Take a moment to ask yourself these important questions about statistical benchmarks for success and self accountability that most organizations are missing.
Stop. Just stop for the next several minutes that it’s going to take you to read this. Okay, now take a breath. Get off the treadmill for a moment and ask yourself these questions. Yes, these questions are that important. So important, in fact, that they could change your entire perspective around what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how much you really need to be doing in order to generate the worthwhile results you’re looking for.
Because the truth is, you just may be running so fast in an attempt to catch up on your sales numbers, that you didn’t recognize the blinders you’ve developed which are obstructing your view of the fuller picture; the landscape you’re trying to farm and manage when it comes to selling and driving the right sales activity. Here are those questions you need to ask yourself (and your sales team).
“With all the effort I’m putting forth in an attempt to generate more prospects and selling opportunities, following up and retaining existing clients to ensure that I’m bringing in as much business as possible:”
- Am I acutely aware of the activities and benchmarked proven practices (both the activities and the dialogue/message I need to communicate) that I need to engage in daily that would secure my success?
- Am I measuring the numbers and the results of my efforts and allowing these statistical data points to be the driving force behind my sales activities?
- Do I know how much cold calling and prospecting activity is actually enough (emails, voice mails, live calls/connections, letters, and so on) and when to call it quits and move on when attempting to convert a contact into a qualified prospect?
- Do I know how many calls/contacts I need to make each day, each week and how often I need to follow up with a qualified prospect in order to earn their business or move them to the next stage of my sales process? (And have I even defined those specific steps in my sales process to begin with?)
- Am I holding myself accountable when it comes to engaging in the right activities in the most efficient way possible through the effective use of a daily routine?
- When calling on or meeting with prospects, do I have a clear set of outlined objectives that I need to accomplish on every call and during each meeting, especially when delivering a presentation?
- Have I identified the lifetime value of each client or account in order to classify customers according to their sales potential? (What’s the economic impact of the time you invest?)
- Do I have a detailed strategy for each of my clients to ensure that I’m maximizing every conceivable up selling and cross selling opportunity?
- Am I fully leveraging the power and potential of my CRM solution for prospect, client as well as territory management? Do you have a call report system?
- Do I have the right questions that provide me with the critical intel I need in order to qualify each person as a viable prospect so that I can most effectively determine where my limited and precious time is best invested?
And to clarify further when it comes to the type of questions you need to be asking each prospect, this isn’t limited to Selling 101 – Uncovering a Need. I’m also referring to understanding how they buy, how they make decisions, the internal workings of the company, the people and egos involved, the process they are going to go through when they hang up the phone with you or end the meeting and then attempt to solve the problem or find a new solution on their own using the resources or venders they currently have, the concerns or roadblocks that you could encounter down the road that would stall or destroy the potential for a sale, the timely and relevant issues that are going on internally, the overall mood of the company and its leaders, and so on. (Hint: Low closing percentages = misalignment in who you should be presenting to and following up with in the first place.)
If you don’t have the answers to these crucial questions, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to enjoy the certainty and peace of mind that comes from utilizing a formulaic approach to selling. After all, if you define it, you can then refine it. So, if you’re ever wondering why you or other salespeople fall into what’s known as a ‘sales slump,’ here’s the main cause of that. They aren’t honoring their sales process by the numbers and as such, those who continue to ‘wing it’ as their overall selling strategy are destined to experience the ups and downs in performance and in their stress level, as well as the waning sense of satisfaction and confidence that’s sure to follow in its wake when this amount of ambiguity and uncertainly is present.
I’ve decided (and many of my clients and readers are on board with this as well, so I hope you’ll join us) that it’s no longer as tough as it was out there. That’s right. Strip away what you hear in the media, and look objectively at what you can control; this one telltale sign that something in your selling formula needs to be developed, modified or redefined:
If there are people in your organization, even in your industry or profession who are currently performing like rock stars, that should provide you with one very critical insight. That is, it can be done because it is currently being done by someone else!
Of course it is going to remain “tough out there” if you don’t have your defined best practices, data points and numeric formula to help support your selling efforts. After all, it’s one thing to up your game and work on developing and refining your selling skills as well as your sales management skills. However, to complement this so that you have a comprehensive solution to better performance, you need to have your finger on the pulse of the numbers that will drive your activities in the first place as you exercise your newfound selling and leadership strategies and newly developed competencies. Use these questions I’ve posed to help uncover the gaps in your data pool that in turn, will help refine your overall approach to how you prospect and sell and the measurable effort that’s required for you to do so successfully.
Here’s a very clear insight into one example of some general statistical information about the selling profession that will help you begin the process of fine tuning and developing your own data driven solution to increasing your sales.
48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts.
Now, get this:
2% of sales are made on the first contact.
3% of sales are made on the second contact.
5% of sales are made on the third contact.
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
But 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
Now, these numbers may change depending upon your selling cycle, geographic location, the dollar amount of your deliverable, target audience as well as the service or product you’re selling but the essence of this message still remains in tact. That is, do you have your own set of data available which you have used as the cornerstone to constructing your prospecting and selling strategy? If not, it’s the same as getting into your car and saying to yourself before embarking on a trip, “Okay, I need to get to a specific destination, but I’m not exactly sure which direction to travel nor how long it’s going to take me to get there.”
It’s no longer about simply ‘doing more’ but about doing more of what’s right. In our new marketplace, going out in the field and just doing more of what you did yesterday would be the same as trying to sell VCR’s, pagers and CD’s today. (Even my youngest asked me the other day, “Dad, what’s a CD?”). Your product has changed over the years and while your selling and management strategy needs to evolve as well, this evolution must be guided by the numeric benchmarks in order to see the full, panoramic picture of the truth that surrounds your current situation. This will eliminate the costly oversights I’ve detailed earlier and ensure your future success.
We all need to be reminded of this universal law, “We resist what we need to learn the most.” And interestingly, while salespeople and sales managers are more inclined to take the reactionary, visceral attitude, “Lets just get out there and make it happen,” we need to pull back the reigns before engaging in blind sales activities and instead, start with doing what is often perceived as the more mundane, often boring task of benchmarking the right practices and then measuring their effectiveness by the numbers before embarking on these activities. Empirical data will provide the blueprint you need to succeed as well as the certainty, confidence and conviction necessary for a healthy sales mind and attitude.
After all, the greatest rainmakers realize the importance of checking the weather first so they know where the best locations are to make it rain, and have the tools to do so.
Photo Credit: ollyy (on Shutterstock)