As I left for school each morning, my mother would say goodbye to me. If I were having an exam that day she would add, “And don’t come home with less than 100.” Does that sound kind of harsh in today’s environment of warm and fuzzy self-esteem and self-expression? It didn’t to me. It was the beginning of my sales training.
What my mother did for me was to define clearly the limits of my objectives at school. In my case, getting As were both the upper and lower limits. In sales, you probably know what your expectation is for the upper limit. It’s to make the sale. You might be forgetting to establish your lower acceptable limit. Here are some ideas for setting lower limits to maximize the success of each sales call.
Your sales objective. Begin each sales call with at least one objective. Sales is a process. Setting your objective is just one step in the process. Your objective will answer the question “If this call is successful what will result?” And you can’t say to get an order. Reasonable objectives are ones that move the selling process forward. Reasonable objectives for a sales call are presenting a solution and getting feedback, getting agreement for a product trial, or meeting a key decision maker.
You may have found in your selling that your customers follow a different script than the ones you write. Because of this you also need to establish a minimum objective for each sales call. This is what you leave the sales call with if you don’t reach your first objective. At the end of the sales call, at least you have something more than what you had when you went into the sales call.
The minimum objective. If the key decision maker is called out for another meeting, your minimum objective becomes presenting your solution to a subordinate. You can then learn more about how the key decision maker thinks and get the subordinate’s approval for your solution. If the agreement for the product trial becomes elusive, your minimum objective is to identify the steps to take before a trial can take place. Then get commitment for a trial when those steps occur. The key decision maker may tell you he is happy with his present supplier who happens to be his brother-in-law. Your minimum objective becomes getting a referral for another company who could be a satisfied customer. One marketing executive of an international high tech company told me that 35% of the customers who cannot buy from you, feel a desire to help, and will make a referral. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.
Reality will get in the way. Getting As were the objective in school for me. I knew what I was expected to do to achieve my objectives. I studied and maintained a positive attitude. Even with my objectives, the reality was I didn’t get all As even though I learned a lot. Now that I’m selling I also know what is expected to achieve my goals. I prepare sales objectives even though I don’t make all of my sales.