by Kelly Riggs
Typically, the objective of advice is to help.
The problem is that the advice in this article may not be exactly what you’re looking for. The answer to the challenge you may be currently facing will probably require something more difficult than you anticipate.
You probably prefer a simple Band-Aid, but what you really need is surgery. Serious intervention for a significant health issue.
In this, salespeople can be the worst offenders. They love quick fixes. When they don’t hit their objectives, they start looking for magic bullets: A new closing technique. Or Facebook ads. Maybe a new CRM package (seriously?).
Good luck with all that. If you’re not hitting your numbers, or you’re falling far short of your own personal goals, you don’t need a need a touch-up. You need a makeover.
So, let’s quit messing around and get down to it. There is one reason – and one reason only – that you don’t hit your number. One. Reason. Only. You just don’t have enough opportunities in your pipeline. PERIOD.
I don’t care if you close an abysmal 1-out-of-10 deals. I don’t care if your average deal size is 25 percent lower than everyone else. Regardless of your win rate and deal size, if you put enough deals in the hopper, you WILL hit your number.
“Regardless of your win rate and deal size, if you put enough deals in the hopper, you WILL hit your #sales number.” via @kellyriggsClick to tweet
Of course, there might not be enough time in the day to do all the deals necessary to reach your objective if your win rates and deal sizes are really that bad, but I’m trying to make a point. When it’s all said and done – regardless of your circumstances – you MUST have enough opportunities in play to hit your revenue targets. And the better you are at every other aspect of selling, the fewer opportunities it will take!
Larger deal sizes and better closing ratios make the job easier. But, having too few opportunities in your sales pipeline will guarantee your failure. Every time.
So, I want to show you how to avoid that problem.
If you think the answer to this problem is simply to “do more prospecting,” you swung and missed.
First, just about every salesperson prospects too little, and they know better! Just about every salesperson is acutely aware of the need to prospect, but they never seem to find the time to do so. That’s not the CORE problem. That’s just a symptom of the problem.
True, you don’t have enough opportunities because you don’t prospect enough. Why? Typically, you don’t prospect because you “don’t have time.” And you don’t have time…why?
Time is actually the real problem. There is never enough time. And the solution to that problem, a solution which will readily solve the sale funnel problem, is ridiculously simple. In fact, there is a tried-and-true way to ensure – absolutely ENSURE – that salespeople can and will have enough opportunities in their sales funnels to achieve their numbers. They just don’t like the solution.
Rather than succeed, they would prefer to gripe and complain and make excuses. Because they don’t REALLY want a solution, they want a magic wand. Or, in some cases, they just want a better excuse for failure. But there is absolutely NO substitute for what they actually need.
What they need is a plan.
“That’s your solution??”
Many of you saw the word “plan” and your brain just switched off. AUTOMATICALLY.
“Nothing new here. Next article.”
The truth is most people simply hate this advice. After all, planning is tedious. It’s time consuming. And it’s…well…it’s just not much fun. It’s not a two-minute YouTube video from a social-selling guru. It’s not an inspirational speech from a multi-million-dollar producer.
It’s just hard work and heavy lifting. But it is an absolute GUARANTEE to hitting your sales objectives IF you work the plan effectively. Unfortunately, when I ask salespeople if they have a sales plan, most responses are a variant of one of these:
“I don’t really have a formal plan, but I know what I need to do.”
“I just do whatever needs to be done that day.”
“I really can’t work from a plan. Things change too fast. Customers blow up my day almost every single day.”
Which is all just a crock. You NEED a plan – a detailed, step-by-step sequence of actions that will take you directly to your objective. But most people don’t even know what a plan really is, or what it does.
For example, a number is not a plan.
“My plan is to do $2 million this year.”
An idea is not a plan.
“My plan is to do more prospecting.”
Uh huh. Where? When, exactly?
And working harder is definitely not a plan.
The really bad news is that most salespeople simply don’t know HOW to create a viable sales plan. I know because I test salespeople. I give them a scenario and ask them to create a plan to accomplish the assigned task. And the vast majority of them fail.
“The truth is that most salespeople simply don’t know HOW to create a viable #sales plan. Instead, they make substitutes.” via @kellyriggsClick to tweet
One thing that is true about planning is that it is HARD work. Creating an effective plan requires a significant amount of analysis and thought. It requires a salesperson to spend a lot of time working through the details of individual customer action planning. It requires a lot of attention to detail.
However, once done, a plan provides enormous clarity. It completely illuminates the path to your sales objectives. A detailed plan is the difference between consistent success and random success. A comprehensive and detailed sales plan will also:
Look, in some ways this IS the magic bullet. It’s just a lot harder than rubbing a genie’s lamp (wouldn’t that be nice?). You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. You don’t have to rely on luck or getting a better territory. You just have to “plan your work and work your plan.” It works every time it’s tried.
The alternative? Well, as Yogi Berra famously observed, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
That “someplace else” is likely to be a new company.
P.S. Tired of working without a plan? Want one that WORKS?
Contact me!! Just 10 minutes on the phone will be
enough to know if I can make a difference.
Kelly Riggs is a business performance coach and founder of the Business LockerRoom. A former national Salesperson of the Year and serial entrepreneur, Kelly is a recognized thought leader in the areas of sales, management leadership, and strategic planning. He serves clients ranging from small, privately held companies to Fortune 500 firms. Kelly has written two books: “1-on-1 Management™: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don’t” and “Quit Whining and Start SELLING! A Step-by-Step Guide to a Hall of Fame Career in Sales.”