This phrase caught my eye a few weeks ago when I saw it as a headline for an article on the U.S. debt. I began to wonder if there was a message here for the sales community. Sure enough, there is..Voila, my next article! The original article addresses the realization that our elected officials are going to have to come to terms with the fiscal issues over the mounting federal debt. So too does a salesperson have to address the issue of a mounting quota. The successful ones are those that plan for the triumphant climb to the top of Quota Mountain. Indeed, if you cannot climb you cannot be successful.
For those that are on a different fiscal calendar than others, that’s ok as the same advice applies here as well. Now that we are into the 2nd (calendar) quarter I ask: “How was your first quarter?” Good, great? Ok, maybe you don’t need to read the rest of this article! If not, or the quarter just doesn’t seem to be getting enough steam to roll into the end of the year, maybe I can help.
Let’s back up to last year…Early 4th quarter to be exact. Did you do any planning for this year?
This is the first part I call Shoulda!
While I don’t like to dwell on things we can’t change, that doesn’t mean we cannot analyze for a better next quarter. Keep in mind the goal is to build for the end. Remember Quota Mountain? That’s the objective. This is the time a lot of junior and some senior sales people as well, realize that hindsight is 20/20. Here is some advice to keep from looking back over your shoulder.
- Plan every step of your next move. Plan for what might not happen rather than what will.
- Keep progress notes and use what works.
- Look to your sales organization and the management to see what they expect you to use as best practices.
I like to take 5 top clients from the prior year and use the strategy that worked with them to align myself to the current list of clients. This gives you a running head-start and allows you to change your tactics as needed.
The second part I call Coulda!
This part can also be considered a “looking over the shoulder” move. If you lost a deal, the first thing one tends to say is “I coulda done that!”. If you have said this, then I have one question for you: “Why didn’t you?” Do not get into the mode of never wanting to take a chance if the decision is based on sound advice or information.
Strategically, you have to outsell you competition. It is not about what your widget does; it is about how that widget can solve a business roadblock. Ask yourself this, “How important is my product to the strategy of the company I’m trying to sell to?” Can you answer this? No? Go match your pitch to the company’s goals.
Finally, the third part of this is what I call Gotta!
If you have arrived at the end of the year still doing the two parts above, Should & Coulda, you will undoubtedly fall into this third part. The pressure in making your number is going to be intense and unless you are skilled at pulling a rabbit out of the hat, your chances of year-end success is minimal at best. Panic is going to bear down with the words “I Gotta make my numbers!” There isn’t much I can offer as advice at this point other than to say, “Don’t wind up here– “
I leave you with this quote from Erma Bombeck. Apply it every day to your life as a salesperson. It will yield awesome results!
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
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