For You – Effectiveness
There is one area that is of key importance to a salesperson that I have not addressed in this eBook and that is self organization and personal productivity.
I cannot stress enough that all the professional skills in the world will fail if you cannot execute at the level of turning up on time, being prepared, having done your assignment (prepare proposal / presentation).
If this eBook is well received I will write a companion book with the working title of “Effectiveness for Salespeople”. In the mean time – look through the Self Help shelves of your local bookshop.
The basics are simple:
Have a Purpose
Have a reason that you are doing this. For most people this starts out as a survival issue, I need a job to pay the rent and support myself, but in the long run you need to get higher up the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Once most people have risen above the survival layer, the most powerful motivators are becoming first competent and then good at their chosen career path. Wherever you are today, you need to realize that unless you can get to a point where your progress as a sales professional raises your self esteem within some twelve months of starting out as a salesperson, you should review whether you are doing something that you should spend the rest of your working career doing. For most people the next level of motivation is to have control over their work, rather than being controlled by their work. The assembly line worker is a slave to the line. He has to perform the task he is assigned as often as the line requires for as long as he is on the line. The salesman, once he has achieved a level of competence is far more independent. He should be out of the office frequently (I have never managed to persuade 8-10 customers per week to come to my office; you have to go to his.) Further a salesperson is fundamentally judged on what he delivers, not his activity. If you are 120% of annual quota and it is a nice day, go play golf. As a sales manager I never objected.
Have a Plan
Set yourself clear, quantifiable objectives and give yourself a deadline. It may initially be “make a minimum of eight face to face every week in February” or later it may be “save a million dollars from saving and investment over the next five years”. I do not mean “get better, some time soon”. String several objectives together that are clear, quantifiable and timebound and you have a plan. Write the plan down. Read it every week (or day). There was a long term study of Harvard Business School Graduates that tried to identify success drivers. The only thing that correlated with life success was that the successful graduates had a written plan. Keeping your commitments to yourself also builds confidence and self esteem, themselves contributors to your success.
Have a Lifestyle that allows you to be Productive
I am sorry if this advice is new information to you, but being a sales professional is too competitive and too challenging for you to spend all night on sex, and drugs, and rock and roll. The young and the strong may be able to fit one or two days of this at the weekend, but I have rarely seen a great salesman who did not consistently put in 9 hours a day, and nine hours that overlapped with the 9 To 5 hours that executives work. The high impact work that a salesperson does, meetings and presentations, are done face to face and you have to look healthy and full of energy.
Plan Your Time on a Weekly Basis
Depending on your role & responsibilities (new business, major account management) and the size of your territory the time allocation may vary, but you can assume that you need:-
- Business Development time – 20%
- Opportunity Management Time – 40% (meetings / proposal and correspondence)
- Administration & Review Time with Manager – 20%
- Reactive Time – “Events” will happen you need time allocated to deal with them
So which day (or which two half days) will you set aside to do your telephone calls; when are you going to write that proposal; when will you do the 8-10 calls a week with customers?
If you do not plan your week it will just pass and none of your objectives will be achieved.
Set Yourself Performance Targets
Service Level Agreements – make sure you set yourself standards to live up to. All emails read within 24 hours. All phone calls returned within two hours. Work them out for yourself and ask your customers if your responsiveness is good / average / bad compared to your competitors and adjust to the feedback you receive. I personally find it unacceptable to go home Friday with a major piece of work not done. I would much rather work until 10:00pm on Wednesday or Thursday than go home on Friday with work hanging over me. (I have a poor track record of working at the weekend). Get to know your work patterns (like you cannot work at the weekends and can work late week days) and adjust your workplan accordingly.