I’m tired of hearing sales predictions for the new year and frankly don’t really care what supposed “experts” think is going to happen. So instead of prognosticating, it seemed way more valuable to simply offer 20 Tips to help you absolutely blow away your competition and your goals in 2020. I suggest printing this list and reading it with a pen in hand. Try to identify which five or so of these tips that, if implemented, will transform your results:
1. Set big, measurable, specific goals for the year. Be specific – and put these goals in writing. Then tie big rewards to those big goals!Decide right now how you’ll reward yourself when you blow through your most important goals. Discipline often isn’t enough to stay focused and on track. Tying big rewards to key goals gets your heart engaged.
2. Recognize that time is finite and you cannot create more. To become more productive and drive improved results, you must allocate more time to high-value, high-payoff activities and delete or delegate lower-value tasks and distractions that steal your time or energy. Decide right now what you need to do more of and what you must do less of to achieve a breakthrough. Sales is about results. Period.
3. Remember the only three sales verbs that matter: Create. Advance. Close. If you are spending inordinate amounts of time “working” on good things (including serving existing accounts or playing good corporate citizen) that keep you from creating, advancing, and closing sales opportunities then there is a problem that needs to addressed. 80+% of your work week should be focused on those three verbs. Take back control of your calendar!
4. Stop looking for sales hacks and shortcuts in LinkedIn posts.There are no secrets or shortcuts to sales success; every top-producer I’ve ever observed has mastered the basics of selling. You would do better to spend less time searching for trick moves and the secret sauce and reinvest that new-found time working to create new opportunities.
5. Contrary to what you read online from social selling and inbound marketing experts, marketing celebs like Gary Vee and Kylie Jenner are not role models for professional B2B salespeople. “Copying” what they do will not fill your funnel or cause customers to run to you with money in hand. Observe the best practices of high-performing salespeople in your industry and do what they do! Leave the half-naked selfies and F-bomb-laced videos to Kylie and Gary.
6. Traditional prospecting and selling methods still work extremely well, especially when implemented well. Make the phone your friend and get comfortable proactively pursuing prospects.Nothing works faster or better to secure an early stage (discovery) meeting. And when prospecting, remember that “you want the meeting” because you’re not cold calling the phone book, you are pursuing a strategically selected ideal profile target account.
7. Your attitude/mindset about pursuing prospects changes everything. You are not a pest or annoyance. See yourself as a value-creator and a professional problem-solver. You are committed to securing a meeting because you believe the prospect needs you – that they are stuck in suboptimal situation. They very likely have a need for which your have a solution. So, pursue prospects relentlessly because your motivation is pure– you want to help them!
8. Make whatever effort is necessary to sharpen your messaging/sales story. Nothing will have a bigger impact on your confidence, on your prospecting effectiveness, and your sales calls and presentations than creating a compelling, customer issue and outcome-focused message. Stop leading with your company, product/service/solution, and start leading with issues you address (pains removed, problems solved) and the outcomes your solution helps clients achieve.
9. Reevaluate your sales calls and customer meetings. You should be talking 1/3 of the time, not 80% of the meeting. Learn how to set up the meeting by sharing your agenda and getting the customer’s input and buy-in. And please stop demo-ing or presenting first, prior to doing adequate discovery. Presenting before probing is sales malpractice, even when the prospect tells you they want a demo or dog and pony show!
10. In later stages of sales calls, confirm the customer is tracking with you, agrees what you are suggesting is a legitimate solution, and then work hard to flesh out potential objections. The best time to uncover possible obstacles and objections is right now. It’s the challenges and objections which don't get uncovered that come back to bite us later. And never conclude a sales call without getting the customer’s commitment to their next step. It’s not enough to give yourself work; get the customer’s commitment and schedule it – right then and there. Everyone has their calendar in their phone. Do it.
11. Increase your business acumen. My friend Anthony Iannarino regularly writes about this. You must raise both your general understanding of business and your specific understanding of your customer’s business climate. Increased business acumen = immediate increase in respect.
12. Read a few highly reviewed, highly rated sales books this year. Just today Mark Hunter shared an article with data about how many more books the average millionaire reads. It’s powerful. And, yes, read a book, not just an article. The bar to achieve a well-reviewed book is set infinitely higher than what’s required to be an “online sales expert” – a LinkedIn profile and an internet connection.
13. Read a few non-sales books. I was challenged and shaped this past year by powerful books from Jon Gordon, Michael Hyatt, Paul Johnson, James Mattis, and Cal Newport on topics ranging from positivity to productivity to Winston Churchill.
14. Stop blaming higher price for your sales challenges. The job of professional sellers is to justify the premium price of their offering compared to the market price. Use higher pricing to your advantage and learn how to articulate the value you/your solution/your company delivers that commands this higher pricing. There are reasons customers pay a premium and it is your responsibility to powerfully explain why.
15. Own your sales process and rules of engagement. I have two rules (missions) when selling. 1) Create the most value and best solution and outcome for the client. 2) Give myself the best chance of winning the sale. Whenever the customer suggests (or attempts to dictate) a process that violates either of those rules, that’s when I pause and push back. You’ll have more fun and increase your win rate when you stop acquiescing to selling process requests that don’t help you.
16. Accomplish #15 by getting close to the business leaders who care deeply about outcomes and who most benefit from the help your solution provides. It’s much easier to stick to your process and push back on procurement's process when high-powered executives are on your side. Procurement people are not your friends and their mission is typically to take the creativity, differentiation, and margin out of our deals, all in the name of “leveling the playing field.” That’s crap. Play to win and stay out of the procurement pit!
17. Hang out with the winners on your sales team, not the whiners. Seek input and friendship from successful people with positive attitudes. Avoid the negative naysayers. We become more like the people with whom we surround ourselves. Choose wisely.
18. It is almost impossible to enjoy your job or the fun, freedom, and rewards that high-performing sellers deserve when working in an anti-sales culture that disrespects and demeans salespeople. If you are working for a company or senior leaders that don’t get sales and are fostering an anti-sales culture, leave. Go somewhere else where you’ll not only be appreciated, you’ll have a lot more fun.
19. Stay the heck away from politics, especially because it’s a presidential election year. Don’t assume you know how someone feels or that you are with “safe” people who agree with you. You might be surprised. The U.S. has never been more divided and you risk alienating and angering 50% of the population. That’s a bad move when you sell for a living! Be careful not only about what you say but what you post and tweet. I’ve stopped following several old friends because of their political tweeting. Prioritize relationships over politics.
20. Take real time off! Sales requires full focus, a sharp mind, and a fully-engaged heart. That means you need to rest, refresh, and recharge. Commit to taking real vacation where you are away from email and the daily grind. That time off of email not only helps you actually enjoy vacation, it also allows your brain to work on bigger challenges and produce bigger, better ideas because you’re not sucked into the minutia you deal with on a daily basis. Trust me on this one, please: Real vacation time produces increased effectiveness when you are working.
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