Working in a professional sales position, you will find many pressures occurring on a daily basis. Sometimes it is tempting to take the ‘easy’ way out when it comes to issues and tasks. It is not unusual for most sales people to take the ‘road of less difficulty’. Unfortunately this does not always bring in the best results in new business and income.
When you look at your career, your industry, and the competition, it will be very obvious what needs to be done if you are to rise to the top of your market. Are you doing all of those things now? Could you do more of them? What would happen if you started working on those difficult things that you have been putting off for so long?
Here is a list of the common ‘matters of avoidance’ for most salespeople:
- Contacting clients in an ongoing way
- Paperwork and reports
- Key performance indicators
- Database entries
- Following up on business and transactions
Just about all of these things will have a big impact on the business activities of the average salesperson. Some of these things will be more important than others.
The rules here are quite simple:
- Look at the list and decide what you could improve on.
- Get the knowledge that you need to build your skills that may require more work.
- Start practicing your skills.
- Take action to a plan.
It is not easy being a salesperson in any industry. You must rise to the market and the pressures of the day with a great attitude and a momentum to take your business and market share forward. Developing a plan for the process is a good thing, however the start of any day should feature the things that are hard and that you have been putting off. Get the ‘hard stuff’ done first and the business will start to move ahead.
When you work in a sales position in a competitive industry, you really do need to understand your character when it comes to selling and the factors that go with it. When you truly understand how you like to do things, you can build on your strengths as a top salesperson.
There are many different ways to establish and grow as a person in your sales career or industry.
Here are some questions to review and consider as part of this process:
- If you are presented with some serious challenges in your marketplace, are you prepared to do what it takes to create the necessary opportunity and new business?
- Do you like to listen to other salespeople when it comes to market place activity, or do you work on the basis of your own experience and momentum?
- How do you see the opportunity for building a client base and selection of services in your business and market today?
- When negotiations get tough, do you know how to move to the next level and use the necessary confidence to close the deal?
- Do you practice your professional sales skills on a daily basis so that you can grow your client base from regular prospecting and referral business?
- Exactly how much knowledge to you have when it comes to your product or service? Can it be better?
They are interesting questions which many salespeople will answer quite differently. It is the top salespeople in any profession that are highly independent and driven when it comes to skills and market activity. Every day they strive to grow their client base and or attract more sales. They look at ways to do just that.
A ‘great salesperson’ you can be if you decide to move ahead with your skills. Take charge of your market by knowing where you are right now and planning the factors of personal improvement that will 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.
When it comes to sales team effectiveness and your results, your time is the most important resource that you have available. It sounds so simple and yet so many salespeople waste time. In an average group of 10 salespeople, only a few would have time optimised for the tasks at hand. It is common to see 50% of the working day being wasted.
If your salary or your commission is based on performance and outcomes, you simply cannot avoid the time management rules and controls. Everything that you do every day should be well considered.
Here are some rules to help you get your business and your activities under control:
- Set some goals for yourself. In this way you will know where you are headed and why. Make sure those goals are based on specific outcomes and time. Each week you can track your processes and adjust where necessary.
- Identify the 3 things that are critical to your business growth. Those things should be done every day to allow you to improve your market share and client outcomes.
- Control your telephone both in the office and on mobile. When people ring you they put other tasks and focus into your day. Preserve a period of 3 hours each day where you get key things done. During that time the message bank on your telephone can take messages.
- Tidy up your desk, car, and briefcase. Nothing is more off-putting than a desk area that is out of control. If you see the clutter you will feel that you are getting nowhere fast.
- Use a written diary to control your time in manageable chunks. Work in chunks of 2 hours. In this way you will get 4 or 5 things done each day.
- Use a system to get the basics and everyday things under control. This will normally be a computer and a database. Record the important things and get back to them later.
- Set priorities in your business and for you personally. Some things are more important than others and you are the best person to know what the priorities are.
- Audit your use of time so you can identify the weaknesses and remove them.
- Do the hard and difficult things done each day first up. In this way those issues are likely to be done. It is a known fact that most business people put the hard things off and wait until the very last minute to do the job.
- Exercise each day to give yourself some personal time. This will help you feel less stressed and remove some pressure from your life.
We tend to forget that we are the ones that are (or should be) in control. Seek to get yourself under control and optimise your business outcomes. These rules will help you do that.
In a given business year it is common that sales will slow or decline in value. It varies from market to market and location to location. That being said you can and should do something about it.
There is absolutely no way that you should accept a slow market or a decline in business. A good salesperson will get out into their patch and drive more relationships. New relationships are the key to business growth and stability.
Here are some facts for you:
- There are always opportunities to find as long as you try, and as part of that you develop a system of coverage in your market.
- Sales success is driven from the relationships that you build, not the numbers of people that you talk to
- Develop a mindset to support your efforts; how you think does have an impact on the outcomes that you get.
- Make it a process of prospecting every day in your business. Two hours should be sufficient, although more is a good thing.
- Build relationships with relevance and skill. The people that you contact need to see that you really are a specialist in what you do. Show them how great you are. Work on being better.
So the message here is clear, when the market and your clients are not feeding you with the required orders or opportunities, take a look at what you are doing, and start to tune it to the end result you require. Most declines in business are not generated from the market, but by the individual and their lack of adjustment to what is going on. Look for the changes and shift your client focus and contact process.