If you work in sales, then you are probably already aware of the longstanding challenges in the profession. The sales profession is in trouble and accountability for that trouble rests with sales leaders. They are the ones who should overcome challenges within the profession in order to ensure sales improvement.
But let’s be clear about what is meant by “improvement”—improvement requires change. As a sales leader, you can't expect your work, or the work of your team, to improve without doing something differently. Questioning your current knowledge and assumptions about sales is the best starting point for change. It's time to let go of the failed notion that sales is "just a numbers game." This ill-conceived notion now perpetuates problems for sales professionals. In fact, the numbers game approach in sales work is ultimately costly to companies. The sales profession needs fresh, useful ideas about how to find and advance sales opportunities.
Where Do You Stand?
Reflect on your professional standards and expectations from your sales efforts. Do you pursue excellence? In sales, there is just one level of knowledge that matters—one skill level to which we should strive: “excellent” or “advanced.” In addition to the progress that is required by your goal, your performance standards should also take into account the general expectations of your prospective clients. You should care to excel, because:
(1) your competition is trying to outperform you;
(2) sales is a dynamic profession, which makes complacency a liability;
(3) your clients don’t care that you don’t like sales or aren’t good at certain sales work; and,
(4) as mentioned, a worthy goal deserves your best effort to meet that goal.
In order to improve results from sales activities, consider changes in how you think about your work. While change can feel uncomfortable and even threatening, don't allow discomfort to derail you from an effort to improve. Face any fears about failure for the benefit of learning. Remember: we learn in order to improve, which requires a discovery process. If you seek success, or greater success, then see a chance to learn as imperative, rather than an option. Consider the following ideas, concepts, and strategies for what they might offer you in that pursuit.
Productivity: Productivity is the most misunderstood requirement for success. In order to reach your greater sales potential, the first step is to know what, specifically, is required of you for success. Define productivity accordingly and include objectives for each step (not just the last step) in your sales process.
Discovery: Sales is a creative profession focused on a mission to discover what resources, processes, approaches, and strategies support a reliable conversion of sales potential into actual sales. There are at least four conversion points in a typical sales process: engage, present, propose, sell. Once discovery of how to succeed is achieved, then efficiency modifications may be explored in order to further improve profit.
Effective communication with prospective clients is critical to success in sales. If sales professionals fail to learn about and accommodate the realities of how people communicate—whether on the phone or in-person—, they are impaired in their ability to improve outcomes in their engagements with prospective clients.
State-specific Condition: Generic sales solutions can create pitfalls. Obsolete sales concepts such as "closing" and the sales funnel should be replaced with relevant knowledge about how to sell and manage sales pursuits. The most effective sales solutions are "state-specific," based on all of the factors that make a business (and a sales operation) unique—from its staff to its market position.
1. The Gestalt Effect
People process their experiences with lightning speed, as they connect "cues” (bits of information), which form an impression that is meaningful. It is this impression to which we respond during interaction with others. The response of a prospective client to a salesperson's effort to connect is based on an immediate impression formed by the cues presented by the salesperson. Master the cues in your outreach messages in order to engage, meet, and win more prospective clients. If you do not account for the Gestalt Effect, your ability to connect with prospective clients will be unnecessarily difficult.
2. Stage & Position
Consider a few social situations and behaviors that are typical among people in those situations. For example, people tend to be quieter in libraries than at their local bar. Settings such as a library or bar provide contexts for social interaction. These contexts may be thought of as stages—settings for the scenarios in which people accommodate the expectations of others according to their role in the context. A judge in a courtroom has little authority in the line at the grocery store. The role of "judge" occupies a position that varies by stage—a social context. Much of our social lives are influenced by our perception of self and others in a specific situation. “Stage and Position” is a concept and strategy that highlights this reality of social life: people often adjust themselves (assume roles or a position) in order to accommodate the dynamic of social interaction (a context, a stage). This fact doesn't change when you or your salespeople reach out to connect with a prospective client. Stages and positionscan be influenced and created. They can help explain a dynamic between people. If you do not attempt to recognize or create an advantageous scenario for your sales situation, you may be losing sales unnecessarily.
The most trusted sales support resources agree about ongoing challenges in sales: the sales profession is in trouble. The challenges in sales signal a need for a new and extensive reimagining of the purpose and function of sales operations. Modelability offers a foundation and course by which the sales profession could, and should, evolve in order to overcome its challenges and better serve those who are interested in sales.
4. Peripheral Selling
Ever wonder what makes commercials so effective? It's not what you may think. Often, commercials attempt to engage a viewer through the viewer's interests. That interest is linked with what the commercial aims to sell. The viewer's interest is called the "periphery point." The commercial is effective when it can advance the attention and interest of a perspective customer from a periphery point to the "central point" (the product or service being sold) in such a way that yields a sale. Rarely is the customer aware of this strategy that’s embedded in the commercial. Peripheral Selling deals with "tangential motivators”—the often unknown and actual reasons behind our decision to buy something. Peripheral selling describes how a buyer's interest in one thing could lead to an interest in something else (such as what you sell), even if the two interests are unrelated. Learn how to advance sales opportunities into an actual sale by using this powerful strategy—selling from a periphery point.
5. Account Acquisition Campaign (AAC)
One of the most common and avoidable failure points in sales is premature abandonment of a pursuit. The AAC encourages salespeople to persist in their efforts to connect with prospective clients, which, ultimately, leads to increased sales. Through a campaign of fresh reasons to reach out, salespeople more easily endure feeling discouraged and then remain in pursuit of a potential sale. This concept is critically important for sales operations that struggle to engage prospective clients.
If you understand the concept of intrigue but do not know how to apply intrigue as a strategy, you may lose the benefit of intrigue as the most expedient means of advancing prospective clients across every step of your sales process. Intrigue is effective as a strategy because it functions through what is important and/or of interest to a prospective client. What is important and of interest captures attention, and both are determined by the prospective client. Intrigue may be created through the use of cues. Consider a Gestalt Effect that intrigues your prospective client. The result may immediately improve engagement with prospective clients and your sales.
IDEAL is an acronym for a five-part productivity model. The model provides a structure for a comprehensive plan by which to achieve, safeguard, and improve productivity. Success requires being productive; you cannot reach a goal without productivity. Therefore, productivity cannot be a generic concept about busyness; productivity involves a specific action that must accomplish specific results. IDEAL is a cyclical model that builds on success. The model is useful to clarify, organize, and manage productivity for businesses or goal-oriented individuals.
8. Progressive Conversion
Sales do not occur spontaneously; sales are always the result of some process that converts a "prospect" into a "client." A well-designed sales process involves a series of objectives. Each step should have its respective objective. As these objectives are successfully reached, the progressive conversion of a prospect into a client occurs. Progressive conversion is, therefore, a process that advances and achieves change—the point at which conversion culminates into sales. In order to achieve reliable sales growth, the course that achieves the reliable conversion of sales potential into actual sales must be discovered, managed, and, as possible, improved.
Once you have discovered how to sell reliably, the purpose of a sales operation becomes the refinement of that ability to sell—an increase in profit through enhanced efficiency.
As change occurs in how, what, and why buyers buy, the purpose of a sales operation will continually return to considerations of effectiveness. This is the natural cycle of evolution that should occur in the sales profession. This cycle, however, does not function properly in most sales operations. This is the cycle of evolution that needs to occur in order for sales operations to be as effective as possible and for State of the Profession statistics to report vitality instead of dysfunction in the sales profession. The ideas, concepts, and strategies offered here support the evolution of the sales profession as well as the greater success of its professionals.
Copyright © 2020 Steven Robert Young. All rights reserved.