It’s the end of the first quarter. Where did you end up? Ahead of goals, right on par or running behind?
If it’s the latter, it’s time to stop doing what you’re doing and evaluate your game plan. If you keep doing what you are doing, you are going to keep getting what you’re getting.
Ask yourself three basic questions:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- What help will I need in order to change and improve?
The first place to look is your calendar. Yes, right now, open up your calendar. If you don’t have proactive business development times blocked out on your calendar, it’s probably the number one reason you are looking at an empty or less than desirable sales pipeline and results. As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” Empty pipelines create desperation breath during sales meetings. You look and sound needy without even opening your mouth. You write practice proposals out of hope rather than qualification. You discount because empty pipelines create a scarcity sales mentality, not an abundance sales mindset.
Next, look at your wins and losses. Are there any trends you can identify? For example, are you losing business because you are not talking at the right level in the organization? Do you keep losing to price? Or are you hearing a lot of, “We are putting this on the back burner.”
Once you’ve identified key areas for wins and losses, get to work on course correcting tactics and strategies to win more.
For example, if you are not talking at the right level in the organization, you may need to set expectations for those conversations earlier in your sales process. It’s okay to start an engagement with the user buyer; however, this buyer does not have the power or authority to sign the check. Set and manage expectations that before you can write a proposal, you will need to speak with “George, Betty and Bob” in order to put together an effective recommendation.
If you are losing on price or “back burner excuses,” look no further than your sales conversations around how much the identified problem is costing your prospect. Here is a basic rule: if you can’t dollarize the cost of the problem or opportunity, there is a good chance you will end up hearing, “This is more than I expected” or “We’ve put this off to next year.” Impact questions require selling skills and business acumen. Is the problem costing your prospects future business because they are not capturing a niche or trend? Are they paying too much overtime in order to hit deadlines? Is lack of quality affecting their reputation in the market?
Finally, ask for help. All of us have blind spots and by definition that means you don’t even know what you are doing wrong. Put your ego aside and ask a colleague to listen to your value proposition. Ask your boss to role play with you to see if you are asking the right questions or all of the questions. (By the way, this is the number one area that we see blind spots during sales training.) Record yourself on the telephone and check your tonality. I hear “speed talking” all the time when coaching people. The salesperson accelerates the speed of the conversation the longer he is on the phone. The poor prospect feels like she is conversing with a drive from the Indy 500! Even if she wanted to buy from you, she can’t understand what you just said.
You have three more quarters to earn revenues and commissions. Examine what you are doing well and do more of it. Identify areas for improvement and change. Stop being the smartest guy in the room and ask for help. The economy is on the upswing. Are your sales?