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How To Succeed In Sales

Ready to unravel the mystery of how to succeed in sales? Unless you are working for yourself, many key factors of your success in sales are out of your control. You should know that up front.

For instance, if you're an employee, you'll be told who your target prospects are. You'll be told what products or services are to be offered, and what prices they can be sold for. You'll be told what the company can and cannot do. What marketing methods they will and won't use. And you might even be told what sales process to follow.

Can you see how all this can limit your income and knowledge of how to succeed in sales?

revenue target how to succeed in sales

Now you may begin to understand why many top salespeople choose to run their own business.

Of course, being an employee and selling for someone else means you don't have to make any of those decisions, or put up with the hassles. And you'll likely get to have marketing collateral handed to you.

Selling for an employer does put you in a box. You can do well if you understand that box, and what the factors mean to your income.

Let's look at some of them. First, your target prospects.

This is your most important factor, and the most limiting. If you are directed to prospect in a market undergoing bad times, cashflow problems, or even a distrust of what you do (eg. builders tend to not believe they'll get jobs from online sources) can work against you. Are they small firms that force you to pry out a thousand dollars for a project and expect the world in return, or are they companies that are doing well, know the value of what you provide, and have the budget to bring you on board without discomfort?

Second, the prices of the products or services you offer.

Look carefully. If there is a variable portion of your income, and there should be since you're in sales, this will lead you to understanding the daily activities you must do to reach your revenue target.

Oh, you don't have a revenue target? You'd better develop one. Otherwise you're shooting without aiming. "I'll make as much as I can" almost always results in severe underperformance. You will not be doing the things you need to do to do well. You must be clear on what it means to you to succeed in selling.

The Simple Math On How To Succeed In Sales

Let's say your target income is $100,000. You have a base salary of $40,000 so your commissions have to make up the other $60,000. Now you have the target.

So how are you going to get there? You can break this down as detailed as you like--by estimated sales of products or services--or you can do an average value per sale. Keeping it simple for our example, you calculate an average commisison per sale comes to you of $2,000. The light comes on: you need to make 30 sales this year to hit your target income.

Most salespeople never take this simple step. You will be ahead of the pack just for finding out what this number is.

So now how are you going to make those 30 sales? You could distribute them evenly over the year, or so many estimated per month if there's seasonality to your work (say you're a caterer, and weddings and events are most popular in the summer and Christmas). We'll keep it easy to follow here and divide the 30 evenly. Of course, 12 doesn't go into it evenly, and we get 2.5. So we'll get 2 sales one month, and 3 the next. And how will we accomplish this?

Our next step is to back into understanding the behaviors we must do every day to hit our target. In the beginning we'll have to estimate, but as time goes on you'll get increasingly accurate numbers to base your behaviors on. To begin with, we need to start tracking three basic stats each day:

The number of dials you make

The number of conversations you have

The number of sales you make.

We'll total these up for the week and the month.

At the start, you'll have to estimate unless you have previous data. It takes so many dials for you to get a conversation, on average. A dial is you picking up the phone and entering the number. A conversation is the prospect picking up the phone--not the gatekeeper but the actual decision maker. Your conversation could be short or long; that doesn't matter. We're talking about reaching the decision maker and them being available to talk. Whether they're interested in what you have to offer is not important. And a sale, of course, is a sale.

So you will discover you need to make a certain number of dials to have a conversation...and then you have to have so many conversations to make a sale. Estimate, at the start, and estimate "worst case" in mind. After a couple months you will have good data to replace these numbers with, and will be on track for planning your daily activity.

Say you are pretty good at the sales process, and know it takes you 10 dials on average to have a conversation. And you also know you must have an average of 20 conversations to make a sale. Now we can back into our daily activities. 10 x 20 = 200 dials to make a sale. And you need 2.5 sales per month, so now you know you need to make 200 x 2.5 = 500 dials per month.

Wow, 500 dials. Seems like a lot, doesn't it.

Most salespeople, not knowing the steps we have just gone through, grossly underestimate the number of dials they need to make to hit their revenue target--if they even have a target. Clearly not how to succeed in sales.

Back to daily activities. 500 / 20 working days per month = 25 dials per day. That is really not very much. However, the research shows the average salesperson makes 2. Yes, 2 prospecting calls to new potential customers a day. That's it. No wonder they fail.

At the beginning, your daily number is likely to be much higher. Perhaps even 100 or more dials per day. Without an autodialer, you can expect to make 12 - 20 dials per hour; it is going to take some time. So plan your day. Again, now you know what it's going to take.

As time goes on, you can add other elements into your prospecting plan. Leads from referrals, specific marketing methods, talks you give and other sources. These will reduce the number of dials you need to make--some of them significantly. But at the start, nobody knows you. You don't have the reputation as "the guy/gal to talk to about (whatever it is you do)".

For now, you can get started on generating your prospecting lists. You know how many leads a day you require, maximum. Callbacks will take up many of your dials, so you don't need as many new leads as you might think, but you do need to be constantly feeding the pipeline.

Now. What if you discover from this exercise that you don't like the plan and the action required to achieve it? You'll have to change at least one variable. Who your target market is, and/or the price you charge for what you offer. Are those in your control? Might be time to pick a different box--or get rid of the box and go out on your own.

Regardless of what you sell and to whom, consistent daily effort, following your plan, is how to succeed in sales.

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Jason Kanigan

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