Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on sales books, CDs, motivational speakers, academic degrees, and formal training courses that are designed to teach people how to compete and win in their professions. Serious sales athletes spend hours and days away from the field-of-play preparing and training to compete in an arena where their value and successes are coldly annotated, empirically evaluated, and statistically justified by “the numbers.”
So what do you do when your numbers fall just a little short or when it becomes certain you’re not going to achieve your sales quota or revenue objectives? To the best of my knowledge, there’s not a lot of literature or support for teaching sales athletes how to react when they lose but here’s a reality check: most sales athletes are NOT going to be #1 all the time. While there is no single reference that covers all circumstances, here’s a list of tips to consider:
- Establish 360-degree awareness. Invite your supervisor to an after-work dinner with one caveat: ask her to remove her rank and title during the dialogue – tell her you don’t need a boss, you want a coach; Talk to a respected peer and request an honest assessment of your activity and skills; Confer with your pre-sales team and ask them for tips that may help your performance. Just as importantly, take time to discern the difference between personal failure and organizational systemic failure. Where the organization’s established policies or plans are clearly deficient and complicit in your personal failure, it should weigh in your decision to stay on.
- Probationary Performance Plan. After missing a quota goal, this dreaded document is often positioned and presented to a sales athlete with little opportunity to debate or protest. (You’re thinking OMG!!!) But be POSITIVE and show no fear! Thank your supervisor for giving you the opportunity to redeem yourself. Calmly review it, and where the performance criteria surpasses existing standards, edit the document and initial those areas that aren’t reasonable you may be able to softly negotiate a modification.
- Develop a 30-day plan of attack:
- Assess whether the performance plan is achievable or if it’s a veiled request for your resignation.
- Take a long weekend to recover. Get a massage, get-away, relax, unwind, and work on restoring your confidence & creative juices. Reconnect with friends and loved ones who’ll affirm you without a quota.
- Get organized at work. Hire a virtual assistant for 30-days to help get you quickly organized, setup your meetings, manage your CRM, handle travel reservations, manage administrative requirements, complete your reporting, and attend to standard, repetitive customer requests. Your focus? Closing deals.
- Get organized at home. Anything you don’t personally have to do, don’t do. Ration your time. Pay to get your laundry done, defer home projects, ask someone else wash the car, setup your bills for auto-payment via electronic banking, etc
- Develop a territory/account plan and activities that map precisely to your performance plan. Bear in mind that the quickest path to new revenue, is by way of previous customers and/or their referrals.
- Make your boss an asset, not a threat. Assuming your supervisor really wants you on her team, you should add her to your most important business account engagements and activities. Get her invested in your mutual success, and make them a contributor to your comeback. Plan to provide updates and confer with them at least twice per week.
- Work the “intangibles.” Focus on your strengths let others obsesses over weaknesses; When everyone is working – plan; When they’re sleeping – work; submit all reports early and without error; be the first on all teleconferences; tactfully broadcast small wins; practice your presentation everyday; network, and make a commitment to deliver the #1 sales activity (never be out-worked.)
- Work 6 days a week in 30 days you’ll have delivered an extra week’s worth of additional productivity focused only on those things that generate revenue.
- Win early… every day. Workout and eat-well and when you do, you’ll have already beat 95% of the people in America, and have more energy when you need it most.
- ABP – Always Be Positive. There will be days when the only positive thing you’ll hear is what you’ll say to yourself. Watch your self-talk.
Please feel free to add your tips, suggestions, and wisdom to this list… there are some great sales professionals who may be depending on you!
Christopher Bell, III