We are living in a world of “instant” and “immediate.” Scroll, scroll, scroll … 30-second cat video (grabs your attention but not for the whole 30 seconds. I mean, who has that kind of time?) Off to the next thing. Scroll, scroll, scroll … squirrel! These days, our attention span is less than that of a goldfish — and what it takes to get our attention, wow! Shock me, grab my attention, lose it, all in less than a second. And so, when I claim to know how to build sales momentum fast, let’s be real — it won’t be instantaneous. Even McDonald’s takes a minute or two to spew out the very same message (low quality, low value, low priced) millions of times a day. “Fast” won’t be “magic genie fast,” but it just may be a lot faster than what you’re presently experiencing. Here are six keys:
Key 1: Baseline
Create a baseline. Measure your present growth rate. Not what it feels like, and not how you think you’re doing, but the real number — current month over last month, current quarter over the previous quarter, current year over the prior year. Yes, measure all of these. Post the numbers. Make them visible. Take down the picture you stare at to visualize one day owning that Ferrari and replace it with your growth charts! That way you know where you stand all the time. Quit fixating on what you don’t have (dreaming about the trip you will probably never take) and burn your growth momentum numbers into your brain. Where do you want them to be? Do the math. Get serious. Quit dreaming and start living — a life of creating revenue growth!
Key 2: Awareness
Know what you are doing now. Follow yourself for a few days and document what you do — how you spend your most precious resources (time and energy). That was fun, wasn’t it? It’s a pretty humbling experience for most of us. If I call myself a sales rep, the numbers indicate I am active in my role (delivering sales) less than 35% of the time. That’s less than one out of every three hours. Three hours out of a nine-hour day. Fifteen hours a week! Yes, I know, there is more to your job than “selling.” Or is there? That’s for you to decide. How about sales leaders? How much of your time is leading sales versus administration, reports, and, dare I say, doing the rep’s job for them?
To clarify, “selling activities” are finding new opportunities, advancing existing ones and finding people who can help you do these two things. Sure, you have to do reports, input into CRM and follow up to ensure that the client is happy. But learn to automate the reports, learn how to maximize the capabilities of the CRM and make darn sure customers are more than just satisfied. Create a framework that maximizes your time and the results. Doing these things actually is selling. Happy clients help you find more opportunities. A well-used CRM helps keep deals on track and moving forward. And the reports can be used to document the lessons you are learning. Based on your self-shadowing, determine what activities drive the needle. Focus on those.
Key 3: Roadblocks
Eliminate the roadblocks — things that take time and do not contribute. When we think of sales roadblocks, we tend to think of “the gatekeeper,” “decisions by committee,” “prospects going dark,” etc. And yes, these are challenges but for the purpose of this discussion, “roadblocks” are things in your control that inhibit productivity. The Awareness Key revealed how we are actually using our time (investing or spending), and now it’s time to ruthlessly eliminate the things that are not contributing to our goal of driving massive sales momentum. Sixty-minute meetings that can be compressed to 15 with a proper agenda are a prime example of eliminating roadblocks. And sales managers, speaking of “time-wasting productivity roadblocks,” is it just possible that some of those reports you require and don’t read might fall into this category?
Key 4: Framework
This is where we create a framework for doing more of what maximizes results and less of what doesn’t. By now, we have already eliminated several things that we will no longer do, and many will be surprised they have found another 10 hours a week, at a minimum. Managers, consider the multiplicative impact of this — simply compress one weekly hour-long meeting to 30 minutes with five attendees and you free up 130 manhours a year!
Live by a rule of scheduled time blocks. Use your calendar not to remind you of activities but to prioritize activities for maximum productivity. And before you say, “This is obvious,” look at last week’s calendar plan compared to the actual time spent. Uh oh! It never hurts to be reminded of the fundamentals. Schedule out everything essential for the week. Don’t leave any time on your calendar open. Now, I know some advise that this is not realistic. There will be things that come up. Absolutely. Block some time slots for those and when they occur, move the time blocks around to accommodate the urgent item. The number of hours and how they are to be used doesn’t change. The order and the specific hours will need to contain a degree of fluidity.
Now, ready for something so crazy that it just might work? Take a look at your sales funnel. Where is it the widest? At the top, right? PROSPECTING. Dedicate the majority of your time to keeping the pipeline primed. We spend so much time on the “close” (which is not actually closing but thinking, planning, procrastinating and watching cat videos) even though that set of activities requires the least amount of time. Spending the most time on something that takes the least amount of time. Crazy! And yet, no one ever said, “I’d rather be prospecting than closing?” We spend our time doing what we want to do, so decide you are going to learn to like investing your time in proportion to its productivity importance. Do this one thing and you will be absolutely amazed at how quickly you hit the 1% Club. If you don’t take control of your time, someone else will.
Key 5: Streamline
Once we have our time investment squared up, it’s time to streamline everything that we do. Some of this is automation. Some of it is grouping like activities together. A lot of it is ruthlessly cutting out stuff that simply provides no value. This is where the very important sales playbook comes into play. I should never have to think about what comes next, or how to do something, or how to find the right proposal or what to say on the next intro call. A documented playbook (framework) becomes my superpower! It allows me to learn what works, what doesn’t, stay consistent and keep away from the sales gurus claiming the latest and greatest tactic. If those tactics work, everybody starts doing them and they stop working. Personally, I love the Ben Franklin close in its logic and simplicity, but if I tried to use it, the buyer would probably punch me in the throat because they’ve heard it a thousand times. Which leads us to the next step.
Key 6: Measure
Consistently measure results and revise, innovate and grow. Test only one variable at a time because once we test two things at the same time, we don’t know which change delivered the desired results. Oh, if it were only that simple. Let’s say we test A and B at the same time and our results go up by 10%. Was it A? Was it B? Was it the combination of A and B? Was it A that drove a 20% increase while B decreased it by 10%? This is why it’s called A/B testing and not A/B/C. Make time in your calendar to create a new test for next week. Next week, review the results. Rinse and repeat. All within a documented framework.
Now, Think of those six keys as the foundation that your house of revenue rests upon. Without these firmly in place, the house won’t stand, at least not for long. We have all read the books, taken the courses, tried the double-secret ninja tricks, and studied the even more complex guide to selling complex sales (in which the selling system is more complicated than the sales process). They work for some and don’t work for others. Why? What’s the difference? The five secrets below. If you want sales growth momentum, the foundational beliefs and actions have to be in place. While these aren’t all-inclusive, they are the five main things that absolutely must be solidly in place for continuing success.
Secret 1: Fast
Do everything a little bit (or a lot) faster. Not just because it allows you to do more, but because it creates energy. And “energy” is the real secret. Sales managers, you can do powerful pipeline reviews in 15 minutes or less. Stand up. Ask 1) What closed since we last met? 2) What didn’t close that you expected would? 3) What do you plan to close between now and the next meeting? That’s it. No lengthy “why’s and how’s.” You can cover other things during one-on-one meetings. I’ve seen pipeline reviews go for two hours! Why 15 minutes? It cuts the crap. Very quickly, you will find that the pipelines become accurate. And a realistic and healthy pipeline is a key sales driver.
Secret 2: Laser Focus
I know, it’s not very sexy. No double-secret ninja tricks. But that’s real-world, Skippy. For every 100 people looking for double secret stuff, there’s one rep out there laser-focused on doing the fundamentals who is killing it.
Secret 3: Discipline
That’s the discipline to do the things that need to be done and not be distracted —inadvertently or by choice (see “Laser Focus”).
Secret 4: Do the Hard Stuff
Do what’s hard and do it now. Be done with it. Dump the emotional drain. It won’t get any easier. Thanks, Dan Waldschmidt.
Secret 5: Routine
This means a daily and a weekly routine. Want to develop a routine that creates a habit of say, running? Put on pants, put on shoes, open door, go outside, put one foot … you get the picture. Thanks, James Clear.
Do these secrets really work? Yes, but only under two conditions. 1) You start to use the “keys” listed above in the order they are listed. And 2) You do the work. There’s no magic here. It’s not perfect. But, follow the plan, work the plan and you will quickly begin generating sales momentum FAST.
is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the imaging industry as an author, trainer and speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.