Setting Your Sights on 2011

March 29, 2011

The start of a new year is a great time to examine our business life as well as other aspects of our lives. I want to encourage you to set your sights high enough in 2011. Those of us who do not plan to change in the coming year are doomed to repeat 2010’s level of success. The first step for those of us who want an increase in sales and profits is to set goals attached to activities and deadlines.

How Big Should We Dream?

I would like to invite you to dream big, but I will also discuss how to make your dream a reality. I do not recommend just looking at last year’s sales and plugging in a goal for this year or looking at what average people sell and trying to achieve what they do. Instead, look for people who excel, find out what they do and set your goal accordingly.

A few years ago, I got a newsletter from a major manufacturer who mentioned that a salesperson in Minnesota had sold 70 systems in one month. I looked the salesperson up and called to congratulate him and to ask how he did it. He gave me some great advice on how to get realtors and builders to help sell equipment. I mentioned that he must be swamped with calls like mine but he said no one had contacted him.

I suggest you dream bigger in 2011 by finding out who has been successful and researching what they did to create that success. If you focus on people who are exceptional, you become exceptional. I hope you will dare to dream bigger in 2011.

Thomas Edison said that success was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It means that just dreaming is not going to change anything. How do we turn dreams into reality?

Back Into Your Dream

Setting a goal for sales is a good start, but to make it happen, you need to back into it. Start with how many systems you want to sell for the year. Let’s assume a dealer wants to sell 600. That works out to 50 sales per month. To do 50 sales, about 150 demonstrations will need to be done in a month—about 7.5 per day. No one person can do 7.5 per day, so the company has to have a sales staff. If your salespeople average 1.5 demos per day, you will need 5 salespeople to meet your goal. You also will need to set 10 to 12 appointments per day to get into 7.5 homes. How will these appointments be generated? Planning starts with assessing activity and nitty-gritty reality.

Hard By the Yard

Sales is hard by the yard. Setting a goal for the year will not make it come true, but setting a goal for activity today will make it happen. In our example, the dealer needs 10 to 12 appointments per day.

To be successful, the dealer needs to plan how to achieve those appointments and needs to measure how many were achieved every day. Focusing on daily results and taking necessary action is what creates success. Be sure to focus on activity, not sales. How many calls were made, how many letters were sent, how many doors were knocked on? These are the questions that lead to action.

Paint By Numbers, Not Emotions

When you paint your future or review activity, be sure to stick to the numbers and stay away from feelings and emotions. If you review your staff by asking how a sale went and they tell you they “feel” they will get a sale next week, that will not work as well as getting exact numbers for how many demos were done, how many were closed, how much savings they were able to show the customer, etc.

To get actual numbers, you need to set up a system that requires accurately reporting activity. Salespeople will rarely offer accurate numbers unless they have to as part of the system.

In our management system, we suggest that salespeople be required to get a form signed every time they do a demo that tells the company who they did the demonstration for and what numbers and sales objections were discussed. This system helps you go over accurate numbers with your sales staff every day.

It’s the Process, Not the People

If you have been disappointed by your staff in the past, be careful not to place blame where it will prevent you from greatness. When I was working as a trainer for Volvo dealers, the company did an extensive study and found it is not the people that matter, it is the process. That means that if you hire good people and they quit, do not blame them; look at what your organization might be doing to drive good people away.

If you cannot attract good people or if the salespeople you hire fail, it is easy to put the blame on them and whine that the world is made of lazy people who cannot sell. That kind of thinking will ensure you will never solve the issue. Look at your pay plan, your training and your supervision and see if there is a reason so many have failed.

Achieving your dreams takes honest and accurate assessment of where you are today and a plan to change what it takes to arrive where you want to be tomorrow.

Carl Davidson is president of Sales And Management Solutions Inc., a New York-based company that specializes in live and video training, coaching, recruiting and lead generation for the water equipment industry. To see a list of products and free sales training videos, visit www.carldavidson.com or call 716.580.3384.

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