By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach™
I often hear salespeople say, “Results aren’t showing up fast enough.” At the end of each selling month, frustration and stress run rampant as they scramble to do their best to close sales and meet their numbers. Chances are, salespeople who are solely focused on the end result don’t have a process that they have faith in. As such, they concentrate more on trying to control the outcome, pushing for what they want rather than managing the process. After all, you can’t trust and manage the process if you don’t have a process in place!
But trying to achieve more without a process to guide you would be equivalent to driving from New York to California without a map while wearing a blindfold. Not only can it be stressful, you’re bound to wind up somewhere else rather than your intended destination.
Adding to the challenge is trying to balance what may be a very result-oriented culture within your company. You are probably constantly hearing “Are you hitting your numbers? How many follow-up calls did you make today? How much good volume did you book this month? How many leads did you run this week?”
These questions are relentlessly driven into our heads (and often for good reason). Like many sales professionals, there’s often pressure to reach quota or a certain level of acceptable performance. But while having a monthly sales goal keeps your eyes on the prize and your focus on the end result, it may actually do more harm than good.
If selling is transference of feeling, can you imagine the feeling that you’re transferring to your prospects? The stress of having to close more sales and the anxiety you’re feeling inadvertently puts undue pressure on every prospect you speak with, fostering an unhealthy relationship with them from the start.
The irony is that this constant push to reach sales numbers keeps you hooked on the goal, diverting your efforts away from refining the selling process needed to generate more business. The quandary then becomes “I’m too busy to work on my process. I have numbers to meet!”
Consider this paradox: The result is the process. In other words, what if you shifted most of your attention away from your goal or end result and onto the process?
After all, what’s the point of eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream — to empty the bowl or to savor every spoonful? How about the goal of an exercise regimen? Unless you’re competing professionally, you are probably exercising to maintain a level of health, vitality, and personal well-being.
The same holds true for measuring productivity, maintaining your peace of mind, and experiencing a sense of achievement at the end of each day.
After all, you don’t “do” the result. But you do execute the process, which produces the result as a natural end product of your efforts. That’s the paradox. By honoring the process, you can enjoy the benefit of knowing that you will attain your goals, since it’s the process that will get you what you want. (Imagine building a house without a blueprint!)
Schedule time to develop your process for attaining each goal or task that needs completing, so that you can see the path you will be traveling on. Look back on the successful sales you’ve made as a starting point for developing your process.
For example, if you’re looking to generate a certain number of sales each month, what activities do you need to engage in on a daily basis? What skills or tools need further development? Once you have outlined a path and a success formula to follow (X# of calls produces X# of prospects which produces X# of sales), allow the process — not the end result — to be where the pleasure of selling resides. This way, you can be responsible for your future goals without having to worry about them. If you continue your quest with your eyes focused on the finish line, you’ll miss out on the journey.
If you were to take the time to define the steps/stages of your entire selling, prospecting, and follow-up system, what would that look like? Be as specific as possible. When making an initial contact what do you say? What template are you using to deliver a compelling opening statement that grabs your prospect’s attention? What communication platforms are you using: face-to-face, e-mail, voice mail, snail mail? Be sure to include the frequency of each step and/or the frequency of attempts for each step (for example, how many voice mails do you leave before moving to your next step?)
Below is an example of a prospecting system. Feel free to adjust this example to fit your style and approach to selling. (To track calls, I suggest using some type of contact management or time management software such as Outlook, ACT!, GoldMine, or a Web-based product.)
An Example of a Prospecting System
(Please modify this system so that it best fits your company’s selling philosophy and product/service.)
Step 1: Day one, send out your cover letter via snail mail (U.S. mail).
Step 2: Four to five days later, if no response, follow up with an e-mail. (Once received, give them at least 4 full business days to respond.)
Step 3a: Three days later, initiate the first call. If you’re able to contact the prospect, use your prospecting template.
Step 3b: If no response or you can’t reach them “live,” leave your first unique voice mail.
Step 4: Four days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), leave your second unique voice mail.
Step 5: Four days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), leave your third unique voice mail.
Step 6: Five days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), leave your fourth unique voice mail.
Step 7: Five days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), leave your fifth unique voice mail.
Step 8: One week later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), follow up with a fax template.
Step 9: Four days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”), leave your sixth unique voice mail.
Step 10: Five days later, if no response (or you can’t reach them “live”) follow up with an e-mail or letter.
Final step 11: Declare this lead a nonpriority. Put in a separate file for future contact and prioritize your call list to target more qualified prospects.
Notice that this particular system honors the belief that it takes a minimum of eight touches or attempts to contact a prospect before they respond.
Knowing when enough is enough each day and the specific activities you need to engage in provides you with the freedom to trust the process you’ve put in place. After all, there’s always more to do. There’s always more that can be done at the office, at your home, or in your life; another call that can be made or another e-mail that can be read.
Exceeding your monthly sales quota will be the result of the cumulative efforts you make and the activities you engage in every day. When you’re mindful of the process, you now have the opportunity to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments on a daily basis (even the little ones) rather than pushing for or waiting until the “end.” (And when does that happen?)
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.