Tag Archives: sales management

How to Win Business in Any Market at Any Time

By Tony Cole

Tony ColeSelling in any market is one of my favorite keynote speeches or workshops to deliver. When addressing a group of sales people or sales managers, I always create a stir when I loudly pronounce that the way to sell in any market is to “Stop making excuses and just sell.”

When there are disruptions/economic conditions in your industry that cause you to get out of your normal flow in business, sometimes you end up spending more time playing defense than you do playing offense.

In our primary markets – insurance brokerages, banking and investment services – disruptions have become a quarterly occurrence. In my 20+ years in this business, I have asked audiences across the country if they have ever gone through a three-year period in their business when there wasn’t some sort of the disruption in the “normal” flow of business. In short, their answer was no. In fact, disruptions in flow of business have become the norm.

In a recent discussion with one of our current client’s brokers, they described that the market is a hard market right now meaning that some prices are stable and some are going down. As a result, some of the markets/carriers were lowering prices to grab market share. When this happens, a broker’s own clients sometimes decide that it’s time to go for better premiums with the same coverage. So, when this happens, brokers (like my client) have to play some defense to protect their turf. And when that happens, brokers have a tendency to take their eyes off of prospecting – they stop playing offense.

I have several clients in the bank-owned investment brokerage business. Last week, the Department of Labor passed new fiduciary regulations that have caused and will continue to cause a major disruption in that business. Studies indicate that companies will literally spend billions of dollars to make sure they are compliant with the new regulations. Not only will this require an investment of an enormous amount of money, but it will also take millions of hours invested by many for compliance training. None of these activities are offensive in nature and so, in the end, will actually cost millions, maybe billions, more in lost productivity.

This is not necessary! Here are just a couple of things to keep in mind as you attempt to manage performance during difficult periods:

  • Unlike 2008 (when a substantial piece of the market did shrink), the current situation is not the same.
    1. Businesses are not going out of business because insurance premiums are going down.
    2. The amount of money in play in retirement and personal savings has not shrunk. If it’s a multi-billion/trillion dollar pile of money today, it will still be a multi-trillion pile of money once the Department of Labor regulations are fully implemented (January 1, 2018)
  • If your clients have a tendency to want to shop in a tough market, so do the clients of your competitors. Companies are in play, but you have to take the phone “off of the hook” and call them.
  • People that have invested their money with advisors that have not treated them in a way that is consistent with the new regulations (client focused/fiduciary responsibility) will be in the market to find an investment advisor/representative who will.
  • If you find that it is your smaller clients that want to shop – let them. My guess is that, if you let the bottom 20% of your insurance clients go, it will represent less than 5% of your total revenue. One new client that looks more like your top 20% will replace at least 10 of your bottom clients.
  • If you are a financial advisor – ditto. Frequently, my friend from CUSO management and I discuss the segmenting of books of business. Time and again, the 80/20 rule applies. Actually, based on his business intelligence, that industry looks more like 30/70. But, still let the smaller accounts work with licensed bank reps or bring in an associate that can grow by growing with smaller accounts.

The bottom line is this: as a sales leader in an organization, you have the responsibility to keep your people focused on what it takes to win in any market, any environment. Regardless of the score of the game, you have to:

  • Coach them to change behavior and improve skill
  • Motivate them like it’s a championship game
  • Hold them accountable – do not allow excuses for lack of effort

Just like in a sport of any kind, stuff happens. A team gets a big lead, catches a break, the wind shifts and the kick goes wide. It doesn’t matter! You cannot win just playing defense.

Sooner or later, you have to score more points than the opponent. That is offense!

Tony Cole is president of Anthony Cole Training Group.

Motivation Beyond Commission

3 Ways to Get Your Employees to Sell

By Bob Phibbs

Bob PhibbsMotivating employees. It’s always tough in any business.

Your goal is to be the go-to name in your field or industry, but you know you haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing that level of success unless you can truly engage your customers and clients and keep them interested in your products and services.

And the only way to do that is to get your employees to engage those customers, to get them to commit to creating an exceptional experience for visitors so they do business with you, instead of buying from a competitor.

The big question is: How to get your employees to focus on the customer?

Employee motivation is an elusive creature. Motivating employees is perhaps the hardest thing any manager ever has to work toward. You worry that you’re not connecting, that your words don’t resonate deeply with your employees, and you struggle to figure out a magic formula. And that’s good…

That’s because employees don’t come hard-wired to perform well in a vacuum. Unless you can find a way to connect powerfully with your crew, your sales are doomed to failure.

It may appear easier to just pay them more. But many times, no matter how much you pay them, after a period of time, their self-motivation wanes. That’s because when you employ people, you are also taking on all of their innate hardships and challenges; the things they deal with at home, along with the things that keep them up at night.

You are taking on the whole person, for all of the good and the bad that brings. Their natural tendency is to do less and less unless someone encourages them to do more.

When it’s time to open the business and welcome your customers each day, it becomes your daily challenge to help your employees put their best face forward, focus on serving the customer, and keep their eyes on the goal of closing as many sales as possible.

For some companies, this challenge is settled by simple performance metrics: Dollars. You close X number of sales, you get more money in your paycheck. And in many high-end sales environments, a commission or performance bonus-incentive sales metric makes sense.

But if you find yourself in a position where commission-based sales don’t work for your company, you still have to find new ways to motivate your employees. Here are three ideas to help motivate your sales associates that don’t involve paying them based on the number of units they move.

1) Give Them Luxury: For your best performing associates, it is great to give them a little bit of something special. Maybe it’s a box of especially good chocolates at the end of a hard week. Maybe it’s a bottle of Scandinavian water they weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a 30-minute massage.

Maybe it’s just a handwritten thank you note from you, the boss, who they look up to, mailed to their house. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what the luxury is. It only matters that you took the time to think of them and thank them for their amazing work in an impromptu fashion.

People want to feel important. If you have good people on your team, make them feel important, and they are more likely to stay on your team. To put a finer point on it, the more important or special that you make them feel, the more likely they will make your customers feel important. A caveat: don’t publish your criteria or you will have to do it each and every time much like a contest which defeats the purpose.

2) Give Them Time: Time is our most precious resource, and there is no sweeter way to reward one of your sales team than to give them a few hours of their time back. So for your top performer this month, give them a half or full extra day off—with pay. Do it without any fanfare. Just let this person stay home, sleep late, take care of their kids, or go to a movie while you cover their shift. Don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not a contest; it’s a gift that you are giving them. And when they come back, they will be refreshed.

3) Give Them Space: If you’ve seen the movie Office Space, then you understand the importance of a red stapler. It represents something that is yours. Even if it’s only a stapler, you have earned it.

Office space—literally—can feel very much the same. It is home. When you designate physical space to an employee, you are telling that person that they have a place here. A permanent place. They matter.This is not a small thing.

For your best associates, carve out a place in the back to set their photos of their kids and their dogs, a place for them to pin ridiculous things they might print out from Facebook—whatever. The ultimate goal is to let employees feel at home when they are at work.

This only works if you hire people who themselves have some internal motivation. You can’t motivate a rock to move—no matter what you try. If you feel stuck with certain unmotivated employees, don’t give up on motivation but do get rid of the rock-like employees.

When you have done the hard job of whittling down your applicants, onboarding them to your culture and giving them sales training, your number one job is to see what helps them stay motivated and change it up often. That way it keeps everyone wondering what they will get for hitting a goal, doing a good job or extending themselves for your customers’ benefit.

And that’s great motivation for everyone, not just your sales team.

Bob Phibbs is the CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York consultancy. As a speaker, sales consultant and author of The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business, Bob has helped thousands of businesses since 1994. With over thirty years’ experience beginning in the trenches of retail and extending to senior management positions, his presentations are designed to provide practical information in a fun and memorable format.


2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Focus on the goals for your team and what concerns you most

By Tony Cole

Tony ColeHere we are, once again at the start of a new year. As you look ahead, what are your goals? What are the goals for your team and what concerns you most? As a sales manager or VP of Sales, I am certain that you could come up with a long list of to-dos that, if well-executed, would bring you great success in 2016.

But, what is really different about 2016 than last year or the year before? I imagine some of the problems that existed in 2015 also existed in 2014 and 2013. Most problems don’t disappear just because we want them to disappear.

Take my health for example. Last year, I had a doctor inform me that I had a life-changing health condition. I knew that I needed to be more conscious of my diet and exercise– my wife, Linda, had been telling me that for 30 years. However, this is a tall order for me, a man who loves to cook and eat. I have never been a big drinker, I exercised somewhat regularly and, beyond the occasional cigar, I thought I was living a healthy lifestyle.

But, apparently I needed to do more. I bought a FitBit, one of those watches that monitors your steps (10,000 recommended daily- which translates into 4-5 miles depending upon your stride length) and I set up the supporting online program that allowed me to enter my food and water intake.

I immediately began to monitor my watch to see how many steps I still needed to get in before the day was over. Where, once upon a time, I would go to the gym and do a heavy workout, my lack of consistent behavior had allowed me to gain weight. After a long day at work, who wants to work out for an hour? So, I changed my mindset and my goals and took up walking the neighborhood to complete the 10,000 step per day goal. Now, I supplement my fitness program with work outs at the gym.

Surprise! Now, that I am monitoring my daily habits, I realize how unhealthy they were in the past. In the space of a couple of months, I have lost 20 pounds and I did not gain a pound through the holidays, which was no small feat for me. Needless to say, I feel better, look better and am healthier than I was prior to monitoring the things that I can control.

Here are my suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions that, if implemented properly, will eliminate many or most of your sales problems.

Focus On Those Things You Can Affect: Recognize that while you can’t control the economy or the world of selling, you can control how you approach it. Recognize that you must have salespeople who know how to prospect and reach out to find business.

Manage Your People’s Performance: Inspect what you expect. You will be amazed to discover that the very act of inspecting the right metrics will improve sales (or your health). A weekly huddle to review numbers will call attention to the under-achievers. No one wants to be at the bottom of the board. Peer pressure is a valuable tool for getting results. Use it to leverage sales.

Eliminate Excuse-Making: Stop making excuses for your salespeople and stop accepting them from your salespeople. Introduce a sense of urgency into your sales culture. Too often, we accept unnecessarily long sales cycles. Teach your people to work prospects through the pipeline efficiently. Help them learn to eliminate those who are clogging the funnel so they can focus on finding those prospects who will buy.

Coach Your People: Focus your training and coaching to improve skills and change behaviors. Make your salespeople role-play. “Have them “practice perfect performance” so that when they are under pressure, they are able to focus and sell.

Apply The 80/20 Rule To Yourself: If you perform 20 tasks week after week, there are probably 4-6 tasks that really matter. Those 4-6 tasks generate 80% of your results. Find out which 4-6 tasks are your Go-To’s. Spend 80% of your time on these Go-To tasks.

Always Be Recruiting: About 20% of your sales team is not performing adequately. This 20% is never going to perform adequately. Fire them. In order to do this, you must be able to replace them. Recruiting is one of your 4-6 tasks that really matter. Spend time finding people who will sell.

Summary: Success in selling isn’t all that different from success in fitness and health. There will always be issues that exist beyond our control—we can’t control our genetics which predispose us to certain conditions, but we can control our habits like sleep, diet and exercise.

In selling, we can’t control the economy or the consumer. But we can control our behaviors – like prospecting and number of dials, number of appointments, etc. – that contribute to our personal and company economies. We can control how we interact with customers, learning to reach out and stay consistently in touch.

In managing a sales team, your job is to control those behaviors that contribute to the company’s sales. Thus, while you can’t control John or when John makes prospecting calls, you can control your inspection of his behaviors and, ultimately, you can decide whether he is productive enough to be on your sales team.

Tony Cole is president & CEO of Anthony Cole Training Group. Download Tony’s free eBooks Hire Bankers Who Will Sell and The Extraordinary Sales Manager.

Aristotle in the Boardroom

Using Philosophical Arguments to Succeed in Meetings

By Joe Curcillo

Joe CurcilloAs the sales team takes their seats in the boardroom, CEO, A.C. Tosser, rises from his seat and begins to address the staff. He introduces the new product line and explains that it will be marketed differently, and will be implemented with a new commission structure. The team grumbled at the change, but Tosser explained and discussed how the next level of sales will positively affect the commissions and bonuses for the people in the room.

He began to direct statements to his staff.

Mary, you could finally get that new pool you have talked about, and Fred, you will finally be able to start saving for Little Fred’s college tuition.”

He continued, “If sales continue to rise, we will be implementing a program to support the local dog rescue. Ed and Anna, will I be able to get your help on that?”

Oh, and, by the way,” he added, “We are confidentially trying to arrange to hold this year’s Holiday Party in Las Vegas. It will depend on our mid-year totals, but I just thought you’d like to know.”

As he continues, the tone is not only a discussion, but the staff begins to become excited and the room fills with energy!

A.C. Tosser understands how to motivate his staff. As a student of Greek philosophy, he knows that Aristotle’s rhetoric is as relevant today as it was twenty-five hundred years ago. The theory advanced by Aristotle includes three categories of focus when presenting a convincing argument. They are Ethos, Logos, and Pathos.

  • Ethos is the essence of your character. It is your charismatic appeal.
  • Logos is the intellectual appeal. It is the logical factors or the truths that make up the foundation and structure of your presentation.
  • Pathos, it is the emotional appeal. It is that which appeals to the wants and desires of the audience; what it is they want to believe and what makes them happy.

Effective persuasion is accomplished when the speaker is able to understand the importance and depth of his own character, reason logically, and understand the emotions that motivate and inspire the listener.

Character Appeal: Let us begin with Ethos—your character. You must have character to successfully lead and convince others to follow. There are no exceptions. It is far easier to believe the words of a good person than a bad person. Character is in many instances the most effective means of persuasion that you possess.

Tosser has built credibility by working with his team, getting to know them and keeping them on track. If you do not remain consistent, your personality becomes a distraction that disrupts the flow and confuses the ultimate message. If every time your team gets comfortable with you, you change your personality, demeanor or overall attitude, they will have to reconsider their position as to whether they like you or not. The mental process will then be stuck in a rut, and they will be hard pressed to give thought to your “message.”

How can you relate to your team?

  • Share how you deal with rejection and the anguish of a week without a sale
  • Speak their language; be a real person. Talk to them, not down to them
  • Remind them of the team accomplishments
  • Remind them of your experiences as you learned and grew in the business
  • Know the products and benefits the company offers
  • Be there to assist with better ways of relating the needs to the customers

While, at its core, the ability to trust is an emotional decision, people want to trust. If you do not have a character that people can embrace, your goal of being accepted will fail despite all the proof you can gather, and all the emotion you can create.

Intellectual Appeal: Logos is the ability to present information in a coherent fashion to lead everyone to the same factual conclusion. If you give people enough acceptable and understandable information, the logical choice will be easier for them to make. Accordingly, you give them the information they need to control their own decision-making process.

People will resist a position that is forced upon them. Education and learning are phenomenal co-pilots that allow you to guide people on the path you design; they are precursors to the logical choice. Skepticism, on the other hand, becomes a major defense mechanism that fights against the possibility of harm, loss or deceit. If people come to their own conclusions based on your presentations, they can freely and comfortably make an educated choice. When fear is eliminated, people are more likely to follow.

Emotional Appeal: Last, and never to be overlooked, is Pathos—the emotional state of the listener. People are much more responsive when they are happy than when they are miserable. Work on their hearts and minds in a positive and healthy way to be the person they look to for direction.

Most people are vulnerable when they feel that their goals are in-sync with the company goals, and when those weaknesses are lessened, people are more likely to follow. Take the time to find the weaknesses in those you lead. Find the positive triggers that will make them emotionally ready to hear and believe that you know best. When that is done well, everyone wins!

The goal of a leader is to lead, not direct and order people to act. The more people want to follow you, the more success you will achieve. So, how do you get people to follow you? Be a solution to their problems.

Consider spending time listening to and observing those you lead. As you mingle, chat and observe, pay attention to the needs of the team, and lead discussions as you search for the group’s mindset. Look for common truths that shape their beliefs and thoughts. Frequently question their dreams, and their beliefs to find a common thread. Then, speak with a focus on herding the hearts and minds of the team to bring them together as a cohesive unit.Find out what makes your team tick. Find new ways to learn exactly what carrots to dangle in front of their eyes.

Strike a Balance: A well-structured presentation—like a well-structured argument—must contain balanced proportions of character appeal, intellectual appeal and emotional appeal. The measurements change from person-to-person and from task-to-task. For some, success is a matter of patience and practice. For others, it will flow as if it is their birthright. For the majority of people, the art of convincing others requires a balance of their natural skills and learned techniques. The challenge will always be finding the balance that is right for you.

When you walk into a meeting, have your facts, charts and statistics ready, but pay attention to the room and your audience. Put your commitment to the team first. Be ready to go with the flow. Allow them to come to you and be inspired to follow.

Joe Curcillo, The Mindshark, is a speaker, entertainer, lawyer and communications expert. As an Adjunct Professor at Widener University School of Law, Mr. Curcillo developed a hands-on course, based on the use of storytelling as a persuasive weapon. He has been a professional entertainer helping corporations and associations improve their communication techniques since 1979. For more information on bringing Joe Curcillo in for your next event, please visit www.TheMindShark.com.

Hire Salespeople Who Sell

By Tony ColeTony Cole

We are quickly approaching the end of the year. In fact, many (and maybe most) would say the business year is as good as over. As you take stock of your team’s performance, what concerns you most? Is it the challenge of maintaining your company’s market share? Are you worried that your people are not selling? Are you concerned that they even have what it takes to sell?

Recruiting is the biggest problem identified by those participating in my keynotes. The question is always, “How do I hire better salespeople?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. But one thing you must recognize is that you and your process are responsible for the quality of the salespeople on your staff today. In other words, your recruiting process is perfectly designed for the team you have. So, if you need more productive salespeople, you will need to change your recruiting process.

Recruiting is like sales. A salesperson must have a system. He must have a pipeline. His activity must be consistent. Like this salesperson, you must have a system and you must execute the recruiting process exactly like you wish your salespeople to execute their sales process. Recruiting, like selling, is not a “sometime” thing- it must be a consistently planned and implemented activity.

You must have a Recruiting Pipeline, like your salesperson has a Prospecting Pipeline. Individual salespeople are required to fill their Prospecting Pipeline. Sales managers and sales leaders must be required to fill their Recruiting Pipeline. After all, if you had salespeople who didn’t have sufficient Prospecting Pipelines, you would be concerned about their future and the future of your company. As the person responsible for recruiting and sales production, the same should hold true for you and your Recruiting Pipeline.

To implement a Recruiting Pipeline, ask your sales team to let you know if they run across someone at the networking opportunities they attend. Ask them who they know. “Who should we be talking to? Do you know anyone who might be looking to make a change?” You must make your own efforts as well. Sometimes salespeople will not wish to offer up names, thinking that these people might present competition.

Meet with other employees to find out who they know who might be a good fit. Put together a Recruiting Team and ask these people to submit candidate names once per week. Implement a Recruiting Huddle and hold yourself and everyone else accountable. Talk to your neighbors, your tennis partner, your golf friends, etc. Ask them who they know who might be looking for a sales position. You never know where you will find your next producer and your goal is to fill your Recruiting Pipeline with prospective hires.

You must also determine your Pipeline Success Formula—how many names must you have in your pipeline to hire one good recruit? How many names must you acquire to find one candidate that you will hire, contract and on-board? If you don’t already have a Recruiting Pipeline and have not done this consistently, you will have to guess until you get enough experience.

Recruiting requires you to be proactive. Have a consistent process, do the behaviors and inspect your activity just like you do your sales team’s activities.

Last, but not least, you must identify the ideal salesperson candidate. What are the skills and strengths most necessary for success in your company, industry and marketplace? It is imperative that you determine a profile for the ideal candidate because otherwise you might hire just to fill an opening, thinking a warm body is better than none.

In this process, you must identify the type of salesperson you need and how your current sales staff measures up to the ideal salesperson.

I recommend an objective assessment that screens for sales skills, weaknesses and compatibility like the OMG Sales Candidate Screen. The Sales Candidate Screen gives you a succinct and accurate glance at a recruit. Will he take responsibility for his successes and failures? Will he get referrals? Can he handle prospects? Will his desire to be liked get in the way of selling? Does he take put-offs? Will he make presentations to unqualified prospects? Is he a hunter who will go out and find business? Or is he a farmer who has the ability to cultivate current business?

How many of the right people do you have today? Would you have hired these salespeople if you would have had better insight? If you had this type of sales ability knowledge before you hired them, would your on-boarding be different? Do you even know what weaknesses you should be coaching to fix?

So, you must know what you are looking for in a candidate and you should know in advance the problems that a candidate is bringing to the table. Clearly, resumes are not the answer because they typically present a stellar candidate. Face-to-Face interviews are often misleading and can take you off-track if you particularly like or dislike a candidate.

Next, you must implement a 5-Minute Prescreen Telephone Interview with the goal of initial discovery. Is the resume accurate? How does the candidate handle the phone call? In this case, you are the prospect and your candidate needs to sell you on himself.

The 5-Minute Prescreen Interview sounds like this: “You’ve seen the job post. What makes you a fit?” Ask and then let the candidate talk. The idea is to create an environment on the phone just like the salesperson will face when he is prospecting. Thus, it should be a bit uncomfortable. You must find out how the candidate will act under pressure. Ideally, he will ask you a lot of questions, will press for a follow-up interview and will try to keep you on the phone.

At the end of the 5-Minute Prescreen Telephone Interview, you will say the following: “We are going to make a decision by Tuesday. If you do not hear from us by Wednesday, that means you did not make it, ok? Thanks for your time.” But don’t hang up immediately. A good sales candidate will try to engage you by asking questions. This means that he will likely attempt to do the same in a sales situation with a prospect who is rejecting him. Perhaps he will even try to close for an interview. This means that he will likely attempt to do this with a prospect. If he does one or the other, he passes the 5-Minute Interview and is on to the next step.

[The above article is an excerpt from, “The Extraordinary Sales Manager.”]

Tony Cole is President & CEO, Anthony Cole Training Group. Visit our website anthonycoletraining.com or call us at 1-877-635-5371. Download one or both of Tony’s free eBooks, Hire Bankers Who Will Sell or, The Extraordinary Sales Manager.