Q4 can be a challenging quarter for many salespeople. They are working hard to achieve 2017 goals and setting up Q1 2018. Time is even more limited, and salespeople can’t afford to waste it with bad selling habits and bad prospects.
Salespeople fail to hit the double goal at year-end for a variety of reasons. Here are the three mistakes to avoid in order to achieve 2017 goals and set up a great 2018.
#1: Avoid poor time management. Most salespeople haven’t learned the basics of time management. I was fortunate and took my first course in my 20s, and have applied the lessons ever since.
Time is finite and in Q4, salespeople can’t afford to lose an hour or two a day to poor productivity. Do the math: Two hours of wasted time each day adds up to 10 hours a week and 20 hours a month. It also adds up to missing your revenue goal.
What could you do with 10 extra hours in your selling week?
There are many productivity principles to study. But in working with salespeople to eliminate wasted time, I have found calendar blocking often is the most effective one.
Good time management requires the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification. Salespeople must plan their day, week and month before they earn the reward of a well-run sales plan. This means capturing everything -- and I mean everything -- that needs to get accomplished in one place and then transferring the to-do’s to a specific date and time on the calendar.
If you have an appointment, you need to calendar block the time for pre-call planning, not just the appointment. The same goes for writing sales content. Calendar block time for researching content, not just writing it.
#2: Avoid repeating the same sales mistakes. Get in the habit of conducting a formal or informal win-loss analysis. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
An unexamined sales life is not worth doing because you keep repeating the same mistakes, which leads to self-doubt, frustration and missed revenue goals.
Model and duplicate best practices of professional football teams. The top teams constantly conduct a win-loss analysis. They watch the post-game films to determine which plays did and didn’t work, and what to keep doing and what to quit doing.
Debriefing your sales calls is your post-game film analysis. Where are you winning? With what type of prospects are you winning? Why are you winning? This analysis requires the EQ skill of reality testing. Looking at data rather than relying on your personal opinion -- or worse, on nothing at all -- helps you better qualify opportunities.
We recently ran a call with a prospect that wanted us to take the word “sales” out of our training vernacular. Its team members prefer being called “client relationship managers.” They also pushed back against proven sales training curriculum because the company didn’t want to make the sales team uncomfortable. Note: This team wasn’t hitting its sales quota. We quickly hit the delete button and disqualified this opportunity.
We don’t win or get raving reviews from this type of prospect. We get hired by, and great results from, companies where people are proud to be in sales and expect to be pushed out of their comfort zones.
#3: Avoid the pull of complacency. Work hard to improve your selling skills. Apply your emotional self-awareness and ask: Are you better at sales than you were three months ago, 12 months ago?
If not, you better hope you have an equally complacent competitor.
The best in the world in their professions are students of their games. They learn, practice and practice some more. Dan Coyle, author of “The Talent Code,” shares that it’s better to spend two-thirds of your time practicing than just absorbing knowledge.
Salespeople, quit complaining about role plays. Embrace a culture of practice and self-improvement.
It’s time to gear up for Q4. Are you ready?