Misfiring Sales?

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Are you finding your sales generation activity isn’t working or has stopped working?

It happens to us all…sometimes it is just the ebb and flow of business cycles and this is normal. Other times it can be because some things have decoupled in how you go about your sales. Whether new to sales and you’re being asked to go out and find some business and what you’re doing isn’t working, or an old hand that has found themselves in a rut – have a look at the below as some common reasons why you’re sales generation has stalled or not fired:

No Clear Targets

When we’re told to sell, the first thing people often think to do is pick the phone up and ring someone. They ‘shotgun’ the sales process aiming to ring many to find the one that wants to work with you. They have no clear line of sight to their ideal clients.

In order to be more successful in your growth activities, the first place to start is to develop a list of those clients who you wish to work with and you think you can add value to.

Sales generation is much easier if, in your own mind, you’ve determined you wish to deal with the client. Your activity has more conviction and your message is more personal and relevant.

No Plan / No Process

Again, like the above, sales activity often happens in a scatter gun approach. It is done when we’re quiet, have some spare time, have the pressure put on from above, when we’re in the hole in our pipeline et al. A scatter gun approach gets scattered results!

The best approach is to treat sales activity seriously. Block time out of the diary regularly, plan who and why you’re calling businesses, research them, find the appropriate person to call, work out your approach and execute it. Schedule time to undertake your social sales activity – whether authoring, reading, commenting etc.

It is crucial to plan the follow up and tenaciously execute them. What’s the point in making the initial call if you cease to maintain contact. These calls must be a priority in your planning.

The old adage of ‘failing to plan’ is very true in sales. It is easy to find actiivty to replace prospecting/sales activity if you don’t discipline yourself to treat it as a vital activity.

Too Little

Many sales people do ‘just enough’ sales activity to keep the wolves at bay – but seldom go much further. Their manager or business tells them to make 3 calls – so they make 3 calls – no more, no less.

In sales, there is always the factor that the outcomes/results can happen some time after the activity but not always immediately afterward – hence the need for a pipeline. One thing is true through – results/outcomes don’t happen without the activity. If you’re sure you’re doing the right things and doing them right but still not getting results – it is highly likely you just aren’t doing enough of them. How much is enough is a question best answered by you – not your sales manager’s expectation of inputs.

More activity, if done properly, equals more results. More importantly, practice makes perfect, the more you do it the better you get at it. What may have taken 10 calls to get 2 visits, may soon take 4 calls as you become practiced. So with those same 10 calls, you’ll now get 5 visits. Notice though – this improvement doesn’t mean you can make less calls – it means you get more visits! Practice increases the success of your inputs – it doesn’t provide the excuse to do less of them.

As per the above when planning, block out enough time to do all your calls together. Sure the first call may be hard to kick off, but you’ll be on a roll by the last one. You get better by doing more activity – and, of course, you tend to get more results.

Your Why Is Flawed

Some people undertake sales because they view they have to, or they’re told to. Some people are in sales roles, but don’t like the sales activity. If you call or approach a client from this position – customers feel it. Sure, you can say all the right things, but do you mean them? Do you want to help the client and make a difference to them and their business?

Undertaking sales activity because you have to or are told to isn’t sustainable. It is human nature to resist being told to do something. You either need to adjust your mindset to want to do it, stop doing it, or leave your role.

When I say ‘want to do it’ – I don’t mean the activity of making the call/contact. I mean the act of connecting with a person and business to understand can you add meaningful value to their business. This is the why. The call is just the how.

When you get your ‘why’ right – sales is not only easier, but far more enjoyable. You ask questions wanting to know and act on the answers, you drive solutions to problems and create opportunities.

Its All You

Sales activity is demanding – especially if you try to do it all yourself. You can become task focused in sales – ring this client, ask for this referral, close this deal. The weight of targets can weigh you down – the blinkers start to close in.

Professional sports people have coaches – especially those at the top of their game. The people around you can coach and support you in your sales activity – often you just need to ask. They provide the opportunity to question the ‘usual’ and challenge your beliefs of what is or isn’t working.

Whether this is internal support like a sales manager or a colleague who’s knowledge can support a customer or proposal. Also, good sales people know how to use their network effectively. To gather information, introduce you to prospective clients, to solve customer problems or help capitalise on opportunities. Who you know is often more important than what you know in sales.

It is useful to review this regularly as often it is one or a few of these things de-railing which slows or stops your sales success. Some are easier to fix than others but, like many things in life, identifying the problem is the first step to fixing it.

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