Sales is Not a Numbers Game

If you’ve worked in sales- especially business to business sales- for more than 5 minutes, you likely know all about big, cold calling/email campaigns.

If you haven’t- it usually goes something like this:

  • Someone buys a list of contact information.
  • The list gets handed off to a salesperson, who is supposed to turn those leads into money.
  • The salesperson sends out barrage after barrage of cold calls, emails, LinkedIn requests, whitepapers, etc.
  • The response rate is dismal, say 1 in 50 (if the sales team is motivated and talented).  With a target of say, 500 contacts per week- you’re looking at a best case scenario of 10 responses per week.  Of those 10, the best sales teams will probably get a sale out of 1, maybe 2 respondents.

1 sale per week, 500 cold calls. That’s 0.2%.

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Sound familiar?

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How to Develop a Personal Sales Strategy

As discussed in previous posts, Sales Departments are at their best when each salesperson develops a sales strategy based on personal strengths.  In this post, I want to discuss how to do this with self-evaluation, external skills analysis, and critical business thinking.  The goal of this plan is to use the traits and skills that are second-nature to you as your primary sales weapons.  You don’t want sales to be hard.  You want it to be as easy and painless as possible so you can do it a million times without getting tired.

First- Self Evaluation.  The best way I’ve been able to to this is by making a resume.  As a disclaimer before you get started- this is something you should probably do at home- or you might frighten your boss.

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Core Sales Skills

In my last post, I described how sales is basically playing to your strengths.  You use the skills you have to make the best environment for your targets to buy.  In this post, I want to concentrate on defining some core skills almost every salesperson will need to develop to take their success to higher levels.  This is about going from good, to great.

First- some definitions.  By Core Sales Skills, I mean learn-able traits and abilities that will help you to improve your craft in any sales role you endeavor to take.  These things help across the board, no matter what you’re selling, to whom, or by what process.

  1. Professionalism.

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What is Sales?

A lot of people have a lot of things to say about what sales is.  Some say it’s turning potential energy into kinetic- prospects into buyers.  Some say it’s all about relationships.  Others say it’s about understanding and presenting value.  Ask any salesperson, they’ll tell you something different.

I did a bit of research (I Googled “sales job description”) and came up with a few things you will be expected to master in a sales role:

  • Value definition and propositioning
  • Brand positioning
  • Handling objections
  • Relationship building/management
  • Prospecting and Lead qualification
  • Internal business processes
  • Purchasing
  • Negotiation and contracts
  • External business processes
  • Politics
  • Brand representation
  • Closing/driving consistent increases
  • Persuasive writing
  • Public speaking/debate
  • Presentations
  • Photographic memory/eye for detail
  • Organized/self starter
  • Record keeping
  • Working with teams/cross functionally
  • Technology use
  • etc, etc, etc.

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So, You Want to Be a Salesperson.

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Liar.  Nobody wants to be a salesperson.  Sure, we love the money, or the chase, or the competition, and some of us even love the power- but no one wants to be a salesperson.

Being in sales is awful.  You’ll spend endless hours doing repetitive/mindless tasks, listening to complaint after complaint, and you’ll get rejected more than the freshman chess club president on prom night (sorry, chess club guy).

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