The Eagle Blog

How Salespeople Eat An Elephant

Sales is a process not an eventMost people will have heard the “eating the elephant metaphor“:

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time.

The metaphor is applied to any large problem… you break it down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish, one task at a time towards the bigger goal.

This metaphor applies nicely to the sales role because very often the goal for a salesperson will seem big. It might be “meeting a large quota”, or “establishing a territory”, or “getting new accounts”.

Those goals are specific, yet vague. They will have measurable metrics attached to them, but the roadmap for how to get there is often “hazy”. To the salesperson it might seem like “eating an elephant”. They may not know how to start, how to organize themselves or how to put together a plan for success.

Keeping with the metaphor, break the bigger problem down into “bite sized” pieces.

“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Oprah Winfrey

If the problem is to meet a sales quota:

  1. List the clients that currently generate revenue for the company.
  2. Identify the probably revenue generation from those clients in the coming year.
  3. Identify the gap.
  4. Identify past clients that could fill the gap, or part of the gap. Estimate what revenue could be generated from those clients.
  5. Your goal will be the sales quota PLUS some percentage, to allow for slippage. This might be 20%.
  6. If you are still short of your sales quota * 1.2 then identify new clients (based on old relationships, known opportunities, referrals etc.) to fill the gap.
  7. Now identify all known contacts inside all of those clients and determine how often you need to meet with them.
  8. Focus your efforts commensurate with your expected return. If you expect your largest client to generate 40% of your target quota, then spend 40% of your time with them.
  9. For each client you will need an account strategy. This will include messages, competitive information, call plans, revenue targets.
  10. You will need to execute your strategies for each client, using great time management techniques… utilizing company resources as needed, calling on multiple people each visit, keeping focused on the goal.
  11. You will checkpoint yourself at a minimum of weekly (I suggest Friday afternoons). Your checkpoint will involve ensuring you are on target with your execution; changing up prospect clients if needed; readjusting revenue targets as necessary and generally re-setting your overall plan.
  12. Monday you get back at executing against your revised plan.

“We can no more afford to spend major time on minor things than we can to spend minor time on major things.” – Jim Rohn

It does not have to be complicated.

It does mean being organized.

The method benefits from good time management skills… To Do lists, calendar usage, priority setting.

Elephants are there to be eaten, and anyone can do it. It just needs to be done in a way that you can manage. One bite at a time!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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