Approach Your Day with a Sales Plan

In professional selling, the day that you have before you is the most important.  With the 12 hours you have ahead of you, every minute should be optimised for the actions that will bring you the best results.

Top salespeople do not waste a minute, an hour or a day.  They work to a plan and understand what should happen to help them build market share and sales opportunities.  They then start the process and they control it to the very end.  Yes, I know that some things will always happen that will upset the process and some of the actions that were planned, but most of the time the top salesperson got the right things done as part of their day plan; they knew that they were in control and they did not give that control to anyone else.

If you are a professional salesperson, the same rules should apply to you.  Here are some questions and concepts to consider:

  • How will you focus your energy all day to get the job done at a high level?
  • What do you need to practice that will have great benefit on the results?
  • What barriers will you strike and how will you handle them?
  • How will you stay focused and ‘cool’ under pressure?
  • What thoughts and actions will help you rise to the challenge?
  • What are your goals to focus on and how are you doing that?

Have you ever noticed how top golfers approach their game?  They practice for hours before the game, and then they approach the game with a sequence of focus.  Every shot that they take is a planned event.  They size up the shot, stand behind the ball and visualise the ‘drive’ and the ‘direction’.  They are prepared for performance.

The same logic applies to professional salespeople.  Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Plan the events of the day.
  2. Start every day with focus and practice before you get to your office or sales territory.
  3. Understand the key issues that will take you to the top of the ‘sales’ game.
  4. Every telephone call, meeting, proposal, presentation, and negotiation should be well crafted.

It is surprising just how many salespeople do not focus and practice their skills.  That is an amazing opportunity for those that are prepared to do so.

Sales Team Leaders or Sales Team Disasters

It is interesting to note that many successful sales people do not make very good team leaders.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that promoting a top salesperson to the role of ‘team leader’ is a bad thing.

The character of a team leader is totally different to that of a salesperson.   A top salesperson is generally focused on personal systems and actions.  That is why they are so good at what they do; each day they do the right things and build momentum and market share.  They also will earn a lot of commission as a result of these personal processes.

Many business leaders and CEO’s unfortunately take the top performer from the team and give them the ‘tag’ of ‘sales manager’ or ‘sales director’.  That person will be given a pay increase in exchange for sharing their skills around the greater team.  Whilst the logic is there, it is a ‘dumb’ business move.

Do you know what I mean?  Have you been there before?  Here are some facts that you cannot ignore.

  • The character of a top performer is one of achievement.  That is removed when they are appointed as ‘sales manager’.
  • A top salesperson will drive massive business when given autonomy and left to establish their systems and procedures.  Flexibility and creativity are critical factors to top sales performers.  In the role of ‘sales manager’ they will not have that.
  • A ‘sales manager’ has to be skilful in team leadership and team counselling.  Those skills do not sit well with a top sales performer.

The best sales managers are special people that know how to encourage personal performance across many different types of people.  They enjoy the job for the benefit and results that the team can achieve.  Choose your sales managers well, and your business will benefit.

How to Build a Top Career in Sales

Many people start a career in sales thinking that they will rise to the top of the industry quickly, and that their income earned will be high.  If only life was that easy.

Professional selling is a specific career that requires a high degree of personal development and practice; that process should never stop.  Those people that are very good at selling are particularly so not through luck, but by the specific actions and choices that they take.  They work really hard.  They have systems to underpin the actions that they take every day, and they look for ways to improve their processes.  They actually do what they say they will do.

The averages of performance therefore apply to most people in a ‘career of sales’.  Less than 10% of salespeople in any industry are truly the ‘high performers’.  This number should say to you that there is a massive opportunity for most to improve and grow their business if they apply themselves to the tasks required.

Daily actions and results should be tracked and ratios monitored when you work in sales.  In this way you will know when things are improving.  New sales skills take time to develop; but develop they will do so if you practice your efforts and take the right action every day.

The core sales skills that are important to us are usually a combination of all of the following and some of us are better at some of those things than others:

  • Research
  • Prospecting
  • Meeting generation
  • Presentations
  • Sales pitches
  • Closing
  • Negotiating
  • Client service and communication

Some of these things are very important but only you can decide what they are for you and your business.  For example, if you lack a lot of clients and prospects then you will need to do some prospecting.  If you are getting the meetings but not the business then you have an issue with presentations, and you will need to improve in that way.

Understand this; most of us are not good at everything, but we are good at some things.  Understand your weaknesses and start to improve them.  Practice every day the skills that will help you rise up in your market.

Know where you are now

To understand if you are growing your business and market share, here are some numbers to track on an individual basis.  Assess and tally the numbers at the end of each week.

  • Calls outbound
  • Calls inbound
  • Meetings arranged with prospects and clients
  • Meetings to new business ratio
  • Business generated by volume
  • Business generated by $ value
  • Seasonal sales trends
  • Enquiry rates
  • Average sales
  • Database growth

A top salesperson is not ‘lucky’; they win the business because they are very good at understanding what to do and how to do it.  They then take the actions to improve their skills in the right things for their market and locality.  Does this help your sales career?  I think it will if you take the actions needed.