A Simple Recipe for Sales Success in the Coming Year
As a sales and marketing professional, you’re probably constantly looking for just the right ingredients to achieve success -- but what does this entail?
Are there certain components that every salesperson should include in their formula for success?
While there’s no magic recipe that works everyone, and every sales rep has their own approach and personality, there are three fundamental ingredients to use as your guide: time, testing, and tenacity.
Ingredient #1: Time
“There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” - Brian Tracy
This quote rings true, especially when it comes to managing the many aspects of selling.
Everything takes time and, whether we realize it or not, we make conscious decisions about how we spend our time and on what activities.
In sales, it is critical to use the limited time you have as productively as possible and not waste your energy -- especially on doing low-yielding tasks. These “activity traps” can lead to significant drop-offs in your sales momentum and productivity, even when you’re working hard and you’re an expert in what you do.
Instead of trying to do everything at once, focus your time on high-priority tasks. This requires reviewing your tasks, listing them, and then assigning priorities to them.
Have you analyzed how you managing your time recently?
Effective time management is a strategic advantage for salespeople, which is why you should adopt good habits when it comes to managing your time.
In the new year, divide your day or week into parts.
Consider breaking them into these essential activities:
Prospecting time: If you’re not dedicating at least some of your time during the day or week to finding new prospects and generating new opportunities, then you can be sure you’ll find yourself in a sales drought once you’ve worked all of your current opportunities.
Schedule time with yourself to prospect and make new connections. Consider creating your own Personal Marketing campaign to set yourself up with a consistent prospecting approach.
Internal and External Meetings: Meetings can go one of two ways. They are either extremely productive and helpful or they are a complete waste of time with you leaving the meeting having gained no valuable information.
Hopefully you don’t experience the latter that often, but if you do, remember to be strategic about scheduling meetings.
What time of day are you most productive? Once you’ve identified that, avoid that time of day to schedule meetings and focus your time and attention on getting your most important tasks completed.
When you have to attend meetings, whether that’s internally or externally, make sure that everyone knows these things in advance:
- the purpose of the meeting
- who is involved and what their role is
- what the intended outcome of the meeting will be.
Everyone involved will be grateful to understand why the meeting is happening.
Researching leads and new opportunities: This is a critical activity that all sales reps should be doing before making any first connection, but without the proper tools and resources, it can be extremely challenging and time-consuming to find the correct person with the information you’re seeking.
Personal Development: While all of the other activities we’ve mentioned are critical to your success as a sales professional, it’s important to spend your time on activities that will contribute to both your professional and personal growth.
These are activities that aren’t necessarily related to work but help create a balance between career focused priorities and your overall personal priorities.
Take the time to understand what you’re interested in and what you enjoy doing in your free time. Make a commitment to learning by signing up for free webinars, online classes, and networking events.
When you focus on learning, by expanding your horizons and gaining new perspectives, it will enable you to have a clearer focus on the direction you want to take both your career and personal life.
Account Management: If this applies to your role, don’t forget to dedicate parts of your day/week/month to staying in front of your existing customers. Why? Because they are one of your greatest assets when it comes to collecting feedback for improvement and renewal business.
Ingredient #2: Testing
“Progress through trial and error depends not only on making trials, but on recognizing errors.” - Virginia Postrel
This quote helps summarize the vital nature of testing various sales approaches and techniques with an eye towards quickly identifying what’s working and what’s not.
If you’re not testing, then chances are you’re doing the same old thing day after day, and all great salespeople know that while best practices and time-tested strategies are the core of their approach, they must constantly adapt and adjust to reflect the latest and greatest technology as well as industry trends and research.
It’s easy to make a snap judgement and immediately push a strategy to the wayside if it doesn’t work the first few times, but before you do, consider whether or not you really have enough data to justify your conclusion. This goes for new strategies you’re having success with too.
Here are a few ideas to help you pinpoint what sales activities you should be testing:
Processes: This is a combination of the various tactics salespeople use to reach their target audience. For instance, at DM Training we encourage our training participants to practice and test their phone, email, social media, and in-person networking skills and strategies.
The best sales prospecting methods involve many steps, different avenues, and is spread out over a period of time. It is not a one-time event and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It is the product of perseverance, hard work, and practice.
Content Creation: As part of your Personal Marketing strategy, you should be creating quality content with the goal of building your network of followers and positioning yourself as a subject matter expert.
And don’t be afraid to get those creative juices flowing! Consider trying something that breaks you out of your comfort zone like recording a video talking about an important issue in your industry or providing insight for your fellow salespeople that will help them. Whatever it is, don’t assume it won’t work. The point here is to experiment.
Consistency: When it comes to building your presence on and offline, consistency is key.
Ask yourself, how often do you keep in touch with your closest family and friends?
You’re most likely very consistent with how often you communicate and the frequency that you see each other. Well, nurturing business relationships isn’t much different. It requires making a consistent effort.
Whether that’s making sure you’re keeping in touch with potential opportunities, actively supporting current clients, or building your following on social media.
The thing to test here is the frequency at which you’re communicating with your target audience. However, proceed with caution.
There’s one major filter you need to run all of your activities through, and that’s asking yourself: am I adding value to my followers? Because the truth is, in today’s world people are overwhelmed with a mass amount of information every day and if you’re not providing useful information, then your followers will tune out instead of in.
Ingredient #3: Tenacity
“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” - Babe Ruth
In sales, this is the name of the game, but the challenge is taking a persistent approach without being too pushy or aggressive.
Tenacity is a quality that comes from within. It’s the personal drive that moves you forward when everything else is saying stop. It’s having the determination and perseverance to get the job done, no matter the circumstances.
For example, the highest performing salespeople exhibit tenacity in the way they refuse to let a negative comment from a customer or a string of “radio silence” from a hot prospect dampen their spirits or enthusiasm for finding the next sale.
These high-achievers have the endurance to keep going on one sales call after another.
While the typical salespeople might say a prospect isn’t interested or an opportunity has stalled, the best and brightest sales reps have the patience and purposefulness to ask just the right question at the right moment or makes a comment to prompt the prospect and re-engages them.
And guess what? You already possess this quality.
Developing and utilizing your tenacity is based on how you perceive something and if you’re willing to accept it. In other words, it’s your attitude.
Sales is a state of mind that you must adapt. So, here are 3 ways you can shift your mindset the next time you’re not feeling so tenacious.
Focus on educating, not selling: It’s not about you, your company, your products, or your services, it’s about meeting customer needs and adding value.
True sales professionals are focused on helping their customers find the right solution rather than just closing the deal for personal gain.
When you’re sharing useful and important information with a prospect or client, they will view you as a valuable resource.
Oftentimes, the challenge in sales is moving a deal forward when you’ve run out of next steps. If you can shift your mindset to an always be helping and educating mentality, it will be easier to follow up with potential opportunities because you’ll be armed with creative new ways and reasons to reach out so you can say goodbye to those “just touching base” emails.
Use questions to redirect the conversation: Typical salespeople have surface-level conversations. They are only asking the basic, bare minimum type of questions that get typical, dead-end responses.
Questions like: What are you willing to spend? Are you the decision maker? Who is your competition?
These questions won’t lead you to the right discussion. Instead, strive to understand the prospect’s buying process over the budget and whether your contact has decision making power.
Additionally, asking about the competition just makes you look unprepared. You should do your research before going into a meeting with a prospect to identify their biggest competitors. This way, you’ll be more knowledgeable and ready to ask 2nd level questions.
By going below the surface of typical sales questions, you’ll gain more insight into the process to help you connect the dots between their needs, who is involved in the decision, and how your solution can help.
Practice one more call every day: When you’re selling, your livelihood depends on connecting with many different prospects, but it can be difficult to keep pace with the level of prospecting activity needed to achieve your revenue goals while accomplishing everything else that needs to be done, like CRM administration and proposal writing.
Fortunately, you have the power to increase your tenacity by making small changes to your daily routine.
For instance, practice making one more call, sending one more email, or finishing up one more blog post. Whatever it is, make a habit of doing one more opportunity generating activity at the end of every day and overtime it’ll become the norm.
If you want to consistently keep your pipeline full of quality opportunities while positioning your own credibility and subject matter expertise, then consider this simple recipe for success in 2017: Time, Testing, and Tenacity.
Sales is the sum of many different activities and decisions. Decisions about who to focus on, what to offer, and how to reach them. So, if you can focus on high-productivity tasks by managing and monitoring your time more effectively, making an effort to test and assess different approaches, and finally, making small changes by adjusting your attitude to increase your level of sales tenacity, then consider yourself on the right track.
Selling is a complex process, but Time, Testing, and Tenacity are simple, effective ingredients for achieving success in it.
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DM Training. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations. Through him, participants in his trainings learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To out-perform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Prospect Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.