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The “Missing Ingredient” In Most Sales Training Programs

The “Missing Ingredient” In Most Sales Training Programs

Simple – Rigorous coaching and practice.

The Consilio Team has been working in the sales consulting, training and coaching business since 1985.  Every year, sales training becomes more theoretical, analytical, technology oriented and discussion oriented.  Important topics are brainstormed, discussed, case studied, evaluated and put into elaborate planning models.  And, no doubt, there’s a place for this, especially in long cycle, complex sales.  However, what causes most sales people to fail has nothing to do with these topics.  The three most common (by far) causes of failure in sales are:

  • Not spending enough minutes speaking with people that have the capacity to buy a lot of your product/service
  • Not being able to communicate the most basic sales information in a convincing, compelling and credible way
  • Inability to direct a sales conversation in a consultative (rapport > discovery > solution) way that tailors products and services to real needs

Amazingly, every year, less and less training covers these topics.  We agree that elaborate account development and pipeline management models are interesting and intellectually stimulating as a training topic, but, unfortunately, they don’t move the needle nearly as much as the more fundamentals skills areas that more and more sales professionals do not possess.

Consilio has mastered the training and coaching processes to quickly and dramatically improve sales teams ability to verbalize the information that generates sales.  Our trainers are much more like Navy Seals Trainers/Coaches than the analytical trainers that lead most sales training program.  A Consilio training program feels more like a workout in a gym than an academic experience.  It’s challenging and participants MUST perform under pressure.  They learn to verbalize stuff that really matters like:

  • Their company’s competitive advantages
  • A value proposition that really works
  • An easy transition to start a sales conversation that projects professionalism, credibility and preparedness
  • Effective responses to objections that come up over and over
  • An answer to the questions many skeptical buyers ask such as:
    • Why should I do business with you?
    • What makes you better than your competitors?
    • Why should I schedule a meeting with you?
    • Why should I change from my current supplier?
  • How to ask great questions that drive the consultative sales process
  • How to turn information learned through great questions into highly tailored solutions and verbalize those solutions in a compelling and natural way
  • How to leave great voice mails that generate quick call backs
  • How to get past gatekeepers that prevent them from reaching decision makers
  • How to explain products and services in a powerful way

When a sales person has the verbal power to communicate these things with confidence, their sales results improve quickly.  Then, the more refined topics like account development, CRM utilization, and social media marketing will have more impact.  Consilio has fantastic account development programs as well, but 90% of the time, even with experienced sales teams, what they need is a rigorous coaching experience that really challenges them to up their game when it comes to verbalizing the basics.

We have found, over and over, that when sales managers actually watch live their people answer the question about competitive advantages they are astonished at how ineffective their people really are.   However, they are equally astonished at the quick progress they see as a result of the Consilio Training/Coaching approach.

Challenge us.  We’ll give you an offer you can’t refuse, no risk to you at all.  We guarantee all results.


The Consilio Method Of Sustaining Results After Training Is Complete

The Consilio Method Of Sustaining Results After Training Is Complete

For many training projects, the training program itself is the “big event” and when it’s over, it’s pretty much over.

We believe this is a mistake far too many companies make.  Although group training events can serve as a strong boost to accelerate progress, training MUST continue through follow up with coaching and short, refresher workshops delivered over time to continue to refine the skills.

Training needs to become an integral part of the way a manager manages and coaches the team.   This is what we mean by a rigorous coaching culture.  Managers/Coaches that coach, train and demonstrate on a daily basis is the key to lowering long term training costs.  There is no other way to sustain results that is going to work as well and the alternatives are simply not affordable.

What Consilio clients like best about our approach is two things:

  • Our training programs are much more demanding and bring participants much further in terms of skill development than other programs they’ve tried
  • Our follow up focuses on sales and customer service managers and the internal training team (if they have one) to show and coach them how to sustain progress in an affordable way

The reason the sales team cannot verbalize basic selling information and execute a solid consultative sales process is because the sales managers simply aren’t coaching and training them to do this.  On a sports team, the coach is 100% responsible for training the team and this is the same in the military.  For whatever reason, in business, many sales and customer service managers fall into the trap of managing through memos, policies, procedures, new CRM tools and data analysis.  This needs to change if you want a powerful culture that continuously improves, repels poor performers and attracts top performers.

Consilio can help you make that become a reality.


Keeping It Professional: The Basics

Keeping It Professional: The Basics

Here at Consilio we work to improve the lives of others.

We coach and guide in an effort to bring out the very best in people so that they can create success on purpose. That starts by making sure the best possible you shows up when it counts.

Unfortunately, people sometimes damage an opportunity or even a career by making easily avoidable mistakes. Often these simple missteps seem harmless enough, but should usually be avoided in business situations. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating an influential person or decision-maker. You can lose amazing opportunities if you aren’t careful, so I’m here to set you straight. Don’t irk people by making any of these potentially deal-killing, but completely controllable mistakes.

Odor: Neutralize It!

Have you ever had a wall of perfume hit you in the face so hard that it made you nauseous? I have. I can’t focus. My head starts to hurt. It’s an unnecessary distraction that I resent. It annoys some people. Bad.

Do those with allergies a favor: consider passing on perfume or cologne of any kind. I once overheard a very famous attorney and cable news show host loudly and angrily complain about a woman who wore perfume to work.

Why do I have to smell that b!+(#’s perfume every day? I have the right to clean air in my work environment!” she yelled from a green room makeup chair.

My eyes got wide and I stopped in my tracks. Was she talking about me? Possibly. She seemed to dislike me for no reason I could pinpoint and I did wear perfume in the office. Was it possible I didn’t smell as good as I thought I did? Yes, entirely possible. I never wore perfume to work again. Shoot. I didn’t want to get sued!

It truly boggles my mind that I ever made this mistake. First of all, I’ve developed my own aversion to the smell of most perfumes and colognes. But, more importantly, I wonder if I would have had different opportunities if this one very powerful woman had taken a liking to me. I now realize that was not possible because I committed one of her pet peeves.

In the movie “Anchorman,” Brian Fantana says of his cologne, “60 percent of the time it works every time.”

I’m no statistician, but those odds don’t look that great to me. Eliminate the chance of offending someone 100 percent of the time by not wearing perfume or cologne in business situations.

Spit Out the Gum

I immediately question a person’s judgment when I see them chomping away on gum in the presence of their superiors or clients/customers. Sure, it can be overlooked. I, personally, don’t form a lasting opinion on someone based on whether or not they chew gum, but some people do. A mentor of mine once asked me never to chew gum when we worked together. Couldn’t. Stand. It. (By the way, it’s Oprah’s pet peeve too!)

At least in that situation I was given the opportunity to fix the problem and move on with a clean slate. That’s not usually how it goes down. In a worst case scenario, you don’t get the job/deal/referral/business and you are never told why. It happens. Don’t let it happen to you.

You don’t need gum, anyway. My dentist says it’s bad for your teeth. May I interest you in some mints instead? I was once complimented by a powerful political correspondent/analyst for the mints I kept out for the office. He told me one day, “You really do everyone here a service.”

Mints can also be conversation starters. I recently wowed the team at a huge logistics company by bringing mints shaped like little trucks. It’s the little things that can make a BIG difference. And chomping on gum in business situations is one seemingly little thing you may want to chew over before making yourself appear unprofessional.

Step Away from the Cell Phone

This one almost goes without saying. Almost. Unfortunately, I still have to say it: Be aware of your cell phone use – especially if you are a new hire or recent college graduate.

Stats show inappropriate cell phone use continues to be a major annoyance to employers nationwide. Almost 75 percent of hiring managers report new college graduate employees text message at inappropriate times, and almost 60 percent report excessive cell phone usage for personal calls.

Fine, you’re in a meeting and you need to be on top of what’s moving and shaking in your virtual world. I get that. I’ve worked places where it’s acceptable to have your nose in your phone during meetings as long as you still contribute and add value. That may be your company’s culture, but it may not be. Besides, is it really possible to be completely present when you’re focused on your phone? Probably not. Pay attention if you’re supposed to be paying attention. If you notice an urgent email from a client – maybe deal with it. But, if your friend texts to ask if you want to go to happy hour that night – it can wait until you’re away from those you should be trying to impress with your attentiveness.


How To Rapidly Improve Agent Performance In Contact Centers

How To Rapidly Improve Agent Performance In Contact Centers

90% of the agents that show up for work at contact centers around the world want to do a great job, but the percentage of those who are really outstanding is relatively low.

Consilio has found that the following factors are usually the cause of this:

  • Often, most of the key decision makers at the call center overly focus on technology as a solution to most problems and the really big brainpower goes into designing the system that agents use. This creates a diminished focus on the customer experience and an exaggerated focus on data, screens and technology.
  • The contact center does not have an easily accessible catalog or library of recorded calls of near perfect interactions with customers that are shared frequently with other agents that need to improve.
  • Coaches/supervisors who are supposed to improve the performance of agents rarely know how to practice and put agents through drills that impact how they interact with customers. Instead, they focus on data, numbers, goals, expectations and attitudinal factors. This is an enormous mistake and a huge waste of the most important resource on the floor.
  • Awkward scripts and interaction steps are engineered into the process that wrench the customer through a very difficult experience in an effort to streamline and reduce costs through reductions of handle times. This causes customers to get angry and has the exact opposite impact by causing more problems that generate longer interactions. This is a big demotivating factor for agents.
  • Meetings with agents do not motivate or provide much valuable training and recognition.
  • The physical environment in the contact center is dull and uninspiring. Taking calls day after day is monotonous and the best call centers create a physical environment that is fun, colorful and motivating.
  • Training with agents focuses way too much on how to use the technology and neglects much more important topics like voice tone, questions and listening, summarizing customer issues, tailoring recommendations and suggestions and knowing how to verbalize competitive advantages in an effective way.

The following steps will rapidly improve the results on both reactive and proactive calls in contact centers.

  1. Get more executives and decision makers listening to average mediocre calls so they realize how current processes generate a less than optimal customer experience and generate more waste in terms of efficiency metrics.
  2. Gain agreement on a customer-oriented call flow with sufficient flexibility that allows agents to truly solve problems without getting penalized.
  3. Record some fantastic examples of how to use an effective call flow on relatively simple calls and get those calls into the headsets of agents so they hear them over and over.
  4. Train the agents on how to verbalize competitive advantages, product features and benefits and an effective good agenda to get a call off to a good start to the point that they do not need a script to verbalize these things.
  5. Put the supervisors/coaches through rigorous training on how to DEMONSTRATE the call flow and conduct effective simulation training that is efficient and uses repetition to build agent skills.
  6. Put into place a fun and motivational certification system that generates ground up motivation to improve.  Blended learning (self guided plus facilitator led) can make this very efficient.
  7. Train the people that manage the front-line supervisors/coaches to hold them accountable to training and coaching agents and getting away from too much time spent looking at data screens.
  8. Put effective training drills into the team meetings.
  9. Align QA teams with this process so they can help generate effective feedback and data that really helps coaches.

Consilio is an expert at bringing the best practices from top performing contact centers around the world into our clients contact centers and rapidly improving performance.


How To Build A Dynamic And Effective Sales Culture

How To Build A Dynamic And Effective Sales Culture

Generally speaking, the best sales teams do two things better than their competitors:


  1. They spend more time interacting with high potential buyers and prospects.
  2. They are more skillful at using a proven interactive sales process and are more credible and convincing when explaining their products, services and competitive advantages than their competitors.

There are obviously other elements that factor into sales results like product/service quality and price, convenience issues, barriers to changing suppliers, familiarity with current supplier etc. However, the two things a sales professional usually has control over is how much time he/she is going to speak with high potential buyers/clients and what he/she is going to say and do in that interaction. The best sales people spend more time talking to people that can buy more of their products and services. This seems so obvious but thousands of companies ignore these simple indicators of success and ultimately this is why so many sales people never reach their full potential.

Many sales executives get bluffed out into thinking more computer based tools and account planning and forecasting processes is the answer. There is certainly nothing wrong with having a good CRM system and using planning processes that give management better visibility into the pipeline, but these tools rarely increase a sales person’s activity level and have virtually no impact on how skillfully the sales person communicates important things like competitive advantages, and differentiating factors from the competition.

From working with hundreds of sales organizations, we have learned that the vital elements of a high powered sales culture include:

  1. An intense focus on making sure every member of the sales team masters the ability to communicate the critical sales information that generates business.
  2. A real commitment to using a proven consultative sales process that generates rapport, finds needs and tailors solutions.
  3. A clear understanding of the transferable best practices that must become strengths of all members of the sales team.
  4. A strong focus on coaching and training from sales managers so they don’t waste too much time on data analysis and looking at computer screens.
  5. A method of finding and sharing success stories that highlight strong selling performance so that all members of the sales team can learn from one other’s success.
  6. An unbending commitment to identifying who are the most important buyers/customers to speak with NOW and a proven strategy to generate those selling opportunities.
  7. Compensation and incentives that reward the right things.

Consilio’s approach toward helping sales teams transform is simple:

  • Focus on the best practices that generate the best results. Force members of the sales team to really clear the bar in terms of being able to communicate persuasively and credibly with customers/buyers.
  • Identify the bad habits that sales managers and sales people have gotten into and execute a plan to change this quickly.
  • Create a more intense focus on spending more time talking to the customers/buyers that have the highest capacity to create more business.
  • Conduct rigorous training so that all sales people can effectively communicate the Bedrock Sales Communication Tools and apply an effective consultative sales process.
  • Train sales managers to quickly transition to a more coaching intensive relationship with their sales teams.

Simple, but not easy. We have learned how to execute these steps better and better through many projects with good, bad and ugly sales teams over the last 30 years. Our training and coaching processes are more rigorous and demanding than our competitors and sales teams love it. Consilio believes repetition and practice is needed to be able to effectively verbalize critical selling information under pressure.