What if 2014 was the best sales year you ever had?
What would that look like? What kind of skills would you need? What kind of schedule would you follow? What if you realized it was actually easy?
A popular show I used to watch as a kid said, “Knowing is half the battle.” I believe that’s true. The other half of the battle is DOING the things you know.
So if you’ve ever been at a loss for what to DO to achieve success, I’d like to think that will be over at the end of this post. The trick is in getting yourself to actually execute on the things that follow.
I only have one request. Don’t partially commit to this list.
You may as well save that half effort for some other pursuit.
Partial commitment is the death knell for a serious, worthwhile undertaking.
We didn’t partially commit to landing on the moon.
We didn’t partially commit to storming the beaches of Normandy.
FULL commitment is the most precious gift you can give yourself as you undertake any demanding endeavor.
Why be this committed?
The next year of your career is going to pass whether you commit to improvement or not, why not gain the maximum return on this time?
Do it so you can retire richer, earlier if you choose to.
Do it so you may spend time doing things with and for people, that the less fortunate, the unenlightened, the cynical, or the ignorant could never dream of:
Donate enough money to feed meals to 1,000 homeless people next Thanksgiving.
Fly your entire extended family to New York City and then put them up at the Ritz Carlton Central Park for Christmas…because you can afford to.
1.) Be a person of character.
This is the foundation of your sales career. This is the core of discipline and self-esteem. Good character and authenticity shows. People of character can spot a squirrely person a mile away.
2.) Set some goals.
Set just 2 goals in each of the following categories
Start small. It’s only 2 goals. You don’t have to try to become a millionaire in 1 year, but the person that sets a goal to save $5,000 is that much closer than the person that never sets a goal. If you make them exciting, goals build upon themselves. Save $5,000. Save $10,000. Lose 5 lbs. Lose 10 lbs. An exciting goal and a burning desire to achieve it is what hauls you out of bed in the morning.
If you only set 2, you can focus and achieve them quickly. Then set the next 2 goals and get after them. A year of progress through accomplished goals gives you an incredible amount of self-confidence. You will become more powerful, and you’ll take on ever more challenging goals. Fulfillment comes from the journey, not the destination.
3.) Make a plan.
Have a plan with a schedule at its core; based on the goals you have set in each category of your life. The man who masters his schedule will, as the late great Jim Rohn said, go from making a living to designing a life.
4.) Follow your schedule.
Follow it consistently. Do not waver. One slow step in front of another is the way to walk 1,000 miles. Think tortoise…tortoise is good. The time is going to pass anyway, how much more skilled can you become in 5 years’ time? Then you have another 20, 30, 40 years to benefit from that new skill level…assuming you stop there (not likely right?) Stop thinking starting is pointless because something will take forever. Forever is going to happen either way.
5.) Establish high standards for your sales call volume.
I encourage my new sales reps to make 20 calls per day. We’re talking physical sales calls. Get out of your car and walk in the buildings of your customers and prospects.
Phone calls are not sales calls unless you’re a telemarketer. Relationships are best built face to face.
If you’re a big time veteran, make as many calls as your schedule will allow. Like setting goals, this improvement can be incremental. Increase your activity by just 1 call per day each month in 2014 and you’ll have added 12 calls per day by the end of the year. Maybe you don’t need to/can’t handle adding 12 additional calls per day. You can and do need to add 2 or 3.
6.) Become interested in your clients.
At one point, I struggled with this. I wanted to sell sell sell. I’ll save you money and you buy from me. Then I realized relationships matter more than being the lowest price. Trust is worth something.
Take advantage of every opportunity you can find to deepen the relationship, getting to know the client better. When everyone you call on is a great friend, you don’t have a job anymore. You get paid to visit your friends and help them improve their businesses.
7.) Know your stuff. Get some chops.
While relationships ARE the most important piece, you still must study your products and solutions. Be ready to ask insightful questions and provide valuable info to your clients when they need it. They need an expert.
Your relationship is what gets you there, and may keep you there for a while, but don’t forget you do have a duty to provide value to your clients as well as friendship.
8.) Take 100% responsibility for everything.
The moment you begin to lay blame, your ability to influence and shape your reality is weakened. Always always always think about how you could have influenced or directed an outcome better than you did. Do not spend one second blaming the other party.
9.) Dress like the best in your industry.
Do not let someone else, or even more sadly, let yourself talk you out of this.
Your clients DESERVE the best. Don’t let someone else provide it for them.
“Dressing up isn’t necessary with my clients. It would make them uncomfortable.”
NO ONE will be uncomfortable unless you are…so get comfortable looking like the best.
If they ask why you’re suddenly dressing better, tell them:
“You know…I have a lot of respect for my clients and I know they deserve my best, and I realized that part of my approach was not my best.”
NO ONE will fault you for this. They’ll be inspired by you. They’ll be thankful for you and what you do. They’ll forgive you for not turning in your best before. Now when the competitor walks in with a golf shirt, you’ve set yourself apart.
The tie should end at the lower half of your belt buckle. No one wants to see 3” of shirt and a rogue button between the bottom of your tie and your belt buckle. We also don’t need to see your tie hanging halfway from your belt to your knees.
Figure it out gentlemen.
10.) Leave handwritten notes.
If you don’t see someone on a sales call…leave them a handwritten note EVERY TIME. This is the proof that you were in the building. This counts as a call. They will read it and mentally register that you came to see them.
Handwritten notes are magical. Handwriting has the power to make someone read every word. Do I have to remind you to write legibly? I hope not.
11.) Send thank you notes via the US Postal Service.
After a great initial meeting, send a handwritten notecard, in an envelope, in the MAIL. Thank the recipient for their time and attention and mention how you look forward to calling on them in the weeks to come.
This effort stands out. This sets you apart from almost everyone else the recipient has ever seen. It conveys attention to detail, caring, and somehow….competence.
12.) Study what to say and how to say it.
“Um” has no place in a winner’s general vocabulary.
“Would it be ok if… Would you mind if I… Would it be alright if…” Get rid of these and others like them.
Learn to ask DIRECT questions with a smile. NO ONE will find you pushy.
Start getting confidently and pleasantly assertive.
13.) Stop fidgeting in front of the customer.
Stand still and be confident. Learn what to say and practice, practice, practice so that your ability and confidence grows. Internalizing what you need to say means you don’t need to think about it anymore.
When you’ve accomplished this you can actually listen to the client.
14.) Refine your account base quarterly.
Get rid of the accounts/prospects that are performing below your minimum value requirements. This will free up additional time to grow your business by cold calling for new opportunities.
Your time is the most valuable resource you have.
15.) Be like Ethan.
Work toward mastery of these things and you will make 2014 your best year ever!