In sales today, many things will happen to distract your focus. Clients, market pressures, orders, seasonal changes in the market will all have an impact.
The only way to establish some progress is to track your sales results or ‘scores’. You don’t have to track a lot of things; only the ones that have meaning to your product and services. Small incremental increases in actions will compound your progress in sales.
So what can you track? If you have been working in a market or industry for some time you will already have facts and figures you can draw on. If you are new to a zone then you will need to develop assumptions based on real market trends; that will take research and investigation. Answer these questions in doing so:
- Where are the clients coming from?
- What are they looking for in obtaining service and supply of goods?
- How can you tap into the client segments in a regular way?
- What prospecting methods work better than others?
- How many prospecting calls are you making?
- What is the average unit of sale over the last 12 months?
- What is the average unit of commission or profit over the last 12 months?
- What is the volume of sales per person in your industry versus your business?
- How long does it take to connect with your clients and prospects at a level that you would regard as primed for new business activity?
- What’s your market share? How has that market share changed?
Questions like these help you move ahead. Success in professional sales today is a very personal thing. Results come from personal action and incremental improvements in doing so. Take action every day; that’s what sales success is all about.
In sales today, we can easily get bogged down in doing things that are of little value to our careers. We have to do these things because we have a client or a boss in the background pushing the issue. This type of work is called ‘reactive’ and it doesn’t disappear (unfortunately).
The key to a successful sales career is to balance your work between reactive and proactive work. If you can spend at least 1/3rd of your day on proactive things, you will generally see a growth of market share and opportunities.
It is worth noting that many salespeople never get out of the ‘reactive’ zone of work. They are constantly battling between the requirements of the market, clients, customer service, the boss, and the competition.
It takes some time to shift your work patterns from reactive to proactive. Set yourself a pattern of work that gradually moves you away from the things that are wasting your time. After about 4 weeks you should have achieved the result and momentum you are looking for. You owe it to yourself to make the business change. Soon your commissions or income will improve as a result of you proactively moving ahead with the right elements to your business.
Every year the actions that we take in sales should be carefully planned and actioned. We have no time to lose when it comes to building the business, the market share, and the customer base.
In any period of 12 months it is likely that we have only 10 months of ‘action’ time where we can effectively reach out to the customers and prospects that we serve. The 2 months ‘downtime’ is usually the result of business issues, holidays, seasonal changes in the market, and economic conditions. There are always new clients in the market to find.
When I hear a salesperson say ‘The market is quiet and nothing is happening’, I know that I am looking at a salesperson that is looking for excuses. Top salespeople do not make excuses, knowing that there are only actions in this world of results.
There are 3 types of salespeople in the world. Try these:
- There are those that watch the business go around and other salespeople do the deals. They take no risks. They are happy to ‘help out’ but will not drive market share or new business. When things go quiet, they go quiet.
- There are those that conform and act by following the action of the masses. They know that the ‘status quo’ works (somewhat) and they stay in their comfort zone during the majority of their career. They take few risks they generate ‘ordinary’ levels of business.
- There are those that set their own market and business directions. They watch what is going on and then they start a strategy of action to a plan of focus. They drive exceptional new business and the best client relationships. They have a growth focus.
Many salespeople like to believe that they are in the third group of achievers, however the reality is they are not. Self belief is a good and a bad thing; it can hold you back from achieving and can even divert your actions. Everyone can improve their efforts and focus when it comes to business growth and sales. Importantly a plan and a system of action can improve things substantially.
Step to the front of your market understanding that their are only a few top performers there at the moment. Become ‘one of the few’ and drive massive market share. Every day take strong actions to contact more people and build relationships. Practice your skills so your business conversions improve.
There is only a small difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘excellent’. Take those further efforts in your business and your client connections.
With your career and in business you will come across many challenges that will threaten to derail your efforts and progress. That is why we all need goals and targets. It’s like having a railroad track stretching out in front of you to take you to the correct ‘station’. Every day you move further up the line.
Many books have been written on the goal process and systems available. Choose one or two of those books and develop your goals based on proven systems and evidence from those that have achieved results. Implement your goals system.
Here are some tips to help you get this process under control:
- Having goals will help you see what’s possible. Set targets for set periods of time to help you move through barriers and levels of achievement. It’s a bit like moving up a staircase; eventually you can and should reach the top.
- Action systems should be based around your targets. Every day the right things should be done that help you move ahead.
- The comfort zone can be a real problem for some salespeople and business professionals. The accumulated habits that we have built up over the years threaten to hold us back and take us to the things that are ‘comfortable’. Don’t let that happen.
- Track and measure your progress using benchmarks of performance that are quantifiable. That could be in the number of sales, clients, database growth, or market share.
- At the end of each week give yourself some small reward or benefit, recognising that you have made some progress.
- Create a pictorial storyboard of progress and experiences. You can inspire yourself into further action by remembering the barriers and achievements that you have made.
- Look for mentors and the people that have achieved results under immense pressure. Their experiences will inspire you to take greater action.
It’s great to work in a career that is challenging, rewarding, and interesting. Given all of that, it is a personal process of success and effort that will help take you forward.
When you look around the business environment today, you will see different salespeople and different sales teams. They all function differently and some are more successful than others. When you work on commission based summary, success is not an option. Results simply have to come your way.
The most successful salespeople are those that deliberately choose to improve themselves and their skills. Each week they are taking further steps towards skill development and improvement.
Here are some tips to help you improve your results, client base, and sales.
- Read books on top salespeople to get more ideas about how people approach their industry and their market. When it comes to selling as a profession, we may have new technology and resources to use today, but the profession is the oldest in the world. You can learn a lot from those successful people that have put their ideas and experiences down on paper.
- Determine your greatest weakness when it comes to sales and prospecting activity. The greatest weakness that you can identify is likely to be the one that you avoid at all costs. It is also likely to be the one that holds back your market share and income. Determine the weakness factor that is holding you back, then seek some training and guidance to help you improve and remove the weakness. Practice is the key to developing new skills and improving poor ones.
- Understand your strengths from a business perspective. Those strengths can be solid foundations for ongoing client contact, presentations, client service, and sales. Develop your strengths further through the practice process.
- Systemise your day so that you can get the most important things done that can help you build market share and sales. Top salespeople know the importance of certain key things that they do. Every day they will repeat the most important issues such as prospecting, presentation skills, and client contact.
- Track your progress on a daily and weekly basis. Results and ratios connect you see where your activities are improving, and where the weaknesses still remain.
- Build a database of client contact that is reliable and accurate. Every meeting and conversation should be tracked into the database for future opportunity. As simple as this seems, many salespeople are not very diligent when it comes to database maintenance. This weakness can be your strength.
- Set business and sales goals that are results orientated. Determine the number of sales that you need for the quarter and for the year. Determine the number of clients that you need in particular categories that will help you achieve those sales. Set the prospecting model in action that will allow you to create more clients, and meet more people. Each day you can track your activities with prospecting, meetings, presentations, and sales.
All of these things will help you to progress as a professional salesperson. That being said, you should take a half day a week out of your business diary to focus on planning and performance. Each week, each quarter and each year, there will be seasonal changes to client activity and market forces. The planning process allows you to focus on what’s been happening, how you need to change, and the implementation of your personal business plan.
When you are working as a sales professional, sometimes it appears that you are stalled or struggling with your sales or market share. In most cases when this happens it is because you are not pushing the project forward enough or perhaps it needs adjustment.
Plans can help you, but momentum is really important. So many people make the plans but struggle with the action; life soon takes over and redirects their focus and efforts. Inevitably they are achieving little towards their goals. Success in business requires effort on the harder things that others are reluctant to do. Have you got the drive and focus to do the harder things?
There are a few key areas to look at when all of this happens.
- Do you know exactly what you are trying to achieve? Be quite clear on the process that you are looking at and how you will know when you have got results.
- Set some simple tasks to be done each day and as part of your bigger plan and efforts. Without fail make sure that these key things are done. Prospecting is one of them.
- If someone asked you the question as to what you do, how would you answer them? Can you explain in one sentence what you do as a salesperson and professional? You need that sort of clarity to get momentum and results.
- Fear is something that holds most salespeople back. It can be the fear of the process, the reluctance to do certain difficult things, or the amount of action needed every day to move forward. Top salespeople deal with fear and reluctance; you will need to do the same. Small steps in the right direction can help you get started.
- Get some resources and simplify your systems so you can take more action every day. Don’t make things complicated; simplify what you do and take action.
- Watch what the successful people in your industry are doing. Some of their actions and skills can be replicated.
Most of the things that hold us back are self-inflicted. Take charge of your sales career by working on yourself and your actions. Quite soon you will be moving ahead again.