I write a lot about sales, and in particular its importance to any company.
Yes, I know that everybody at a company is important, but without revenues you don’t have a company.
Which brings me to the point of today’s blog entry … salespeople are successful or not, based on their production.
It may seem like an oversimplification, but ultimately every salesperson needs to be generating “at least” enough revenue to cover the cost associated with their responsibility … otherwise the company is operating at a loss. Don’t delude yourself that operating below acceptable levels is a long term career strategy.
The “ya buts” …
1. Investment. When you are building a new line of business, adding a new geography, client or industry sector a company will make an investment to build that business.
However … it will not be an indefinite investment and if the numbers don’t come then the salesperson is under scrutiny.
2. The relationships. Many salespeople will spend a large amount of their time with a very few client contacts, “because of our deep relationships”. This is a fact and can be very useful to building long term business or managing a long term client relationship. (Perhaps spending just a little less time with those few people and extending the relationships would pay dividends?)
However … if the relationships don’t translate into positive cash flow at some point the salesperson is under scrutiny. AND relationships change, people move etc.
3. The history. Salespeople will go through slumps, they might be self induced through poor work habits (complacence) or the effect of market conditions. Theory suggests that if a salesperson has been able to achieve success previously then they should be able to get there again.
However … companies need to be profitable, and while past successes are appreciated and rewarded, sales is very much a “what have you done for me today” kind of business. That is necessity, because without that revenue coming in the company bleeds red ink!
So what does this all mean for the professional salesperson?
Rule #1. You can NEVER coast. Sure, celebrate those wins when you can … but climb right back in the saddle and start hustling because things change fast.
Rule #2. You need to know and understand the numbers. Understand your quotas (targets) and what they means to you.
- Where is it going to come from?
- How many orders do you need to receive, to meet and exceed your quota?
- What level of effort is needed?
- How many people do you need to build relationships with so that you can generate the right activity levels?
- What happens if you lose a client? How do you replace them?
- Where is your growth coming from into the future?
Rule #3. You need to keep investing in yourself. The world is changing. Buyers are different. Competition is different. Your offerings are changing. The tools at your disposal are changing. What worked yesterday will not work tomorrow.
Here is a resource for you, in one place TEN BLOG ENTRIES that will help you to be a better salesperson. Make this (a) (hopefully) an addition to your self development plans or (b) at a minimum the starting point for investing in yourself!
Rule#4. The numbers are NOT everything … so keep your feet on the ground! This might seem contrarian, but just because you are producing does not mean you operate as you wish. Good salespeople are cut a lot of slack but there ARE times when the pain associated with a producing salesperson outweighs their production. When their impact on the other employees and/or management causes too much pain. When they undermine management objectives. When they deliberately flaunt company rules. When they feel they are “untouchable”. When they cause issues with clients. Don’t let your success go to your head!
A successful sales career can be an end unto itself, providing a good income for life, or it can be a stepping stone into management and executive roles. I believe that the sales career is one of the most challenging, but also the most rewarding careers … just do it right!
Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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