For the last few months, I have heard this line in one fashion or another from so many salespeople that I think I want to scream. It is not just this line that is the problem, but the rest of the conversation that revolves around that it makes no sense to make sales calls because prospects are going to ask for the items that are not available. In other words, selling is at a standstill because back orders are everywhere, and salespeople cannot change that reality.
Sally and Sanjay were comparing notes after a very busy week out selling. Sally was exhausted, but at the same time pretty satisfied that her week was highly productive and would produce some nice revenue for the company and herself. Sanjay, on the other hand, was exhausted and uncertain about what actually happened to him and what success he created. As they compared “war stories” Sally could detail where she was with each prospect she engaged and exactly what the next steps were in the decision process. She could validate she was in control and her future was certain to be positive. Stunned to hear such detail and certainty, Sanjay couldn't comprehend how Sally managed to systematically get through the minefield his sales approach created. “You mean you don’t have all these problems I keep running into?” Sanjay queried. Sally looked at him and replied, “You only have to deal with them if you do not have a process to keep you out of them.”
Marcy, her manager and their product expert just finished a conference call with a hot prospect, and after the last caller signed off, she felt like the last hour had just wasted a month's worth of effort in getting it set up. They had all agreed to dial in, so why was there so little interest, so few questions and no action items at the end of the call? Why was there so little interaction between her team and the audience? Granted, she didn't have too much to say on the call, but the purpose was to show off their company and their offerings. Or was it? Now, looking back, she wasn't so sure.
As the calendar hits mid-June and I can hear the kids in the neighborhood celebrate the last day of the school year I ponder what they learned about life as well as their scholastic advancement. Those ideas provoke thoughts about what salespeople learn from one year to the next, or are they just repeating their earliest days in sales over and over, not really growing from the experiences along the way. So often when I am working with a sales team someone will complain about a prospect that will not return a call or a customer that expects to buy everything at the lowest possible price. Inevitably someone says that is just the way sales is and that complaining never makes it different. In other words, just live with it because that stuff just goes with the territory.
Today we are all facing a challenge that two weeks ago seemed as likely as pigs flying. Yet, here we are facing a sales challenge you won’t find talked about in any sales training manuals or motivational seminars. Essentially, the world has shut down for almost everyone, and none of us can truly say, with any certainty, when it will reopen. With that reality staring us in the face I thought I’d take some time this evening and make some suggestions about how to survive the challenges in front of all salespeople. Below you will find a few ideas for each of the three points of our MAP to Success: Mindset, Activity and Process.
Monday Morning Manager
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Don’t Be That Guy.
My work with my clients is constantly connecting me to their upstream and downstream market partners both directly and indirectly. As I review and replay the conversations I have with the people I support and coach, one idea keeps popping up; the idea of curiosity. Are we all curious enough to be as effective as we can and should be in our business and sales processes?
Too many salespeople run their sales model the same way they get cash from an ATM machine; they don’t really know how much money they have until they go punch in their PIN and see if there is anything in the account. In other words, many don’t even look at their account until they need some cash, and too often they are shocked by how low their balance is. You can’t run your sales machine the same way.