Nine months down and 3 months to go. What will you do
differently during the last three months of the year to improve your selling
results? If you don't take time to think about what you'll do differently, you
may not do anything different.
Now that’s okay if you're happy with your year
to date selling results. If however, you want better results during the last
three months you'd better think about making some changes now.
One of the keys to raising your personal selling bar is effective sales planning.
For most of us selling is fun and planning is not. Remember that selling success
doesn't come from doing what everyone else is doing.
The most successful salespeople I know, do the things that most salespeople
avoid or put off doing. There are two requirements for sales planning. First
set aside some quiet time for creative thinking. Second, be sure to put your
thoughts on paper.
At least once a year professional salespeople and entrepreneurs should dedicate
a minimum of one-day to strategically think about your businesses. Don't be
too quick to say you're already doing it.
Most sales reps acknowledge they think about their territories and customers
daily. When pressed however most will admit they don't have time to creatively
think about blue sky scenarios that may happen a year from now. If you can't
devote one solid day for unrestrained creative thinking, don't think about aiming
for the stars.
Your best bet is to wait for a shooting star to come your way.
Your personal selling system should include a planning process with these
six critical questions.
questions at your business, your territory, your accounts, your customers, and
naturally your competitors. These questions will raise more questions and you
should consider this process a success if you end up with more questions than
Here are the six questions that can take your personal selling success to the
1. Where are you are now? Where are you now relative to your
selling results and sales skills? How's your performance? What's your relative
rank within a your region and within your company?
What kind of overall growth do you have in your territory and in your top-10
accounts? Where are your competitors making inroads in your accounts?
How well are you managing your time in your territory? What are your biggest
challenges and best opportunities for growth? Please be specific.
2. Where are you headed if you don't change anything? What's
the implication for you if you don't acquire new skills? What happens to your
overall performance next year if you don't make up the loss of your second-largest
How will your customers react to a strategy that is really based on a "More
of the same" philosophy, especially when your competitors are becoming
more creative in their approach? With more work and less time available, how
are you planning to manage next year when your business is expected to grow
7% across the board?
If you can't handle the challenges and opportunities this year, how will you
respond to the one’s you are given next year?
3. Where should you be headed? Do you have specific personal
and professional goals? Are these goals specific and clearly defined? Are they
in writing? Do you have completion dates established?
For each of your top-10 accounts do you have specific objectives for sales,
margins, growth rates, product mix, etc? Have you made a commitment to read
sales books and to subscribe to sales publications? Have you analyzed your travel
time and the time you allocate to large, medium, and small accounts?
4. How will you achieve your objectives? You really can't
"do" a goal or an objective. What you can and must do is create a
written action plan detailing how specifically you plan to achieve the goals
you outlined when considering question three.
For example, if your goal is to increase your sales by 6.5% in your largest
account, how specifically will you do it? How many “how’s”
will it take to achieve your goal?
Your goals define (what you want to achieve) and your strategies define (how
specifically you’ll do it.) Without proper linkage between goals and strategies,
your goals begin to look like dreams.
And in time you end up being a daydreamer instead of a goal achiever.
5. What are the specific details involved? The details referred
to are the who, what, where, why, when, which, and how as they relate to initiating
and implementing your strategies. Ben Franklin once said, "Small leaks
can sink big ships." In sales, minor adjustments often create big impacts.
When it comes to personal selling never forget that little things mean everything
to your selling success.
6. What should you measure? Always measure what matters most.
One of my favorite old sayings is "What gets measured gets done."
To keep you on your stated course (objectives) how will you measure your progress?
What key elements of success should your review monthly? Personal growth and
development are often the result of careful measurement and evaluation.
The difference between first-place and second place is often a very narrow
margin. It's time for a tune-up if you're serious about making this year's 4th
quarter your best 4th quarter ever.
These questions can make a significant contribution to your selling results,
but only if you invest the time to ask them them. The favorite day of the week
for procrastinators is tomorrow.
Action-oriented people, the real doers in life, recognize, if you focus your
energy on today, tomorrow takes care of itself. The future is yours to live
one-day at a time. The shape of your future personal selling success depends
on the foundation of your plan.
Are you planning your future today or waiting for tomorrow to do it? It's a
clear choice and it's all yours.
The choices you make today will determine the personal selling success you
Right now, if you want to exceed your fourth quarter numbers, an intelligent
choice would be to take a close look at my NEW Sales Manual, "57
Sales Tips To Reinvent And Distinguish Yourself From Your Competition."