You may not yet have made your New Year’s Resolutions. If you want your next year to be your best sales year ever, you are going to need to resolve to do something different. Maybe many somethings. The following list of some of the most important sales-specific resolutions will provide you with eight ideas that will improve your results in the first year of the next decade.
- Resolve to improve in your craft, your chosen profession. There are people with sales titles who believe that “sales” is their job. They don’t think of selling as a craft, a skill they need to develop, and one they should continually refine and improve over time. Resolve to read books on sales, read blogs on selling, take courses, attend conferences, and watch YouTube videos. If you want 2020 to better than 2019, there is no better place to start with than the single person responsible for making it so. If you want a primer on becoming someone worth buying from, start with The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need.
- Resolve to make your goals your own. You are responsible for meeting your goals, making your number, or hitting your quota. However you might describe that requirement, the number you are trying to achieve, your leadership team assigned it to you. It is essential that you reach your assigned goal, but that goal shouldn’t be your goal if you want more for yourself. It’s disappointing to see salespeople who make thirty outbound attempts a day because it is required, something that might take an hour due to the dominance of voice mail. You are capable of more, and you can want more for yourself and your people. Your effort will improve when you chase your own goal and own your outcomes.
- Resolve to plan your week on Sunday, deciding what you will accomplish before the week starts. There aren’t too many things more debilitating when it comes to producing results than not starting your Monday morning without a solid plan for your week. Without firm intentions and plans, you allow yourself to start the week in a reactive mode instead of proactive and focused. Spending an hour on Sunday preparing for the week eliminates the chances you find yourself passively waiting for the world to make demands of you and wasting time. If Sunday doesn’t work for you, make your plan for the next week before you stop working on Friday.
- Resolve to spend as much time as is necessary to create the new opportunities you need to succeed in the coming year. If there is one universal area salespeople and their companies underinvest, it is opportunity creation. Prospecting, gaining the commitment for time, has always been one of the more challenging outcomes to obtain. It is also an outcome that doesn’t allow one to make up for lost time later, no matter how hard they try. It isn’t possible to close deals in March for opportunities that you would have had to create in January. Spend as much time as is necessary to create the opportunities you need to reach your goals.
- Resolve to improve your sales approach, starting with a theory as to why your dream client should change and helping them make sense of their world. Every once in a while, I wonder why it takes so long for people to change their sales approach. We still haven’t adopted a lot of what Rackham wrote in the late 1980s, nor have we integrated Hanan’s ideas on consultative selling, including the idea you are supposed to be helping your client get better results. You create no value for your prospective client when you show up and talk about yourself and your company. You have to help them better understand why they are struggling and what they might do to perform better. Your first meeting is going to establish you as either a value creator or a time-waster. For help with developing a theory, see Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition.
- Resolve to prepare for meetings to ensure that every interaction with your prospective client creates value for them and a preference to work with you. When your dream client gives you their time, you are receiving a gift. You show your gratitude for this gift by preparing for the meeting, ensuring that you create value for the contacts who have given you their time, time they can never reclaim. Do your homework before you show up at the meeting. When you do show up, have a strong agenda, a theory about their world, questions you need them to answer, and answers for the questions you expect. Not only will preparing improve your sales meetings, they’ll also improve the outcome of creating a preference to work with you.
- Resolve to become a subject matter expert by gaining the business acumen and situational knowledge necessary for providing competent counsel. You can throw around words like “consultative” and “trusted advisor” without a full understanding or commitment to what those words require of you. The term “consultative” means that you provide advice about the decisions your clients make. It means you provide counsel. The moniker “advisor” indicates a role one plays in a relationship. You cannot be consultative or a trusted advisor if you are not a subject matter expert and lack the situational knowledge that would allow you to provide advice. I don’t make predictions on what will change in sales from one year to the next, but I do pay attention to the trends. If there is one trend that I am sure of, it is that business acumen and situational knowledge is going to continue to grow in importance.
- Resolve to control the process (the sales conversation) by helping your clients make and keep the commitments vital to producing the better results they need. One of the ways you lose deals is by allowing your clients to avoid specific conversations and commitments. One way to think about selling well is to sell the first meeting, sell the process, and then sell your solution. That’s about as good of a rule of thumb as you might need. If you want to serve your prospective clients, help them with their process by sharing with them all the things they need to do to make a good decision. For more on this idea, see The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales.
If this list seems long, and if some of these resolutions seem difficult, know that you have the whole year to work on improving, with each helping to enable the others. All of these resolutions are what is necessary to sell effectively now, and they should top your agenda in 2020.
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