There are times when we have to stop and make sure that our actions or words have not caused the pendulum to swing too far. Too much of anything can take away from or completely defeat what we are trying to achieve. And so it is with execution, one of my favourite words, and the core success factor in sales. Many who execute imperfectly have greater success than those who wait for the perfect moment and ways of doing something.
Nike was right when they said just do it! But you should do it for a reason and you should do it with purpose and in a deliberate way.
Acting for the sake of acting is not the goal, making busy work for appearance sake is just that, not effective selling. It reminds of a T-shirt I saw in Florida, it read, “Quick, look busy, Jesus is coming.” Breaking a sweat trying to look busy just because your VP is in town is not what we’re talking about. Acting deliberately means knowing why you would do something, and as importantly, why you shouldn’t do something just because you can.
Here are a couple of examples. One company which sells a fairly straightforward product, all over the phone. 65% of the sales are closed on the second call, another 20% on the third call, a further 10% on the fourth call, and the remaining close on fifth call or beyond. Very diligently this team would make multiple calls to prospects; six, seven, sometimes eight calls, all encouraged by senior management, we’ve all heard the various clichés that drive this kind of behavior. Rather than being encouraged to move on after the fourth call, they were challenged not to give up.
Another company, selling a more upscale consulting service, was slightly ahead, they had actually validated that their sale are routinely about 60 days, and on average happen in four meetings. What they were not good at is a) understanding if four was the right number of meetings; b) the critical milestones that have to be achieved in each meeting to achieve those milestones. When I interviewed their “best” rep, he agreed that the 60 day four meeting sale was correct; when I asked “What are you looking to do in your first meeting?” He replied “close the deal”. “OK, so why go back four times, why not just close the deal the first time, do they have great coffee?” He pointed out the obvious, there had to be certain things in place before the deal could be won. No doubt, but what were these things, what was the sequence that these things had to take place in, were there some that were pre-requisites to others, were some gateways, others roadblocks, etc. These things were not mapped out.
I guess it is more accurate to say that their buyers tend to buy after 60 days of meeting after having vetted the rep four times, because based on the above it did not sound that there was much selling going on, more like waiting for orders.
This is not as uncommon as you think; people have a general idea, but not specific steps and measures. Beyond revenue, the biggest cost to this half blind approach, is time, the non-renewable resource. Oddly enough when I ask why they don’t map things in greater detail, I am told it takes time. The very thing they are wasting in not knowing why they do it that way.