Sales & Sales Management Expertise

The 2 “MUST TAKE” Steps for Guaranteed Sales Results

Tags: close more sales, how to improve sales results, no excuses

Here’s the problem: Sales results are not what you expected.  Regardless of your role - sales manager or salesperson - you are looking at your sales results YTD and you are:

  • Not ahead of last year’s production
  • Not on pace to hit this year’s goals (personal or corporate)
  • Not keeping pace with those in your peer group (those you should be able to compete with based on experience and previous success)
  • Not up to par with your efficiency (conversion ratios aren’t the same, average size deal isn’t the same, you’re not getting the leads you used to)
  • Taking longer to get sales closed
  • Running out of time at the end of the week to get your prospecting done

 

Those are just a few of the symptoms observed by me, my staff and the many companies we work with when attempting to get our heads and arms around driving sales growth.  I have discovered that there are 2 “MUST TAKE” steps to address this; but, first…

I’m shooting in my first ever National Field Archery Association Indoor Nationals Tournament.  My brother, Michael, and his wife, Gwen, owners of Insight Archery in Binghamton, New York, have participated in this tournament for years.  This year, it is in Cincinnati, so I thought I’d enter.  The first round is today.

Yesterday, we went to the Duke Energy Center where the tournament is being held.  We registered, stored our bow cases and made our way to the practice venue.  I’ve been practicing some, but not enough, in the basement of my house.  My wife, Linda, is not thrilled with this, but I'm a pretty good shooter and honestly, there is very little down there for me to damage. 

The range I have in my home is about 11.5 yards long. The scores I am shooting (25 points per end) are really not a good indicator of how I’m shooting because the distance is too short.  The other night I shot a 244 out of a possible 250 and one floor joist when my release strap broke from my wrist and the arrow in the bow got away from me.

(Nice Shot!)

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Yesterday, we practiced awhile and I realized that the shooting regulation distance – 20 yards – is a WHOLE lot different than the 11.5 yards I’ve been shooting at home.  The main problems, of which there are many, are

  • I can not see very well out of my right eye due to recent surgery.
  • The vision in my left eye isn’t nearly what it used to be.
  • Wearing glasses is not an answer because I haven’t figured out how to see around the frame of the glasses.
  • I shake a little more than I used to when I get up to about 50 shots because I haven’t had the time to practice to build up my endurance.
  • When I shoot by myself, I'm by myself. When you shoot in a tournament, there is someone right behind you and right in front of you creating a heck of a distraction.

When we finished practice, we walked over to another practice range and met up with Hilda, a friend of Mike’s and Gwen’s, who is also shooting in the tournament.  Right next to her was an older large gentleman with his bows and arrows… who  only had one arm.  He’s shooting at the same type of target I am …but minus his right arm.

I’ve seen videos of people doing this and I’ve heard stories about this, but I had never before witnessed it live.  He placed the bow (to rest on the stabilizer) on the floor between his knees.  He notched his arrow and lifted the bow with his left hand to bring the bow string close to his mouth.  He grabbed the release with his teeth and pushed the bow out to full draw with his left hand. He steadied his left arm, sighted slightly with his head and, finally, released the arrow by opening his mouth.

Then and there this article hit me!  I realized that the solution to sales success, sales growth and sales results really comes down to 2 basic fundamentals.  Sure, the man has skills, strength and stamina to do this, but he has 2 other things that trump everything else:

  1. Effort
  2. No Excuses

 

You don’t just show up at a tournament and NOT put forth the effort to compete... and then expect to compete.

AND… You don't allow excuses to get in the way of the effort (like I did - see above).

Sir, I don't know who you are. But I hope I see you again today, so I can say hello and let you know what an inspiration you are to me and maybe to anyone else who might read this article.

Is Variability of (Sales) Performance a Problem in Your Organization? pt.1

Tags: sales management, managing sales teams, factors affecting sales results, variability in sales performance, how to improve sales results

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Why does variability exist? Let’s check in with an article by the American Psychological Association written in 1982: *Locke, Shaw, Saari, and Latham (1981) concluded that the relationship between goal setting and performance is reliable, persistent and strong.  Specific, difficult goals led to higher performance than did nonspecific, “do your best” goals in 90% of the studies they reviewed in which the goals could be assumed to have been accepted by the subjects.  However, the strength of the relationship varies considerably from study to study.  In addition to goal conditions, three potentially important contributors to performance variability are:

  • Situational Factors
  • Task Characteristics
  • Individual Differences

In the world of selling, certainly there are situational factors that change from prospect to prospect, client to client.  But, generally speaking, if you have a tight niche/market that you are attempting to capture, you can identify, plan and train for the variability in situations.

Task characteristics should only be variable if you have failed to implement a mapped, objective, centric-measured sales process.  This is the “engineering” aspect of developing a sales managed organization. This helps minimize variability in task characteristics.

The biggest and probably most difficult variable is the difference in individuals. The uniqueness of each fingerprint is expressive of the uniqueness of each individual you hire when recruiting for a sales team built for growth. However, there is science available to help you identify the variables that are consistent among your top performers as well as your bottom performers.  By using that science and implementing a consistent system of attracting, qualifying, interviewing and onboarding, you can improve the probability of success and minimize bad hires.

But, none of this matters unless you have an answer to the question: “Why eliminate variability of performance?”  I cannot possibly answer that question for you. However, along with acknowledging the real costs of recruiting, training and paying those that fail to perform, I can list some additional possible reasons why you might want to eliminate variability of performance:

  • The HR cost of managing PIP
  • Additional oversight required by management to manage underperformers
  • Use of training time and money with zero impact on results
  • Perception in the marketplace about your company – churn and burn
  • Strain on other members of the team
  • Impact of poor work ethic on those that perform as expected
  • Interpretation by others on the team that “it is okay to not hit the goal”
  • Unknown cost of lost opportunities
  • The real economic difference between expected sales and realized sales
  • Drain on the executive committee members discussion about the continuation of employment by those not performing

If your company is experiencing any of these items, then eliminating or minimizing the variability of performance must become a front burner issue.

I am certain that, when building a sales team for success, there has never been a discussion between a hiring manager and an executive that signs off on the approval of a hire where the hiring manager and the executive have a discussion like this:

Manager – “I think we should hire Joe Smith.”
Executive – “I agree because I believe Joe is going to be the most unbelievable average producer we’ve ever hired.”

I don’t believe that conversation ever takes place, but somehow there are people in the sales team who are occupying the middle standard deviations space defined as “the average producer”.  But, you didn't hire them with that intent, so how did they get there?

Is it time to measure and address the cost of variability of performance in your company?

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