“It’s not me, it’s the economy,” so you say. And, to justify your many misses and rare hits those in your corner energize you’re position: “It’s not you; it’s the prospects that don’t have money. The problem is the economy; this economy needs fixing by the government.” Maybe. Maybe not; maybe it’s not the economy, but you that needs fixing. As 2023 comes to a close take stock of yourself. Go back to the basics, which is what you should do when you find yourself in a Sales dilemma. Yeah, I know, basics are boring, and you hate them
What to do if your sales are down
Yet, if you’re consistently not meeting your targets, chances are, there are gaps in your basic selling skills. Sometimes, when a salesperson is on a roll with consistent sales, it gets to his head and he believes it is happened because of his “greatness”. He forgets that it is the result of a concerted building of momentum along the sales cycle. And when the momentum stops building, the sales wane. Full of himself, he may be easily convinced that the many misses are due to the conditions of the market and not his defective sales methods. Indeed, Sales success contains seeds of its own destruction.
Regardless of where your sales numbers are, and before stating “the problem is the economy”, it’s important for all sales people to take an occasional break to review the basics of good selling behaviours. This time of the year is as good as any.
Sales 101: Introspection (Is the problem really the economy?)
So. Let’s look at the sales cycle again. Google reminds us that the steps along which the selling process follows are prospect, interview, demonstrate, validate, negotiate, close, referral and back again to prospect.
Simple though these steps sound, even the best get thrown off track sometimes. And Sales is unforgiving. Sales is perhaps the only job in which what you do when no-one is looking will come to reward you or haunt you; either way it will show in your results. When the sales person doesn’t continually prospect with a view to increasing the quality and quantity of his prospects he misses a core basic step and he can only stagger and fall thereafter. Staggering begins when he does not make enough calls, and therefore doesn’t make enough appointments, nor presentations- the natural consequence for this is that he gets less closes. Soon enough, he falls.
Now then. Research done to determine if there was any other way to increase closes, returned a resounding verdict: the only way to increase closes is to see more people (prospects) and increase the quality of the people you see. Adequate prospecting (the never-ending art of looking for people to buy your product or service) is the number one basic. Trying to beat the system because no one is looking, serves only to backfire on the salesperson.
How can I improve my sales? The problem is (not) the economy
Another basic. Salespeople regularly shoot themselves in the foot by failing to understand their customer’s business, not listening to their client’s needs, or asking the right questions. “The prospects don’t know what they want,” they reason. But before you pass judgment, are the prospects who don’t know what they want, buying the same product you are selling, but elsewhere? You may have degenerated to being a run-of-the mill salesperson. You don’t research your client and so make generic presentations; you don’t seek to inform subsequent presentations with experiences from past ones. Further, you don’t rehearse presentations you are going to make because, after all, you reason, the prospect needs my product like they do oxygen and so you carry yourself with indifference to the prospect, and your language and dressing follow suit.
Read: Five Steps To Delivering A Successful Presentation (our very first article)
It’s not economic problems that need to be solved. Maybe it’s you
It is easy for the salesperson to believe he is not the problem. He knows! And because he knows he cannot be told. He tells! And because he tells he does not listen. And he doesn’t listen because, you guessed it, he knows! And so the vicious cycle continues.
The problem is the economy. Is it? Will the economy recover in 2024? I don’t know. What I do know is that when the streak of sales you were making begins to decline, before blaming it on the weather, and generously sharing your opinion on what is needed to fix the economy, go back to the basics. And then, in analytical fashion see whether there are gaps in the sales cycle you need to fill. Chances are, it’s not the economy that needs fixing; it’s you.
Merry Christmas! And have a Sales-propelled 2024!
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See you next year
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