This has always amazed me. The fact that sales people, great sales people in some cases, feel that, somehow, their success or otherwise is dictated by some outside force. Maybe the marketplace, or a lucky break caused by their competition missing a beat, or more worryingly, some positivity unilaterally disposed by a capricious universe.
There are no accidents in business. And sales is a management of processes. Nothing more.
A sales process may look like this:
Dials : Contacts (assuming you are finding your own leads) – the process of calling prospects – pretty much down to luck!
Contact : Appointment – the process of turning that contact into an appointment, clearly, the better you are at doing this, the better the ‘conversion’ rate
Appointment : Presentation – This process will include some sort of fact find or customer analysis if you are a consultative seller, or you’ll go straight to pitch if you are transactional
Presentation : Sale – The classic ‘conversion’ ratio is based on this part of the process.
Sales people (should) study and learn and practice and get better at each of these stages.
They (should) get better at talking on the phone to make an appointment, becoming more believable in their approach and improving the amount of contacts they convert to appointments.
They (should) get better at fact-finding. Getting more opportunities to present, as they uncover more problems the client has, that they are able to solve.
And they (should) get better at presenting. Closing a greater percentage of their sales over the period of their careers.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Too many get to a level of competence, and stop. They blindly ‘rush about’ hoping that stuff will come off. Hoping that the sales gods will smile on them this month, or next month or whatever. They stand still after achieving a level of competancy, and fail to take responsiblily for their success (or otherwise)
We go through a few stages in our career, or anything we attempt to do for that matter. First comes Unconscious Incompetence – we don’t know what we don’t know, and we aren’t very good at it either!
Then we get to Unconscious Competence. And too many sales people get here and stick. We are good at our jobs, but we don’t know what it is we do that makes us successful. This leads to sales people associating behaviours or superstitions to success. ‘I’m always successful when I am busy!’ they think - so they make sure they are always busy. Or ‘I’ve always done better with Car Dealers’ is the refrain perhaps - so they focus on selling to car dealers, or another specific category.
Thats all fine when they are hitting target. But start to miss for any reason, or even worse, find your success brings a higher target, which it should do – it’s a mark of your ability after all, and somthing you should aspire to - and things start to go wrong.
Now suddenly, they don’t know what to do to put things right. And if your sales manager is at the same ability level as you are, which is too often the case, they won’t be able to help you either. There is only one way your number is going, and that’s downwards.
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I do that makes me successful?
Where do I win?
What part of the process am I strong at and what part weak?
Is it possible for me to strengthen my weaknesses and really take advantage of my strengths?
How do I do that?
Where are my best sources of learning?
How do I take advantage of them?
Do I know what it takes to succeed?
Do I have a plan to succeed?
Do I have the discipline to stay on that plan?
Given that you do know what it takes to succeed, why aren’t you doing more of it?
This process has to start with measurement. You have to know what it is you do that allows you to win. Otherwise you are blindly thrashing about and hoping to win.
Become Consciously Competent. Find out what it is you do that allows you to win, and do more of that. And less of the other stuff you throw in, hoping it will make you successful. Start by measuring the ratios of each of the different part of the sales process above. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work out how to fix weaknesses, and plan to maximise on your strengths.
Oh, and I’ll give you a clue. No matter how much you think becoming a better fact finder, or better at taking a brief, or becoming better at the simple act of presenting will impact your sales, and that surely will, nothing will add more impact to your efforts than increasing the number of dials you make.
Sales is a management of processes, See more people and you will sell more.
Get better and better at the bits in between by all means, but eventually you will realise your success or failure is directly proportional to the amount of people you see. I would go so far as to say that in 100% of cases I have come across failing sales people aren’t making enough calls. Not making enough appointments and therefore not enough presentations.
Do not leave it to chance. Do not leave it to luck. Give yourself the best chance you can. Make more dials, which leads to more appointments, and in turn to more presentations and therefore sales.
There are no short cuts, no coincidences. See more people and you will sell more.
What do you think? Let me know below in the comments section, or email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you! You can also leave a comment on the Facebook page, or Tweet me @radiojaja