For the next several months my blog will focus on the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge that makes a great salesperson. I believe that these are fundamental qualities of a great salesperson. Here is a lyric from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical “South Pacific”:
“You gotta have a dream
If you don’t have a dream
How you gonna have a dream come true?”
These few lines explain why great salespeople know goal setting and goal achieving is fundamental to success. I have a simple plan. If you use it I can guarantee you will achieve your dream:
- Decide what you want to achieve Set your goal(s).
- Determine what it will take to reach that goal. Make a plan.
- Dedicate yourself to achieving the goal without distraction. Do the hard work.
Let’s look at each step.
Selling is a numbers game. Great salespeople know the way to achieve the ultimate goal is to set and achieve activity-based goals. They have written goals and intermediate objectives. Activity-based goals are targets set on goal achieving actions the salesperson has control over. Great salespeople track their performance. They know which activities pay off and how many times they need to do them to be successful.
For example: Working backwards from the number of orders desired per month to meet the bookings goal, use the closing ratio to determine the number of prospects to pitch. When the closing ratio is 50% and the number of orders per month is 20 then the great salesperson knows to have 40 prospects in the que at all times. By tracking their activities, they know they need 3 prospect meetings to find a qualified prospect; then they have to average 120 prospect meetings a month. Again tracking the effort it takes to get a prospect meeting, the great salesperson knows they need to dial the phone 10 times to schedule a prospect meeting. So the activity objective which sets up success at all other intermediate goals is consistently dialing the phone 120 times per month.
Make A Plan
General Eisenhower said when asked about the value of battle plan: “In planning for battle I have found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Great salespeople value the planning knowing that once the sales pursuit starts they must be nimble enough to react to the customer’s feedback. In making the plan for aggressive and consistent activity, only focus on those activities you have control over. Here are some the activities which great salespeople do consistently:
- Prospect every day
- Plan each sales conversation
- Ask good questions
- Qualify relentlessly
- Ask for referrals
- Give referrals
- Follow a proven selling process
- Follow up
- Show gratitude
- Learn and practice new skills
Not only do you need a long-term plan for career success but there are activity plans for each day and each sales conversation. While planning is important it should be simple and an effective use of time. Invest the time at the end of each day to review activities and achievements. Plan the next days activities. Each morning begin with optimistic expectation and diligently perform each activity.
The third step is the most difficult in reaching your goal. To focus on doing the goal achieving activities to the exclusion of all else. My mentor, Jim Wilson puts it this way: When you’re working, stay focused!
- Idle conversation with coworkers doesn’t pay the bills.
- Casual Friday doesn’t mean “relax your sales commitment.”
- The day before a holiday can be a great time to generate leads and close business.
- Prospects are everywhere! Let people know what you do.
- Don’t spend too much time with nonqualified prospects. Close the file and move on.
- Increase your activity level during focused selling time.
When I sold for a small manufacturing business my primary goal was to close enough deals so everyone got a paycheck. During one annual review my boss told me many of the employees didn’t think I was very friendly. So I set a goal of spending an hour or two in engineering and manufacturing each week just chatting with the folk there. Initially I thought this was an invasion of selling time but I soon found out there was valuable insight to be gained from these conversations which improved my sales performance.
Sales Time Management
There are only so many hours each week when customers and prospects are available. During that time great salespeople are committed to goal achieving activities. Non-selling activities are saved for when customers are not available. As an outside salesman I tracked my “selling time” each week. I measured the time spent face-to-face with customers and prospects, the time spent in other communication with them like phone calls and emails and travel time to meet with customers and prospects. My goal was for these goal achieving activities to be at least 60% of the work week. I saved planning, reviewing, report writing and communication with my colleagues for non-selling time. Great salespeople monitor how they spend their goal achieving time.
Make Timely Decisions
Great salespeople are decisive. They gather what facts they need to make a decision then move on it. Soon they know whether it was a good or poor decision then make corrections. The reason salespeople fail to achieve goals is they are timid deciders. When you make good decisions your customers will too. It’s all part of being dedicated to success without being distracted.
What You Can Do Right Now About Goal Setting And Achieving
- Set your long-term goal. The one that defines for you whether you are a success.
- Plan the daily activities which will lead to the success of the long-term goal.
- Use your “selling time” wisely.
- Be decisive. Make the plan, do the activity, evaluate the result and do it over and over again every day.