All posts in Success Elements

Back to School!

Well, it's that time of year–yep, it's back to school for the kids. Summer is over and now it's back to the books and lessons.

I'll bet you've never thought about how salespeople have to study their 'lessons' as well–but they do.

In fact, every sales call a salesperson makes will result in one of four outcomes:

          1)  a yes
          2)  a no
          3)  a time-based future event
          4)  a lesson

Focusing on #4, a guiding principle for salespeople is this:  They will make more sales (and more money) from a sale they didn't get …and know why, than from a sale they did get…and don't know why. So they should celebrate the lost sales because those are the ones that will help them be more successful in the future.

Why? Because if a salesperson learns what not to do in the sales process–they didn't ask enough questions,didn't ask the right questions, didn't listen effectively, failed to push back at the right time, chose not to challenge what the prospect told them in an appropriate manner, etc.–the next time they find themselves in a similiar situation, they'll perform more effectively because they've learned what doesn't work.

There is a second, and maybe even more important reason to take a lesson from a lost sale. One of the biggest challenges for salespeople is dealing with rejection.

They encounter it every day. Rejection looks like:

          -Prospects who don't want to take their call
          -Prospects who don't want to meet with them
          -Prospects who don't call them call them back 
          -Prospects who tell them 'no'

And the key point is not if salespeople will run into rejection but when…and how  they will react. Will they recover and how quickly can they do that? Taking a positive (a lesson) from a negative event will help a salesperson recover better and faster from being rejected.

Here's the takeaway for sales leaders and salespeople. At the end of a sales process, the question for sales leaders and salespeople to ask themselves is this:  "What's the biggest lesson you (or I) learned from this sale?" I use the word 'biggest' because there will probably be multiple lessons to be learned. Start with the lesson that's most impactful and work your way down the list. How can those lessons be applied for upcoming sales meetings? And don't forget to stroke (verbally) your salesperson for the good things they did. This will reinforce those behaviors and ensure they're repeated in the future.


Goal Setting and Your Team

It's that time of the year again. That's right. Most companies are just in the middle of their process for putting together a business plan for 2011. Of course, part of their plan will include a sales and marketing plan.

Typically management will ask the sales department for a sales forecast of what the sales team will sell in the coming sales year and their salespeople will turn in estimates of business they will bring in from prospects and current customers. Management then digests the numbers and eventually each salesperson receives a sales goal in the form of a dollar figure.

Sound familiar? If you are a leader of a company or a sales organization and you recognize yourself in the above description, you are probably not alone. However, it's not that the process is wrong, it's just incomplete. It needs to go one step further.

What I've discovered in working with many successful companies and businesses is the need for a certain required next step to be accomplished as part of the planning process–individual goal setting.

Goal setting by an individual salesperson is important for several reasons. For a sales leader (or a company president or owner who also wears the sales leader's hat) it's imperative to know what motivates each and every member of their team. Are they motivated by money and what money can get them? Like a second home, travel, a Caribbean cruise, a boat, etc.? As a leader, if you don't know what motivates your people, then you won't know how to manage them on a daily or weekly basis.

From an individual salesperson's perspective, having clear exciting personal dreams, goals and a process to measure progress will enable them to maintain a high level of desire for success in their sales career as well as the appropriate commitment needed to be an effective and successful sales professional.

If you already have salespeople who do personal goal setting on their own, consider yourself lucky. Fewer than twenty percent of all salespeople have written personal goals and a process to measure progress toward those goals.

If you don't have personal goal setters on your team now, sit down with them, have a conversation with them about working through the goal setting process today. It's the right time of the year to get it done!



Commitment to Success in Sales – How Important Is It?

During the last eighteen year that I've been working with companies and their sales organizations I've seen many changes in the profession of sales.

Here is groundbreaking news about one of those changes.

One of the necessary elements for success in sales is the level of commitment that a salesperson brings to the process. The willingness to do 'whatever it takes' to be successful is a common trait among all high-performers in sales. I'm not talking about conditional commitment ("I'll do it as long as I'm comfortable, not afraid or I agree with it.") I'm talking about unconditional commitment ("I'll do it no matter what.")

Now Dave Kurlan of Objectivement Management Group has put forth a very convincing case that of the four crucial elements–Desire, Commitment, Responsibility and Outlook–Commitment has now passed Desire as the most important element for success in sales! To find out why, you can read Dave's recent blog post, Top 10 Reasons Why Sales Commitment Has Become More Important.

The impact of Dave's finding cannot be underestimated. In looking at why salespeople struggle to get sales, sales organizations tend to overlook the amount of commitment on their team. Instead they blame  a lack of closing skills or not enough new prospecting calls. They look in all the wrong places except the one right in front of them–no commitment on the part of the salesperson.

Check out Dave's blog post and let me know your thoughts in a comment.


The Bounce Back Factor

Maybe you know the following quote by Robert Frost, the poet. It's one of my favorites.

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

I like these words for the insight they seem to offer. That no matter the ups and downs that we encounter daily, life goes on and we should stay in the moment and enjoy every minute. Of course, that's my interpretation.

I also like how you can apply the principle of 'life goes on' to the sales profession. High-performing salespeople succeed every day. They also fail every day but what helps them recover from their losses quickly is their mindset. High-performers believe that a 'no sale' is an opportunity to learn from a negative experience, take a lesson and turn it into a positive experience that will help them execute more effectively in the future. They bounce back fast and are ready for the next sales call.

When an average performing salesperson gets a 'no' they dwell on it. They make excuses for not getting the sale. Soon their sales effort is dead in the water. Their inability to recover from rejection quickly has sabotaged them again.

Want to improve your (or your sales team's) ability to recover from rejection? Here are two things to do immediately:

1) Begin working on increasing the the size of your sales pipeline and the number of qualified prospects in it. Knowing that you have other opportunities to work on if you get a 'no' from any prospect is a great confidence booster and will help you maintain your selling behavior momentum.

2) Change your view of what rejection or a failure to get the sale really means. It doesn't mean you look around for external reasons that justify the outcome. Getting a 'no' allows you an opportunity to take a lesson–for example, drilling down further into the prospect's budget issues to determine whether they truly qualify for your offering. Turn the negative experience into a positive one and bounce back quicker.

Making these changes will result in a more productive, effective, efficient sales effort.

And remember, life goes on. Go live it!


Crunch Time

The “R” word is now official—recession.

Depending on what industry you work in, you may feel that the economy was in recession long ago.

Regardless, many salespeople have not experienced an economy like this one and for many of those sames sales professionals it is “crunch time”. They are about to find out what kind of commitment they have to themselves, their personal success and their profession.

Do they have conditional commitment? This means they are committed to their success or will execute necessary actions in the sales process as long as what they have to do is not too difficult or they are not afraid, uncomfortable or in disagreement.

Or will they find out they have unconditional commitment? This means the salesperson is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, no matter what! Even if it is difficult! Even if they are afraid! Even if they are uncomfortable! Even if they don’t agree with the sales strategy!

If you are a salesperson reading this, what kind of commitment do you have?

If you are a sales leader (President, CEO, VP-Sales, Sales Manager) reading this you already know what kind of commitment you want from your sales team. The question is this–what kind of commitment do your salespeople have today?

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