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Sales People and Targets

Getting Your People On Board

One of your first challenges may be simply getting your salespeople to buy in to the idea of Sales Systems. So if your sales people seem to be resisting the idea of a Sales System, find out why. If they are afraid you are trying to turn them into replaceable robots, explain to them that in fact the opposite is true. Scripts and systems simply give them better tools to work with, allowing their true talents to shine through. In fact, you are counting on their expertise and desire for bringing the entire sales process to a new level. Systems don’t enslave people; they free them to operate on a higher plane.

If on the other hand they feel that the scripts themselves are inadequate, find out why and get their input into making them better. Remind them that you understand the dynamic nature of sales, and that you don’t expect every sale to go according to plan.

Customers are not predictable, so the sales process must be flexible enough to deal with this. Still, you need someplace to start. If they are honest, your better salespeople will probably admit that they already take a systematic approach to sales to some degree. They may change things around a little depending on the personality of each prospect, but they probably take the same basic approach every time.

If you get agreement verbally but nothing seems to be happening, then perhaps the real problem is that they are afraid of change. They may be used to doing things one way, so they know what to expect from it. Unless you used their approach as a sales model in the first place, they’ll need to be open to exploring new ideas but this is not something that you can force people into. Sure it’s your company, but if they feel awkward it can negatively affect their performance, so make sure your new system is introduced with the appropriate amount of training and buy-in.

sales robot

What will you do to help get your salespeople on board with your new Sales System?

Handling Rejection

No matter how skilled you or your salespeople are and no matter how good your Sales Systems are, not everyone will want your products and services and people will occasionally say “no.” But a beautiful result of the Sales System you have just designed is that it is practically rejection proof. This is because your goal is no longer to make a sale. Your goal is to acquire a customer. When the focus moves away from the sale and onto the relationship, the fear of rejection fades.

In the end, “Sales” is just a numbers game. All things being equal, some “fairly predictable” percentage of your prospects will purchase some “fairly predictable” amount of your products or services.

Coca-Cola company sold just 400 Cokes in its first year. According to McGraw-Hill, it takes an average of 5.5 visits before a customer says “yes” to a major sale.

From this perspective, there are four ways to increase your revenues.

  1. Increase the number of prospects brought into your sales system by your marketing activities.
  2. Increase the percentage of prospects that become customers by improving your sales system.
  3. Increase the dollar amount of each individual sale.
  4. Any combination of the above.

If your salespeople can think of sales in this systematic, very practical way, they will be less likely to take rejection personally. If you run an organized business that offers a quality product through a constantly improving marketing and sales structure, then the sales will come and the customers will stay. If you don’t, then they won’t. Improve your systems and you will improve your sales. It really is that simple.

Also, remember that “no” (or, “I’ll get back to you,” or, “I need to think it over,” etc.) is not a personal rejection. It simply means, “I don’t see enough value for my money yet.” Without being pushy, you’ll need to find out why. If in the end you discover that their needs cannot be satisfied by your business, move on to your next prospect. You’ve done all that you can. If you know you can help them but they still say “no,” you may need to re-examine your Sales System.

Of course there are those people who seem to enjoy wasting your time. When you encounter one of these people, politely pack up your things and move on. Even if you do eventually make a sale you are unlikely to make a customer, especially if they are focused exclusively on price. Someone who is only concerned with price has no loyalty. They will run to your competitors without hesitation the moment they find a lower price. Leave the price wars to the big box discount stores.

In the end, if prospects don’t buy, as will happen most of the time, remember that they are not rejecting you personally, they are just saying no to your offer. Even if people are rude or obnoxious, it’s still not personal. They know very little or nothing about you, so how can they make an accurate value judgement? Some people routinely say “no” in order to avoid making a decision or because they are not really the decision maker. Others may see the value in your offering but are afraid of change. Learn from each “no” and use this information to increase the percentage of “yes” answers you receive. After all, like the rest of your business, your sales process should evolve through continuous improvement.

How to Rejection-Proof Your Sales System

  1. Hire salespeople with the right attitude. “Sales” is a people oriented occupation. Introverts need not apply. Now would be a good time to take a second look at the hiring system you developed in Management to make sure it is bringing the right kinds of people in your sales department

  2. Create a financial bonus structure. These can act as “financial carrots” to help sales people push through their fears. Now would be a good time to review the compensation system you developed in Management to make sure it promotes the right kinds of behaviour in your sales department.

  3. Insist on a minimum number of sales calls per day/week and track them. This will do as much to guarantee a certain level of success for your sales people as anything and success breeds more success. Now would be a good time to review the objectives you set for your sales people in Management.

  4. Organize supportive and motivational sales meetings on a regular basis. Everyone needs a little push now and again. Now would be a good time to review the communication systems you developed in Management to determine the impact they are currently having on your sales department.

  5. Provide ongoing sales training. Salespeople are responsible for generating your revenues, so train them well. Now would be a good time to review the training systems you began in Management to determine their impact on your sales department. You can also incorporate the tools you learned for combatting fear in Leadership into your sales training system.

We’ll go into the above five points in more detail a little further along.

  1. Provide outstanding sales tools (i.e. brochures and other presentation materials). These help sales people to look and feel more professional. For more information, review the “sales aids,” “sales kit” and “pre-presentation checklist” sections.

  2. Encourage a corporate culture that promotes pride in your company. People who are genuinely proud of their company and its products have little reason to fear rejection.

A sales department that is immune to the negativity often associated with rejection has little trouble hitting its targets. What can you do to rejection-proof your sales department?

Sales Targets

As you may recall, your budget was originally based on your company’s sales projections. All other decisions were made in relation to the expectations you had for your upcoming sales. As important as your sales projections are, however, they only become truly practical once they mean something specific to your salespeople. To make that happen, your sales projections must be broken down and converted into specific sales targets.

Use your budget as your guide and break down your sales projections into annual, monthly, weekly, and/or daily financial targets. Depending on your business, it may also be helpful to translate these numbers into specific product or service targets. For example, “Our sales goals for March are to sell 230 widgets and 140 gizmos.”

Next, individualize your sales targets for your sales people. This means that the sales targets for some people may not be exactly the same as the sales targets for others. For example, outstanding divisions or highly successful salespeople might have loftier targets than others. Of course the potential rewards should be worth the extra effort.

Set several targets rather than one single target for each of your salespeople. Different regions or markets may require different targets as well. For example, you might create “A, B, and C” level targets where…

“A targets” are stretch targets for your high achievers

“B targets” are challenging targets for the majority of your salespeople

“C targets” are your minimum sales targets

Your budget should probably reflect your “B” or “C” level targets, but as you and your salespeople gain experience with target setting you’ll be able count on more and more “A” target results.

apple with target

While you or your Sales Manager might set all “C or B” level targets, get your salespeople involved in setting their own “A” level targets. This will make their goals more personal and consequently more likely to happen. Remember the excitement and the motivation you felt when you first set your own goals in Leadership? That’s the power of goal setting and you want it working on behalf of all of your employees.

But what if your industry is highly volatile, making sales targets nearly impossible to predict? A stockbroker, for example, is subject to the whims of the stock market to some degree. The solution here is to focus on “market share.” If a stockbroker brings in five new quality clients per month, for example, he will experience growth in his market share at some predictable rate, over time. On a month-by-month basis his income may vary in relation to the stock market, but his steadily growing customer base will certainly cause his income to grow over time.

The fact is that growth is not steady. It tends to come in waves. Sales targets developed in conjunction with your salespeople will help you anticipate and plan for the inevitable variations that occur. In this way sales targets can be effective tools for managing growth. They help you to grab market share when times are unpredictable and grow like crazy when times are good.

Work out your specific sales targets for the year.

The following table will let you organize your monthly sales targets for your salespeople.

JanuaryBob SmithBig Tom's Livestock$42,000$40,000
Wonder World$65,000$75,000
ABC Group$50,000No sale
International Corp.$120,000$120,000
Introtech Inc.$100,000$115,000