Archive for November, 2016

Five Common Threads of Successful Salespeople

Friday, November 4th, 2016

by Susan Novicki

November is a great time to be closing last minute 2016 business, firming up annuals, aggressively working on and closing first quarter 2017 presentations and reviewing this year’s successes and failures.  As salespeople we are so busy focusing on closing business and hitting our numbers that we don’t take the time to sit back and analyze the current year.  The end of the year is when we can look back on what we have accomplished – and what we didn’t accomplish to help us move forward into the next year.  As great as it is to look at the accolades, it is more important to evaluate what didn’t work such as projects that failed, proposals that never closed, leads that never panned out, skills that need to be sharpened – what kept you from experiencing total success this year?

Successful salespeople are always looking to determine how they can be better.  The most successful are the ones that are always working on improving their skills – “what skills do I need to work on to be a better salesperson and partner with my clients?”  A colleague recently asked me why I thought some salespeople with similar skills excelled while others failed.  Thinking about this, I reflected on 5 common threads of successful salespeople.

First, successful salespeople have a strategy, or a plan. This is not the budget that they get from their managers.  With many of our clients we do a sales meeting toward the end of the year that focuses on the “year in review” and forces sellers to take time to review what they accomplished and what fell flat and create a strategy for the following year. The successful salespeople are the ones that do just this; they think about how much money they want to make and what it will take to get there based on their commission structure. Then they put together a plan of activity as to how they will get to the numbers to hit their desired budget. Within the plan is a strategy that can be tweaked and reworked based on how the year progresses. One seller realized there was an area being redeveloped that was growing exponentially but none of the businesses worked with his media. His goal was to add one new client each month from that area of the city.  A plan should be strategic and forward thinking but fluid, allowing time for adjustments and opportunities as they arise.  Remember, “a goal without a plan is a wish” to quote Antoine de Saint- Exupery.

Second, successful sellers are great prospectors. When we do the planning meeting with our clients for the following year, one of the most important numbers that we determine is how many new leads a seller needs to work each week to hit their desired goals.  Keep track of the leads you are working within your CRM system – keep a tally of the list of leads for three months and within that the ones that moved to a close.  What happened to the other leads?  Are any still viable?  Many sellers will prospect the same way over and over with limited results because they tend to gravitate towards the same leads that are comfortable but may not be profitable.  Think about the audience that you can deliver for a client – who wants to reach those people?   What are the hot categories that make sense for your audience?  Are there areas within your metro area that are not advertising in your media like the example above?  There is no limit to leads – it’s prospecting the ones that have the ability to spend the money and the need for your audience.

Third, successful salespeople understand the role of all decision-makers within the target prospect. Titles can be deceiving and we don’t just want to be thinking about “who buys advertising”.  Who are the external and internal influencers?  Who signs the checks?  Who can say “no” but cannot say “yes”? Who makes deals happen?  Who are the “Seymours” that want to see information but cannot make a decision, to reference Anthony Parinello?  Ultimately, who are the people that can help me close the deal and who are the ones that sign off on the deal; who has the juice?

Fourth, successful salespeople ask the tough questions. Doing a great need analysis takes practice and preparation.  This may seem obvious but few people do an outstanding need analysis.  Asking the same questions you always ask may not bring success in the future.  Ask tough questions to get to the pain and not the ones that you already know the answer.  You need to determine what is keeping the decision-maker up at night – what are the things that they are looking for to become successful themselves?  Remember, it is not about your products and how great they are but instead it is about creating a solution for an issue the client has.  You are an integrated solution partner.  It’s not about the media!

Finally, successful salespeople don’t get caught in the minutia. Focus on what matters and don’t get caught up in small and trifling matters, whether internal or external, that do nothing to advance your success.  There are hundreds of distractions each day that sidetrack sellers – office gossip, rumors about mergers or layoffs, threatening colleagues – all of which use up valuable time and reduce productivity.  Keep your head down and focus on your business.  Find ways to avoid the minutia and keep moving forward to increase productivity.

Success is not as simple as summing it up in five points.  But take a minute or two and have a reality check with yourself.  Are you happy with how successful you are?  How can you be more successful?  What skills do you have to work on?  What are you going to do differently next year?  What is your plan?