know what they don't know. Today's salesperson has to be masterful at asking the right questions the right way in order to help them identify the problem(s). You should not discuss solutions until they have thoroughly clarified the issues. Pitching capabilities early in the buyer's journey is a big mistake.
  4. Gathering additional information for your presentation step - Once you have provided some guidance to the prospect and, yes, they have decided that they have a problem that needs to be fixed, your job is to now provide them with options, free trials, demos and comparision presentations. These resources help the buyer in their journey towards making a decision.
  5. Presentation of your product/suite of solutions - Not much has changed here except the belief that, by the time you get here, you should have prepared your prospect to make a decision. As we have always taught, get a decision one way or another - yes or no!  Be okay with a no.

Selling is hard; it always has been and probably will always will be.  If you haven't already done, so download our ebook, "Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?"  It will provide you with keen insights into the root causes and challenges of selling and help you develop long-term strategies to keep selling from being so darn hard.

DOWNLOAD our FREE eBOOK -   Why is Selling So #%&@ Hard?

Topics: keys to sales success, sales activities for success, green sales activities, things to do for sales success

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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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