This week, Doug C. Brown speaks with Ken Cheo, the founder of Our Sales Coach. Doug and Ken discuss hitting your quota every month and what holds salespeople back from doing it. They discuss how to set goals for success, strategic versus tactical thinking, how to create and communicate meaning for your buyers, and much more.
Ken Cheo is the President and Owner of Our Sales Coach. Ken works with executives, managers, and select salespeople with guaranteed results for top-line sales growth. Prior to creating the Our Sales Coach brand, Ken enjoyed over 20 years of sales and sales management experience. Ken has participated in speaking engagements and seminars on a variety of sales and marketing-related subjects.
Visit his website: www.oursalescoach.com
Ken is giving away a free copy of his book, Value Led Sale, to CEO Sales Strategies listeners who email him with “CEO Sales Strategies” in the email title. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy!
I have another great guest, Mr. Ken Cheo. Ken and I are going to talk about how you hit quota or exceed it every single time and what’s preventing you from getting there. Many people are like, “I can’t hit quota on a consistent basis.” There are reasons for it. We’re going to discuss those and lay them all out for you so that you can pick up that information. Let’s talk to Ken.
Ken, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.
It’s great to be here.
Let’s set the frame. Why don’t you tell people what you do? We will dive right into our topic of choice.
At Our Sales Coach, we work with sales teams and sales managers and make sure they’re working on strategic plans and they have ways to get to decision-makers, have those conversations, qualify them for meetings, and close the right deals. We work with them on an ongoing basis. It’s a combination of training and coaching. We work with a lot of manufacturing companies, some tech, and then some financial services.
All of you who heard the words “strategic plans”, please write it down. Too many of you are working tactically. It’s hard to get to the top 1% of earners being a tactical player. You can do it, but you will be tired getting there. I’m so grateful you used that word. Thanks for doing that. I’ve been looking forward to doing this because when we first talked, we decided on our topic on how to have people consistently hit or exceed their quota every single time and what’s preventing them from getting there.
I would like to dive right into this if it’s okay because I was pretty excited. I was thinking about this on the plane back to the office. It’s not that my plane lands at the office, but from Logan Airport, I took a car here. I was thinking about our topic. Many people have a challenge being consistent in their quota attainment. I wanted to ask you. Why do you think that happens? What might be the number 1 or 2 reasons why that happens?
There are a lot of reasons why that happens. We should take a step back because the first real question is this. How did those quotas get derived in the first place? Are you setting them? Are they being set by somebody else? I always ask each individual salesperson, “You probably have a quota,” and they usually do, “What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve that?” I treat all of my sales clients as individual clients because that’s how you set goals properly. If you are the CEO, what are you trying to create here, and why? What do you need to get there?
I was talking to a software company. They’re early-stage, and they need to hire two key people. We know what they need to do to create that gross margin, but if you’re an individual, what do you need to achieve for your personal objectives? How are you going to go about that? What’s your formula for doing that? People say, “Sales is a numbers game.” It is a numbers game. You have to find out what your numbers are, and you don’t have to get it right the first time around, but by having a formula to start with, you know what you need to do to be successful, or what you think you need to do.
More times than not, if you think it through, you’re probably not that far off, but at least you know what activities you need to do. If you’re a salesperson, you are 100% able to control whether you do those activities. You can’t control if somebody is going to pick up the phone when you call them. You can control whether you pick up the phone and dial a number.
If you are a salesperson, you must be 100% in control of your sales activities. You can’t control if somebody will pick up their phone, but you can control whether you pick up the phone and dial a number. Click To Tweet
You can control whether you adjust your messaging or go and attend a conference. All the activities are 100% within your control. The first step is, “Is your goal the goal for you?” Secondly, what is your formula? Make sure that the formula and the goals within the formula that come out of that are mostly activities because you can control them. You then can do it, measure it, and adjust it.
There are 3 or 4 that I picked out of this. I call it getting to the truth. It’s what you’re doing right out of the gate. What do you want and what do you really want? It’s one of those things. I have found over the years that people hyperinflate, “I want $1 million.” What’s your formula? What’s your plan to get there? When reality comes around, they’re like, “I don’t want to work that hard. I don’t have enough leverage in the plan,” or whatever it might be.
I want to back up. You said that the CEOs know what they need to achieve, and they’re setting the numbers. My question is this. How many times do you find that the CEO has conveyed that to the sales team, and they’re getting to the truth and being clear about that? Do you find that’s a deficiency in part of the plan that results in people not hitting their numbers because the company hyperinflated what they want but they have never conveyed the information? I’ve discovered that a lot. I’m wondering if you have too.
Sometimes they have trouble putting it into context because the goals are personal for them. If they’re a smaller business, maybe their goals are personal, and their business is the means for them to achieve that. It’s all about them, but sometimes they struggle putting that into the context for the team. What does it mean for the team? When they acquire a new client, they need to potentially have a new hire that’s going to be full-time in the customer experience, engagement, account management, or however you want to phrase it. You’re adding to the team. That is not an individual thing. That’s a company-wide thing. That’s a team thing. Putting it into the context of what it means to the team is how it becomes now a vision for everybody.
The other thing is we could always be more regular with feedback and giving people feedback on how they are achieving those goals, the steps they’re taking, and then how they’re individually contributing even little things that they’re doing in the context of those goals. Even when there are coaching conversations that you have along the way when there are some challenges with behavior, relationships, or performance, putting them in the context of the overall team goal and the impact is always more effective.
I’m glad you brought up the feedback and the coaching component of it because I see that lacking in a lot of companies. Even larger companies did it and stopped. They bring people in, drop them into a system, and go, “Those who make it will make it,” but my take on this is a sales manager’s job is to do two things, grow the revenue of that department, or that division if they’re managing that division, and coach those people along the way. I don’t say that a sales manager should be out there selling per se. They could support sales. Do you also find that coaching is lacking in a lot of these companies where people are not hitting quota on a consistent basis?
The more typical situation is you promote your chief rainmaker, and they’re not a people person. They’re not patient. They’re not a good listener, or they can’t understand why Charlie can’t do what I do, “I told you what to do. Do what I do.” That’s not necessarily coaching. That’s creating entitlement or a need for somebody to tell them what to do. We’re always lacking in positive feedback. Normally, coaching is jumping in when there’s a problem.
When there is a problem, how do they engage? Are they engaging at a level where they’re centered? The conversation tends to be more critical rather than constructive. Are they prepared to talk about what they observed? It comes across in a critical tone, so it’s less effective. Most of the time, if they had that conversation where they’re presenting their observations, asking the other person’s perspective, and having that conversation so that they’re on the same page as to what’s going on, the person who would need to make a change comes up with their plan. That is what should happen 80% of the time. Normally, we’re jumping to the 20% telling them, “This is what I want you to do.”
It reminds me of the Boston Red Sox years ago. David Ortiz was a great hitter. The man hit home runs like crazy. It was awesome but not everybody is his size and stature or had his ability of strength in that. There are some people who are smaller than David Ortiz. They have to adapt their style if a sales manager is pushing their agenda onto somebody consistently and not taking them as an individual whole. David Ortiz was six feet. He was a big man. The guy was huge.
I’m 5’8. I don’t have the same center of gravity he has. He would have to teach me how to hit the long ball differently than he would do it. If he’s just directing me, I wouldn’t get it. I would try it and probably hit some balls but the reality is in selling, managers, owners, CEOs, and even sales representatives understand that you have to have your individual style that fits within the system. We have to coach up to that.
We’re speaking with Mr. Ken Cheo. Ken is at OurSalesCoach.com. I love the formula you have here. It’s getting to the truth, creating a plan based on that truthful plan for the salesperson, coming up with a formula on how to get there, and taking action, which is something I see people don’t do enough of. I love the last one, which is that actions should be activities. Let’s talk about the activities. What activities should someone who wants to or must hit consistently or exceed quota each month be doing and focusing on a regular basis?
There’s no one answer to that because it entirely depends on your sales environment. They’re going to adapt their performance and their actions to their style. Sometimes we’re not thinking enough about the markets that we’re in. A lot of my clients have different markets, and the go-to-market strategy is entirely different because the way the customers buy is different in those markets. More times than not, selling is a team effort.
I find that business owners or sales leaders are not spending enough time figuring out what their strategy is to address the market and the way the customers like to buy. Once you do that, you can determine what resources you need, “What do we need people to be doing to effectively produce results?” When you find that to be the case, then sometimes you’re putting people in different roles based on that strategy.
Far too many times, they’re hiring people and putting them in positions to do things where those tasks or responsibilities should be divided, or they would be better off being a specialist or subject matter expert versus being an outside sales rep or a business development rep versus being something else. There’s not enough strategy being done to determine how we’re going to approach this market and what resources we need, define the tasks, and then bring the people in who can excel at those tasks.
If you have a lot of leads that are coming in based on your marketing strategy, then you need people who are following up on those leads and qualifying them properly. If it’s a more complicated and sophisticated sales environment, which my clients typically are in, do you need account executives who know how to navigate a more complex sale with multiple decision-makers and more expensive services and products to be able to keep those moving along?
Perhaps there are some specialists that need to be able to not take control of the meeting, but support and bring credibility into the process. But if you are not getting a lot of leads, then your sales team needs to be producing leads themselves. More times than not, both are required. Once you have defined your target market in a specific enough way such that you understand what your best opportunities are and why, then you put together your prospecting plan. What activities are they going to do?
What we do is create at least four active channels that the salespeople are doing in concert with any marketing that the company is doing. We want to always be getting referrals from our customers but we want to have channel partnerships or strategic referral relationships. Maybe there are conferences that we want to go to, and then produce leads that way. There are associations or other entities where we can collaborate with target prospects.
There’s cold calling or other ways of direct contact and using social media. We have to pick which channels the salespeople are willing to work and that makes sense strategically with your target decision-makers. They can now decide with all the other obligations they have how frequently they can do these activities and then every week make sure they’re planning their weeks so that they can execute those activities at those frequencies and then keep themselves accountable for doing that.
If I wrote it down in succession here, I would repeat it and say, “Learn how your clients buy.” That’s number one. Number two, what resources do you need to get to that place? What tasks need to go around that? Those tasks need to be around the activities where the buyers hang out and how they want to buy. Match the people up. Match the strengths up. Ken, you and I have been around for a long time. We have seen over and over where people are not in the right place on the right bus.
Going back to Jim Collins, he wrote a book called Good To Great. They’ve got hunters in places where they’re not hunters. They don’t like to hunt. They like to have an incoming thing come to them. They’re more comfortable doing that, and they do a great job but they put them out there. I love what you said. I would like to repeat this. You had said that you’re not always alone as a salesperson. Many people think they’re loaners in sales, “I’m a salesperson. I have no support.”
You didn’t create the marketing, the product, and the operations. You’re not ever alone. What you’re saying is when I’m selling on a peer-to-peer basis or doing peer-to-peer selling, I can bring an operations person if they bring an operations person in so that these operations people can talk the same language, which I as the salesperson may never even be able to talk. I can have this whole support system, and that’s the ultimate leverage in selling. I’m grateful you brought it up. There’s probably not one perfect answer here. They have everything they need but they’re still not hitting quota.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I was with another client who was doing a lot of cold outreach. Initially, she didn’t have a lot of time because she was doing a lot of implementation, and they freed her up for that but she’s still doing the outreach and not making enough contacts. Her dial-to-contact ratio or outreach-to-contact ratio was way higher than it should be.
We spent an hour working on her scripting and her voicemail messaging so she has a few that are there, and we worked on how she delivered them. She can do an analysis around the effectiveness of these different approaches and put them into place so that the next time, we can determine what’s working and what’s not. What you don’t want to do is keep doing the same thing.
Are you going to the right places? A lot of times, people will go out and say, “I have to go networking.” They will go someplace. Why are you going there? How many of your ideal targets are there? Why are you doing that? I had a client years ago. He worked for a wirehouse. It was wealth management. These wealth managers are always like, “Who’s your target?” “Somebody has $1 million.” “Show me your list of people who have $1 million. How are you creating that list?” They all say, “I want doctors and lawyers because, for whatever reason, we think doctors and lawyers are all independently wealthy.”
The point is I can help you put together a strategy to get doctors and lawyers. I’ve had wealth managers that I worked with that did that. Somebody who has $1 million is too nebulous but in this case, he used to work for a manufacturing company, and he was an engineer. He was the general manager of a manufacturing company. I said, “Why don’t you go to this association of chemical engineers?” He showed up there. Guess how many wealth managers were there.
He was in a blue ocean, sitting there talking to guys about things he liked, building relationships with people, “You work hard with what you do. I’ll bet you want to retain some of that wealth. How do you feel about that?” and having a great time. But instead, they were all going to the chamber meeting where you sit at a table, and 5 out of 10 are wealth managers or bankers.
You’ve got to think strategically about where you’re going and who you’re talking to. I was talking with a gentleman who had a few projects in this nanotechnology where they can take the manufacturing concrete and reduce the amount of material that they need by significant amounts. He’s out there talking to these concrete companies, and he’s not getting anybody interested. It dawned on him. He’s like, “Why would these guys want to adopt my technology? I’m going to reduce the amount of product they sell by two-thirds. They’re not interested.” He’s out talking to the construction companies and they’re saying, “You can reduce my concrete cost by two-thirds. I’m all in.”
Fish where the fish want to jump onto your boat, not because there’s fish in the water. That’s what I’m hearing loud and clear. You have to talk the talk that is meaningful to the buyer. Many people don’t get that concept. You’ve witnessed this because you’ve been doing this long enough, and I have too. I’ll sit there and listen to the conversation. It’s like, “Let me tell you how great my company is, how great I am, how great my kids are, how great this is, why our products are great, and why you should have it. Sign here.” It’s that type of conversation.
Things don’t work that way. I’m not sure they ever worked that way. I may not be old enough to remember way back when but the reality is they don’t work that way any longer. The internet has flattened the world with information. A lot of times, buyers know more about what we’re going into than we give them credit for, and we never ask the questions. I see people blow sales out of the water so many times due to not talking the talk or not talking about what they want on the other side. This is probably an unfair question. I’ve been hitting quota on a consistent basis, and I’ve been doing great. All of a sudden, I’m not hitting quota anymore, and I can’t figure out why. What would occur?
That’s an interesting one. First of all, sales is a tough job. It can come in ebbs and flows. One thing to look at is this. Are you putting all your eggs in one basket? That could be the problem. The market was robust but there have been some changes. For example, in the last few years, we have had some great success with software companies. Now, the money has gotten tight, and that has had a more visible impact on the market. Sometimes market changes aren’t as visible.
Maybe there’s public perception or buyer perception that’s impacting how robust a different market is. You should always have at least two markets that you’re working as a salesperson, as you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. The other thing is you have to stay in tune with what’s happening. Your customers are your best resource. If people talk, you’re never learning anything. You need to always be asking questions to your customers.
It’s a lifelong endeavor to perfect attentive listening skills. When you’re doing that, then you will learn what’s coming and be perceptive. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career that I’ve been able to follow trends. Sometimes I didn’t even realize it but by being in the right place and taking advantage of things that presented themselves, I was fortunate because there was a regulatory change or some market function that created opportunities. That’s where I got a job.
You were in the game, and you were curious all the time.
That’s the key. As you do that, then you are putting yourself in the opportunity to foresee changes and adjustments in the market before they happen or at least be able to adjust when they do.
That’s the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat but curiosity makes salespeople wealthy.” A good example of what you said was Zoom. Zoom had been around for a long time but then market conditions changed with the pandemic. We don’t even call it video conferencing anymore. We call it Zooming. They happened to be there at the right time, and they were in the business doing it consistently.
That is such sage advice for people who are selling because you never know when it’s going to happen, or sometimes you can perceive it down the line but one has to be in that game constantly curious and try to figure out, “How do I make these things better for my buyers?” That’s the question to keep asking over and over, “How do I make it better for my buyers?” That creates the curiosity wheel turning.
I had the same thing happen a couple of times in my career where it was like, “This is so wonderful.” Your sales go off the charts because you’re in the right place at the right time but you spent 5 years, 2 years, 3 years, 10 years, or whatever it was prior to, and then you’re rewarded for that. I don’t think a lot of people stay in the game long enough. They put all their eggs in one basket, “I got referrals.” All of a sudden, it dries up. Ken, thanks for being here. How do people get ahold of you or learn more about you or your company?
They can go to OurSalesCoach.com. We’re launching a new website. It was time for a refresh. You can also link up with me. My URL on LinkedIn is Ken Cheo. My email address is on the website but you can email me at KCheo@OurSalesCoach.com. Give me a call and send me an email.
Ken, I appreciate you being here on the show. Are there any last closing words? Maybe I should have asked you a question I didn’t you were hoping I would, or something like that.
It has been great. I enjoyed the conversation on one of my favorite topics. I’m at the finish line of publishing a book too, The Value Led Sale. Keep an eye open for that. It will be on Amazon. If you email me and say, “CEO Sales Strategies,” I’ll send you a free book. How’s that?
That will work. If you want a free upcoming copy of the book, you email it to him and then put in the subject line, “CEO Sales Strategies. Give me my book,” and Ken will know. Thanks for being here. I do appreciate you being here. I’ve enjoyed our conversation with gratitude.
Thank you. I appreciate it
You’ve heard me talk about this before. I loved what he brought up in the beginning. We work on a strategic plan. Step one, you have to be truthful. What is the real goal? If you’re hyperinflating your goal, you’re always going to be chasing something, and you’re going to be like, “I can’t hit it.” You will be stressed. Why not take the goal that you want?
If you’re not hitting your goal consistently, you have to look at that and say, “Maybe one of the reasons that we talked about in this is part of the reason I’m not consistently hitting that goal.” Step 1) Truth. Step 2) What’s your plan? What is the plan to get there? Is your plan leveraged? That’s another point I wanted to make. If you don’t have leverage in your plan i.e. you can get things done without you constantly or having to always do it, then what you do is you have a lack of leverage. If you want to get to the top 1%, you have to create leverage. It’s a must. Look at your plan.
Step 3) What’s the formula within the plan? What are we going to use? Step 4) Consistent and never-ending action. Remember the old adage, “Sales is a cycle.” What does that mean? That means if your cycle of close is two months from now, and you start, you know something likely is going to close in two months. If you’re consistent through the push of that, and let’s say that you’re prospecting 50 people a day and do this consistently, over time, you will see the cycle.
You will have a high wave and a low wave. Think of a wave hitting the beach. When that hits, then what you’re going to do is make a sale, but if you stop for three or four days, all of a sudden, that beach is going to stay dry, and you’re going to be like, “Where’s the water?” You’re not taking consistent action. In your plan, create the action plan of leverage and then the activities.
I love what he said about the activities. What do you need to do? That’s determined by what your buyer wants. What does the buyer want that you can deliver? Where does that buyer hang out? If you haven’t had this happen to you, and you’re just doing all these activities, then you’re like, “It’s not fruitful.” It’s the universe speaking to you and going, “You’re not doing. They’re over here. We’re over there. The buyers are not where you are.” Adjust your plan accordingly. Not only learn where they are but learn what they want and how to talk to them. Put your tasks together on that and the people.
The last point is sales has always been a team sport. People think, “I’m a solo entrepreneur. It’s only me.” It’s not. It’s only you because you choose it to be you. People will help you. Sometimes they want to get paid for that help. There’s nothing wrong with that. You want to get paid for your services and your efforts as well. Utilize the power of leverage of other people.
Believe it or not, a lot of people can do something better. You can’t do it as good as they do. Let me repeat that. A lot of people can do things better than we can. I cannot, for example, edit a video very well. I could do it but I pay someone to do these types of things. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. If you’re constantly trying to do everything by yourself, what you do is end up piling the business on your back. Sales is a business. Make sure you run your P&L, make sure you know where the money is flowing, and make sure you’re tracking by the numbers.
If you loved this episode, I would be grateful if you would go up and give it a five-star review. The more reviews that I have, the better this is for the algorithms. It helps me out, and I appreciate that. That’s my ask. Don’t forget, if you want Ken’s book, email Ken. If you are a subject expert or you know somebody who’s an expert in a matter or subject expertise, and you believe they would fit into the theme of the show about how to think, act, and be a 1% earner, then please introduce them to us at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com. We answer every inquiry. Please send them in.
If you want to be part of the 1% Academy, how to learn, think, act, and be a 1% earner, send an email to that same email address. If you want a copy of our latest eBook, The Nonstop 1% Earner, go to CEOSalesStrategies.com/1PE. Download the book and let us know how you’re doing. As always, go out and sell something. Sell a lot of it. Sell it win-win. Win if possible with three people. Make sure you’re not discounting. Make sure that you’re selling and positioning your value as it is because when you discount, you have to make up sales to make up for that discount. Until next time. To your success.
By opting in, you authorize CEO Sales Strategies, LLC to send you email communication regarding the requested ebook and other relevant ebook resources. You can unsubscribe anytime.