Time to Change How We Sell…

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Sun, Sep 12, 2010

Just got back from a Saturday afternoon reading on the beach and was, once again, struck by the rapid change in just one week in almost everything.    Just before I succumbed to the soft sounds of the surf and the 75 degree temps which somehow forced me to stretch out on the sand and take a short nap, I noticed that the evidence of change was everywhere.

First, no people, but obviously that makes sense due to the pressured requirements of kids’ ———— (fill in the blanks: swimming lessons, football games, soccer practice, etc, etc).   2nd, in just one week after Labor Day, the temps have dropped 10 plus degrees.  Sweatshirts  have replaced T’s and bikinis.  The pristine summer sand has been replaced by seaweed dragged up from the remnants of Hurricane Earl.   The seagulls, with their sharply reduced  food supply have morphed from cute snapshots to dive bombing vultures in their search for their next lunch.   And wetsuits are back in style not just for the surfers who are always zipped up but for the normal polar bear swimmer who dares enter NH’s famed 60 degree water.

With one week under my belt back at work, I also noticed a significant sense of change in the air, and a lot of it was not good.  August’s results were in the book, and, in most instances, they weren’t pretty.  In general, as I looked at the summation of most of our companies, the summer of 2010, based on the numbers from July-August, was a bust.  Nothing terrible, but very few companies are meeting met their Q3 sales plans, and if I had to average, I’d say that this was the 88% summer.   Perhaps some uptick in September will drag this a bit higher, but right now, I don’t see it.

So with the kids back at school, the beach quickly moving into hibernation, and closets already starting to morph from shorts to whatever, all of us who are involved in the business of selling need to make sure that we’ve emotionally left the summer of 2010 sharply behind us in our selling plans over the next 73 (1 day out for Columbus, 2 for Thanksgiving, 2 between Christmas and New Year) days we have left in the year to generate new leads, sell and close business.

What this means is the we need to change out any thoughts that “We’re down, but doing better than the competition”, which is what I heard too much of last week.  It’s just not relevant and more importantly, it’s a whining, feel-good excuse given that the competition didn’t commit to the business plans that we all did.   By the way, last I looked, no salesperson can do much about changing the malaise of an economy that’s slipping sideways and may be headed ”somewhere else”, so please don’t try to explain the macro economics of your industry as another excuse as to why your forecasts are now going to be off for Q4.  Rather than waste your time trying to  explain away a down market and present a big picture outlook (that you don’t really have any stats about anyhow) if you as a salesperson want to really talk about the economy, then go out and sell something more than you’re doing now.   Sales managers should be hard at work this coming week figuring out not how to explain away their Q3 results, but working hard on plans to significantly change the way they’re planning to manage their salespeople in Q4.

Nothing will impact the economy, the creation of jobs, and the deficit more than all of us creating change in how we sell over the next 73 days in order to come in with end of the year results that are not lagging at 88%, and don’t merely reach the quotas that we committed to, but push the envelope to achieve results that are 10% over plan.  With Q3 draining away, all of us as salespeople have two choices:  (1) Continue to sell and manage our salespeople the same way we’ve been doing it for the past eight months or (2) create an environment of impactful change in our strategies and in our tactics that will force much more positive results in Q4.

Me?  I’m working hard on Door #2.  Not sure that it will work yet, but it’s more exciting than the alternative.

Good Selling !

Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, sales management effectiveness, sales effectiveness, improved sales management, sales management training, selling skills, Sales quota, sales training