Last month, I wrote an article that helped define Sellers vs. Account Managers. I wrote it because there is a massive misconception about what selling really is, and it is frankly starting to become very complicated to manage through these misconceptions.
I don’t do complicated – it takes too much time and energy. I’m busy…I don’t have the time, and I don’t want to waste the energy managing complex. And if I am being honest, I really believe there are only two reasons why anything in this world is complicated:
- It hasn’t been used, shared, sold, taught, talked about or duplicated enough
- No one cares enough about it.
So – let’s just focus on ditching complex, and do simple.
I transform sales teams. I really don’t mind chaos…There is great opportunity when times are rocky. One way to smooth out the rough patches is to show consistency…have a consistent message, plan…execute the plan and repeat the message.
I’ve adopted a coaching philosophy, and I look for players that can understand a playbook, have the work ethic and desire to execute plays every day, every week…so that they have GAMES (opportunities) to play on Game Day. Game Day (the sales opportunity) is the reward…the practice field is where all the work happens to find the business.
I’ve read a lot of articles on selling, books on leadership, and a fair amount of motivational quotes during the last 20 years. What I haven’t seen yet is a simple process to help folks…at any point in their career…strip down a sales role into an easy to digest playbook for success. And especially not for: Inside Sales, Field Sales, Account Managers, Hunters, Channel or Direct, Enterprise or Consumer Focus,Technology, Real Estate, Packaged Goods. The list is endless…but if stripped down to the SALES ROLE…the foundation for all of them is the same.
Has business really become so complicated that we feel the need to specialize our sales force? Is there really that much of difference between the roles…from a SELLING perspective? Do you really believe that just because you have been in sales long enough, that you don’t need to do the basics anymore? Does your technical aptitude give you a pass from prospecting? If anything…the more more experienced you are, the more aptitude you show…the greater benefit you get from doing the basics.
So…stripping it down, here are a few steps you could take to guide you on a path to success in Sales. But keep this in mind; there is a reason companies are riddled with Complex process vs Simple. It takes a lot of work to make things simple, and a lot of effort.
Step One: Understand your role. If you are a sales professional, then you are in the Business of Making Money. I have learned that in order to be good at it, you simply need to understand the definition of the word “Business”.
- Business: the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce.
- Origin: Old English – bisignis. The sense of ‘anxiety‘, and later in the 18th century…the ‘state of being busy’; later, leading to busyness.
Honestly…it took me many years to really even consider looking up the definition. It’s like asking someone to define math…they don’t think of it like that. Math is just…math!
Selling IS Business, and you need to be BUSY in order to succeed. It matters not one whit what TYPE of sales person you are.
If you aren’t: Out in the market, visiting your customers, sharing your message with passion, filling your day with activity to generate business…then you may never SUCCEED. You will likely never EXCEED. You will simply exist long enough to be replaced.
Your role is to be busy producing.
Step Two: Understand your Product/Portfolio. Listen, have you every seen the “go-to guy” in action? How the hell does he/she know so much about EVERYTHING? Well…there isn’t much of a secret. They did the work, they learned a lot about what they do over an extended period of time. They don’t start out knowing everything…they learn it…they practice. They work at it until it stops being work, and starts being passion.
- Know the product/solution/portfolio
- Know why customers will use it
- Know how it compares to the competition
If you aren’t willing to do this, you are not a seller.
Read every day. Learn how to demo. Develop 5 min pitches. Be passionate about the message…start talking about it to anyone who will listen, write about it and share messaging everywhere. Build a social presence. Broadcast your message.
If you don’t already have a social presence, tomorrow is way too late to start. Start TODAY.
Step Three: Profile Your Accounts or Territory. This is an incredibly important step. I have some very simple advice. When it comes to your territory, take all of the information that has been compiled in some spreadsheet and CRM tool…and consider it wrong.
Do the profiling yourself. Do not expect that the person before you, or your manager, knows your business and your customers better than you will. The reason you are going to know everything about your territory and accounts is because YOU are going to profile the territory, and you will NEVER be finished with it. Static information and Account Details change DAILY…people change jobs, companies change vendors, business directions get aborted. Trust me…you need to do these tasks. Then…share it with as many people in your organization as possible. Consistently.
How do you profile? Well…everyone is different, but me being a simple guy, I’d start here, and yes…you’ll be busy:
- Account Detail: Confirm Address, Account ID, HQ vs Subsidiary, Budget owner, C-Level Contacts…by department…by location.
- Dig for existing solutions already deployed, from your company or competitor.
- Learn each company’s BUSINESS – what do they do?
- Understand their buying process (PO / procurement process), Contract Process, Legal Review Process – for all accounts.
- Know who else from your company sells into your patch. What are they selling? How does it map to what YOU are selling? Connect with them consistently.
- Identify any Channel Partners playing in your patch – talk to them, consistently.
Every one of these activities will generate appointments for you to visit every account in your patch…over and over and over. This is key. This. Never. Stops.
Does this sound like what you are doing now? If it isn’t, it’s why you are not consistently hitting your numbers…and exceeding them.
Step Four: Repeat Step One. The steps above are designed to remove the question mark in your head about what your management expects from you during the first 3 months in your role. It should also be very clear to you that unless you are busy doing Step One, you will not succeed…you will not make your number…and you will certainly never exceed your number.
I know a lot of sales reps that work for a salary and benefits. Nothing is pushing them to overachieve if they are comfortable living on that salary…and ‘existing’.
I am struck by the old definition of business…’a sense of anxiety’. No sales professional should be satisfied with ‘existing’ in their roles…they should have a sense of anxiety that the largest portion of their income – their commission (the entire reason to be in sales) is at risk if they aren’t busy enough to generate the appointments needed to drive the BUSINESS.
A managers sense of anxiety should be centered around finding ways to eliminate obstacles for the sales team, finding ways to promote them…to help them succeed, and to find new talent when top reps move on to bigger roles where they can continue this cycle.
Shift your view. Get busy. Exceed your expectations.