Dog Days of Summer

Dog days of summer, slow down, CEO

Are you accepting excuses from your sales team during the dog days of summer? When the weather turns nice everyone wants to enjoy long weekends and warm summer nights. But as prospects disappear, are you letting your sales team fall behind when they don’t need to?

One of the challenges we see with companies across the board this time of year is that everything slows down. It's tough to add new deals to the pipeline. It's tough to keep current opportunities moving forward. Particularly in a complex, multi-party sales environment. People are taking vacations this time of year, so if one of the key decision makers is out or on vacation, everything just takes longer. People take longer weekends and it's just easier for them to delay. You know how it goes, “Joe's not back until next Wednesday, we're meeting on Thursday, but then I'm on vacation the following week”.

It makes for stalled deals and slow movement. When that happens, it's really easy for your sales people to slow down as well. They take their foot off the gas, accept put offs, stalls and delays from their clients, and just wait until things get better. As a CEO what can you do to solve this slow down?

  1. Number one, everyone on your sales team needs to increase their activity level. While prospects may slow down, your sales team can counter that by increasing their activity levels. More calls, more voicemails, more emails, more InMails via LinkedIn. Think in terms of “polite persistence.” You don't want your sales team to be a pest, but you absolutely want them to consistently pursue prospects in multiple ways. It's not that buyers and decision makers aren't working this time of year; it just takes more effort to make contact with them.

As they’re doing that they can create a commentary. Coach them to say things like "Hey I know things slowdown in the summer, just wanted to find out if there's anything moving on this opportunity. When's the next time we should talk? You were supposed to get this to me by Friday, I didn't see it, how we doing?" Have them actually talk about the fact that it's slower in the summer and that's ok.  Just acknowledge it, and again, increase the activity. The other thing sales people need to do at this time of year is ask more questions. It's easy for the prospect to coast through the summer and not have an urgency to move forward. It’s not ok for your sales people to do the same. They need to ask questions to create urgency, to create incentives to move faster on these deals. Make prospects realize the benefits they'll accrue when they buy your solutions faster. That's what's going to separate and create urgency even in the dog days of summer.

  1. Second, remind them that while in July and August things really slow down, September is right around the corner. We get past Labor Day, kids go back to school, everyone's back from vacation. Buyers and decision makers look at their calendar and they realize, oh my goodness, I've only got four months left to make my number this year. If you wait until September to get going, you're already behind. It's your responsibility to make sure your sales team uses these dog days of summer to build momentum going into the final year-end push. 

 
  1. Third, remember many companies are starting their budget process in the August/September time frame. How can your sales team start planting seeds for getting in the budget for next year? Do they have the urgency to start filling their calendars right now, even though its summer?

As a CEO, are you accepting excuses and put offs from your sales team?  Ask them to do a little bit more during the dog days of summer and you’ll have a much stronger pipeline in the fall.

Questions Your Sales Leaders Should Ask Halfway Through the Year

Yesterday marked the end of June, which means if your company runs on a calendar year you've hit your mid-year point.  Two quarters down, two quarters to go.  It also means that, based on the results produced thus far, some of your sales people are strutting around with a huge ego and others are slinking about with their shoulders slumped forward and their eyes on the ground.  And the reality is, both may be wrong!  Here are some questions your sales leaders should ask to make sure each sales person on their team has the right focus and attitude midway through the year.

For Sales People on Plan or Ahead of Plan

  1. Are they bringing in the right kind of revenue?  With the right customers?  Consistent with your corporate strategy?
  2. Are their wins producing solid margins?  No discounting? 
  3. Were there any deals that should have closed Q414 that slipped into Q115?  Were there any unusual (i.e. once-in-a-lifetime, difficult to repeat, not likely to happen again soon) deals that are boosting their year-to-date numbers?
  4. Are they maintaining their activity levels?  Booking net new appointments every week?  Maintaining an active sales pipeline?  Moving opportunities from stage to state in a timely fashion?  Consistently asking for referrals?
  5. Do they remain open to coaching and feedback?  Are they still hungry to learn and get better?  Remember, small incremental improvements can make a huge impact with your top producing sales people.
  6. Will they keep their foot on the gas through the end of the year or are they likely to coast?  What will motivate them to keep driving at their current pace?

For Sales People Behind Plan

  1. How strong are their weekly activity levels?  How many net new appointments are they going on every week?  What problems are they finding to get invited into a new appointment?  What can they do to increase activity at the top of their sales funnel for the second half of the year?  What do they plan to do differently?
  2. Are they creating enough urgency for prospects to take action toward the next step in the sales process?  Are they slowing down during the discovery process to really understand the issues and situation (or are they rushing to get to the proposal/close too quickly)?
  3. What is in their pipeline that is closable?  What will it take to get the win and put some points on the board?  Is there anything they need from the company to support their efforts?
  4. Do they remain open to coaching and feedback?  Are they still confident?  How can they focus on their tonality and improving their questioning skills until they get back on track?
  5. Is there too much on their plate?  What non-sales activities can be removed or postponed so they can focus during prime selling hours?  Can you narrow their focus (temporarily reduce their territory, emphasize only one or two product lines, etc.)?
  6. Can they turn it around and save their year or have they already given up?  What will motivate them to pick up their efforts and finish strong?

 

Predictive_Validity

 

Whether you have sales people who are ahead of plan, behind plan or somewhere in the middle, remember that part of building an over-achieving sales team is having sales leaders ask the right questions so they know why their sales people are ahead (or behind).  Sometimes it’s possible to do everything right and lose the deal.  Other times you can do nearly everything wrong and win the business.  It is your sales leaders’ responsibility to make sure everyone on their team knows the difference and takes away right lessons from every opportunity (win or lose).

Consistent coaching (ideally weekly), weekly planning by every sales team member focusing on outcomes, defining 3-4 clear quarterly goals and staying focused on them, and continuing to learn and grow are a few of the keys to building an over-achieving sales team.  One more factor for building an over-achieving sales team?  Effective recruiting!  We’re halfway through 2015 and we are in a candidate-centric market, which means it can take 90-120 days to find a great sales person.  If your sales leaders have team members who may not make it to the end of the year, NOW is the time to begin recruiting.  Remember, a decision to recruit is not a decision to hire – why wait?  Want an unfair advantage?  Learn more here.

Driving Growth through Goals-Based Coaching

How much do your managers know about the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of every member on their team?  How much do you know about the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the folks you lead?  Too soft?  Who cares?  You should – and here’s why. 

The job market has shifted dramatically in the past 6 months.  We are now in a candidate-centric job market, which means if you’re not engaging your team members and helping them connect the dots between what they do at work and why they’re working in the first place, you may soon find yourself scrambling to replace key team members.  sales_coaching

It doesn’t need to be complicated.  Make the decision to get started and then focus on making incremental progress.  Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

  1. Weekly Coaching Rhythm – our practice has traditionally focused on the coaching rhythm between sales managers and sales people (although that’s changing with the addition of our new partner and rock star Topgrading expert Jenny Rodriguez-Vargas), but establishing a weekly coaching rhythm is a best practice for nearly every department.  Most managers will fight this, saying they “talk with the team when needed” and that “they always have an open door.”  Don’t give them a pass.  They should continue the ad hoc, got-a-minute coaching they’re already doing - and they should also add a brief, 30-45 minute structured coaching conversation with every team member.  Ideally this would be every week, although circumstances may require a bi-weekly rhythm.  It can be face-to-face, on the phone, or Skype.
  2. Weekly Priorities – nearly everyone in your company is keeping some type of weekly “To Do” list.  And more often than not these lists focus on activities rather than results.  And many of the items listed get dragged from week to week with little actually being accomplished.  Change this to instead focus on the 6-8 “Big Accomplishments” a team member will prioritize.  Think outcomes and results, NOT activities.  For example, an outcome would be “have 3 CEO conversations by Friday” and an activity would be “make CEO calls.”
  3. Quarterly Progress Goals – most teams we work with have some high level goals defined.  For sales teams that might include revenue growth targets, account retention targets, net new account targets, additional sales targets to existing customers, etc.  More often than not these targets are established during an annual budget planning session, quickly forgotten, then measured at the end of the year.  What would happen if your managers broke these targets down to quarterly progress goals (i.e. where should we be by the end of March, June, etc.)?  What corrective actions could they take if team members were falling short?
  4. Personal Goals – when managers take time to learn the personal goals of their team members, it becomes much easier to engage and retain them.  When your team members see your company as the means through which they can reach their personal goals (rather than just a job) the conversations between your managers and their team members change dramatically.  People work for their reasons, not ours.  It sounds obvious but it’s easy to forget.  Nobody is going to push harder so you can increase EBITA by 2% year-over-year, but they’ll work their ass off when managers understand what they’re working for (more time with an aging parent, the ability to coach their son or daughter’s team, taking the vacation of their dream, saving for their child’s education, etc.).

While this may seem like a long list to begin with, as you start to utilize these each week it will become second nature.  We’ve recently built a custom platform, Intelligent Coaching System, which makes this easy.  This dashboard allows your sales people to track everything in an accessible format – and allows your sales people to keep their notes in one place (accessible by you).  For more information, send us an e-mail at info@intelligentconversations.com.

What UNC Coach Dean Smith Taught Us About Sales Metrics

Legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith died on Saturday.  Sales managers across the country who have been through our sales leadership program know that I often use Dean Smith’s scoring system as an example of what sales leaders should focus on when measuring performance.

During his 36 seasons the UNC basketball coach (from 1961 to 1997) Dean Smith amassed a record of 879 wins and 254 losses.  His Tar Heel teams made it to 11 Final Four appearances and won National Championships in 1982 and 1993.  He had great players come through his program and he coached them to work together as a TEAM. 

Courtesy of NY Times

One of the ways he did this was by creating a team scoring system that awarded points for making the right play, the best-possible-play in the situation, instead of the end result.  It also subtracted points for making the wrong play for the situation (regardless of the end result).  So if James Worthy took a beautiful 10-foot jumper and made the shot instead of passing the ball to an open Michael Jordan who had a better shot, in Coach Smith’s scoring system Worthy would get a negative score (even though he made the basket).  And if instead he passed the ball and somehow Jordan missed the shot, Worthy would get a positive score for making the right play (even though no points were scored). 

Focusing on the right activities, within a clear system, with a common goal and where everyone understands their role and expected contributions, drives results.  For Dean Smith that meant accumulating 879 wins, 11 Final Fours and two national championships.

We see sales managers focusing on results instead of the right activities all the time.  It’s part of what frustrates managers who have a team of Lone Wolves (in the Challenger Sales model) because while sales people with this profile put up impressive numbers, they all do their own thing and want to be left alone.  They don’t work well with others.  They don’t like to fit within a system.  Dean Smith didn’t tolerate lone wolves.  If you played for UNC during his tenure you followed his system or you were gone.

If you want to build a predictable, repeatable, scalable sales engine to drive growth at your company, have your sales leaders turn their focus to the activities that drive results.  Instead of having your sales leaders focus on results (closed deals) with their team, challenge them to focus on activities earlier in the sales process that should drive those closings (and I’m sure there are enough people in your company tracking closed deals!).  And while the activities that lead to closed deals will vary from company to company, typical activities to monitor might include:

  • Net new meetings per week/month with qualified prospects (frequency will vary based on the length of your sales cycle)

  • Compelling reasons identified during discovery conversations

  • Quantification of those compelling reasons (both time and money impacts)

  • Learning how and why the prospect will buy

  • Understanding the buying landscape (know all the players and the influence do they have)

  • Identifying the budget and timeline for a decision

  • Disqualifying low-probability opportunities

  • Maintaining proper balance in their opportunity pipeline (by stage, by deal size, by offering, etc.)

  • And so on….

When your sales leaders move the focus to activities earlier in the pipeline and give positive feedback for making “the right play” in that situation regardless of whether or not they “got the sale,” results and consistency will improve.  Sales forecasting accuracy will improve.  Revenue will grow.  Your leadership team will have more confidence in the sales forecast.  Ask your sales managers to focus on making the right play and your sales team will start to score more baskets (closed sales).

My sympathies go out to all of Dean Smith’s family and friends, as well as to all of my North Carolina friends who are mourning this loss.  Go Tar Heels!

Looking Back to Look Forward – Six Exercises to Help Develop Your 2015 Sales Plan

This is usually the time of year when I write a “Year End Sales Strategies” blog post outlining some of the things your sales team should be focused on to make sure you finish the year strong and bring all of the truly closable opportunities across the finish line.  Well, this year I don’t need to because Dave Kurlan’s post from Monday sums it up quite nicely.  I agree with Dave's main points:

  • If your sales team has not been following a solid sales process all year, a “big push” at the end of the year probably won’t have much impact and could very well alienate a high number of potential prospects.

  • Minimize the time and attention your sales team dedicates to dropping off gift baskets, bottles of wine, chocolates, nuts, and all the other gifts sales people like to dole out this time of year.  Yes, customer appreciation is important and while these gifts can have an impact, your sales people will spend all of their time glad handing with customers if you let them.  Have them do it, but with ruthless efficiency.

  • Focus on the truly closable opportunities in your pipeline.  That means opportunities where a strong case to make a change has been built, your sales people can articulate the impact using your product or service will have on the prospective customer (in terms of time, money, process improvement, strategic advantage, etc.) and can monetize that impact in clear terms, your sales people understand the budget, decision making process, decision criteria, timeline, competitive context, can meet all of the prospective customer’s requirements, and the prospective customer understands and has agreed to accept what your firm can’t do, and finally there’s a meeting scheduled for a final presentation, proposal review, etc.  If your sales people cannot answer with an emphatic yes to all of these criteria, it’s not a closable opportunity and will likely not happen in December.

  • Focus on booking appointments in January to get off to a strong start.  Not just “how-you-doing” appointments or professional visits.  Make sure your sales people are asking questions on their initial calls that identify a clear reason to meet.  Think quality of appointments not quantity of appointments.  Consider the 17 business days in December an opportunity to get a jump on 2015 rather than a frantic sprint to close a bunch of questionable opportunities that are not yet closable and you’ll be in a better position next quarter.

So, that’s a good game plan for your sales team to focus on as 2014 comes to a close.  What else?  In our consulting practice we encourage our clients to use this time of year as an opportunity for reflection and thoughtful planning. 
Here are six (6) exercises you can have your sales managers facilitate in your next sales meeting or in their one-on-one coaching sessions to help take a look back before looking forward.  All of the information should be available with minimal effort if you have a reasonably clean CRM system.  If not, reviewing your billing reports should help as well.

  • Top 5 Customers – Have each sales person identify their top five customers for the current year in their territory.  Also have them identify the top five customers from the prior year.  What changed?  Who fell off the list and why?  Who was added to the list and how did we win them? Are there any top five customers from the prior year that should be contacted?  Can they book an appointment to see them in January?

  • Top 5 Projects – Same thing as above, but instead of looking at total spend look at your biggest projects across all customers.  In many cases there will be overlap between the first two lists, but probably not 100%.  What were the situations for each of the top five projects?  How do they compare to the top five projects from the prior year?  Are there any learnings to apply to future prospecting efforts?  Can you target specific situations that could be similar?

  • Customer Sourcing – Have each sales person review their top X accounts (depending on your business, it could be their top 20, their top 50, or maybe their top 10).  Where did they come from?  How did they come into your world?  Make sure your sales managers ask tough questions and really press for details.  Typical sources will be client referrals, in-bound leads, trade show leads, prospecting, etc.  What can you learn from this exercise?  Are there any key referral sources or trade shows or other sources that should get more of your attention?  What patterns can you discern across territories or product lines?  Have your sales managers gather this data, discuss it with the sales team, and present it to the leadership team.

  • Top Referral Sources – By sales person or territory, who are the top referral sources?  What is the strategy for 2015 to keep them engaged and build a deeper relationship?

  • Top Compelling Reasons – When looking at top customers or projects, have your sales managers facilitate a discussion with their sales team around why the customers chose to work with your company.  What problems did they have that compelled them to go with you?  What impact has your solution had on their business?  Again, look for trends and patterns from this past year to see if your sales team should shift their focus slightly during sales calls next year.

  • Lessons Learned – What experiments did your sales team run this year?  Which of them worked better than expected?  Which were colossal failures?  What should you build on next year?  What should you try next year?

2015 Sales PlanThe goal of these exercises is to help make sure your sales leaders and their sale people are asking the right questions, learning something from the answers, and making the adjustments needed to drive incremental improvements year after year.  As the year comes to a close and your sales team focuses on closing the closable opportunities and booking themselves solid in January, investing a little time for reflection and strategic thinking about what to do differently next year will pay big dividends. 

Need help?  Contact us and we can help you walk through our territory planning worksheet.  This worksheet serves as a guide to facilitate the type of discussion I outline above.  What will happen to your revenue next year if your sales organization can find one or two nuggets to build on as they start the new year?  What could happen to your revenue if you ignore these exercises and just keep repeating the same year, year after year?

Creating a Culture of Accountability for Your Sales Team

Accountability for Your Sales TeamAre your sales managers doing everything they can to create a culture of accountability for your sales organization? If you ask them they’ll say,

“Absolutely, we hold them accountable every sales meeting.”

And your follow up questions should be “Accountable to what?!” In our experience many sales leaders struggle with true accountability because they focus on the wrong things.

Here are six (6) specific areas where your sales leaders should focus their time, energy and attention to create a culture of accountability for your sales team.



  1. Raise expectations – too many sales managers we encounter have a high tolerance for mediocrity.
    Stop accepting mediocrity and raise expectations.  It starts with your sales manager, so that’s where you should focus.

    - Are they too quick to defend their team?
    - Do you hear sales managers making excuses
    on behalf of their sales people?
    - Have they set the bar too low for the sales team?

    Do they throw other departments under the bus, blaming marketing or operations or engineering or everyone else? Raise your expectations for your sales manager.  If you know you have a sales leader who has already established a high tolerance for accepting mediocrity perhaps it’s time to
    start looking for a new sales manager.
     
     
  2. Be their manager, not their friend – is your sales manager to friendly with their team?
    Too many sales managers we coach want to be “one of the gang” and are a little too close to the sales people they manage. Obviously building team spirit and rapport is important, however for some sales managers it is more important to be liked by their sales people than to get the results you expect from them.
     
    It may happen gradually over time. It may be difficult to detect.
    When you see your sales manager turn a blind eye toward a weak performer it’s time to raise expectations and remind them that at the end of the day they will be judged on the numbers, not how well liked they are by their team. 
     
     
  3. Take responsibility – the worst message to send to the sales team is to have sales managers who raise expectations and hold everyone accountable but fails to take responsibility for themselves.
    Do your sales managers take full responsibility for the results they produce? When they lose a deal or miss a revenue target, do they look at themselves and ask questions such as “What can we do differently next time? What can I do better?” Or do they avoid responsibility and look for someone to blame? Are they too quick to throw a team member under the bus when ultimately it was their responsibility?
     
     
  4. Manage behaviors – what does your sales manager measure, results or activities? Too many sales managers are focused solely on the results rather than focusing on the behaviors that drive those results. Sales leaders who can keep their team focused on doing the right behaviors day-to-day, week-to-week will nearly always get the results.
     
    Sales leaders who don’t manage behaviors just hope they get there and cannot explain how they did it or predict whether or not they can do it again. 
     
     
  5. Ask questions – are your sales managers applying the same strong questioning skills they developed when they carried a bag for a living, or are they more likely to make statements and proclamations?
    Something seems to happen when you add “manager” to a sales person’s title; suddenly they seem to forget that it’s always better to help the customer discover the answer and get to the right conclusion by asking good questions. The only difference now is the “customer” is the sales person they serve and support.
     
    When your sales leader can get a sales person to discover the right answer on their own, the sales person will remember it forever. When your sales leader simply tells them what to do, the sales person will likely ignore them (or worse).
     
     
  6. Manage the Pipeline – are your sales managers closely monitoring every stage of the pipeline?

    - How often do they review it?
    - Is it balanced?
    - When do they jump in to focus on a sales person who is struggling or out of balance?
    - Do they use the pipeline reports to focus their coaching conversations?
     
    If sales managers are ultimately judged by the numbers they produce each month, quarter and year it is imperative that they hold the team accountable by closely managing the pipeline.
 
Conclusion
As you read this, if you have a sinking feeling that maybe your sales organization lacks a strong culture of accountability please contact me. You can also sign up for our next webinar, scheduled for April 16th. This will focus on specific areas to measure and will help support this conversation with your sales manager as well.
  
  
FREE Sales Accountability Plan!
The difference between top producing sales people and everyone else is their ability to hold themselves accountable on a consistent basis. Our simple, four-step Sales Accountability Plan will help you do just that.
 
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Focus on Sales Activity

describe the imageI enjoyed reading another great post by Anthony Iannarino last week, The Case for Activity Goals and Metrics.  If you're not subscribing to his RSS feed you're really missing some great sales and sales management insight.  In this article he makes the case for maintaining momentum by always staying focused on sales activity.  His advice is similar to what we often tell our sales force development clients -- if you decide to take a day off from prospecting and business development today, you're also deciding to take a day off from closing new business in x weeks where x = your typical sales cycle.

I agree with everything Anthony Iannarino says in this article and would add the following thoughts:
  1. Narrow your focus - pick just two (2), maybe three (3) key metrics to track and focus on.
  2. Stick with it - once you identify 2-3 key metrics to track, stick with them for at least 90 days so you can see trends.
  3. Proactively plan each week and each day - the 2-3 key metrics should be central to planning your daily and weekly goals.  If you don't put your sales activity focus on your calendar it won't happen as you'll fill your time with other activities.
  4. Change your focus when needed - it's ok to change what you track from time to time. For example:
  • If you're a new sales person or in a new territory you're probably focused on things like "conversations with decision makers" and "first appointments."  As you begin to fill your calendar, knowing the number of "conversations with decision makers" may not be as important (but having tracked it for at least 90 days you'll have a sense of how many dials it takes to have a conversation and how many conversations you need to have to book an appointment), so maybe you track "first appointments" and "qualified proposals."
  • If you're in an established territory and have a solid book of business, you may track things like "year-over-year revenue growth" or "number of referrals" or "cross sales opportunities."
For sales managers keeping a narrow focus on the 2 (maybe 3) metrics that matter will make your life a lot easier.  It keeps the messaging for the team very clear and allows you to focus on different metrics for each sales person (depending on where they are in their account, territory or career development). 

What are your two (2) to three (3) key sales metrics right now?  Are they the right ones?  Will they help you reach your goals this quarter?  This year?  Do you need to refocus and recommit to them?  Why not start right now, today?

Growing Your Sales Team On Purpose

Sales, growth, training and development, coaching, sales growth, salesprogress, objective management group, coaching generator, Mike Carroll, Intelligent Conversations, CEO, Business Owner, growth decisions, increase sales, sales team growth, sales manager growthChange is inevitable.  Growth is intentional. 

Change will happen whether you like it or not.  If you run a company long enough you'll see changes in your market, your competition, your customers, your customers' expectations, your position in the marketplace, your pricing models, how you deliver your product or service, and on and on.

Growth is different.  Growth is a choice.  You can choose to create an environment where the expectation is that everyone on the team grows all the time and growth is part of your culture.  Or you can choose to just keep doing things the way you've always done them and hope your sales team can adapt to the inevitable changes your company will face.

While growth is a choice, it's not an easy decision.  Growth is hard and you'll face resistance.  Top sales people will say "look at my numbers, I don't need training and development...."  And yet we find even small incremental growth, say a 10% improvement, for a top producing sales person can produce the biggest impact on your top line.  Take a $1 million dollar producer and help her improve by 10% -- that's $100k in new revenue.  Take a $200k producer and help him grow by 20% -- that's only $40k in new revenue.

Just ask yourself which company will be able to handle change better, the company with a sales team growing on purpose or the company letting each sales person fend for themselves? 

What are you doing to help your sales team grow and improve?  Can you see specific measurable progress?

If you're growing your sales team on purpose, you should be able to look at your sales team every month, every quarter, every year and say "Clearly we're getting better....we're having better conversations....we're asking better questions....we're getting better margins....we're generating more referrals....we're managing customer expecations better....we're handling the competition more effectively....we're calling higher and wider....we're hearing fewer excuses....we're winning more proposals....and on and on." 

Do you know which sales people are capable of growing and by how much?  Do you know their strengths and weaknesses and what to do to leverage the former and address the later?  Do you know who on your team is coachable and trainable (and who is not)?  Why would you keep someone on your sales team who isn't open to coaching and growth?

Growth is a choice and it starts at the top.  You can chose to grow your sales team on purpose or you can leave it to chance.  It's up to you.  To help you get started we've prepared a simple checklist to help you focus on the right areas.  You can get it for FREE right here.

Sales Winners and Sales Losers

describe the imageTop producing sales people understand that every sales win - just like every sales loss - is temporary.  To stay on top they know they need to keep pushing themselves to get better, hone their skills, ask better questions, make more calls, reach out to more contacts, ask for more referrals, build stronger covenants, make more follow up calls, uncover more reasons for prospects to move forward, call higher and wider within the companies they serve, focus on their top prospects, proactively plan their week and their day, take a disciplined approach to following their weekly and daily plan, make one last call every night before going home, keep learning, focus on delivery, build relationships within their company, listen to books and self-improvement discs while they drive, and in general stay sharp and professional.

The exact same advice applies to sales people who are struggling.

The difference between sales winners and sales losers is that sales winners do these things no matter where they stand on the leader board.  It's how they're wired.  They have the commitment to do whatever it takes to be successful and they know that if they keep doing the right things, day after day, week after week, month after month......the results will follow. 

Sales losers, on the other hand, rest on their laurels.  They believe they are brilliant when they land the big account or sign the huge project....and they stop doing the right daily behaviors and lose focus while taking their victory lap.  And when the results are bad?  It's not their fault....it's the economy, the competition, the company, the product, the marketing materials...... anything but themselves.  They get down on themselves and everyone around them.  They spend more time focused on how unfair everything is and how difficult their job is and how things would be different if other things changed (not them).

Everyone in sales understands there will be ups and downs.  The difference with sales winners is when you look at their calendar and observe how they conduct themselves day-to-day, you can't tell whether their numbers are up or down because they're consistently doing the same things.  They know it's up to them and no one else.  What can you do, starting today, to get on this path?

Does Your Attitude Support Sales?

describe the image"Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it."  - Lou Holtz

What seperates top producing sales people from the rest of the pack?  Do they have better sales skill?  More talent? Do they build relationships faster?  Ask better questions? Are they great presenters? Stronger at prospecting?  All of the above?

Of course all of these things help, but in our experience the single most important factor that seperates successful, highly productive sales people from everyone else is their attitude.  If the first thing a customer buys is you - the sales person - and your attitude sucks it's going to be terribly difficult to get them engaged and excited about your product or service. 

A great attitude can make up for a lot.  In our sales coaching business we have seen many sales people with what might otherwise be fatal flaws - poor organizational skills, lack of follow up, little to no technical or product knowledge, inappropriate timing and other sales weaknesses - succeed in sales because they have a great attitude.  They bring a passion and enthusiasm that is contagious and makes clients want buy from them.  Imagine how well they do once we help them acquire stronger sales skills and use a better selling system?

On the other hand, a bad attitude can destroy profit and revenue faster than you can imagine.  We have seen sales people with all the right skills and technical knowledge absolutely flop because they have a horrible attitude.  And while a great attitude is contagious, it seems a bad attitude can spread even faster.

How is your attitude toward sales?  Do you have the passion and enthuiasm to effectively transfer emotion and get your prospects as excited about your product and service as you are?  Do you look forward to sales meetings and coaching sessions with your manager?  Are you upbeat and positive no matter who you're talking to?  Do you have a positive outlook and do you see the impact that has on those around you?

If you can say yes to these questions you're probably off to a great start this year.  If you find yourself rolling your eyes as you read these questions, you may still be off to a good start this year, but it's probably inspite of what you've done instead of because of what you've done.
Your attitude is your choice.  And every day you get a new opportunity to make better choices.  Good selling!