In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0779 002 1885
In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact email@example.com or 0779 002 1885
What is not having a system that delivers predictable sales results costing your business?
Every firm is seeking continuous sales improvement. They would like to achieve that on zero budget. Every firm seeks predictability and stability.
It’s the holy grain because once you’ve cracked that formula for your sales lead generation and closing, then you can simply plug and play and collect the cash. Simply put your sales process delivers great sales results consistently. Primarily due, to a large degree, to you removing many of the failing and costly variables in the sales process variables.
The result? Predictable sales growth, high level of sales stability, fewer peaks and troughs. Plus higher levels of confidence in the future…exciting times? You bet!
And it won’t cost you, because you’ve probably already got all the resources you need…it’s the application of those resources that’s causing the gap.
It why so many firms miss out on implementing the key elements of a predictable sales system!
It’s costing them, and maybe you, fortunes, every single day. Business is sitting on the table or even worse dropping into competitors laps way too easily…and what’s even worse is that margins are being compromised on sales that are landed.
I’ve completed two quite intense sales audits this month and something struck me as quite odd.
Whilst writing their respective and separate 30 day improvement plans, I saw more than a few common elements between the two firms problems. The common elements existed even though the sales teams operated in different industries, selling different products, each firm operated at different price points and are selling in to different decision maker levels.
What was even stranger was the key common elements existed even though one firm was doing ok, but had plateaued, whilst the other sales function was in a real long term sales dry patch.
Despite all of this the root causes were essentially the same.
The question is; are they the same for your business too?
Very few firms go from soaring success to total sales nose dive over night. Maybe occasionally if there is some disaster or unplanned legislative changes, so I can can accept that depressed sales performance is a spectrum that can slowly morph from a plateau to a dip to a dive to insolvency…
However, this doesn’t distract from the fact that there are critical success factors. It is the absence of these critical sales success factors that sets of the chain of events that see sales results start to slip and then dive…
When you look at this list below, just remember that any sales function can address these issues immediately. Remember that providing your take quick action you’ll see some sales improvements.
I hope the list gives you food for thought, and also a cause to take action if you’re seeking predictable sales results and the huge benefits associated with such predictability.
Don’t try to do all of these at once.
You’ll get on everyone’s nerves and be the sales dictator that no-one signed up for. Just pick two or three and see what happens:
The top three issues should bump your sales results considerably…but there are three more I want to share with you:
You’ll be well on your way.
Building a business development, lead generation and sales closing system that delivers predictable sales results is not just 6 bullet point.
The points above are 6 key reasons why firms DON’T get semi predictable sales results, and are in a sales lump/dive.
Don’t ignore the obvious.
The market is no tougher for you than anyone else.
The buyers are no more exasperating with you than your competitors
The economy is not penalising you it’s impacting all.
Don’t listen to it.
Take control of what you can control and you’re well on your way to predictable sales results…
0779 002 1885
P.S. Want to receive a regular feed of sales improvement and business development tips? Then simply claim your weekly free (and span free!) subscription to The Advanced Business Achiever. It’s great for sales meetings, in house sales training, daily coaching and daily huddles…
P.P.S. If you’re looking for a way to create your own internal sales and business development system to predictable sales results…you can find that here TurboCharged Sales
So, lots of ways to get predictable sales results…let me know how you get on
Sales Pipeline Management is the key to predictable and stable sales performance.
That means sales growth, sales security, certainty and the ability for any business to produce accurate sales forecasts.
So today, whether you’re a sales leader or a sales person, let’s think about your sales pipeline.
How do I know?
Because proactive sales pipeline management is a daily task. For sales professionals their sales pipeline is their true north.
The sales pipeline feeds the sales forecast…so managing the sales pipeline is a high priority task.
The sales pipeline is the holy grail of sales crystal balls.
It should be.
The profile of a typical sales pipeline will show you it’s a mixed bag; for example.
Just a fragment of what you might find in a typical sales pipeline…the good, the bad and the ugly is just a cliche, so how about the prospect, the chancer, and the waster?
I’m not jesting when I tell you that your sales pipeline should be your Holy Grail. It REALLY should be your sales crystal ball.
No-more guessing. No more getting half way through the month and realising the sales target is just not going to happen this month.
No. A great, well managed, quality based sales pipeline gives you and your business all the sales intel they need to remove risk and to provide the basis for a health sales result at the end of every month.
Plus, it’s a great start for a replicable sales and business development team…but that’s an aside.
Today, when you look at your sales pipeline, think about this:
Think about getting rid of all the dead beat prospects, all the prospects that are just taking up space, the ones that your eyes fly over without registering any more, the prospects that give you hell and always want something for nothing, the prospects that take forever to pay, the firms that only use you when your competitors have put their account on stop.
Say no to continually calling those prospects that don’t respond to calls, ignore emails, tell you time and time again that they’re the decision maker when you suspect they’re not.
Reposition those prospects that have said yes 10 times and never sent the order, say goodbye to the prospects who give you grief or just call you in to batter you on price with threats to go to your competitor.
Make today the day you say ENOUGH!
Your time is precious. You can earn whatever you want when ever you want, if only you can manage your time.
A poorly managed sales pipeline is a killer.
Undiscerning sales pipeline management will definitely diminish your ability to close business effectively and efficiently.
Poor sales pipeline management will also compromise the quality of the sales you close.
Instead of carting around 600 questionable sales prospects (for example) be very cute and very commercially attuned to where you’re spending your time (and therefore your money), and clean out all the gunk…all those prospects that you’ve been nesting in the hope they’ll somehow wake up to the value you could deliver.
Surrender the wasters to the universe…at best your competitors will pick them up and get mired in the prospect’s maybe promises.
At worst, you’ll have set yourself free. Free to concentrate your fabulous skills, efforts, talents, time and money on prospects that are worthy of that investment.
So with pride, with head held high, and a huge sense of relief and rebirth slap those DNR stickers all over the prospects that are clueless, spineless, not interested, not worthy and just stuck. Instead, march forward with the brave, the enlightened and the glorious, because that’s what you deserve!
Your sales pipeline is your key to sales glory, endless commission and a genuine joy of doing a great sales job…and your discerning sales pipeline management skills are crucial to you achieving this.
You owe it to yourself.
Fly higher and devote time to the prospects that have the potential, insight, budget and mindset to work with you.
Don’t compromise on the quality of your sales prospects or the quality based criteria in your sales pipeline.
Your sales pipeline management could be all that stands between you and huge sales success.
For further insights on sales pipeline management as well as information on how you can boost sales and super charge your business development efforts for free – hit the link – The Advanced Business Achiever
If you want to know how to fill your sales funnel and sales pipeline with high quality sales leads – check this out Leads ++
And if you want to discretely discuss sales improvement in your business – contact me, Carol on 0779 002 1885 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also check out the blog for articles on improving sales performance, building replicable and scaleable sales and business development systems as well as sales pipeline management. Act fast, because this is the fastest easiest way to boost sales performance – Morton Kyle Sales Improvement
For further insights into sales pipeline management, sales funnel creation and creating accurate sales forecasts – check this out – tell me more
Lots of sales leaders and sales people monitor their sales conversion rates since it’s a good top line indicator as to how things are going…from staying steady to gently increasing or, heavens forbid, heading south.
But, I also know some firms who don’t pay that much attention to it at all. Personally, I think that’s a huge mistake and hopefully, soon, you’ll agree with me.
Sales Conversion Rates, whether you are a sales person or a sales leader, informs you how you are using your most precious money making commodity….time.
Plus: anything that allows you to predict future performance in sales is worth watching.
Your sales process, documented and detailed, rigid or flexible, will have certain gates in it.
If you subscribe to my idea of a Plug and Play Sales Model – see here – then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
But, for the sake of speed, let’s assume you don’t.
You’ll know (or should know) how many sales calls you make in a day. How many of those convert to opportunities – meetings (that’s one gate) or quotes (that’s another gate)…or declines, or call backs, or deadlines…(these are all gates too)
You’ll know how many of those meetings turn to quotes. how many convert to orders immediately. How many decline and how many pipeline for another time (that’s another 4 gates). Even more gates will you consider monitoring sales cycle times also.
From your quotes, you’ll get another series of sales gates….
And at the end of that, you’ll get a final, maybe monthly, weekly or daily overall sales conversion rate based activity during that period.
It’s all about knowing what gates to measure
What gates to pay especial attention to and how focusing on the quality of interaction at each of those sales gates can dramatically improve the sales conversion rates for the individual gates as well as overall sales conversion rates.
Further sales metrics that drill even further down into the sales process is you’re serious about really improving your sales performance are detailed here. Just hit the link for your free guide – instant download – The 7 Sales Metrics to Measure, Manage and Monitor.
You see, measuring just one overall sales conversion rate is just not enough…it doesn’t give you a detailed enough picture.
And certainly you won’t be able to do the sales improvement diagnostic you need if you’re serious about really boosting those sales figures…
Sales Conversion Rates: The Fastest Way to Predict the Sales Future
Once you know the metrics at each of your selected sales gates, you’ll have your sales recipe. If you’re struggling as to how to calculate this – see here.
Your sales recipe is the formula, which may fluctuate slightly, allows you to judge sales performance, manage sales resources, predict sales performance, optimise sales resources and most certainly is the first step in creating any scaleable sales model.
It’s also the crux of real sales or performance management program.
Sales Conversion Rates are gold to me. At a glance I know who is performing and who is not. I know where to focus my efforts and what to leave well alone.
I know who’s on fire and who needs a fire setting underneath them.
Sales Conversion Rates tell me what types of customers my clients should avoid. What types they should hunt for, what to charge in what sectors, how to pitch and present in those sectors, as well as when to actively hammer a region as well as when not to waste time.
Monitoring sales conversion rates works.
It’s very effective and takes no time at all to set up, and it’s the certain route to optimising sales resources and minimising costly waste.
779 002 1885
P.S. To check out more sales improvement insights and business development strategy, then check out our blog
Plus: to receive weekly sales and business development support, directly into your inbox, just hit the link. Claim your free subscription to the Advanced Business Achiever
Sales and the art of selling is changing….just like everything else.
New theories, practices and reworked ideas come around again and again.
Some of them stick, some of them fade.
Many work, some don’t.
Some we’ve seen before, maybe under a different name, and some are genuinely original, just check this out regarding B2B sales
One thing that’s been around for ages, but always there in the background, as something that good (and great) business development professionals have know is this.
And that’s even more true today than it’s ever been.
It is not about taking the order, being a walking brochure or even pitching harder than the competitor.
Customers, Buyer, Prospects and Procurement teams have no use for that sort of sales person any more.
The sales person that succeeds today is the sales person that out performs his competitors. Who secures the business. Whot leaves his sales persona at the door and picks up the position of the Buyer’s problem solver.
That means your business development and customer facing target carrying team may need to have a slightly different skill set than you’d imagined.
Instead of thinking about the value of their address book, the length of service in your industry, the length of their business development career, maybe there are additional things to think about.
Critical thinking skills – their ability to grasp complex situations, issues and constraints and see the Buyer’s issues for what they are and the impact they have on the Buyer
Team building – to build cooperation around creating a suitable solution with the relevant internal and external parties
Problem solving capabilities – the ability to see the real problem and it’s implications as opposed to just seeing the manifestation of that problem
Rapport building – to gain trust quickly and establish expert status with the Buyer and their influencers
Listening skills – genuine listening skills, listening to understand and not listening simply to sell
Communication skills – how good are they are respectfully pushing boundaries in the Buyer’s thinking. How good are they at being able to coherently present ideas, discuss scenarios whilst having all parties keep an open mind
Ability to prioritise – their ability to differentiate between the urgent and important and respond accordingly
Negotiation skills – their ability to compromise and to broker compromise across different parties, different solutions
Resilience – in the face of challenges, objections, resistance, nay-sayers and group think
Creativity – seeing solutions that are not evident to the Buyer. Conveying those solutions with high levels of confidence and credibility
Belief – do they have it, can they convey and transmit their true belief in their solution
Business development might have historically been thought of as a trade that people ‘fall into’.
Ask any 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up and I’ll bet few of them say ‘sales person’.
Sales people can be nurtured to be better business development people, that’s true.
What’s also true is that most great sales people are born with a certain skill set that they invest in to make better.
So, anyone can be a business developer?
I don’t think so.
What do you think?
0779 002 1885
If you’re looking for further support and guidance on how to recruit the best sales talent for your business – check out these two Free Guides:
And this Blog Post
Sales Performance and Sales Results Matter! Making sure that the key metrics are on point all through the month is key, plus having the skills and insights to reverse any decline and accelerate any upward trends is vital.
But, before that you’ll need to learn how to be a Sales Detective, embrace the fact that your favourite question will now be ‘WHY?’
That’s the BIG WHY…
In a nut shell…we need you to discover the answer to the question every sales leader asks himself on a very regular basis
It’s not what you think…the answer, that is. It never is because there’s always more. So much more!
So here’s your 3 step guide to uncovering they you’re getting the sales performance and sales results you are
Write your sales performance and sales results problem down and then ask why.
To that response ask another ‘why’
To that response ask ‘why’ a third time
And so on, until there are no more different responses
The truth is, you’ll get two dozen reasons…some of those reasons will be big, some small. Some of those reasons will be part of one bigger reason, some will be stand alone reasons, some reasons will already be known to you and others will be new.
The skill here is just to keep asking ‘why’ until you get to the fundamental and most basic of answers.
For example – why are the sales guys diaries empty?
Your first response could be – lazy sales team
Why? We recruited badly, cheap people, poor commission structure
Why? We’re not making any money, couldn’t afford better people
Why? Competitors are killing us
Why? We’re too expensive
Why? Competing with China
Why? We’ve always done it this way
Why? It’s all that we know
So you see, the empty sales guy’s diaries is only a manifestation of a problem, therefore getting to the root cause is what makes the solution much easier
Get a large blank piece of paper. At the centre of the page write the problem…empty sales guy’s diaries.
Down the middle left hand side write all the possible causes of that.
Down the far left hand side write all the causes of the first line of causes.
And so on and so on…
Down the middle right hand side list all the implications, or consequences of that.
Down the far and side list all the further implications and consequences
What you’ll start to see down the left hand side is some of the common elements that cause the empty sales diaries
What you’ll see down the right hand side is an order of the impact…so you can see if this is a problem that is worth applying your time and intellect to.
For example, if the implications are few, it may be a problem you have to deal with, but perhaps there are bigger problems with more far reaching consequences.
You might come to the conclusion that actually the empty sales diary is the result of poor territory management, data selection and prospect clarity…rather than just blaming it on the reward and bonus structure.
Look at the whole sales process – you should have this mapped out, it should be universal and it should be standard practice across the business. If you want to know why you should have a well documented sales process – check this out – Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue
Look at which of the sales guys perform best in each section of the sales process.
Now look at which of the sales guys perform worst in each section of the sales process.
Now you’ve identified another set of causes or you’ve confirmed the causes you’ve identified above.
In your role as Sales Detective, you’ll have to fight the continual urge to solve the problem immediately.
That’s not your primary concern…if you do that, you’ll simply be falling into the same trap that many sales leader do.
The skill is in being able to STOP trying to find the solution long enough to allow you to discover what the REAL problem is.
Once you’ve discovered the REAL problem then you’ll most likely be able to solve the sales problems in a heart beat.
So, you have now identified all the key causes and problems that manifest themselves in poor sales performance and sales results.
Now you’ve identified some of the causes, then you’re able to evaluate a plethora of suitable solutions, because there is just one simple fix.
Filter through the solutions – apply some creative thinking and beware of some of the pitfalls that will destroy your decision making capabilities
If you’d like to understand more about the absolute sales performance of your sales and business development function and how to increase sales and reduce wastage in the sales unit – let me know.
The Morton Kyle Sales Audit is an intensive diagnostic and sales improvement tool. It’s specifically designed to facilitate rapid sales performance and sales results turnaround.
0779 002 1885
Plus – here’s a blog case study showing how to increase sales conversions and profits – Here’s the link
Plus for other sales performance and sales results improvement insights – check out the blog – Morton Kyle Sales Improvement
You’d be surprised what businesses will do to improve sales performance.
You’d be surprised the lengths they’ll go to, the resources they’ll commit and the efforts they’ll expend all in an effort to improve sales performance.
Selling their soul? No…but not far off.
So, why, why, why, why do business owners and sales leaders miss this one simple trick? Continue reading
Sales and Business Development Functions are worthless if there is no sales and business development system in place which is used throughout the business.
With regard to maximising sales performance, what’s the best sales and business development support system look like?
First of all, let’s think about what your Sales and Business Development System should deliver for you and your business.
We could make this a really complex list and you’d probably go no further than a very complex list, so I’m deliberately going to make my list very simple for you.
Just three things. That’s all.
Those three things will deliver you the following:
What more do you want?
I thought not.
Again – it should be really simple.
So simple it’s child’s play.
I’ve seen sales processes that stretch around the block and back again…trust me when I tell you, the more complex your sale process, the more things will go wrong AND, even worse, you’ll rarely be able to find the root cause quickly…that means the sales fix is a million miles away.
Keep it Simple.
But, in reality, those are the key 5 sections that will affect your profit and your sales throughput.
Sure – there are mini sections inside these 5 sections but the reality is – if you manage these 5 sections and the 4 gates in between them, then you’ll be doing what 90% of the sales teams working today ARE’NT doing.
How good would you feel then?
You see, these four gates (shown in red) – from Leads > Meetings > Quotes > Converted Customers > Retained Customers, will show you exactly what part of your sales process is letting you down.
Once you know that, it’s a very simple deep dive to improve that section.
If you want some guidance on what you can do to improve each of the 5 sections – take a look here.
3 key rules:
Seriously, I can’t stress it enough…complicated and complex will kill any ambition you have of accelerated sales growth.
You can wave goodbye to highly predictable sales growth and it will cost you heavily in time, profit and opportunity, plus you’ll be forever cursing the day you spent creating a monster that’s unmanageable.
And you know the worst thing? Without such a simple, transparent and segmented sales and business development system, you’ll be FOREVER reliant on the skills of your transient sales team rather than the potency of your sales engine, and if that doesn’t scare you then stop reading now, because if you’re putting your business performance in the hands of the sales team who can up and off, en mass, in a heart beat then you’re playing with fire.
So, top line – how do you set up a Sales and Business Development System for your business?
Take a look here for an initial insight.
Transparency – each section (shown above) should have it’s own high level of transparency, it’s own accountability and it’s own check list
Sales Process – have a sales process that EVERYONE sticks to. No deviation, no hesitation, no question – you’ll never be able to scale and replicate a working and profitable sales and business development system if everyone is doing their own thing – this will help you.
Set KPI’s for each of the 4 gates that exist between the 5 sections. They are the KPI’s you manage every single minute of every single day
Metrics – for additional sales metrics to check you’re on track – down load this
Lead Quality – be very very careful of the leads you put in the top of your sales process – your sales and business development system will die a slow and painful death if you treat all leads as being of equal value and if you shove any old rubbish in there…no point keeping count if you’re just counting worthless buttons…make sure your leads are high quality, pure gold prospects you’d LOVE to work with – for more details check this out for advice on How to Build A Great Sales Funnel
Get Creative – to drive accelerated sales growth you’ll need to get creative in each of your 5 sections. Here’s two insights to show you how you can do that – check them out – download – Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow, check out this blog on How To Increase Price.
You’re Selling What? – think about what you’re actually selling, you’ll be able to get a greater insight into this by asking what your customers are actually buying, because once you understand this not only will you be able to accelerate your sales growth you’ll also be able to increase your prices…here’s a guide to help you – just hit this link
Value – think about what value you bring to the buyer at every single stage. If something in your sales process doesn’t deliver value to the buyer, then serious consider getting rid of it.
Managing Poor Sales Performance – you’ll need to be tough, there’s no point putting up with sub par sales performance if you’re a business committed to sales growth – check this out – How to Deal With Poor Sales Performance
Get Competitive – be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and make some noise, sure you can still keep your operations covert if you wish, but as far as your prospects, buyers and sales force are concerned – be loud and proud – check this out if you want a nudge in that direction.
And one final thing – make sure you’ve got your sales and senior management team on board acting as sales performance improvement functions, sales coaches, sales problem solvers and sales guides…this is a big task and some of your old guard will rally against the change, check here...if you’re committed to accelerated sales growth I know you’ll do what you need to do.
Yes – any business can.
Few chose to.
Many leave it in the hands of the individual sales functions, sales people, sales managers and they pay the consequences when key sales people leave.
Accelerated sales growth relies on ALL aspects of the business pulling in the same directions – that means any business undertaking such a commitment to increase sales and business performance needs an agreed, workable and sustainable sales and business development system.
Few firms have this.
The cost associated in not having such a system is huge – time, money, market share, brand value, competitor growth, missed opportunity, lack of responsiveness, mediocre business and sales performance…all negatively impacting the bottom line.
I hope you think about how your business could benefit from such a system…
Any questions…call me
0779 002 1885
I regret to inform you that as a business we’ve taken the very difficult decision to let you go.
We will honour the obligations laid out in our contract and as such, hope you will do the same as a Sales Manager in the business.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to you for your commitment, effort and professionalism during with your time with us.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed working with us as much as we’ve enjoyed working with you, and we wish you every success in finding a new position.
P.S. I really am very sorry. I have no choice.
You see, you’ve been great at pulling reports, checking the sales metrics, doing discipline hearings, checking off expenses, sorting out queries, handling complaints, reconciling month end figures, checking commission claims, fielding holiday requests and making sure the sales car fleet was renewed competitively every year. Thank you…I don’t know what I’d have done without you.
P.P.S. I just wanted to say, personally I wanted to keep you…we’ve been through thick and thin together…but you see the board had different ideas – you see, they’d read this report, and after that the board want someone who’s never at their desk.
The popular view is fixated on having someone who coaches 7 hours a day, who just loves helping the sales team sell better, helping the sales team deliver a better sales experience to prospects. Someone who works with the sales team to help them sky rocket their commission. A sales leader who is embedded in the customers markets, who can see the changes in the market ahead of time and prep the sales guys to do battle.
They want someone who is keen to work with the sales team to bring about the demise of the competition, someone who can spot commercial opportunities ahead and guide the sales team to exploit those opportunities, but I guess you like doing admin in your office more than you like working with people to improve their sales performance. I guess you can’t be great at everything.
And another thing…
No-one does pivot tables and power point like you do, therefore you make sure you add that to your CV!
Chances are – you’d be neither the sender (see disclaimer at the bottom of this post) or the recipient of such a letter…but the writing’s on the wall for Sales Managers everywhere.
The questions is, as a Sales Manager:
Will you read it?
And, once you’ve read it, will you do anything about it?
You might want to think about your response…the role of conventional Sales Manager is changing, and it’s changing quickly.
The New Role of the Old Sales Manager
If we were honest, we’d stop using Sale Manager as a job title to describe the person that manages the sales team.
It’s not proper any more. And it won’t be again. Ever.
Today, the Sales Manager is that and so much more.
And the ‘so much more’ encompasses a lot. But even more crucially, it’s a whole different skill set.
So let’s call it what is really is – let’s scrub out Sales Manager and use words that have some meaning in this new age:
…there are more but that just about covers it.
Now, I hope you can see why conventional sales manager just doesn’t cut it any more?
I hate using the word should but I have no choice here.
Here’s what you should be doing and where you should be focusing your precious time; use this list to check of what you’re currently doing versus what you should/could be doing, or doing more of.
Also, as Sales Manager, use this list as an opportunity to look at some of those mundane non-value added tasks you either need to delegate or simply jettison altogether.
What might not be immediately evident from this list is every single one of these tasks is people facing. You don’t need an office or even a desk. You’d be surprised how much great, results generating work you can get done sat next to your team on a rotating basis.
How do I know? Because I do it. It’s one of the easiest and simplest ways to see sales results rocket. Try it. Then tell me it doesn’t work. You’ll not be able to.
I’ve yet to find a Sales Manager yet who hasn’t seen a spike in sales just by spending more time with their staff.
So here’s the good news – step up, the writing’s on the wall, read it and change course accordingly…the choice is your’s.
That’s your call. Hope you’re dismissal letter as Sales Manager is nicer than the one above.
And if you need even more proof – take a read of this – just hit the link – Job Description and Skills
0779 002 1885
Hit the link here to claim
*Disclaimer: as if I should need to add this, but I will.
If you wish to dismiss any person in your employment, this is NOT the letter to use.
You should always take independent legal advice from a HR, legal and employment specialist in order to comply with the law and your legal obligations. This will help you protect your business, and minimise the risk of any adverse action.
Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time
Sales Performance Improvement is the key driver for continuous sales improvement…better results, bigger results, faster.
If you’re in sales, sales management or running your own business then chances are you’ll be looking for ways to continually boost your sales performance. You’ll be looking for more customers, more profitable clients, in less time, bigger orders, larger average order values, higher conversions…
That’s business. It’s also human nature to ask…is this the best we can do? Can we do it better, easier, faster?
Plus, in sales, it’s a competitive environment. You’re forced to ask these questions. Your shareholders, competitors, stakeholders and bank will be asking you the same.
Here’s the truth about seeking continuous sales performance improvement:
You see, if you’ve been in a sales or sales leadership role for any time, you’ll most likely know everything there is to know and that you need to know…and your performance will reflect that.
That might be enough for you, your business, your clients.
But what about what you don’t know?
How important is that?
Sales Performance Improvement works the same way.
Gawande’s background is in medicine. Having piloted and then rolled out his check-list based methodology across many hospitals and medical facilities he details how a simple check-list has saved 100’s of thousands of lives. He proposes his way of working, the same methodology can be transferred to other industries – and I for one, strongly agree with him.
In truth, anything that saves that number of lives has to be worth a good look at. You’ll agree when you read his evidence. Simply put, if a humble check-list can save that many lives…what could the same do for your business, your sales performance and your sales results?
Worth a look?
Here’s the premise:
No-one needs a check list for the simple stuff, where there are few variables, when the outcome is low risk, it’s a predictable action with a predictable outcome…
But check-lists have a distinct advantage in those situations where there is a higher level of complexity, more risk, a handful of variables and no guaranteed outcome.
This is the first and last time you’ll see me compare sales to heart surgery but there you go. You’ll see where I’m going with this…
In both, the risks are high, lots of complexity, variables, high levels of unpredictability, opportunity for errors and failure are all present.
So whilst we’re not talking about losing lives, we are risking something. Maybe losing margin, turnover, market share, customer confidence, shareholder confidence, brand value.
Digging deeper, Gawande makes the distinction between two types of error:
Ignorance – mistakes we make because we don’t know enough.
Ineptitude – mistakes we make because we don’t use the skills and knowledge we have in the right way.
He concludes that most errors happen because of the latter – ineptitude.
This suggests that the person actually knows all they need to know, they have all the skills they need to know.
Moreover, this ineptitude exists in simple and complex tasks.
Let me explain, the problems occur when old habits, entrenched ways of working. When the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindsets overtake them. Or when the body is on auto pilot. Almost like conscious competence, but not quite as competent as one imagines.
That’s a perfect breeding ground for errors to take place. For example, the patient has complications or the sale derails. Simply because of lack of good habits, rather than lack of skills, knowledge or competence.
It’s a check-list to use. A list to refer to when the sales process with a client is going off track. It’s literally a step by step guide in what to do to rescue it, bring it back on track, get it motoring in the right direction.
How simple is that?
Here’s an example:
In his book Gawande uses examples of Dr’s and medical staff not washing their hands as frequently as they should. Or as frequently as they thought they did.
Pay attention to that last statement. It’s very important because how many times do we think we’ve done something when actually we haven’t? Especially those repetitive tasks, the small tasks that matter but don’t really register at the time?
Gawande references the Dr’s failing to ask a simple question of the patient, or washing hands.
It’s the same in a sales environment, it could be remembering to ask the budget question early on, or finding out if this is a price comparison exercise or a genuine need with the client.
These are seemingly inconsequential questions at the time that have a HUGE impact on the quality of the sale and the chances of profitable conversion.
On a real life basis – if you’ve ever kept a food diary – you know that your ‘good food days’ were more like ‘ok food days’ and your ‘ok food days’ really should be called ‘oh hell! food days’! The power of the check-list in another format!
So, there’s no two ways about it when you’re thinking about sales performance improvement, or even better, continuous sales performance improvement then – Habit Beats Knowledge every time.
Gawande concludes that having and rigorously using check-lists improves the chances of success and improves performance across the board.
My take away, is much bigger and more important than simply improving sales performance and here’s why.
Such a check-list based methodology actually changes habits. That is exciting because if you’re adopting this in your sales team, your business and your customer facing environment you’ve just created your baseline for continuous sales performance improvement.
One more thing:
If you’re putting this system in place, it dramatically changes the function of your sales manager…or Sales Performance Coach. Both functions now act as part auditor, part coach, part sales performance improvement specialist…which is how it should be…but more on that another day…
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