Surprisingly, the single most common reason has very little to do with a person’s inability to sell. A large majority of the time, it’s a lack of discipline that brings sales people undone. What do I mean by discipline? An ability to follow and stick to a process when it comes to building and maintaining a sufficient pipeline of opportunities. It’s a simple case of; it doesn’t matter how greater sales person you are if you’re not selling to enough prospects.
We’ve all heard this from our sales managers and mentors in the past, especially early in our careers when we started in a more ‘transactional’ sales environment. Now that we are working in a strategic sales setting, with drawn out sales cycles, large deal sizes in a complex decision making process where multiple stakeholders need to be won over in order to get the deal across the line, how do you ensure you’re building enough volume in your pipeline whilst managing quality relationships throughout? I believe the answer is in time management and goal setting.
A few tips I’ve learnt from quizzing many sales directors on what they’ve seen from successful people:
1. Crunch your numbers when planning your territory.
• Work out how many deals it’s going to take to get to budget for the quarter?
• What’s your hit-rate of quality presentations, to deals won?
• How many new and / or existing client presentations does that mean you need to make in the quarter? Break it down to weekly targets. How much activity do you need to do in order to gain those appointments? It’s back to the things we learned early in our career on this one, and it’s what many senior sales people lose sight of.
2. Plan your time.
Set aside what I’ve known some sales people to call ‘Sacred BD Hours’. This time is set aside in your diary and nothing else should impede on this time. You’ve planned that this many hours will get you the result; if you don’t spend the time, the outcome is almost inevitable.
3. Don’t make excuses for not having the time.
You’re only making excuses for what will be your failure.
4. Don’t procrastinate; just do it.
This is why the ‘Sacred BD Hours’ should not be moved, rescheduled or put aside. Most of the time, it’s simple procrastination that will hold you back.
Obviously you could write a book as many have on what makes a successful sales person. This is just one thing that when good sales people don’t keep an eye on it, failure can sneak up on them. I’ve found that it’s often not the best sales person that is the ‘top performer’ in a team. It’s often a ‘good’ sales person who is motivated and disciplined with their time that tops the team.
I’m keen to hear from sales directors, and sales people alike; what do you do to stay on top of this in your role?