There are plenty of challenges when it comes to sales and sales teams today, but one problem is far bigger than everything else and it sets the scene for overall personal results and income. If you understand the problem you can do something about it.
In simple terms the problem goes something like this:
‘Your daily habits determine your outcomes, and most salespeople cannot or do not modify their habits to lift personal performance’.
It is a simple issue, but it has huge impact across sales teams and also individually. Your habits in business can hold you back or change the future.
So what is the Problem?
We have had many years to develop our habits and focus. When it comes to modifying those habits for our business and personal income, the challenge is beyond most salespeople. The personal discipline of most salespeople will shift on a daily basis, and all good intentions become lost in a ‘sea of inaction’.
If you work for yourself or work on commission, there are all sorts of tools that can help you with bringing about the changes that you require. You hear of them in many different ways. Depending on your industry some will be more important than others.
The list of processes and tools that are available to lift personal performance are typically:
- Scripts and Dialogues
- Cold Calling
- Sales territory
- Contact plans
All of these things can strengthen your market and your personal brand. The real fact of the matter is that they are all personal issues. The results that you get back will only come from the results that you put in.
When a salesperson is well paid they become complacent; the motivation to lift performance is just not there. However, when a salesperson is rewarded by effort and commission, they can see what they have to do, and they know that they are the key to getting habits and challenges sorted and strengthened. It is the small percentage of sales people that then rise to the occasion and get active on the tasks and systems to build their business.
You have a choice here. You can accept your habits and keep doing the same old things that have got you to where you are today; or you can challenge yourself to lift your focus and skills with new effort and focus. The rewards are many for those salespeople that can make the change and lift their performance.
In business today, the humble telephone remains the most effective way to grow your business. The telephone allows you to make cold calls and find more clients to connect to; you can do all of this from the comfort of your desk. That being said, many salespeople will avoid the cold calling process at any and every opportunity.
So why do so many people have a problem with calls to new prospective clients? Here are some reasons that are common in most industries today.
- Lack of organisation
- No idea of how to make the process work
- Failure to develop a habit of making calls every day
- Call reluctance
- Not knowing of what to say
So the list will go on and on. The opportunity that exists here is massive; a good salesperson that can establish an effective call contact process in their market can create massive new business opportunity. That can then mean better salary or commission depending on how you get paid for results.
So what is the secret to progress here? The secret to making prospecting and cold calling work for you is to get started today and keep it going. Do not stop prospecting for any reason; every day you should be prospecting for new clients for at least 2 hours. This single fact will keep the business coming in and your pipeline growing.
If your industry is tough or slow, go back to the basics and get out amongst your clients and potential targets. Make prospecting the number one thing that you do every day. Quite soon you will see things change around for the positive and when that happens do not stop what you are doing, but lift your efforts even higher. Top salespeople know that everything comes down to them and what they do every day.
When it comes to building your market share and your business, it is very easy to get tied up in the unimportant things that happen every day. If you work in sales, this can be a disaster that will destroy your market and eventually your commission or income.
In an ideal world you want your good reputation to spread around your industry and client base. You need to be seen and known as the expert that people go to when they want help. This ‘guru’ status does not come easily and can only be built by what you do and who you know. You earn the ‘expert’ mantle of a top expert in your industry.
The key to this process is in being different in an acceptable and relevant way. Business is not all that complicated if you follow the rules.
- Build your brand with clients and prospects after every meeting or contact. Send them your business card in the mail. Write something on the business card that is personal and connecting. Thank the person for giving you some of their time.
- Speak at business conferences or community groups on your speciality. In doing this you can give relevant information and tips that help people. Do not sell from the front of the room. It just puts people off.
- Set aside 90 minutes of your day to make calls to new people that you have not spoken to before. In this way your market share will stay positive and potentially grow.
- Leave messages when you cannot reach someone. You are a brand and your name means something. Some of the most successful salespeople have very unusual names that are hard to forget. This then says that leaving your name will in some minor way form part of the bigger marketing picture for you.
- Send short messages by SMS after a meeting to thank the person that you just spent some time with. Adopt a similar process when you are to meet with a person. Send an SMS message first thing in the morning or the night before so they know that you are coming to see them as expected.
- Go beyond email and lift the telephone as often as you can. Voice contact helps you build your credibility. Most emails get lost in the world of the email trash can.
- Follow-up the prospect or client after every sale to ensure that they are happy with what they purchased from you or your business. It also gives you the opportunity to answer any questions that they may have on product use or application.
- Spend 50% of your day out of the office visiting clients. It is harder to win business from your desk, so make it a part of your diary each day to get out and talk to people.
Is business all that hard? Is there something that some salespeople do that is special? No, the answers are quite simple; the top salespeople in any industry know that personal contact and branding will help them more than anything else. You are in charge of your branding, so build your contact system and start moving it forward every day.
In business and in life many people struggle with the targets and goals that they must achieve. All too often the path to progress gets clouded and confused. When it comes to sales, the same process and observation applies.
When you want to go on a holiday, what do you do? You set your targets, you plan, and then you figure out the steps that are required to get you there. Every week or month you do more things to push the holiday closer to you. In 12 months or so you will have achieved the holiday of a lifetime.
Most salespeople stay in the average zone of achievement. They will have some good months and some not so good months. Only the very best people rise to the top of their market, and they do so because they know what has to be done and they create a system to do it each and every day. They work from a base of achievement.
Some of the biggest problems you hear some ordinary salespeople refer to are any or all of the following:
- Not enough time
- Incorrect resources
- No support from management
- Need to go home early
- It’s 5:00pm and the clients are not in their office
- The market has changed
- It’s time for a holiday
- The client is away for a few weeks
- Nothing happens at Christmas time
- I left a message and they did not get back to me
So these are all ‘excuses’, and top salespeople know that the results that they need come from one source; that is themselves. They systemise themselves and they take daily action to get the result that they need. If they have any shortcomings in skills, they practice until they remove the problem.
If you work in a sales related job, and your salary depends on your success in client connection and orders, you would be best advised to look at your systems and your actions that you do every day. Would you say that most days are effective and positive as to results?
If the answer is not clear, don’t worry; you are not alone. Do however take a step back and closely review exactly what you do each day that is high priority business. If 40% of your day is not business generating then you need to modify you actions and focus.
It takes about 3 weeks of deliberate effort to change your focus and develop new habits, but soon you will be on the road to new and better outcomes.
Every business should have a solid and defined system when it comes to finding new clients and converting them to customers over time. I like to split the system up into just 3 stages of;
- Follow up
At the end of each week you can do your numbers analysis of each of these pipeline phases. In that way you will know that you are moving forward. As a business or as a salesperson, you have to be moving somewhere positive over time. It takes about 3 months of prospecting to build positive momentum and new market share. It takes the same amount of time for a business to slide backwards in their market.
Great salespeople prospect continually so the 3 months factor never seems to be a problem; the good salespeople just keep driving more market share.
Ultimately the follow-up phase will be the precursor to an order or a sale. This ratio of sales success will change from salesperson so salesperson and will largely be established on experience and relevance of each salesperson to the client.
Most clients will base their decision on the value of the deal and the quality of the product over the experience of the salesperson, but the experience of a salesperson will greatly impact the factors of repeat business. If you want repeat or referral business then the quality of your sales team will have a lot to do with the results that you get.
Here are some tips for new salespeople in any industry:
- Make prospecting your lifeblood so that it features in your diary every day for at least 2 hours.
- The best time to prospect is first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you.
- Focus on making calls to new people for at least 50% of your prospecting time. In this way you will grow your client base.
- Spend more time in face to face meetings each day. The office paperwork can wait to the end of the day.
- Clients like to trust the people that they do business with. Would your prospects regard you as ‘trustworthy’?
In any business at any point in time, there will always be challenges that will arise. If you can be a ‘solutions based salesperson’ you will find that the deals are easier to find and close. Most clients like to work with experts that can relieve the pain of any decision. When you negotiate or close on a deal with a client, provide facts and figures that support their agreement and order to be placed. Top salespeople do that all the time.
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