Hans Hansson | October 3, 2017
If you are a seasoned sales professional, you probably have reached what I call your “comfort zone.” You’ve established a way of doing your business right or wrong that works for you…or does it?
There is an old rule in sales– 80 percent of the fish are caught by 20 percent of the fisherman. The question is: are you in the 20 percent that catch or the 80 percent that go home empty-handed?
By Staying Comfortable, You’re Settling.
Being comfortable breeds mediocrity. A state of comfort will not motivate you to make changes. You may not be happy in your current financial situation, but you are comfortable enough to complain and do nothing about it. You know you need to make a change, but unless your situation gets dramatically worse– you won’t. And that’s settling for less than average.
Without Challenges, You Won’t Grow.
Your comfort zone does not work in the world of pain; it works in the world of pleasure. You feel comfortable even if you question whether you can be better because the comfort zone is the safe zone. If we aren’t challenging ourselves, we will stay complacent and plateau in our skillset as we watch our peers surpass us.
Don’t Wait for Outside Pressure
The best salesperson I have ever worked with was when I was in the foodservice industry. This salesman could sell like no other I had ever met then, or now. However, he clearly had personal issues that created a very odd way of selling. Matt would secure sale after sale and then go dark. When I mean dark, I mean that he would disappear off the grid. This was before cell phones, so his landline was all we had to communicate.
I would worry that something had happened to him so I would often stop by his house and ring his bell, only to find him in his pajamas in the middle of the day. His famous line was, “I put my bed sheets over my head again.” The only time he would remove that bed sheet was when he started to run out of money and was running behind on bills. At which point, it was like a fire under him to go out selling again. Pain caused need, which caused desire, and he became a selling machine. He was confident, organized, service-oriented, and he was the best salesperson for that brief moment in time when he found himself under serious pressure and pain.
Your Potential Outweighs the Risk
At Starboard, I make it a priority to train our agents and help them find ways to be organized, more focused, and improve their sales results. I’ve seen a lot of positive feedback, but only to see little or no change.
Harness your fear of the unknown and set out for change. Yes, things could go wrong– but you can always go back to what you know. Take a chance – because you haven’t reached your full potential.Photo Credit: aronbaker2 Flickr via Compfight cc
Hans Hansson | September 11, 2017
For the sales professionals who established goals at the beginning of the year, we now have just four months remaining to meet our original goals. In sales, September is the best month to close deals, particularly in commercial real estate when businesses are looking to move offices before the end of the year.
If you work for a larger corporate firm, you are certainly on a sales goal plan. If you are an independent salesperson, you either created a plan or you didn’t. Either way, all salespeople have a number in mind at the beginning of the year that they are expecting to hit.
Review Your Plan
This month, you need to look at your business plan and analyze where you are at. Are you at, above, or below your goal? If you have not met your goal, do you have enough in the business pipeline until the end the year to hit your goal? If you are below your goal, how far below are you and what will it take in the next four months for you to make or exceed your goals?
When It’s Time to Reevaluate
If you are behind your goal by a fair amount, a full review of your business plan is in order. You will need to review what has worked thus far and what hasn’t. If certain pillars of your business have worked, then what can you do to expand those efforts? Then, you need to review what hasn’t worked. It’s important to understand why production hasn’t occurred and then ask yourself how you can improve your activity in these pillars to generate deals. You may find that it’s best to concentrate on the pillars of business that are working or perhaps look into new avenues to develop business.
If the decision is to look at new ways to do business, the best next step is to study other salespeople that work those new pillars to see how they make it successful.
Room for Improvement
Finally, you need to access your daily time management activities. Are you properly organized each day? Are you organizing your day the night before? If not, you should start. Planning the night before will give you a solid start to a new day. Plan who you are going to cold call and how you are going to secure new business that day or week.
Next, schedule in the time it will take each day for you to work on new business development. It’s very easy to work on existing business that could eat up most of your day, but it’s crucial to set aside time for new business for long term success.
Adequate salespeople like to work on existing business, but great salespeople know they must keep the pipeline filled at all times. Closing deals without a pipeline for future business is like starting all over again each time a deal is done. If you are not meeting your goals, you still have time to turn it around, but the clock is ticking!
Hans Hansson | August 22, 2017
Lead generation through social media has become the new “norm.” Data analytics now enables customers to be notified of products and services they should consider while shopping in stores. If you walked into a car dealership, another dealership may advertise to you when you leave the premises across almost every medium available– Facebook, LinkedIn, banner ads, app push notifications, etc. Restaurant where you recently dined will advertise to you shortly after on visiting websites.
Sales has also been automated at almost every turn. But what does this mean for salespeople? Will technology completely replace the job of a salesperson? Sadly, I believe in some industries, this may be the case. Salespeople will be replaced not only by technology, but also by customer service personnel who can be paid far less than talented salespeople.
Yet, I still wonder– can an online ad really lead the end-user to the finish line of a sale without a human closer? Salespeople need to adapt to survive the advances in technology. They must understand today more than ever where their strengths lie as human beings and where robots fall short. Becoming a client’s trusted advisor will keep salespeople in the game. This is how we will maximize earnings potential. No matter what type of sales you may be in, applying your expertise and providing outstanding counsel to your client will outplay anything else.
The Power of Face Time
Taking time to meet with your clients in-person or at the least speaking to them consistently on the phone will also help achieve not only far better results short-term, but maintain strong relationships that you can count on for future deals. Although communication via email, text messages, and networking suffice, nothing beats having a conversation with your client face-to-face, or hearing the tone of their voice via phone.
When I first got started in the business, it was a requirement for us to make at least 50 connections a day in order to attract new business. Some required their salespeople to come back each day with at least 50 business cards. Others demanded that salespeople make at least 100 calls per day.
I recently hired two new sales agents who we are beginning to train. In the first week, I had them making phone calls to get comfortable with cold-calling. They both averaged about 35 calls a day with some success. Although calls are fewer, they are higher quality. Instead of “dialing for dollars,” each agent today takes time to study each person and their business before dialing out to a potential customer. They educate themselves on what their potential needs may be so that they can offer relevant services from the start.
In their second week of training, I selected specific streets in San Francisco and asked them to cold call each building tenant. I asked them to first study the building they were in, then study the current space and learn if the space is being properly utilized. Then I asked them to go in-person and present themselves to the tenants. The results of this training were amazing! Twenty percent of the time, the agents were not only able to speak to the office managers, but also the decision makers of the company. They were also able to learn more in-person about whether or not the company would need move soon, what their company size was, and their biggest needs in office space. The first day, they came back with two solid leads and the second day came back with four.
In another case, I had an agent that was texting back and forth to his client. His client was considering taking an offer he had just received ahead of getting the listing on his property. The offer was strong and my agent was asked for his opinion, even though he was not a part of the transaction deal she was considering. I had advised him strongly to go by and see her in-person instead of texting her. When he saw her in person, he was able to convince his client that it would be best to offer the property to the open market and see if they can secure a stronger offer, before accepting the first offer presented.
Personal conduct will beat social media. Maybe not all the time, but most of the time. Yes, it is important to utilize the technology and tools of today to improve our results. But it’s also important to note that sometimes “old school” techniques still work.Photo Credit: franchiseopportunitiesphotos Flickr via Compfight cc
Hans Hansson | July 10, 2017
Several years ago, I experienced my first case of age discrimination. My son and colleague invited me to assist him in a large sales presentation. This tech firm was looking to move about 100 people into new offices. As we sat waiting to make the presentation, a young woman came in by herself to start the meeting. My first question I asked her was, “Who will be the decision maker managing this move?”. She responded that she would be. My next question was about how long she had been with the firm, and she responded, “Three weeks.” I then asked her if she had ever moved an office before. She said, “No.”
At this stage, I knew I had to be very careful on how we delivered our presentation. I did not want to appear as though I was lecturing her on the market, much like a father would. Rather, I wanted to be perceived as her partner in the process and provide her with strategic direction based on our expertise. She indicated that she was looking for 10,000 square feet in total space at a price that was at least 20 percent below market. She also wanted an office in the most competitive blocks of San Francisco.
I tried to carefully explain to her the guidelines of how much space she would need for the number of employees they have and plan to have, as well as set expectations on the rent they should expect to pay. It did not take long before she began to ignore me and turned the whole conversation to my son (who was in his twenties at the time) to answer.
By the end of the meeting, we knew we didn’t win the business. My son looked at me as we were walking out and said, “Dad, you really blew that one.”
The prospect ended up hiring a rookie agent with no experience who took the amount of square footage I had recommended at a rent that was at-market rate in an area very different than what she was originally wanting.
As a “Baby Boomer” and much like any generation, we feel we know more than the previous generation and certainly question their way of doing things.
However, when we were younger, we also knew and respected that experience mattered. We looked up to people in the business, particularly in our own line of work who had achieved great success over their careers. We wanted to become just like them. There was respect and also trust in our older colleagues. We felt we could introduce things to improve the status quo.
In my eyes, I see today’s generation wanting to be disrupters, and blow up what we’ve been doing to start with an entirely new concept.
Starting out in my career, I was always trying to improve the situation and educate a potential client. Instead, this particular prospect was not looking to be educated. She was looking for someone to find exactly what she requested.
I’m sure the agent she had hired showed her spaces she was looking for, and his or her superiors at the firm decided to look into alternatives that better suited her needs.
In the end, I was wrong in not properly handling the situation. I should have realized my audience and showed her the spaces she was looking for, let her come to the conclusion that perhaps it wasn’t the best fit, and then direct her to alterative properties.
The challenge for salespeople today is that with all the data, product, and service information available at anyone’s finger tips––what are we going to do to continue to exist and be of value?
We as salespeople need to become the “trusted advisors.” We cannot rely strictly on information anymore. We need to take the information we have and create a strategy to survive. This is something, at least for now, that technology can’t do quite as well yet. The real question/challenge is––will the Millennial generation allow Baby Boomers to advise? Or will they just ignore us?
Hans Hansson | May 16, 2017
Watching the Golden State Warriors is a true testament to greatness. This team not only has individual star players, but an outstanding team overall with selflessness to share responsibilities on the court and ensure the team sustains their objective to win.
To achieve greatness in any competitive sport, you must perfect your skills, learn to work with others, concentrate on your goals and dig deep when things get tough so that you can find a way to get back on the winning track.
Sports championships are a lot like running a marathon. When the season starts, you and your team must learn how to pace yourself for the grueling games ahead, knowing that each game counts towards your eventual placement in the standings. It's important to remain consistent and challenge yourself every game to be as great as you can be.
In longer sport seasons, compliancy does set in at all levels from youth to professional sports. The ability to play lots of games with the same focus and energy throughout a season is extremely tough. Things happen. Athletes get tired, emotionally distraught from personal matters, or injured– which can take away the ability to remain "great."
Last year, Stephen Curry fell into the stands in an early playoff game and seemed to disappear as a factor throughout the remaining playoffs. News was that Stephen was fine, however his results were no longer there. Even the greatest fall from grace due to things often out of their control.
A successful sales career is also much like a long-distance marathon. The ultimate prize may not be a trophy, but it involves an everyday commitment to excellence to win their personal "brass ring." The sales people who have achieved success can easily fall victim to being too comfortable. They may allow age, exhaustion, or emotion to gradually drop their production level. To be a top salesman, time over time, year after year, requires a long view of addressing the tools and skillsets that not only you need to develop and maintain, but do so throughout one's career.
Great salespeople share all the characteristics of great sports figures. Champions of sales know that they are only as good as the last deal they closed. In basketball, players are only as good as their last basket. No one knows for sure when either will occur again. One accident or a missed step could end their careers quickly.
I had a chance to speak to Vida Blue former Oakland A and San Francisco Giant's great. I asked him if he saw parallels in his career as a pitcher with Tim Lincecum's career, who at the time was facing his last year with the Giants. Both had amazing fast balls that disappeared. Vida could learn how to pitch instead of just learning to throw and continued to succeed at a high level. Lincecum lost his fast ball lost in command and his baseball career ended.
Vida explained that his era was much different than Lincecum's. Vida was always one pitch away from an injury that could end his career, one young pitcher away from stealing his position as a starter. Also, salaries did not protect players who started to fade. If you were out, you were on the street usually with little financial resources. In Lincecum's era, the big paydays protected him from the exit door, at least for a while. Each team held hope for a recovery long after it was possible because they had such a financial investment in him. Lincecum's career lasted at least three years longer than it would have during Vida's time simply because of the costs to admit that Lincecum's career was over.
Sales Champions face the same struggles. Recently we interviewed one of the top salesperson in the country during the 80's and 90's. Now, very late in his career, things happened in his life that requires him to come up to "bat" one more time. His skillsets are still there, but severely reduced from his top-level clip. His worst performance now would still be better than most salespeople in his field, but he is no longer a sales champion.
He ran his long-distance marathon in sales and finished first. Now, he wants to start a new race but will be faced with many challenges that will make it hard for him to win again.
If all salespeople remember to pace themselves, monitor their results regularly, and continue to push themselves every day, they too can win their long-distance race.
Hans Hansson | April 11, 2017
"Time is money" sums up the concept of opportunity cost – because time is money. It means time is a valuable resource (because our time in this world is finite), therefore it's better to do things efficiently. Alternatively, spend time and effort on things that get the results you are looking for.
Starboard TCN recently moved offices across the street from the building we worked in for over 12 years. The buildings are very similar, yet still different in key ways. In the new building, I no longer need to cross the busy traffic on Market Street. Instead, I can walk from the underground exit to the building entrance. In our old office, I would typically stop to talk to the building security guard for and discuss the latest sports news. Now, I just enter my building and take a sharp left straight to the elevator.
My old elevator stopped virtually on every floor before I made it to my office on the fourteenth floor. My new elevator now has "express control" so I rarely share the elevator and I zip straight up to the sixteenth floor, without any stops. When I leave the building, instead of going around the block to enter the underground train station, I now have a direct path from the new building to the entrance. As a commercial real estate broker, I typically use the underground at least four times a day, so this new location is very convenient.
If you add up all the time I'm now saving just by moving to a new office location, it's about an hour a day. That's five hours a week, 20 hours a month, and over 260 hours in one year.
As a salesperson, particularly if you work on commission, it's crucial to figure out how much money you will need to make in an hour in order to hit your financial annual goal. Assuming you want to make $200,000 and you work 40 hours a week, you would have to earn $96.00 an hour in order to achieve that goal.
Before the office move, I was losing five hours a week, which means at the time I was really only working 35 hours a week. Using the same $200,000 annual goal, instead of needing to earn $96.00, I now need to earn $109.00 an hour to achieve my goal. However, if you continue to work towards $96.00 an hour, you would earn $175,000 instead of $200,000 – a loss of $25,000 in annual income.
What's really interesting to me is that it was not my intent to move our office in order to save time. But what if I studied the effect of time savings or loss of time to determine our move? As one person saving that amount of time in a firm of 20, what is the potential gain for the company if each of our agents were expected to make $200,000 annually and they each saved five hours a week?
If you study your daily routine, like my daily chat with the security guard, making personal calls, or checking social media during the day, you will likely find the precious time needed that could be added back in your work day, increasing efficiency and overall productivity. All of us, whether we are successful or not, should take note that one of the easiest ways to improve your production is to study your daily habits.
Write down all of the activities and note an average time for each. Then study these numbers and see what you can eliminate or change to become more efficient. You might just find a spare $25,000 at the end of the year.
Hans Hansson | March 13, 2017
In recent years, particularly in the past few weeks, there have been some impactful statements released involving humans being replaced by robots.
Elon Musk, the C.E.O. of Tesla and SpaceX, recently shared his prediction that artificial intelligence (AI) could turn "deadly" in the next decade, suggesting that we may be living inside a "computer simulation" while we lose our jobs to artificial intelligence.
The transformation is already taking place today. In the transportation industry for example, we are seeing a rise in self-driving cars-including the recent addition to Teslas. Automakers aren't the only ones setting the pace when it comes to developing driverless cars. Enterprises like Google, Apple, and Uber have also been working on their own models to compete in the market.
Although most jobs performed by humans are capable of being performed by robots... should they be? Just late last year, Uber was testing out one of their driverless vehicles in San Francisco and the car ran straight through a red light, almost hitting a pedestrian. Last month the first driverless "Formula One" car also raced and crashed.
So, should we as salespeople also be worried that one day we will be replaced by robots?
Today anyone can ask a question out loud to AI assistant technology such as an Alexa, Siri, or Google Home and find office space in San Francisco. These devices have the capability to also provide a detailed list of availabilities and more details, if you ask.
We can also inquire about rent comparisons, information on neighborhoods, or what services are available around a specific area. The technology listens, thinks, and responds with useful and accurate information.
Technology and robotics can solve and perform well in doing specific analytical tasks. But have we really reached a point in time where technology will completely replace human impulsiveness and emotion? In my opinion, that's still far from reality.
I can certainly see the day in which a driverless car will take a passenger from point A to point B, or even change your mind and go to points C and D. But how will this technology react should you decide to take a road not recommended and simply explore? These types of decisions are based not necessarily on information, but on human whim.
Even with the most sophisticated technology available, at the end of the day, a buyer would rather want to speak to a human, not a robot. Especially when that buyer is about to spend a chunk of his or her company's money, and consequently put their own job on the line. Rest assured that the buyer will want to talk with a human who can address not only their questions, but their concerns. A human salesperson can also offer custom solutions and will be able to negotiate deals on behalf of the client.
In addition, firms have traditionally structured their sales teams to sell a product or service, focusing their pitch heavily on the benefits and differentiating features. But with the unprecedented amount of information available online, the needs of the customer have changed. Most customers already do their research and know what they want before they seek a professional. By the time they come to us, they are looking for someone who can provide counsel.
There is a growing need for a "consultative sales approach" which involves strong market knowledge, research, asking the right questions, thoughtful listening, and problem-solving. A buyer needs to know that their emotions, passions, concerns, and frustrations are not only recognized, but actively being reviewed and addressed to move forward.
For now, only a human salesperson can provide truly customized and curated offerings. Consultative salespeople not only close deals, but they build relationships. And it's the relationships that ultimately affect the business' long term health.
Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana, and whatever comes next– don't count on replacing salespeople just yet.
Hans Hansson | February 9, 2017
The Strengths and Weakness of a Great Salesman
I was recently involved in a very complicated real estate deal that involved four top real estate agents. We all had to read and study various documents before we came together to discuss.
In our discussion, it was clear that all of us had scanned the various documents and picked up an understanding of parts of the document, but not all of it. All bullet points were read and discussed but the details were clearly not. In my opinion, this is exactly why good real estate attorneys are necessary, as they are trained to review such important details that real estate agents tend to overlook or misunderstand.
Real estate agents, like all great salespeople, have a certain skillset that sets them apart from the pack. However, it's important to understand their weaknesses as well.
Outstanding salespeople have the following strengths:
- Think quickly
- Abe to develop proposals and solutions "on their feet"
- Ability to multitask
- Have tremendous energy and come across as relatable and personable
- Are always "on the go"
- Never down on themselves
- Able to adapt in any situation
- Can make strangers their best friends
- Enjoy challenges that rely on quick decision-making
- Compete to win
Great salespeople also have the following weaknesses:
- Get anxious and unable to sit still
- Has a hard time paying close attention to details
- Can develop a plan, but often won't follow- through with execution
- Often won't dive too deep into a conversation, as great salespeople move on quickly between conversations
- Don't expect files to be perfect
- Not the most team-oriented and work better solo
- Can't take no for an answer, which can sometimes lead to tarnished relationships
In today's larger firms, individual sales efforts have been replaced by collaborative sales teams. Collaborative teams can mix and match strengths and weaknesses to create a more effective sales approach, while also allowing these firms to have better control over the client. However, organizations such as Salesforce, are beginning to understand that these teams fail in the same ways that individual top salespeople can perform.
Many companies don't provide professional sales training. And those that do, most of the time the training is incomplete, outdated, and/or focuses on the wrong things. That's why enterprises like Salesforce are working hard to partner with colleges and universities to incorporate sales training into classes. In the past, sales have never been a part of a college's curriculum. Schools have always regarded sales as a skill that wasn't "teachable" and therefore not a profession to educate. Yet, the top firms are asking for sales training because the employee pool lacks qualified candidates.
The fact is that the great salespeople were naturally gifted with the ability to sell. These skills can be enhanced through education, but the basic skills are built into salespeople from birth.
Those who "fall" into a sales position may be good at building strong relationships, but they also may lack the "sales DNA" – a skillset that supports successful sales outcomes. If you have salespeople, and you have repeatedly had to coach them on the same issues, it's more than likely sales DNA that is causing the problem, not a skill gap.
Corporate America wants to streamline sales efforts and has ignored the very nature of what great salespeople are all about. They have ignored a study of salespeople's strengths and weaknesses and have tried to change the way the sales process is performed.
All of us in sales and those that rely on sales must grasp each of their salespeople's strengths and weaknesses to create environments where each of us can excel. In today's world, we need great salespeople more than ever and with a pool of qualified candidates quickly declining, those who have the sales DNA can truly "knock it out of the park."
Hans Hansson | January 9, 2017
The moment that a stranger sees you, his or her brain makes millions of assumptions about who you are at the speed of light.
Are you friend or enemy? Do you have power and respect? Are you trustworthy or should you be avoided? These tiny and quick calculations are what build out a stranger's perception of you– all within the first seven seconds of seeing you.
In business interactions, particularly in sales, first impressions are imperative to one's success. While we can't stop strangers from making wrongful assumptions about us, we must know and understand that the human brain is hardwired this way and that there are decisions we can make to work in our favor.
An initial meeting with a potential client will be deemed successful or a fail based on the following criteria: eye contact, handshake, body language, the genuinity of your smile, facial expressions, what you say and more importantly, how you say it.
Within these seven seconds of interaction, your door for business will either swing wide open or slam shut. Yet, today face time as widely been replaced with impersonal emails, text messages, video-conferencing, and even instant messaging. How does one establish trust without ever seeing the individual you are selling to?
Trust achieved through written words is possible, but is far more difficult to do. In order to win one's trust entirely, you really need to show them your worth, which will require face-to-face interaction. Through written words, you can write a strong message to your potential client up front, which will help set the building blocks to earn trust. Your message will need to catch their attention and point to a pain or pleasure scenario that the client is familiar with. You can then follow-up with a proposition that will address a solution to their problem.
Attention spans continue to get smaller, so these actions will need to be accomplished in 111 words or less when reading your note, or the opportunity will be lost.
Building trust over the phone is done in a very similar process. Within the first seven seconds, you have to utter something intriguing that will keep your listener listening. Sales trainers often call this the "big fat statement." Not only what you say is important to keep the conversation going, but how you say it. Tone of voice is a big make or break in sales calls. Once you've got their attention, you will need to zero in on your sales pitch, which will create the pain or desire that the client is looking to learn more about to address their needs.
Another way to achieve trust comes from others selling who you are. If someone is respected and they refer another person there tends to be immediate trust, which is secured but needs to be maintained through action.
A salesperson's biggest reason for failure is that once trust is established, they fail to deliver on their promises or ensure that their client is still happy with the service. Some people will give second chances if the effort to perform was there, but if promises were made and not followed through– trust evaporates.
There are four key components to building long-lasting trust between yourself and your client:
The truth always comes out. Failure to be honest with your clients will eventually show through either in a discussion or an action and will ultimately cost you the trust and client you've worked so hard to secure.
You need to be reliable. If you say you are going to do something, you better do it.
Be consistent in your actions. You can't do something right one time and then fail immediately after. You need to be consistent in your approach so that the potential client will feel confortable with you and therefore trust you.
Finally, you need to speak with confidence. Someone that speaks with a hesitancy will have the other party start to question your ability or your motives.
Ideally, a face-to-face meeting is the best approach for strangers to instill trust in you. To many, this is considered an "old school" approach, but nothing beats a personal touch. Video-conferencing is the next best thing if for whatever reason you are unable to meet your client face-to-face.
Without trust, your chances of closing a deal decrease and the ability to create a long-term relationship with a client is greatly diminished. You might be able to sell one time, but you will not develop the kind of relationship that will garner long-term sales plus referrals.
Hans Hansson | December 14, 2016
What Worked, What Didn't, and What Will Change?
Driven salespeople annually review past results and plan ahead for the future. They keep track of past execution and compete with themselves to perform better each year. As we close out one year and begin yet another, it's time for self-reflection.
Most sales organizations will require each employee to complete an independent business plan at the beginning of each year. Most plans ask you to outline how much you expect to produce, the steps you will take in order to hit that goal, and what your personal and professional goals will be for the coming years.
If you are in a sales organization, they may also require monthly or quarterly reviews of your plans in order to make sure you are on track to meeting your goals and objectives.
However, if you are an independent salesperson or real estate agent, reviewing goals likely falls on you. A sales manager may ask you to develop a plan and meet for an occasional update, but since you are independent, your results are almost always dictated by you.
Every year, people look to the new year with hope and confidence. Often times, they see the new year as a way to wipe the slate clean from past underachievement. The problem is that if you do not develop a realistic and strategic plan to make fundamental changes, you will not see results by the end of the year. Here are four new year resolutions for salespeople who want to be successful in 2017:
1. Develop a SMART plan.
When writing a business plan, it's important to incorporate SMART goals– specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
Creating a realistic plan is a key component– what goals are aligned with your skillset and strengths in order to be realistic and achievable in the long run? Every salesperson should internally evaluate who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses may be.
For example, you may set a goal to complete a hundred cold calls a day. But if your personality is similar to mine, your time may be better spent working on new opportunities through your existing relationships, rather than securing a couple of leads from a day's worth of playing telephone.
2. Commit to being committed.
Along with being specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based, business plans will only be useful when there is commitment and intent behind it. Once you determine your strengths and weaknesses, address a plan that aligns with your strengths, you need to determine whether or not you are prepared to commit the necessary time in order to complete your necessary tasks.
3. Address your weaknesses.
Now that you have highlighted strengths and weaknesses– address them. Do you have strengths that offset your weaknesses? Not all weaknesses can be improved, but some can with time, reflection, and active work to progress. There are also a number of tools that exist which can help improve weaknesses, such as taking advantage of calendars, to-do lists, and spreadsheets. If getting to meetings on time is an issue, set up alarms ahead of your meeting, noting when you should leave the office and account for traffic. Today, there are smart technologies such as Siri or Amazon's Alexa that can remember to remind you and even call a cab to get you to where you need to be on time. If you find the right tool that can help improve your weaknesses, get in the habit of using it and it will eventually become second nature.
4. Review, assess and adjust as necessary.
Once your business plan is written with SMART goals, you've reviewed what is realistic and unrealistic, you've addressed your weaknesses– it's time to execute. Part of execution is making sure your goals are actually working. I'd suggest evaluating and reviewing your plan on a regular basis, at least once a week. Sometimes you'll see some results, but not as much as you intended, so slight adjustments to your plans will change the outcome for the better. Consistent evaluation of your plan will help keep you honest and can reveal holes you may not have noticed before.
Ensure that 2017 will be your best year yet by following the tips above. When you combine intent with a solid plan, followed by committed actions– you drive straight to success!