Hello there, welcome to another edition of the sales blog.
I hope your week has been a success for you? Of course, success can be measured in many different ways. For most of us, success at work is bringing in the business, hitting or exceeding targets, and meeting our earnings or career goals. Outside of work it might be hitting a fitness target, sorting out a big home-improvement project, or getting to take a memorable family holiday somewhere special.
Reach for the Stars
As salespeople, we sometimes get the idea in our head that targets need to be “meaty” – big, important, moving us forward in great leaps. “Aim high”, “shoot for the moon”… you’ve heard all the phrases!
This week I’ve been working with a new consulting client who wants to grow her business to the next level. I’ve been preparing some material for her about how sometimes the things you need to achieve are actually small – so small you might not have noticed them while you’ve been looking far away towards the big end result.
Here’s an example for you. Making prospecting phone calls. Let’s face it, it’s not very high on most people’s “fun things I like doing” list. Trying to get past gatekeepers, wading your way through loads of people to get to the right decision-maker, that constant little niggle that says “you’re disturbing these people, why not email instead”.
I’m just the same – nothing about picking the phone up comes particularly naturally to me either. But if I’m on the hunt for new business or I’m working on a specific project then the first thing I do is set myself a small, daily target for the number of calls to make. Forget the outcomes, forget all the big numbers – I just set an achievable, realistic target for the number of times I’m going to make a prospecting call.
Remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!
Things Can Only Get Better
My last blog prompted quite a few responses – thank you! Several people added their own experiences of other blockers to success like the Sales Popcorn I spoke about. So it seems to me that now is a perfect time to release my difficult second album on sales myths that can hold you back. Here are 4 more common myths that you could be using as an excuse for failure. Spoiler alert – DON’T FALL FOR ANY OF THEM!
MYTH NUMBER 1: The sales tree will always provide ripe fruit.
Ah, this is a myth that so many people hold on to, even with bloodied and broken fingertips! “It’s ok – I’ll get there.” “Something’s bound to come up, it always does.” “It’ll turn out in the end, you’ll see.” I’m sure you’ve heard, if not used, these or something similar yourself.
But remember, hope is NOT a valid sales strategy. Yes, of course, you can be lucky now and again – clients do give referrals unexpectedly, and that prospect who had no money might get a budget increase before year-end – but you can’t ever rely on luck to get you out of a hole.
MYTH NUMBER 2: I can hire a good salesperson and let them bring business in.
This is one I come across again and again among small business and startup owners. You’d be shocked at how many think it’s easy to simply “pass the sales buck” for their business to someone else who will then conjure up a tidal wave of new business within a short space of time.
This. Is. Nonsense. (And yes, I do tell my consulting clients this directly!)
The most successful business leaders are the best salespeople in their organisations. They are passionate about the product or service, and they know it inside-out. They take pride in it. They put in the hard sales graft because they want the results. Of course, you can hire people to drive your sales, but you never, ever, pass the buck. You lead from the front. You help them become successful by teaching them from your own (often bitter) experience.
Remember, a good salesperson poorly trained, led, and managed is always a bad hire. This will only ever cost you money.
MYTH NUMBER 3: I can achieve results without spending too much time on sales.
I would love to have 6-pack abs. I know how to get them. I know exactly what to do. But I don’t do the sit-ups and crunches I need to every single day. So it’s less 6-pack and more keg at the moment…
You can’t get results in anything without focusing on it, and this is particularly true for sales. You must give your sales endeavours dedicated time. Ideally every day, but as a minimum on a weekly basis. Don’t kid yourself that’s what you do. If you don’t have dedicated slots in your diary for sales activity that you block out, you’re not there yet.
If you’re a business owner you can see how allocating just one hour-long slot per week to “sales” really isn’t going to get you anywhere. An hour per day, however…
MYTH NUMBER 4: I’m no good at sales, so there’s no point in trying.
Another myth I hear spoken very often in my travels. “James, I’m rubbish at sales – there’s no point in trying to learn anything about it. I’m not an extrovert like you, I can’t talk the hind legs off a donkey, I hate picking up the phone…”
Sigh. This one actually makes me a little sad. This is called “giving up”. Now, it’s always your prerogative to give up, but what that really means is not giving up on being a salesperson, but giving up on dreams. Without more sales, you won’t have a business (or a job if you’re employed). Your competitors (or colleagues) will simply overtake you. You can have the best ideas in the world, and be the most passionate advocate for them you like, but if no one buys them (because you aren’t trying your damnedest to sell) then it’s all a complete waste of time.
This applies to everything we do. Whether it’s a business, making a video, starting a podcast, writing a book, whatever it is just make a simple commitment to yourself.
I. Won’t. Give. Up.
There are always people like me who can help you with the nuts and bolts, with the techniques and tips. The real question is – do you want to be helped?
If the answer’s yes, then start with working on the three things you MUST do on any prospect call –
Never Gonna Give You Up
So there we are, some more myths that many salespeople and business-owners use to justify why they don’t need to put the graft in. If you do want to put the work in, but want some guidance and support for your own sales career or your business, you can get in touch with me directly by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about what you need.
I also love hearing from you about your own experiences and hard-won lessons from sales and business development, as well as what topics you’d like me to cover on the YouTube channel, these emails or my blogs. You can find me on all the social platforms – Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram – by searching for “jameswhitesales”.
Have a great week!