5 Keys to Counter a Slow Start

Professional sales people understand the importance of getting off to a fast start to the fiscal year.  Momentum matters. This is the last day of January and a perfect moment to pause and consider the 2013 performance plan.  Did you make your January number?

In most sales organizations the 2013 leaderboard is being established.  Top producers like to set the pace.  A come-from-behind victory is the stuff legends are made of, but playing catch up is never ideal in sales.  As the year progresses and the gap between sales production and the performance target widens, playing catch up often leads to giving up.

If you’re off to a slow start, now is the time to conduct analysis and consider corrective action before 2013 gets derailed. How?  Here are 5 keys.

1. Review the Strategy:  Having a performance target is easy.  A clearly defined strategy and consistency in execution is the hard work that drives performance.  Are you going to market with the right plan?  Is it resonating and having the right kind of impact with key accounts?

2. Calendar Inspection:  The biggest barrier to breakthrough sales performance is spending too much time on low yield activity. In the absence of results, I like to inspect activity.  Go back into your calendar 6 months and conduct an audit.  How did you break down your day?  Where did you commit time, attention and resources?  What worked?  What clearly didn’t?  If you don’t have enough qualified opportunities today, there was likely something essential missing from the go-to-market game plan six months ago.

3. Skill Up: Continue to expand your competency.  What are the tools, techniques and technology that intersect best with where your customers spend time?  Start there.  Keep learning, growing and getting better.  There isn’t a sales organization in the world that isn’t confronting evolution in their customer expectations and decision drivers.  Customers are more informed, sophisticated and have increasingly more alternative choices to consider.  The evolution in seller competency has to pace with the dramatic change in how customers make buying decisions.  Success in sales mandates continued learning and development.

4.  Buyology:  Get very clear and very specific around why customers buy what you are selling.  The more insight you have relative to why customers buy, the easier it will be for you to articulate the differentiated and compelling reason why the customer should absolutely, positively buy from you.  Go ahead, ask a few customers.  Even better, write down the 43 reasons to buy what you are selling (or as many as you can come up with).

5.  Commit.  If you aren’t getting enough, you either aren’t doing enough or simply aren’t doing the right things.  Make the commitment now to figure out which and make the necessary adjustments to accelerate performance.  In every sales organization, regardless of the circumstances, the very best producers find a way to deliver their performance plan.  Consistently.  You can’t control the marketplace, competition, territory structure or customer.  Your best opportunity to have a BIG 2013 is by simply focusing on what you can control – you.  In other words, compete!

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

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