You and your boss have had “the talk.” You are a valuable member of the team. You have been selling for your company for 5 years but your numbers have fallen. Not only are you not performing compared to past levels, but you’re hovering near the bottom of the sales team. What do you do? Do you find a new job? Is it time to re-invent yourself?
The answer to these questions are different for everyone. The first question you should answer is, are you in the right job, as well as if sales is still the right career for you. Sales may have been something you were passionate about for a time, but other interests have taken priority. Be honest here – it’s okay.
If you still love to sell – great! Before we look at the data side, let’s ensure your head is on straight. Many veteran salespeople think they know it all and stop striving to learn and improve. This mindset is dangerous. Shortcuts are taken and the mind is not open to a new challenge. In sales, we need to stretch ourselves often.
A good comparison is when a new sales person starts. They follow the basics. They’ll spend time qualifying their customer and learning as much about them as they can. They figure out the pain points for that customer and present their product or solution in a way that makes sense for the customer. These simple steps, with no shortcuts, helps them close the sale.
An ego-driven veteran may start taking short cut because “they’ve heard it all before.” They “know” what this or that prospect is going to say and what they “need.” In reality they have no idea – no one does – not until the basics are covered. Instead, they end up pitching the product in a way that doesn’t provide the same value. They waste opportunities and lose sales.
You might be in this position. If so, it’s time for some humility. Jim Collins, one of the brightest minds in business, notes that humility is the X Factor in success (see short video below). You want to be great – be humble. Jesus taught the same thing – he was pretty smart too. Accept that you’re ego and pride have been running the show too long, and get back to the basics. There are no shortcuts in sales. The basics always apply. There is only the right way to do things and a better way to do things – there is no easier way to do things – no shortcuts.
After we have a good long look at ourselves, we need to do a deep dive into the data. Obviously your sales numbers are off, but what about your close rate, your average selling price, your time to close, or your new business volume? Drilling into these areas can help identify what needs improving. And since you have been in your job long enough you can actually compare yourself against yourself and see where and when you have fallen off.
Armed with data and a desire to improve, you can then come up with a plan to improve your sales.
Keep selling, and let us know your thoughts.