A business is not a business until a sale is made. And a sale is not a sale until the cheque clears in the bank. The road to making these sales and cashing these cheques always appears to be paved with nails and thorns. Show me happy sales people and sales managers who aren’t lamenting and I will be thrilled to change my tune but I think that I’m onto something here, but I’m not sure how popular I’ll be after sharing it!
I remember reading once where this company making pizzas wanted to increase their sales by speeding up production. They figured they could significantly increase the number of pizzas being made per hour. So they trained up their staff and monitored the speed of production. During one of these “observation sessions” the production manager discovered that the customer service employee dealing on the front end of the operation was getting a wee bit too friendly with the “dough boy” making the pizzas at the back. And so he solved the problem by firing the unfortunate customer service representative and replacing her with someone else. Did this solve his production problem? Well no. You see what he discovered was the real problem was the size of the oven. Although more pizzas were made, there was a hold up waiting to put them into the oven. This lag time was what his pizza maker used to chat up the girls in front.
Many companies spend a lot of money investing in sales training: “How to Open”, “How to Close”, “How to Deal with Hostile Customers” etc. Sales Managers conduct weekly sales meetings and attempt to role play to re-enact field experiences and to course correct and solve problems so that the next week will be a better week. Companies have used incentives to sweeten the pot and encourage more selling activity from their representatives. Yet many of these efforts results in little change in the results. Those who were already doing ok or better are continuing to do so and those who were not remain in underperforming mode.
And then there is the business owner’s perspective. They claim that poor sales is the result of “just the way things are right now” and the good ole “everybody is reporting the same thing – business is slow, sales are down, it’s a tough time, there is nothing really that you can do, it’s just how it is!”
The general assumption is that selling is a tough job. I would rather say that selling like any other job is challenging but please don’t hide behind that excuse and resign yourself to poor results. Don’t try to justify your behaviour by making it out to be more difficult than it needs to be.
When you are attached to this excuse you don’t have to ever make a commitment to working through to possible solutions. Sales executives will conveniently find reasons to leave one job in search of “easier” ones before they get fired of course and come Friday they will be happy to share over a beverage or three how much they ‘gave’ to the company and how they weren’t recognized for their efforts and ‘hard’ work.
In any situation, if you are busy making excuses you miss opportunities for help and you are unable to see potential doors that could open for you. If you are busy just appearing to be busy, showing “I’m not sure whom” that no matter how hard you try, selling right now, particularly for THAT product in THIS market is tough then all that happens is that your self induced stress becomes your badge of honour and you will spend much of your time complaining about the idiots you work with and compete with your colleagues as to whose day was worse.
If you have the courage to admit that you’ve used any of these excuses before then I have a couple of solutions for you. But first I have a message for all sales managers: If you’ve done all you can, training executives etc. still without results then more motivation, juicier incentives or plain old nagging with regard to unfulfilled quotas won’t get you better results. There may be other issues that the representative needs to uncover first before advising them that “selling is just a numbers game.” If you’ve done all you can but you somehow feel that the person has potential then get help. The Frameworks® Coaching Process is one way. If you want more information just email me and I’d be happy to share.
The next solution is from Earl Nightingale. He suggests that you make this a habit and I’ve taken his advice so it’s up to you. Every morning set aside about an hour and on a plain sheet of paper write out your money goal then jot down as many ideas that might come to you to achieve it. Get down as many as twenty ideas. Some are going to be great, some are not. It does not matter. If you do this five days a week – that’s 100 ideas each week that will probably result in better returns than hiding behind and constantly claiming how hard selling actually is and how you are just waiting it out until the economy improves!