How to Stop Kidding Yourself About Your Sales

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There are all kinds of numbers.  Look around you, numbers are sales projections, sports scores, speed limits, lottery numbers – heck, singles are always trying to “get someone’s digits”.  Numbers can tell a story.  Scratch that…numbers tell THE story.

Selling old timers proclaim, with great fanfare, “It’s a numbers game.”  They are only half right. Numbers are just numbers, until you understand the story.

The Facts About Sales Numbers:

1)   If you have good sales numbers, as a salesman, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Sales (be you a solo practitioner or part of a sales team in any industry) is the lifeblood of your industry.  Sales pays salaries, drives profits, and keeps your boss happy. If you want to be left alone, in most situations, simply sell.

2)   Why do I have to fill out activity reports? Don’t they trust me?  Owners, investors and management often focus on this item- but only in the absence of sales.  If the sales are not rolling in, management is forced to seek answers the question “why”. It is only natural to ask, “what is our sales force doing”.  It’s the prudent question to ask, but often rubs salespeople the wrong way.

3)   What’s in the pipeline?  While activity reports are a diagnostic tool helpful when mentoring or coaching a salesperson, it is the sales pipeline that begins to tell the real story.  It is tempting to jump to the belief that the only way to track this is by implementing a strict Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like Salesforce, Act!, or SugarCRM.  In reality, the fastest way to get a handle on how effective your efforts are, can be as simple as writing down known opportunities with pencil and paper.  (Download this Free Sales Project Template  and use it to document opportunities).

4)   Who needs a calendar, it is all in my head! You may be able to remember the facts, but how certain are you to recall exactly the right information at the right time to ensure you never miss an opportunity to close the deal?  Successful salespeople know follow up is the key to the kingdom.  There is no place for ego vs. calendar.  Calendar wins.  If nothing else, having your next steps outlined on a calendar for easy recall just might supplant your bosses seeming micromanagement in #2 or #3.   (I once turned a $400,000 lost opportunity into a $3,500,000 account—just by putting a follow-up reminder on the ONE DAY that customer had to re-evaluate their decision.)

5)   If you do not like activity reports, sales funnels, and organizational management tools, or the like, see #1!  And learn how to pray.  Seeing as I checked my sales ego long ago and opted instead for a lifelong commitment to continuous improvement, I’m going to continue reading blogs like this one, and attending meetings to learn to sell even better. (If you read this before Sept 15th, 2012, you should make plans to JOIN ME!) 

There is one more way to make certain you give it your best this week.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Publicly state below what you are going to do different this week to improve your sales, and we will check back with you in a week to see what effect it had on your success. If you really believed what you already do was working, you probably wouldn’t still be reading this article…so start typing!

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