Today'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!