Long term goals are tricky. First how far out in the future can a realistic goal be placed? If we don’t know anything else we do know that THINGS CHANGE. A long term goal for a common house fly might be measured in days if not hours. Elementary age students probably believe any goal measured in weeks is long term, while high school students might stretch that into months. However as adults we understand “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and some things just take time. Saving enough money for a down payment for a new house while you’re renting may require a one or two year goal. A coaches plan to build a championship program may set a goal at a few years. Saving money for retirement is often a 20 or 30 plus year goal. Living healthy might even be measured as a lifelong goal.
A common business goal setting strategy most everyone is familiar with is SMART goals. Though I’ve seen variances in the R – Realistic, Relevant, Results-Oriented…the T is always Time Bound.
If you’re in sales you have goals. Chances are you have more short term goals; as in how much will I sell today, this week, this month, or this quarter. Some goals you set, others are agreed upon, some may even be mandated, but rest assured your performance evaluations and your pay will in some way be tied to goals.
Companies have short term goals but in addition have more long term goals as it’s very common to find 2 year and 5 year goals. The CEO is often focused on the future and keeping the company growing and headed in the right direction or in sync with their vision.
You may be surprised though how many companies admit to doing a poor job of tracking their long term goals. What I say to that is why track them at all if they are five or more years out? You see for a business to set and then start tracking long term goals can be a trap because they are using a baseline of what today’s business environment and resources are and not what tomorrows may be.
So rather than trying to predict the future, leaders should be trying to fit into the future as it happens. Instead of setting ten set goals, they should encourage a broad direction and adopt an evolutionary mind-set. That way, as the world changes, as the prices shift and breakthrough technology comes along, they can adapt.
As sales people take a lesson from this by setting and embracing short term goals. Hold yourself accountable to them. As for long term goals set a direction and let your short term goals help you stay the course.
When you get on a good roll in sales it’s a ride unlike anything else you’ll experience in business. In basketball shooters describe a high percentage night as the basket just looked larger. Other great performances are often described by the feeling of having been in a zone. I’m confident it’s close to the feeling surfers get when they catch the perfect wave.
Unfortunately however it never last forever. Eventually the ball rims out, the zone disappears, and all waves crash.
In sales with the end of a good ride comes a certain amount of rejection (those ugly words NO THANK YOU), transactions that didn’t close, prospects that disappeared, and a diminished pipeline that equates to a smaller paycheck in the very near future.
No doubt about it sales is a roller coaster ride, but when that coaster comes to a stop the successful sales people get right back in line to ride it again.
What’s their motivation? Is it just the thrill and money or is it more? I’m confident it’s more as once we’ve been selling long enough there are other motivations that keep us engaged and in pursuit of the next YES or that next good ride.
For the most part I have found top sales people to be well educated, highly experienced, and extremely motivated.
You can’t take away a person’s education or experience, but things can erode a person’s motivation. Most sales people will stay motivated if they have the belief they can be successful, recognized and rewarded. In addition it helps when they have a strong understanding of what they are selling, who their customer is, and what value their product or service delivers.
If all this is in place why is sales still such a roller coaster?
Because there’s customers, competitors, and internal as well as external complexities that contribute to the ups in downs in sales. As a manager you can motivate your sales team the most by providing a supportive and encouraging environment on a daily basis. It’s the sales manager that can best reinforce their confidence when they most need it.
My next few post will expand on ways sales managers can best help their teams stay motivated through the challenges they will inevitably face.
I originally wrote this post coincidentally on Friday evening about the same time news broke that a person lost their life in a tragic fall from a roller coaster at Six Flags – Texas. I am sensitive to that event and chose not to publish this post until several days had passed.
Do you want to be a much improved sales person overnight? We all know it’s a process and not an overnight sensation. But what if there was a pill you could take to make it happen, would you take it? There is one that is a 4 part time release capsule and if taken as prescribed you’re well on your way to healthier sales results.
Live in the moment
Less is more Purpose is about finding both direction and passion in the work that we do. It’s about defining our dreams and goals.
Individualism is about taking control and being self-motivated. It’s about making decisions and following the path we know is right for us.
Live in the moment because that is all that we have. Yesterday is over and tomorrow’s not promised to anyone. In the past we’ve had success and failures but in each case they’ve all led us to today.
Less is more. If we talk less we’ll listen more. If we create less chaos we’ll have less stress. The less complicated we can make things the simpler it can be.
If you’re in sales you’ve probably got a big day ahead. Contacts to call, people to see, presentations to make, and deals to close. You don’t need water to take this PILL all you need is a few minutes to pause, focus, gain perspective and I promise it will go down easy.
Julie Hansen, Founder, Author, Speaker and Trainer of “Acting for Sales” made this statement at the end of her recent How Memorable is Your Sales Presentation? blog post.
Julie explains that most complex sales are not decided with you in the room. Realize that in today’s ultra-competitive sales environment there’s an excellent chance your client’s been presented with other proposals and offers. Time may have elapsed and you’re not the last sales person the decision makers have seen. Julie helps you understand what you need to do to for your prospect to remember you, your product, and your solution.
I tend to make a lot of sports analogies in references to sales, but Julie effectively chooses acting to get her point across that customers are waiting for that one person to WOW them, rise above the competition and make their decision an easy one.
Julie goes on to ask 5 great T or F questions about how’s your WOW factor? In addition she ask “Why work so hard only to be forgotten when the buying decision is actually made?”
I hope you’ll check out the complete post http://actingforsales.com/how-memorable-is-your-sales-presentation-increase-your-wow-factor/comment-page-1/#comment-2549
If you feel your training investment falls short relative to the return to your bottom line you must examine how motivated your team is for training success.
As a sales executive or manager IF you can answer YES to the following four questions you’re set for sales training success. If you answer NO to ANY of the four you’re not ready to spend the first dime on training.
Does your organization have a culture that truly supports continual learning?
Does your management team reinforce the training that is delivered?
Do you provide the technology to assist your sales team to effectively utilize training?
Do you have reasonable expectations of the impact and results of sales training?
The key word is does and do, and not would or will.
Setting your team up for training success is more important than any training session that can be delivered.
As a leader if you are ALL IN your sales team can be ALL IN. However if you are HALF IN your team will most likely be HALF IN or worse ALL OUT.
I don’t mention the above to advocate or advertise myself as a sales trainer. I mention it because I’ve been in a past situations I would had answered NO to all four questions.
Surely I’m not the only person that had the immediate supervisor that was one big “road block” to allowing a culture of learning. I was both fortunate and unfortunate to have “Barry” (I won’t use his last name, his first might not even been Barry – but it was in hopes he does read this – not to hold grudges) as my first and worst manager. This guy was a bumbling idiot that had one seriously warped perception of his value to the company. Years later I understood it wasn’t his fault that the organization put him in his role as a branch manager. Yes he was a real – ick (insert the lead letter(s) of your choice if you can relate) but the company failed me and a few unlucky others by having Barry in place. Though it was only for a little while I recognized I was not in an environment that supported the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute. Barry got fired before I left the company and the company failed (no longer exist) largely because they didn’t support a culture of continuous learning. Without learning you can’t have improvement and without improvement you have no chance to stay competitive or much less on top.
I’m sure I’m also not the only one that has found myself surrounded by my sales peers in a nice meeting room at a fine resort for that “annual” sales meeting. You know the one the company spared no expense with travel, accommodations, lunch, dinners, and “happy hour”. Only to be back one year later trying to remember “what the ___ was it they trained us on last year?” So the next time after the great sales conference/workshop that everyone leaves enthusiastic and confident about the next move is yours because inevitably your sales people are going to ask you WHAT’s NEXT. What needs to come next is your actions and not your words.
Sales is a battle if not an all-out war. The competition never retreats and keeps coming at you from every direction. Being well trained just gets you in the game but being well prepared isn’t ever going to be enough to win it. You have to be smarter, faster, and have the right tools and resources. I’ll just say the “Never take a BB Gun to a Gunfight” addresses the technology question. There’s efficiency and then there’s cheap. I’ve worked for the “cheap” ones and the best you can hope for is they over achieve just enough to get acquired. But if that doesn’t happen try to stay close to your competition because someday sooner than later you will be interviewing with them.
How big are your expectations of sales results as it relates to sales training? All sales training seminars or workshops have an expiration date when it comes to shelf life. The impact of results from a sales training seminar will show in small increments. Small increments are good because cumulatively they will consistently grow future sales, revenues, and profits. As a manager if you find yourself trying to measure the results of one training seminar you’re wasting your valuable time. The bigger payoff comes when you spend more time supporting the implementation and execution of what was learned, not measuring it. My experience has been the closer sales training is aligned with sales goals the gap narrows and favorable results are produced.
Taking pride in being a continual learner and always searching for excellent sales material I want to share Deb Calvert, President, Peoples First Productivity Solutions blog post “Sales Professionals: What about the Buyer’s Process?”
Deb keeps it simple as she explains…..
Every sales training program and book about increasing sales offers a sales process. These step-by-step processes help sellers to orient themselves and move through a logical progression from opening the sale all the way through to closing the sale.
Having a sales process is a good practice.
Knowing and following your buyer’s process is an even better practice.
The buyer’s process is simple, and it’s universal. Every time you plan to buy something, you follow exactly this same process. It applies when you’re making an impulse purchase like a pack of gum at the checkout counter. It also applies, unchanged, when you make a major purchase that takes months of research and planning.
The buyer’s process works like this:
Before anyone ever buys anything, they must first have an awareness that it exists. Further, the buyer needs to be interested in the item. If that interest builds into desire, a buyer may then (and only then!) take action to acquire the item.
Recapping, the buyer’s process is this:
Like it or not, no sales process will ever operate independently of the buyer’s process. Ideally, the sales process should track right alongside the buyer’s process. A savvy seller will be tuned in to gauge where the buyer is and will recognize the early signs of interest. In response to the buyer’s interest, the smart seller will help build and magnify desire by showcasing relevant and personalized benefits. And, when the time is right, the seller will advance to a close at the moment when the buyer is ready to take action…..
For the full post:
A golfer standing over a putt on the 18th hole to win the championship…and he drops the putt center of the cup.
Well that “championship” was not won on that day it was won in the past on the practice greens after thousands of similar putts both missed and made. It was won during the lessons learned in past tournaments that saw other players raising their arms to the roar of the crowd while being recognized as that days champion.
In sales we will not find ourselves defined as champions if we don’t put the practice in that builds a champion.
There simply are very few cases of success by luck and in those few cases the odds are that it will only be fleeting success if practice and preparation was not involved.
I give you three scenarios: College football, C.P.R, and a stage actor to further look at the importance of practice in the form of preparation.
In football the coaching staff formulates a game plan they feel gives their players the best opportunity to experience success. The team has practiced long through spring and summer workouts on the fundamentals and the playbook. However when it is game time on Saturday it is basically in the hands of the players. Sure there is play calling and adjustments made by coaches but in the end execution on the field is left up to the players. At seasons end when conference championships have been won, bowl invitations have been awarded, and a national champion has been declared you will not find one championship caliber team that took a shortcut. The most defining moment of the season was never a moment at all, it was all the preparation.
C.P.R. (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) is life saving. CPR in itself is a simple 3 step process. However a person needs to be trained to effectively administer CPR. Certification is good for 2 years and then it requires going back to be re-certified. They go back to be re-certified because they need to practice. When the all important time comes that person needs the skills necessary to act in an emergency, follow standard protocols, and use proper technique for administering CPR. If I find myself in need of CPR I want to be in the hands of someone that took the time to receive and continues to receive proper training. Making a sale is not a matter of life and death but when results matter your customers want to be in good hands.
An actor finds themselves only seconds away from the final curtain call. The audience is in their seats and the auditorium lights have been dimmed with the exception of the stage. Though most of us have not been in a big Broadway production we all know the feeling of anxiety that often accompanies performance. Rather an actor has the leading role with pages of script or a small supporting role with only one line they still want to nail it. In acting it is hours of reviewing the script and rehearsals that lead to stellar performances. No actor of any worth steps out on the stage without preparation that is ten fold what the audience sees.
As a salesperson you will find yourself on the field, stage, or in that moment. Practice and preparation makes you better and allows successful results to become second nature.
I can’t sell and I can’t manage sales today like I did yesterday.
Sales professionals have to produce results and our sales superstars of yesterday may or may not be our superstars of tomorrow. Technology is often left out the conversation when we discuss the differences between our top sales performers and the remainder of our sales team.
Today’s clients expect and demand performance from whomever they do business with. Technology and innovation contribute to improved analysis, organization, productivity, delivery, and overall customer experience. We often want to separate sales and technology by calling one an art and the other a science. Reality is the two are commingled as effective sales provide both an efficient process and solves a problem or fulfils a customer’s need.
We leverage technology in all areas of our business and the sales team must be an extension of our business to be viewed as a “resource”.
Technology includes hardware, software, systems, CRM’s, computers and smart devices. Innovations in technology allow automation, analysis, expediency, and delivery options that improve productivity in sales.
Business moves fast and we can’t afford not to keep pace. Experience, knowledge, ideas and creative approaches in selling will always be in high demand but that alone will not get us there in the future.
Sure salespeople still need to identify a need, offer a solution, get the order, deliver on time and follow up to assure they met the client’s expectations.
It’s imperative as sales people we continue to embrace advancements in technology. Sales growth drives our companies forward and our companies will drive our economy. When we match our talents with technological innovations we will gain sustained, predictable and efficient results that we can all prosper from.