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April 2014

Frontline Sales Managers Deserve Your Support

WendyReed_140Today's blog post is by Wendy Reed, executive vice president of solutions at The TAS Group.

 

 

As sales organizations grapple with a changing, highly competitive sales environment, having effective frontline sales managers is critical, but many businesses seem not to regard them as a valuable asset. Why is this a continuing problem, and what can be done to solve it?

The Sales-to-Management Transition

Typically, frontline managers begin as salespeople, and they’re very good at selling; but sales skills don’t automatically equip them to manage the sales activity of a team. As a result, they may not understand how to run their organization, develop and execute a sales strategy, and manage sales performance. If the sales cycle slows down, they may not know what to do to address the problem.

People skills are also important. A team of eight or nine sales reps might generate $9 million to $30 million or more in business, and a strong frontline manager can help them achieve success. While most frontline managers bring valuable sales experience to the team, however, they may have no experience in leading, mentoring, and motivating others. Clearly, frontline managers play an important role, and they need and deserve support in making the transition from sales to sales management; it isn’t a natural progression.

The Traditional Approach

The traditional approach is to focus on training the salespeople, reasoning that, if we train them well, they’ll drive the engine and sales will run smoothly. In truth, training salespeople without establishing an effective infrastructure to support them means you have good salespeople who lack the strategic direction, coaching, and management they require to realize their potential and grow the business. Well-trained, well-equipped frontline sales managers are a core component of that infrastructure, and we need to break with tradition and focus on their training and development first. 

The First Priority

As those closest to the sales team, frontline managers are uniquely positioned to guide the team’s effort and boost its performance. That’s why you need to focus on the managers first and give them the knowledge and skills required to mentor, troubleshoot, and lead by example.

For example, salespeople often act as lone rangers in applying new training, and they often find it difficult. They try for a while and then give up because they have to close some deals any way they can. A knowledgeable, well-prepared frontline manager can help the entire team understand and apply training as he or she coaches, models behavior, and addresses problem areas.

When you enable frontline managers, you enable the salespeople, as well. They are a key resource that organizations cannot afford to neglect. 

Success Checklist

Are you doing all that you can to help your frontline managers succeed? Given the valuable role they play, you should constantly ask that question.

Here are the basics for providing effective, ongoing support:

  • Train your frontline managers in all the skills required to manage the business of sales, updating their learning and filling gaps as needed.
  • Educate and inform them first about new strategies so they’re well prepared to support the sales team.
  • Help them develop the people skills they need to excel as leaders and mentors.
  • Provide them with tools that facilitate tracking, improving, and measuring the progress of their sales team’s activities. 
  • Free them from time-consuming tasks not related to their core responsibilities so they have the focus and energy required to handle major challenges and opportunities.

What are your secrets for ensuring the success of frontline managers? Share your thoughts in the comments section.  


Yes, Incentives for Channel Sales Reps Are Worth It!

Mike-SpellecyToday’s guest post is by Mike Spellecy, vice president of solution thought leadership at Maritz Motivation Solutions.

 

 

In an increasingly complex marketplace, it can be argued that channel partnerships are the most crucial to a business’s success. In fact, more than 90 percent of today’s manufacturers rely on multiple channels of distribution to sell and move their products.  

Of course, simply engaging in a channel-partner relationship doesn’t automatically guarantee business success. Realizing that channel reps most likely have the ability to sell competitors’ products, many organizations look to incentive programs as a way to maintain channel loyalty. But how effective are these programs? 

Maritz awards
Image via freedigitalphotos.net / digitalart

To address this question, Maritz Motivation Solutions surveyed more than 1,000 sales professionals from a variety of industries. Here are the findings:

  • Sixty-seven percent say that rewards and incentives are extremely important to job satisfaction.

  • Seventy-seven percent are more willing to sell a manufacturer’s products and services if they offer a reward and incentive program.

  • Eighty-one percent agree that the opportunity to earn rewards and incentives from manufacturers strengthens their ongoing relationship with them.

But aside from increasing interest and loyalty to a brand, channel-incentive programs have a positive effect on sales results. According to the survey respondents, more than one-third of sales were attributed to the effort to compete for and earn rewards. Imagine losing a third of your business for failing to meaningfully incentivize your channel reps!

So channel-rep incentives do work, and they have a powerful effect on reps’ performance; however, there are a lot of incentives. Seventy percent of survey participants were offered two or more incentive programs from manufacturers, channel-loyalty partners, and employers. On average, channel reps had the opportunity to participate in 3.9 incentive programs!

To get salespeople’s attention and stand out from an influx of competitive offers, you need to develop a compelling program that focuses on the individual. Almost 7 in 10 channel reps believe manufacturer-provided incentive opportunities should be based on personal performance, as opposed to team performance. Incentive programs that take into account individual motivations, individual communication preferences, and an ongoing awareness of an individual’s performance offer the best chance for driving true loyalty in the channel.

If you’re still on the fence about implementing a channel-loyalty program, it’s time to rethink your approach. Channel-rep incentives, when strategically designed and implemented, do work. 


Six Ways to Give Your CRM System an Extreme Sales Makeover

BarryTrailer_143Today's guest post is by Barry Trailer, a managing partner and cofounder of CSO Insights, a sales effectiveness research and benchmarking firm.

 

Digital consumers are more informed than ever, always online, and inclined to leverage their social networks for buying advice and to share reviews – anytime, anywhere. In order to compete in today’s digital world, sales leaders frequently emphasize the importance of engaging customers with personalized, timely insight that demonstrates reps’ understanding of current and future customer needs. Still, many sales organizations haven’t changed to enable sellers to easily glean this insight. Many salespeople continue to trot out canned information, memorize scripts, and respond to customers with standard and predictable comments. These teams are just pushing products instead of presenting insight. What’s behind this stall in sales innovation? Unfortunately, many companies are finding that their CRM system is not keeping pace with today’s demands, nor is it fulfilling the promise of boosting sales effectiveness.

The Challenges

Over the past several years, CSO Insights has researched and tracked increases in product complexity, competitive activity, and entry into new markets, as well as the endless information demanding buyers now have at their fingertips. Additionally, customers now expect relevant, immediate information about their market environment and a rapid response to their questions. Findings in our research demonstrate how much room for improvement there is in sales. For example, less than 66 percent of reps in the past decade have met and exceeded quota. Across industries, less than 50 percent of sales reps close deals in the time originally forecast. To achieve targeted revenue gains, increased focus on sales effectiveness across the enterprise – beyond the sales organization – is needed.

The CRM Extreme Makeover

Successful sales professionals surely know to respond when customers need to solve a problem; however, the proactive salesperson makes customers aware of opportunities they might be missing and offers perspectives on how they might grow their business and increase productivity. Delivering deep customer insight, recommending relevant solutions, and connecting the dots between your sales network and customers are just a few of the capabilities that many CRM applications don’t have.

According to new research from CSO Insights, giving traditional CRM systems an extreme makeover requires these six capabilities:

1) Mobile-first approach. Today, mobility in a selling tool means more than having access to your contact-management system on your smartphone. In order to be fully productive on the road, salespeople should have on their mobile device everything that they have in the office. The mobile devices used today by successful selling professionals have many social capabilities that a next-generation selling team can leverage. 

 2) In-context collaboration. Real-timesharing of best practices gleaned from other sales reps and internal experts means successful win techniques have an audit trail and can be replicated with similar customers. Additionally, you’ll provide customers with real value if you have a way to bring together the right people, conversations, content, and applications in the context of your sales process.

3) Complete view of the customer. New cloud solutions with native connectivity to your enterprise systems and external customer-information sources, such as social networks, Websites, and communities, make 360 customer-view capabilities plug-and-play, giving you not only the complete view of your customer but also the ability to engage your customer like never before. For example, if a field-based rep knows that a person in his or her network is connected to a customer because of a common interest listed in a social-networking profile, then that relationship is illuminated in real time and can be a part of the discussion needed to connect to key people during a sales call.

 4) Predictive analytics. With predictive analytics, salespeople can eliminate surprises and consistently deliver better outcomes by optimizing selling activities and replicating best sales behaviors.

 5) Guided selling. This is about helping companies unify the sales process and expose sales best practices within their CRM system. Guided selling processes act as your compass and sales assistant, illuminating best practices, the right activities, and the right experts.

6) Lead-to-cash orchestration. You want to ease the buying process, smooth the last mile of the customer’s purchase experience, and ensure that deals won become deals booked. Integration of business applications throughout your organization ensures that deals sold become booked revenue.

Customers today can complete much of their buying process – especially early-stage investigation – without salespeople.  When salespeople focus their effort on communicating product features, functions, feeds, and speeds, they are not adding value. Solutions such as SAP Cloud for Sales have the six capabilities outlined here to engage customers like never before. If you are truly interested in your customers’ success, as well as your own, you’ll engage your customers in new ways and create value that goes far beyond what they can find for themselves by simply surfing the Web. 


Three Tips for Creating a Successful Sales Culture

TristamBrown_200Today's guest post is by Tris Brown, CEO of LSA Global. Download his white paper, "Do You Have the High Performance Culture to Drive Your Strategy?"

 

We come across many sales organizations that are not performing at their peak – even businesses with a clear and well-defined strategy. In fact, according to our research, less than 10 percent of strategic initiatives are effectively executed. So what are they missing? They are missing the other two-thirds of the equation for success: the right culture and talent for their specific strategy.

Sales culture is not just another management buzzword, and building a successful sales culture is not a “soft” leadership skill. In fact, in his book The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett says that culture’s impact on profit (the result of a successfully executed strategy) can actually be measured and quantified:

"We know, for example, that engaged managers and employees are much more likely to remain in an organization, leading directly to fewer hires from outside the organization. This, in turn, results in lower wage costs for talent; lower recruiting, hiring, and training costs; and higher productivity. Higher employee continuity leads to better customer relationships that contribute to greater customer loyalty, lower marketing costs, and enhanced sales."

Heskett’s thinking is just what we, too, have found: if your organization doesn’t align culture and talent with overall strategy, you’re not likely to get the results you want.

Are you having problems hitting your sales targets, retaining top sales talent, or growing target accounts? Those are leading indicators. If you’re having those issues, pay attention to your organizational culture now and not later when effects on revenue begin.

Here are three key things to keep in mind as you think about how to craft and sustain a winning sales culture.

1) Be clear about what your sales culture is. If you can’t clearly articulate your culture to your employees, you’ll never be able to help them live and breathe it every day. Remember, culture is created either by default or by design. If you don’t step in to fill the void, your company culture will evolve with no vision or plan. That is a recipe for disaster.

2) Model your sales culture. What’s good for those in the mailroom is also good for those in the boardroom. A company culture has to present a unified front. Model your company culture in every action you take, and reward those employees who successfully embody the culture you have defined. Any sense of misalignment among your employees can throw the entire framework out of whack.

3) Make sure your sales culture ties your overall strategy to individual success. Employees must believe that the overall company strategy is also in their best interest as individuals. Highlight the successes of your high achievers, and take those moments as opportunities to underscore the value of being in accord with your company culture.

What steps have you taken lately to create a great sales culture? Share your thoughts in the comments section. You can also join Tris at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on May 5 - 6, where he will present Stop Doing Stupid Stuff: The Critical Moves Required to Create Real-Time Sales Results.


The Sales Manager's 10 Commandments

 GeoffreyJamesToday's guest post is by Geoffrey James, an award-winning columnist for Inc.com and the author of the soon-to-be-published book Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know

 

A while back, the CRM firm Cloud9 Analytics sent me a list of suggestions for sales managers. I thought the suggestions were pretty good, so I added to them to create a list of commandments. Here's my latest version:

  1. Thou shalt not start the team meeting with criticism. Though thy staff be full of mooncalves and malingerers, starting the meeting with a tirade will only create resentment.
  2. Thou shalt not treat every deal as equally important. How often hast thou decreed that thy team must prioritize? Follow thine own advice, and stop focusing on deals that will add but few shekels to thy corporate coffer.
  3. Thou shalt not drill down too far. A sales manager must understand the workings of a crucial deal. Even so, delving into painful detail shows a lack of faith and, worse, wilt make thee, not the rep, responsible for the outcome.
  4. Thou shalt not repeat thy questions. Curiosity is an admirable trait in a sales manager, but once thou hast had the answer to thy question, ask it not again.
  5. Thou shalt not arrive unprepared for a meeting. Hast thou not paid a vast treasure for a CRM system?  And didst thou not decree that everyone shall use it? Why, then, dost thou refuse to use it thyself?
  6. Thou shalt not forecast based on hunches. Thou hast seen it all before and probably hath a good idea where the quarter is headed. Even so, thou art not a fortune-teller, so put away thy crystal ball and look instead at the hard data.
  7. Thou shalt not let a sales meeting run on forever. Before each meeting, send out an agenda with a set amount of time to deal with each issue. Then adhere to thy own decree as if the productivity of the entire team depends on it.
  8. Thou shalt not tell boring war stories. Thou might wish to share the wisdom thou hast garnished over the years, but thy stories of selling in the olden days are, to thy team, as annoying as nails drawn across a slate.
  9. Thou shalt not create a scapegoat. Tempting as it may be to foist the sins of the team upon a single individual, criticizing a rep in front of his or her peers makes everyone think thou art the enemy.
  10. Thou shalt not take credit for thy team’s success. The sales manager must take the blame when things go wrong but none of the credit when things go right. So it has always been and so it will continue.

The Secret Formula for Earning Business Referrals

Ian Altman Today’s guest post is by Ian Altman, CEO of Grow My Revenue, LLC. He is the author of the Amazon #1 best seller, Upside Down Sellingand he coauthored his new book, Same Side Selling, with Jack Quarles of Buying Excellence.






You know how important referrals can be to growing your business. While the cold call is the lowest opportunity in the sales profession’s food chain, the quality referral could be the pinnacle. I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the Institute for Excellence in Sales and Business Development's recent session in Northern Virginia, and Bill Cates was a speaker (not the Microsoft guy – Cates with a “C”). Cates is known as the Referral Coach, and he’s a highly acclaimed speaker on the topic of referrals. He is especially well known in the financial-services sector.

I went to the session knowing that I would be engaged and entertained by a very capable speaker. I’m ashamed to say that I was not expecting to learn much. As anticipated, I discovered that Cates is a fantastic professional speaker and storyteller. The embarrassing part for me was that he shared some principles that I knew I had heard before but had forgotten. In fact, not only had I heard some of these principles, I had actually written an entire chapter about referrals in my first book, Upside Down Selling.

Valuable Advice

Cates shared a formulaic approach, called VIPS, to earning referrals. He described the difference between a basic referral and a personal introduction. The basic referral is akin to  someone pointing you toward the opening of a lion’s den: you’re referred to the opening, but proceed at your peril. The personal introduction, however, is based on value, and value is what the first letter of Cates’s VIPS method stands for. These top-tier introductions take referrals to an elevated level of opportunity.

In our upcoming book, Same Side Selling, Jack Quarles and I devote an entire chapter to delivering value. Quite simply, you can either ask your client for a referral that sounds like a favor to you, or you can ask for a personal introduction based on the value you deliver.

As we discuss in the book, executives make decisions based first on why they need what you are selling or what problem it solves for them. Second, executives want to work with the vendor they feel is most likely to deliver the results they need. Here’s how this plays out for a great referral.

The Formula for a Great Personal Introduction

People don’t like to feel as if they are being sold. For that and the reasons stated above, the best referrals follow a set formula:  

1) This is the problem were we facing when we called on them for help,

2) this was our outcome,

3) here’s why I think they might be a good resource for you or people you know.

A great introduction from one of my clients to one of their friends or colleagues might sound like this: “We faced pricing pressure on every deal. Our great stuff was being treated like a commodity. After just a few months, we have shortened our sales cycles and dramatically improved margins. I remember when we spoke a while back, you were facing similar challenges. I’d be happy to make an introduction if you’d like to see if they can help you, too.”

Notice how the recipient of the introduction gets a clear message about the problem you solve and the likely outcome or result. It’s much stronger than this example: “We bought some stuff from Joe Blow. Would you mind if I gave him your name?” Getting a referral so that you can try to sell the recipient something is about as valuable as an email introduction to your third-level LinkedIn connection.

Another Unanticipated Lesson

I was fortunate to have been in the audience when Bill Cates was speaking. As an author and speaker on the subject of sales, I arrogantly showed up not expecting to learn anything. Sometimes hearing the same message from a different perspective can remind us of things we used to know and somehow neglected. Cates ended his session by sharing a great way to inspire referrals without sounding pushy. He tells his audiences to remember to say to clients, “Don’t keep us a secret.”

Please share in the comments your best referral story and/or most pathetic referral story.


How to Quickly Calculate Your Ideal Pipeline Size

JasonJordan_200Today's guest post is by Jason Jordan, partner of Vantage Point Performance and coauthor of Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance.

 

A sales pipeline’s size is no doubt a critical measure of a pipeline’s health, but how big should a sales pipeline be? Sales managers are looking for a magic number they can multiply by their salespeople’s annual quota to determine an ideal pipeline size: “The ideal sales pipeline should be exactly three times your sales rep’s annual quota.” Unfortunately, there is no universal factor that can be multiplied by quota to yield an ideally sized pipeline.

So does this mean sales managers are simply left in the dark to guess the correct pipeline size for each sales rep? Thankfully, no. While there is no magic number, there is a formula sales managers can use to determine the ideal pipeline size for the sales force. The formula uses two interrelated variables that are often unique to each sales rep: close rate and quota.

Close Rate

The first variable sales managers need in order to calculate the ideal pipeline size for sales reps is a rep’s close rateover a given period of time. A rep’s annual close rate can be determined by dividing his or her sales over the past 12 months by the average size of the rep’s pipeline over that period. So if a rep closed $1 million worth of business over the past 12 months, and his or her average pipeline size was $5 million, then that rep’s annual close rate would be $1 million divided by $5 million, or 20%.  

Quota

A sales rep’s quota is the second variable in the equation to determine a sales pipeline’s perfect size. Say that a sales rep has an annual quota of $1.5 million. To determine the ideal pipeline size for this rep, divide his or her annual quota by the rep’s annual close rate. In this case, the calculation $1.5 million divided by 20% yields an ideal pipeline of $7.5 million. So if the rep maintains a sales pipeline of $7.5 million and closes 20% of that business during the year, he or she will close $1.5 million of business.

So here’s the formula to calculate the ideal sales pipeline size for your sales reps:

Sales quota ÷ close rate = the perfect pipeline size.

By using this formula, sales managers can quickly calculate the ideal pipeline size for sales reps on an ongoing basis to determine if reps are on track to hit their target numbers. The pipeline size for each rep will vary by individual factors, so keep in mind that one pipeline size doesn’t fit all. There is a uniquely sized pipeline for each reps. Over time, reps can confidently reduce the size of their pipeline by improving their close rates.

Knowledge of the ideal pipeline size for each rep on your sales force goes a long way in creating effective, accurate pipeline management so you can better steer reps toward quota attainment.


Is Your Sales Pipeline Just Wishful Thinking?

LinkedIn PortraitToday’s post is by Charles P. Collins, executive vice president of sales planning automation at PrecisionSales Engineering. It appeared originally on the Precision Sales Engineering blog and is used here with permission.See how PrecisionSales Engineering can help with your sales planning; click here for a free demo. 



Some time ago, I sat across from a CEO who boasted that he had more than 80 enterprise prospects in the sales pipeline. He knew this for a fact because, as he told me, it was in his morning CRM dashboard summary.

Sales manager success nongpimmy
Image via freedigitalphotos.net / nongpimmy

You can probably guess what followed. After digging into the actual activity, we found that there were precisely two service providers with whom his reps were meaningfully engaged. Two! It was a phenomenal and potentially devastating disconnect.

Gallup and Harvard Business Review recently published very sobering statistics that should make every sales manager reassess his or her reliance on so-called productivity tools such as CRM. In an exhaustive analysis, Gallup concluded that “only 30 percent of US employees are engaged at work, and a staggeringly low 13 percent worldwide are engaged.” It was further reported that this number has not changed in 10 years, despite the fact that we have seen a vast improvement in the information technology used in the workplace.

Further analysis placed the blame for this lack of engagement squarely on managers’ shoulders. In fact, Gallup found that 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores was directly attributable to their managers.

Why the abysmal productivity rates despite all the new technology (e.g., CRM) that purports to increase productivity? The answer is really quite simple: technology is a tool, and any tool is only as effective as the skill with which its operator uses it.

Just as spreadsheets can be a powerful tool if you understand how to use and apply macros and workflows to achieve a specific result, CRM is useful only if it is applied to

  1. proactively manage the sales force to achieve a clear set of objectives,
  2. establish clear operating metrics that define a successful result, and
  3. accurately reflect what the sales force is doing tactically on a day-to-day basis to achieve that result.

Without checks and balances along the way, an imprecise and unfocused implementation of CRM can be more destructive than having no CRM at all.

Another critical success factor for effective use of CRM is understanding the top-down principle of sales management: achieving a target (i.e., sales revenue) is possible only if the objectives and supporting goals to realize those objectives have first been carefully crafted by sales managers, then communicated to the sales organization and tied to unambiguous metrics that define what tasks need to be completed and when. Using CRM simply as a bucket to log calls, track proposals, or store so-called prospects ignores its main potential to improve sales engagement.

The lesson? Don’t mistake useless noise in your CRM for a sales pipeline. When sales projections are supported by facts rather than hope and the CRM system is used as a planning and management tool, success will follow every time. And that’s a fact.

See how PrecisionSales Engineering can help you leverage Salesforce CRM for improved sales planning


Give Your Sales Team the Gift of Increased Productivity

Barbara McCormack headshotToday’s post is by Barbara McCormack, vice president of sales and marketing at Securitas Security Services USA Inc

 

 



Like many sales and marketing leaders, I’m always trying to find ways to realize greater productivity from my team. When team members are happy and engaged and have the tools to do their jobs, they are typically more productive, and that can translate to more growth and revenue for the company.

One particular challenge my company addressed is our approach to proposals. The range of security services we provide, even to a single client, can be complex, so we needed to customize our proposals to address our prospects’ and customers’ unique needs with information that is relevant, endemic to each, and resonates a solution. When you consider that our company averages thousands of proposals annually, you can see that customization consumes a lot of time and productivity.

After an in-depth review of the features Paperless Proposal offers, I was convinced that it could make our sales process much easier and more time efficient and thus free our team to spend more time actively selling. Here are the results we’ve seen so far based on our partnership with Paperless Proposal: 

  1. The Paperless Proposal library makes organizing, finding, and customizing content much easier. Our sales team has created separate folders to organize content by products, for example, and industry vertical. This saves a lot of time because team members don’t have to hunt for the materials they need.

  2. Customizing proposals is now a simple matter of dragging and dropping items (such as logos) into a particular document. We are now creating the proposals we need 500 % faster than before, thereby enabling the team to spend less time on paperwork.

  3. Creating proposals with this product has eliminated paper waste, as well as the cost and time associated with shipping paper-based proposals. We have already seen a significant reduction in inefficient use of labor and administrative costs.

  4. Instead of wondering if and when prospects will open their proposals, our team now receives a text message the minute the client receives the proposal. The salesperson can also see who is reading the proposal, to whom (if anyone) the proposal was forwarded, and which section(s) of the proposal the recipient spent the most time reading. This has been key in shortening our sales cycles and helping us prepare for anticipated follow-up inquiries.

  5. We now record short videos to include in proposals. Sometimes we use these videos as introductions in place of a traditional cover letter or to summarize the proposal at its conclusion. We feel that these videos create a richer and more engaging experience for the recipient and help differentiate us as standing out in the market and embracing innovation.

One of the most beneficial parts of this experience was the rollout, which took only a matter of weeks to implement. The timeliness helped our salespeople get away from their laptops and in front of more customers. 

Using Paperless Proposal has enabled our team to create many more proposals in less time and with more engaging results. Because we can provide information to clients and prospects much faster and home in with precision to address the client’s key concerns, we’ve also been able to shorten sales cycles. This has placed time – a valuable commodity – back in the sales team’s hands and enhanced productivity. Because going paperless has been efficient for the team, our group is able to spend more time cultivating opportunities, which ultimately lead to a 150 % increase in proposal opportunities.

Hear more about Paperless Proposal and other sales-enablement solutions in San Francisco on May 5-6, 2014, at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference.

 


Reach Your Sales Goal, Then Double It!

SteveMcClatchy_200Today's guest post is by Steve McClatchy, New York Times best-selling author of Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example and President of Alleer Training & Consulting.

I have watched sales professionals take 11 months to hit quota and then only one additional month to double it. How does this happen, and what do they do differently in that last month?

The reason this happens is that, during the first 11 months, salespeople often chase, propose, and close bad business. They will agree to business that is not a great fit for their organization. The fear of not hitting quota is so great, they agree to difficult customers and problems that don’t match their company’s solutions. As a result, salespeople spend enormous amounts of time trying to make it work. As far as their brain is concerned, a bad sale is better than no sale at all. The part of their brain that focuses on survival says that any sale that helps them hit quota has to be a good one.  

Your brain fights a battle every day between surviving and thriving. Survival tasks include sending and answering email and voicemail, writing reports, tracking expenses, and everything involved in keeping and maintaining your existing business and current job. Tasks that help you to thrive include pursuing and winning new business, acquiring new skills, learning, gaining new experiences, developing new relationships, and working on or improving almost any aspect of your life or business.

Your brain constantly fights between these two types of tasks. Return a call from an existing customer or introduce yourself to a new one? Answer email or write an article for an industry magazine? Shadow a mentor for a day or submit your expenses? Improve a process or put out a fire?   

Survival is a powerful instinct and a great motivator – but a poor decision maker. 

Sales professionals can double their sales goals in one month because, once they hit quota, they’re out of survival mode. They no longer need the next sale. They chase, propose, and close only business that is a win for the client and for their organization. They don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole. They don’t agree to headaches and time wasters, because they don't need them. 

The fear of having no business will drive you to make bad decisions for yourself and your clients.  Don’t sell from a place of fear. Don’t let survival be your only motivator and criterion for making decisions. Interview your customers as much as they are interviewing you. Find great business.  Ask the difficult questions. Agree to only the business that will get you referrals, testimonials, and repeat business. Believe in your solutions enough to walk away from bad business. Gracefully decline opportunities that are not a good fit.

Don’t wait to reach your quota before you sell without fear. Desperate salespeople are a dime a dozen, and you don’t have to be one of them.

Get back to the reason you got into sales in the first place. Help your clients dominate their markets. Sell because you love to help. Sell because you enjoy solving problems and helping people achieve their goals. Sell because you want to, not because you have to.

Sell like this, and you might hit your quota in your first month, not your eleventh. Now imagine what your life and business would be like for the other eleven months!