Sales blog by John Barrows - I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a fantastic sales education at every level throughout my career via the people I meet and the opportunities that arise. Sharing those experiences while constantly learning from others is why I continue to do what I do. John shares sales tips and provides sales training through his blog.
People ask me all the time which medium is the best one to connect with prospects these days. Is it phone, e-mail, Inmail, text, social? Historically, one of these has always been somewhat of the killer app. Before technology, it used to be door-to-door sales, then the phone, then e-mail, then LinkedIn, but now with social media and all the different options, there isn’t one best way to connect anymore.
That’s why Focus is the key to what we need to do and where we need to be in order to connect with our customers. Focus has always been a key to success, but I don’t mean focus in the literal sense, I mean Focus in the cinematic sense as in the 2015 movie with Will Smith.
If you haven’t seen it, Will Smith plays a less than moral con man named Nicky who makes his money scamming people out of theirs. After his team collects about a million dollars he ends up in a luxury box at the Super Bowl with his girlfriend watching the big game with some high rollers. He starts betting on the game with a guy sitting next to him and ends up losing the million dollars, much to his girlfriends’ and his dismay. On the way out, Nicky turns to the guy for one more bet – double or nothing. The bet is that Nicky will guess whatever number the guy chooses on the field. To make it even more interesting Nicky says his girlfriend will guess the number.
The guy chooses a number on the field and then gives the binoculars to Nicky’s girlfriend. Without knowing what is going on she nervously looks down on the field to try and pick the number. She ends up seeing their friend who they had been hanging out with all week standing on the field next to the coach with the number 55 across his chest. With a confused look on her face and reassurance from Nicky she says “55?” The guy freaks out that she guessed his number and they double up the money and leave.
What we later find out was the high roller was a ‘mark’ from the beginning. Nicky knew this guy loved to gamble on random things and was a billionaire, so a million dollars meant nothing to him. Nicky had it set up so that as soon as the guy landed in New Orleans he saw 55 almost everywhere he went. The license plate on the car that picked him up was 55, the hotel room he stayed in was 55, the fixtures on the chandeliers in the room were shaped like 5s. Nicky even had it set up so when the guy’s limo pulled up to a red light, Nicky’s friend (the one who was ultimately wearing 55 on the field) pull up next to him and screamed out his window at someone to cause a scene so the guy would look at him.
By the time this guy got to the game and started looking around on the field for a number to choose, when he saw 55 he thought it was his lucky number. Unfortunately, for him it wasn’t, but it was a number Nicky knew his girlfriend would choose.
So what does this have to do with what medium is the best one to use to connect with people these days? It isn’t any one specific one, it’s all of them.
We need to do everything we can to identify our target accounts and then be everywhere they are, while making sure we’re always adding value. This is why I follow all my top tier accounts and executives on Twitter and retweet them every once I a while. I ‘like’ their company Facebook pages and comment on a few posts I see. I join some of the Linkedin Groups they belong to and answer questions without actively selling myself or my service. I send e-mails, make phone calls, leave voicemails, and send Inmails, so everywhere you look you see 55. 55 just happens to be me.
Identify your target accounts, find out where they “live” (socially) and how they like to communicate, and then surround them with value so when they are ready to make a decision you’re on the top of their list of people to reach out to.
This has been one of my Guiding Principles for a while now, mainly because I’ve experienced it too many times to ignore it. This week alone I had two former clients reach out to me directly looking for training after switching to a new company. I also had one prospect who I never did business with reach out because they were in a new role. They all commented on how helpful I had been to them in their previous positions. One of them was referred to me by a partner who I had helped start his own consulting career. He could have taken the business himself but wanted to repay me for helping him.
The best example I have of “what goes around comes around” leads to one of the most interesting experiences in my career. I got an in-mail one day from a recruiter telling me that he had an opportunity for me to work for one of the leading CEOs in the world. I didn’t recognize the name and given that I get multiple recruiting requests a week, I ignored it. He sent me another in-mail telling me that the CEO he was referring to was Jack Welch. Jack Welch just happens to be one of my all-time business idols. Fortune Magazine named him Manager of the Century a while back. His book Winning is one of my favorite business books. Needless to say, that in-mail got my attention and I replied even though I still thought it was a scam and there was no way it was actually Jack Welch.
I got on the phone with the recruiter who explained that Jack had started an online MBA program and he was looking for a VP of Sales to lead the sales efforts. I asked the recruiter why he thought I would be a good fit. He told me that six years earlier I had apparently taken time out of my hectic schedule to speak with him about his career and gave him some advice that made a significant impact. He wanted to repay the favor with this opportunity. The opportunity ended up being real and I went down to Florida for two months to consult with Jack and Suzy Welch. I helped build the foundation for their sales approach. It only lasted two months and wasn’t really a great fit for either of us but it was one of the coolest experiences of my entire career.
P.S. If you’re looking for a great place to give back, join the Make It Happen community to network with other B2B sales professionals. I promise you that the more you give, the more you’ll get out of the community.
One of my 12 Guiding Principles used to be “Always have a Plan B” which was added to the list based on my reaction to getting fired from the company that acquired my first start up. I didn’t have a Plan B so when I was fired, I was caught flat footed not knowing what to do with my career and it freaked me out. However, I’ve replaced “Always have a Plan B” with “Be OK With The Worst Case Scenario” for more than a few reasons that I thought were worth sharing.
Having a Plan B is actually a bad thing in my opinion because it distracts you from Plan A and assumes failure. If there is anything I’ve learned about what it takes to be successful, it’s that having goals and a singular focus on achieving them is key. This is what the book Think and Grow Rich is all about. Having a Plan B forces you to commit time and energy that takes you away from Plan A and inevitably makes it less likely to succeed. If you focus 100% of your efforts around your main goal, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.
The other reason I’m making the adjustment to my Guiding Principles is because not having a Plan B after getting fired was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It forced me to reevaluate my career and to make decisions that have led me to where I am now which I’m pretty damn happy with.
Instead of removing Plan B from the list altogether I think it’s important to change it to “Be OK With The Worst Case Scenario” which has been a key to most of my successful decisions over the years. Every investment I make, whether it be time or money, I always look at the worst case scenario and make sure I’m good with it. For example, if I invest money into an idea, I need to be ok with losing that money and the potential impact the investment would have on my brand, relationships, and the opportunity costs of doing something else.
To bring things down to more of a day-to-day level, here are a few more examples of worst case scenario thinking:
When practicing being more direct in negotiations, if I decide to hold the line and not discount to this client am I ok with losing the deal?
If I try to be a little more direct with a gatekeeper and be upfront about working with them to get through to the right person and they think I’m rude, am I ok with that? (As long as I’m not actually being rude.)
If I decide to not play the volume game for a day and, instead of making 100 dials, take a more quality approach to see if I can improve my conversion ratios, am I ok with getting yelled at by my boss?
If I have an issue with someone I work with and approach them in a thoughtful way, am I ok with them being irrational?
If I try a hard close when asking for the order, am I ok with them saying “No?”
If I ask the front desk agent of the hotel for an upgrade, am I ok with the room I have regardless of their answer?
There are plenty of other examples where this approach can be applied. I encourage you to ask yourself the question every once in a while. It’s helped me put things in perspective and take educated risks that have paid off more often than not.
P.S. DM me a tough decision you have in front of you and I’ll give you my thoughts on how I might think about it: @johnmbarrows.
Who would have thought that a one-sentence question with no image posted on LinkedIn would have been my most viewed and commented on post of the year? A few weeks ago I posted this question on LinkedIn: “Out of curiosity, does anyone know how to become an INfluencer on LinkedIn?” It got over 120,000 views with 69 comments in less than 5 days.
It was a genuine question to my network since I was curious what it took to become a LinkedIn INfluencer and couldn’t find any updated information on it. I didn’t find the answer on the thread, but I did find out how much people apparently hate “influencers.”
Of the 69 comments 46 of them (2/3) were bashing influencers with sarcastic useless comments like “I think you have to copy and paste other people’s content and pretend it happened to you at least 3 times a day….” or “Change your LinkedIn job title to Thought Leader or #top100influencer.” There were only 18 somewhat useful comments with follow-ups.
And then there were the ever-present trolls who would say something completely ridiculous and then like their own post. It was impressive to see the post take off and how amused people seemed to be with themselves for posting such witty comments with no value. My question to all them is what’s the point? Did they think by making a smart ass comment they were going to get a gold star or did it make them feel good to make fun of others? I honestly don’t even know what the word ‘influencer’ means at this point or who is one and who isn’t but the fact that so many people express such hatred towards them is odd to me.
The same thing happened a little while ago on LinkedIn with people ripping apart SDRs and sharing bad e-mails they were getting. It’s fine to share a bad e-mail you got, but if you don’t explain why or how they could improve then you’re the one who ends up looking like the asshole.
IMHO: You’re not doing yourself any favors by making those type of no-value comments and you could be doing much more harm than good. For example, there are a few people on the ‘INfluencer’ thread I decided to look at and see what other content they were posting and decided to disconnect from them since the no-value, wise-ass comments seemed to be all they did. I’m not saying I’m all that important but when you’re on someone’s radar for a negative reason that’s never a good thing in the social world.
We’ve all heard the saying “if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” I think that should be changed to ‘if you don’t have anything of value to say then don’t say anything at all.’ Your personal brand is a direct reflection of the value you add.
Make It Happen!
Personal Branding and Social Selling with Morgan J Ingram - YouTube
This past weekend I went with my wife and daughter to sell Girl Scout Cookies door-to-door. While they did most of the selling I sat in the background observing all the different aspects of one of the purest forms of selling. If you’ve never done door-to-door sales, you should give it a try. It’s a humbling experience and puts the pains of B2B selling in perspective.
We spent two hours walking around the neighborhood and here are my takeaways:
1. Set goals
We set a specific goal to sell 20 boxes in an hour which was an increase in our previous outing where we sold 15 boxes. This was our short-term goal which aligned with the larger goal of selling 750 boxes so my daughter could earn enough points for a beach towel. With this goal we knew what we had to do and ended up crushing our goal with 40 boxes.
If you’re not setting goals in sales and in life then you’re letting someone else dictate the path. By setting SMART goals you have something to strive for which helps you push and measure your progress. Set a life goal for 5 years out about the lifestyle you want to be living and then back into what you need to be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis to hit that goal.
2. Practice makes perfect
On the way out the door we practiced her pitch to make sure she had a strong intro, value prop and call to action that she could deliver in a short period of time. As she practiced she got more and more comfortable with it and by the 3rd or 4th door she had the delivery nailed.
It’s important to practice in sales. We can practice all aspects of the sales process: voicemails, live calls, presentations, objection handling, closing. Whether we do this through a quick role play with our manager or teammate, or by calling a few of your Tier 3 accounts, we need to practice to get it right.
3. Be proactive about handling objections
Even though it’s hard for anyone to deny the power of a 7-year-old girl selling delicious Girl Scout Cookies, we knew we would get some objections so we planned for them. We knew the main objection we would get was “we already bought some from someone else.” By knowing this was the main objection we were able to come up with a great response which was “Did you know you can freeze them, so you can have them in the summer when you can’t get them anymore?” This got a few people to buy more than they would have.
The key to objection handling is being proactive about dealing with them. Too often, reps just react to objections as they come. Most of us know the objections we will face on a day to day basis. We should identify them, come up with specific approaches and responses to each of them and then test to see which ones work best.
4. Be opportunistic and keep your eyes open
The main approach to selling the cookies was going door to door but we also saw people walking buy and ask them if they wanted to buy some as well. Surprisingly we sold almost as many boxes to a kid walking buy, a guy on a bike, and our dry cleaner as we did to the 20+ houses we visited.
A big part of being successful in sales is being opportunistic. We need to have an open lens and not get tunnel vision in sales. Sometimes we miss out on much larger opportunities if we don’t pick our head up and see the bigger picture.
5. Try multiple channels
After going door-to-door we looked for other ways we could sell cookies to help my daughter achieve her goal of 750 boxes. My wife and her had already set up a booth at a local mall the week before and sold 150 boxes. The other obvious channel was online so we went to the Girl Scout’s website where we could create our own page and link to sell cookies. With the link we now had to find a way to promote it so my daughter put together a video. Just like going door-to-door, she practiced her pitch with the intro, value prop and call to action and then we recorded it. Check out the video here.
In Sales you need to try different approaches and use different forms of communication to engage with prospects and clients. It’s not email OR phone OR social, it’s all of them. If we stay single threaded, then we’ll miss out on a large part of the audience that might not like to communicate that way.
It was great to watch my daughter learn about sales through this experience while being reminded of some important lessons myself along the way. I’ve always said this is the greatest profession in the world when done right and it’s great to see it done right from the start.
This is a guest post by the team at Nudge.ai as part of the #holdthehustle campaign.
If you’re in the business of acquiring new customers, you’ve heard industry leaders shout it from the mountaintop: “Add Value!” “Create Value In Every Interaction!” “Value!!!”
With the shift we’re seeing in buyer behavior, and the rise of ineffective automation, this is providing value is more important than ever. As teams realize that “hustle” isn’t enough and re-focus on building relationships in their network, we want to make something clear:
Information about your product is not value.
Adding value does not mean regurgitating your website. Sure, you can point your prospects to a few useful pages of your site during a demo as a resource, and provide some commentary to help them make sense of it. But don’t kid yourself by suggesting showcasing your product is a way to add value.
You can do better than that. Here is some practical advice you can put to work for you today:
1: Your product isn’t the value we’re talking about.
If you are only providing “value” by talking about your product, you’re likely order-taking and not selling. What are you offering to your prospects that your website or automation can’t?
2: Showcase you have meaningful insights.
One of the best ways to build your personal brand is to use your social network is to Showcase to your network that you have insights on their business, resources they can use, and networks to connect them. If you can do this, you’ll find yourself attracting buyers instead of chasing them. Creating content on Linkedin, writing blog articles for your site, and connect with people in your industry on a personal level is going to help you find better ways to do this over time.
3: Make deposits and give selflessly
This is one of the hardest things to do in sales because you don’t immediately see the ROI. Just like you can’t go to your bank and make a withdrawal without putting anything into the account, you can’t start asking for things from your prospects or network until you’ve given first. Put yourself in the shoes of the people around you and hunt for ways to help them in the same way you hunt for prospects. Don’t expect anything in return – this networking thing a long game. If it’s early in your career, one of the best things you can do is to start building your network.
4: Carry the water
On the podcast “Seeking Wisdom”, David Cancel at Drift references “carrying the water” as a way for young folks to protege or earn their stripes and learn from senior team members. He’s hitting the nail on the head, and it extends to sales. And no, I don’t mean help your prospect build a deck to pitch internally – that’s table stakes. Look beyond that – find a way to make their life easier in every interaction. That may mean offering to take something off their plate, drafting emails they can use internally, building custom onboarding plans – whatever it takes to save them time and energy.
5: Be their guide.
With the rise of available information, buyers will find value in clear and authentic explanations about that they may face in making a purchase decision. Become an expert on the industry. Help them answer questions before they ask.
For example, your guidance could sound like this: “One of the things we’ve learned from working with customers like you is that the security team will want to get involved, and this may be late in the process. When they do join late, they can cause major delays, so you’ll want to involve them earlier on. If you do that, they typically ask about two things: X and Y. Here’s how you can answer both questions.”
Remember, you’re not simply closing a deal for today – you’re building a relationship that will have a trickle effect for years to come. The CEO of Nudge.ai tells a story of the time he ended up at an NFL home opener through a series of random networking events:
Now get out there and add some value yourself, because you never know where it will take you.
One of the biggest learning lessons I’ve had in my business career came after I was fired for the first time in my life.
At 23 years old I was the 5th person to join a start-up that a few friends of mine from high school started. We were self- funded and had no idea what we were doing, but were more driven than most to succeed. We ended up being the fastest growing company in Massachusetts for 3 years in a row, hiring 85 employees and $12M in revenue. After 7 years the M&A market started to heat up and we looked to sell the business. Staples came into the picture and became the leading contender to purchase us, which they ultimately did.
During their evaluation process they wanted to interview each of the executive team members to get a feel for us, how we ran the business and how we felt about the acquisition. I remember being in a management meeting where we talked about how we needed to make sure we were all on the same page and didn’t say anything that would jeopardize the sale. We even worked with a consultant to come up with the potential questions they might ask and practiced our responses to each.
The head of Staples’ contract division (a $12B part of the business) was the one leading the interviews. He met with each of us individually and asked us a variety of questions. I remember feeling rather awkward answering the questions with the scripted answers we came up with as a group. If anyone knows me they know I’m about as transparent as it gets, which means I’m not a very good liar. Needless to say, after the interviews, our CEO met with them for feedback and the feedback was good across the board for everyone except me. They told my CEO that I “wasn’t the right guy for the job” which blew our CEO away since he felt that if anyone was the guy it would have been me. I was the heart and soul of the company culture and bled the company colors. My CEO fought for me and I stayed on board without knowing I was destined for failure.
The next year was filled with turmoil as I tried to fit into the Staples corporate culture and figure out how to drive results while dealing with what I felt was a lot of red tape, internal politics and lack of accountability on their end. It didn’t matter what I did, it almost always backfired on me and made me look bad. While going through this painful process I had this nagging desire to reach out to the main guy who I was told didn’t like me and have a real, rather than scripted, conversation with him. I thought if I could just grab a beer with him we would have a better understanding of each other. Unfortunately my CEO, with all good intentions, discouraged this as he was concerned I would say something that would get me fired.
About one year after the acquisition, my CEO came into my office and told me they were going to hire another VP of Sales and wanted me to transition out over the next few months. They effectively fired me. I was devastated and it took me a long time to come to grips with it. After my final day, I was feeling good about the next stage of my career, but that initial interview and my relationship with the head guy was nagging at me. So, I reached out to him directly and asked for an hour of his time to answer some questions I had for my own personal and professional development. He was overly accommodating and more than open to meeting with me, telling me that mentoring young leaders was one of his favorite things to do.
That was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent in business. He answered all my questions and more. There was one answer that stuck out and changed my perspective on a lot of things. I asked him if he would have been open to a candid meeting like this when I was working for him. He seemed perplexed and asked why I thought he wouldn’t have been. I explained that I was told not to reach out to him by my CEO who felt that I would have said something to jeopardize my career. His response has stuck with me ever since. He said – “what’s the risk?”
I thought about the question for a little while and then explained that the risk was me getting fired and disappointing many of the people who were relying on me. He then gave me two scenarios. In scenario 1 he asked – if you had gone over your CEO’s head and came to me to have a discussion like this and I got pissed and told your CEO about it – would you have wanted to work for me regardless? My answer was ‘no.’ He then highlighted how I would have figured it out much earlier in the relationship and probably not had to spend a year getting my ass kicked and having it end like it did. For scenario 2 he asked – say you went over your CEO’s head and we had a really good conversation like this – do you think we would have had a much better working relationship and you would have been more successful over the past year? My answer was an obvious ‘yes.’ With that he asked again – so what’s the risk?
He was right. The risk was actually doing what I did and not being true to myself or speaking up for what I felt was right. Ever since then, when faced with a decision on whether or not I should speak up about something I believe in, I ask myself – what’s the risk? If my intent is genuine and focused on doing the right thing, then the risk is ultimately quite limited from a big picture standpoint.
I’ve also adjusted one of my 12 Guiding Principles because of this. it used to be “Always have a plan B” but I changed it to “Be OK with Worse Case Scenario” which is just another way of looking at “what’s the risk?” I apply this now to all aspects of sales, business and life. Some examples as it relates to sales include: going over someone’s head; pushing back on the customer when I think they’re making a poor decision or looking at things the wrong way; respectfully challenging my manager when I don’t agree with a certain direction; trying a different approach to a common objection. There are tons more examples, but my hope is with this post you think about the challenges you’re facing in your career and ask yourself – what’s the risk? and do what you think is right.
I’ve been following Gary V for a couple of years now, and we even spoke at Rainmaker 2016 a couple of years ago. One thing he said that has really resonated with me is if content is King, then context is God.
I couldn’t agree more with this statement and I think it’s a perfect analogy to explain the relationship and/or difference between Marketing and Sales. Marketing is content, Sales is (or should be) context. For instance, it drives me crazy when sales reps just repost a 39 page ebook and either don’t say anything or say something simple like “good read.” Gee, thanks. Do you know how many 39-page ebooks I have in my “Things to Read” folder? More than a few. Do you know how many I’ve actually read? Less than a few. Another pet peeve is when a sales rep gives a demo, specifically over the web/phone. I’d say 9/10 demos go something like this:
Rep to client: “Thanks for your time today. I’d like to walk you through our demo which will take about 20-30 minutes. Let me know if you have any questions as I go through everything ok? Here we go….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”
And then they drone on for 20-30 minutes, covering every little aspect of the solution and barely stopping to take a breath and when they do they ask something stupid like “does that make sense?” By the way, has anyone ever said “no” to that question? Even if they say yes, does that tell you whether or not it made sense? Instead, here’s a tip, integrate logical pauses throughout the presentation and ask them to explain how they see that component of your solution fitting into their existing process or how it compares to what they’re doing now. The way they explain it to you will tell you whether or not it made sense.
Back to my point about content versus context, if we as sales reps are just blasting out template e-mails, retweeting content or droning through demos without adding any context or insights then we’re no different than Marketing. And if we’re no different than Marketing then why the hell are we getting paid commissions to do what we do? Marketing can actually do all those things way better than us by the way. They can send out template e-mails much more efficiently and way more targeted than we ever could and run the analytics to make adjustments faster than us, too. They can auto-tweet tons of content way better and faster than we can and see who’s engaging with it. They can develop web demos that are more professional looking and engaging than we can.
I wrote a while ago about the Death of The Average Sales Rep. The average sales rep is the one who simply shares content and will eventually be replaced. The sales reps who will survive are the ones who will put insightful context around the content to help build their brand and thrive. Make it Happen!
I’ve been running training sessions recently and have come to realize that too many of us wait for our companies to invest in training instead of taking the initiative to invest in ourselves. What makes it worse is that most of us have been through enough bad company-funded training that we walk into the next one expecting it to be awful. We don’t leave ourselves open to the possibility of getting something out of it. Putting those two together: we rarely invest in ourselves and we loathe the training our companies select on our behalf. That’s not a good combination when it comes to getting better at what we do.
Many of us blame the fact that we have too much going on to spend time reading a book or going to a class. We say that time management is our biggest challenge. But if you listen to all the reasons why we say time management is a challenge, I guarantee most of them will sound like excuses. Time management is nothing more than focus and prioritization. Since many of us are not strong in these areas we get stuck in this rut of “doing” all day long. We rarely take a step back and think about whether what we are doing is actually helping us improve or move forward. If hitting your quota on a monthly basis is the only way you judge whether or not you’re getting better then congratulations: you’ll be an OK Sales Rep for the rest of your life. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in a career as an OK Sales Rep. If you don’t want to be the best, if you don’t want to be great then get out of sales and find a new career. You have to push yourself every day to get better in sales and you can’t wait for someone else — or for your company — to do it for you.
Here are some small things that you can do to help you get better and fit your own personal development into your schedule:
Set SMART goals every day. Write them down and hold yourself accountable.
Subscribe to an audiobooks service and listen books on business and sales on your way to work instead of talk radio or music. You can also download a ton of business/sales podcasts and books from iTunes and put them on your iPod for when you’re traveling.
Have an open mind when walking into a company-funded sales training and set a goal of learning one new thing that will help you improve.
Identify something you want to improve about yourself or a specific challenge you are facing like a common objection or dealing with gatekeepers. Develop an approach to it, try it throughout the day and track (+/-) to see how effective the approach was at the end of the day.
Once a week grab some of your colleagues for lunch and pick a topic or challenge related to sales that you can brainstorm about instead of talking about the game last night.
Go down the hall and ask your CFO (or any other executive) out to lunch or to coffee and ask him or her about their priorities and how best to sell to them so you can learn how to speak the language of an executive.
Take your receptionist out to lunch and ask him or her the best way to approach and get through gatekeepers.
Use www.feedly.com to sign up for updates from blogs and other services that will keep you current on topics related to your territory, vertical, or industry.
Attend webinars during non-selling hours. Lunch is ideal.
Go to a business social networking event and practice your pitch to see how people react.
Practice sales everywhere you go, even in your personal life.
January can be a tough month. The holidays are past us, winter won’t end, and there is a good chance our quotas have gone up. For me, it’s my busiest time of the year, which is why I rely on goals to keep me on track.
Without goals you get lost
I’m a shiny object guy, meaning I easily get distracted. It’s fun to try new things and test stuff out but without writing down goals, it’s way too easy to get off course. Your goals are the guiding light that shows you where you’re going and what you need to do to get there. For example, if you know your equation, you know you might need to make a minimum of 50 dials a day to hit the number you want to hit.
Another example would be attending conferences. It’s easy to go to a conference and feel like it was productive but come home with nothing tangible. But if you set goals like getting a minimum of 10 leads that turn into 3 follow up meetings with prospective clients, then you have something to focus on and measure yourself against.
Goals give you something other than quota to work towards
Quota is the main measurement of a sales rep’s success but it shouldn’t be the only measurement. If we only focus on quota then when we miss it we feel like a complete failure without anything to fall back on. Setting additional goals helps us have something to fall back on and feel good about.
I write down daily, weekly and annual goals and hold myself accountable. These can be as simple getting 4 meetings with key prospects this week or A/B split testing two different approaches to handling a specific objection to see which works better.
Goals also give you something tangible to work towards. Maybe you want a Maserati, or a vacation to Bali, or to pay off your debt. For me, I want to spend more time with my family. This means traveling less but bringing in the same amount of revenue.
If you know what you’re working towards it’s much more motivating and rewarding than just working towards hitting your number and it helps you stay focused.
Goals motivate you to work through the bad days
Without knowing where you’re going you won’t know how to get there. Sales can be a brutal grind and it can feel like there is no end in sight. Many reps start their careers in sales and focus on the short term without thinking of the bigger picture.
I used to roll my eyes at the question “where do you want to be in 5 years” but now I think it’s a pretty important question for all of us to answer. I don’t mean this in terms of the company you are working for, I mean where do you want to be in your life in 5 years and what kind of lifestyle do you want to be living? Do you want to be married, have kids, own a house, buy a car, etc? Once you have a vision and goals of what kind of life you want to live then you can determine what kind of money you need to be able to live that life and then what kind of job will allow you to make the money to live that life.
With this approach, you can deal with a shitty job for a while, as long as you know that it’s getting you to where you want to go. Without that bigger picture vision and goals then you tend to focus on the short-term and dealing with a shitty job is almost unbearable.
Goals let you control your momentum
Sales is about momentum. When things are going well they seem to keep going well. You close that deal then the other prospect you were trying hard to connect with finally responds to your e-mail, you hit every green light driving into work, you get the “free beverage” alert on your Dunkin Donuts app.
It’s the same with negative momentum. You lose that deal, the prospect responds with ‘take me off your list,’ you hit every red light and your Dunkin app doesn’t work. When the negative momentum hits goals can help you get back on the right track. When things are going bad you need to stop the momentum and get yourself on the winning track again. Setting short-term, attainable goals allows you to have small wins that start to build in the positive direction.
Be SMART and DUMB with your goals
I recently read this article on being SMART and DUMB with your goals. SMART goals allow you to stay focused and execute in the short term while DUMB goals allow you to think big and go for it. Set SMART and DUMB goals to achieve greatness and stay focused.
Make It Happen!
P.S. This video has been a hit recently, check it out!
Sales Training - Leaving Effective Voicemails - YouTube