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Hope is not a Sales Strategy

The Traditional Sales “Strategy”:

There’s a vicious cycle that plagues a lot of sales efforts today. It looks kind of like this:

  • Caffeinate – Slug back 20 oz coffee and give yourself a pep-talk. Today is the day.
  • Wing it – Work like a person on fire and hope “the flow” will just happen.
  • Rejection – The flow didn’t happen. Why didn’t the flow happen? More caffeine.
  • Overwhelmed– The flow cannot be found, no matter how hard I try. Prayer offered.
  • Panic – The axe is coming, because the flow isn’t happening. More prayer.
  • Justify – Report imaginary numbers to delay the axe from coming. We’re good, really we are.
  • Realization – The process isn’t working. Something needs to change.

Hands Praying for HopeHope is not a strategy and by itself, a tragedy. Sure, you may get lucky once in awhile but I doubt your company is all that excited about your occasional lucky streaks. What they get really excited about is regular, consistent sales results they can use to build their business month-after-month.

A Simplified Sales Strategy
If you think about almost any other type of work where something complex is built, there are principles that make all the difference between successful completion of goals, and getting lucky from time to time:

Developing a Plan
Some of the best advice we’ve heard about planning comes from the late great Stephen R Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.” What is the end goal for your business? If you are in sales there’s probably a quota that is the primary objective of your job: X Dollars per X timeframe. If a company does not begin their sales strategy with concrete goals, they will not have any idea if they have achieved them. Many salespeople fail simply because they do not set realistic achievable goals for themselves to start with.

Measure and Adjust
Set up milestones to determine if goals are being reached in a productive way. Breaking these goals down into smaller chunks will enable sales professionals to keep track of where they are. Am I still on track for the month? If not, then the sales plan needs to be changed. At this point, it is easy to see what points within the sales cycle need to be adjusted in order to make a productive change.

Report True Projections
For a manager trying to determine the health of their sales team’s efforts, and the level of completion of their goals, true numbers are a must. By reporting exactly what the sales team is up to and demonstrating the results match the companies plan, sales managers can determine if their efforts are paying off.

Does your sales team follow this simplified strategy? Or, are they stuck in a never ending vicious cycle of imaginary numbers and caffeine?

Jim Banks is a sales expert, with over 40 years of sales experience. He has watched CRM throughout the years and realized that it still lacked several tools that the sales professional needed. In 2004 he left his job as a Sales Executive and started improving CRM systems for other companies.
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