Press "Enter" to skip to content

Sales – A Wake Up Call: Part 4a



For Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I covered selling in a down economy and tips for the bosses and the marketers.

Here's my advice to sales people.

Ok all you sales types, gather round and listen. Grab a "Cup of Joe" and pay attention.

The above illustration is the first thing we have to get over.

What do you see?

Most folks – if not everybody – sees a "black dot."

Well, that is an example of why things aren't working as well as they should for you. That black dot represents everything that is wrong right now. The bad coffee, the idiot Boss, the way they treat you, the shitty leads, the bad sales territory, the commission structure, the fact you got up this morning, tore a hole in your pants, spilled juice on your tie and the cat peed on you. All that stuff!

It goes on and on, doesn't it. This is sadly the most critical issue you face – it is called fear. It masks itself in all sorts of manifestations – mostly us wanting to have something else to blame for our failures.

Well, I believe that the first thing to do is look at the rest of that illustration. I call the technique "eliminating Black Dot days".  There will always be something wrong – there will always be a gripe. But by focusing on these things you miss the point. Look at the big picture – the white space which represents everything that is right.

 Okay, here is the list of "do's" and "don'ts" for the sales types:

1. Do a projection formula for reliable, real, achievable results – don’t lie.

  • You need a formula. It has to be real. Start with what you want to make this year. Then figure out just how many sales that would have to be and base the net on what you get from each sale. Then calculate how many sales presentations you have to make to get the sales. Then the sales calls to get the sales presentations and then finally the number of sales cold calls. This is called turning Suspects into Prospects, into Sales and then repeat Sales.
  • You will need to track honestly exactly how you measure up. Number of cold calls that end up in sales is a sales ratio.

2. Get a sales system that can be tracked, adjusted and monitored – and don’t lie.

  • Your system must be solid, real and one that can be tracked and adjusted.
  • Track the number of suspects that you need to turn into prospects (whether by sales calls/phone calls or letters) and then the number you need to turn into presentations or sales visits. And then track the number of conversions from prospects to sales. You then can track repeat sales. Look at the numbers, do some initial percentage calculations (i.e. 100 suspects = 40 prospects = 20 presentations = 6 closed sales).
  • Then, if you have to, modify any and all factors. A better presentation, more work on your phone techniques, more suspects, better initial sales contacts, better “CLOSING” tactics or better tracking. All are flexible! All can be improved. And should be!

3. Never talk to other sales folks. Full stop. They lie.

  • The absolute worst thing you can do is talk to other sales folks. They will suck the life out of you like a pack of vampires. Avoid hanging with other sales types – especially where you work or at the very least in your industry. You run the risk of drinking the poisoned sales Kool-Aid.
  • You are the one that has the secret of eliminating the "Black Dot" – not them. Not only does this give you an edge, it makes you far more powerful.

4. Put a little "Post-It" note on you phone and on your computer. All it says is “Is what I am doing making me money?”

  • If the answer is no? Hang up.
  • Sadly sales folks are easily distracted. Selling is hard work and when we are faced with rejection day-in and day-out, taking advantage of distractions is natural and welcomed. It is, however, the professional sales person who knows that rejection is all part of the gig! In fact I look forward to the 6th and 7th rejection I get in a row – I KNOW  #s 8 – #10 will be SALES!

5. Read. Read lots. Read trade mags, newspapers, online, journals press releases. Anything you can get your hands on.

  • I personally believe there is a gold mine in reading. You hear about mergers, company take-overs. New plants, new divisions, new promotions and new ideas. I get my best sales strategies based on what is going around me in MY industry. Over the years I have developed a pattern for reading – Company notices, promotions, listed tenders and new product intros.

6. 85% of the sale happens in preparation. Do your damn homework!

  • As above – use the market knowledge to formulate your plan. I have used the SPIN selling technique of Neil Rackham for years – Situation, Problem, Implication and Needs payoff.
  • Going in cold simple, asking “Any today Ma’am?” is so old, so tired and doesn't work. Develop a nose for where you and your product could fit in. And become valuable!
  • Don’t forget true selling is where YOU surprise THEM! So do it. Surprise them with your knowledge of their issues and challenges. And a point worth knowing: companies hate hearing they have a PROBLEM you want to solve. They inevitably have “headaches” and “challenges.” You can become a valued supplier when you can show them how you and your company can solve one or more of these issues.

7. Believe and live your system.

  • Don’t get caught up in the day to day. Selling is all about numbers. Believe in it. It is about the long haul!

8. Systems don’t have to be elaborate, complex or involved to work. They just have to work.

  • All you need is a way to track – pencil and paper will work. You don’t need a 20k SAP or Oracle software package to track your calls, turned into presentations turned into follow-ups into sales!

9. Drop anything you are doing that does not end up in the sale.

  • We all love to feel important and vital. There are just way too many folks out there that will gladly take your time and bleed you dry. Is there a deal anywhere in this meeting, phone call or email? Or is it simply someone wanting "sumthin fer nuthin".  You are there to hunt something down, kill it and eat! Don't waste your time.

Stay tuned for the last of my advice to the sales folks, coming soon!


  1. Pete
    I really agree with these comments. Fear is on of the biggest issues that we all need to overcome.
    One thing that I do though is to develop a hit list of the dozen or so companies that I want to be customers. I then forumlate a mini plan on how to convert and hold on to these customers.

  2. Greg Woodley
    Greg Woodley March 8, 2009

    Hey Pete,
    like and agree with 5.,6, 7, and 8. The trouble with dropping all the non-paying stuff is sales managers and accountants that want to keep you writing reports all day and then ask why you haven’t made more sales calls.

Comments are closed.