December is always ripe for prognostication and advice for success in the New Year. Pundits, consultant, vendors of Sales/Marketing automation tools will offer endless insight and advice on how to beat your goals, how to be successful, how to have a fast start for the New Year.
Already, I’m seeing articles on, “Do these 5 things… The 10 critical success factors… These technologies are critical to customer engagement in 2020…”
I’m no different, I’m jumping into the fray with the secrets to sales success in 2020. I’ve spent some time thinking about the keys to success, the secrets that will suddenly make everything change, removing the barriers and difficulties we have in making our numbers.
I’ve carefully honed it down to one compelling insight… (Drum roll please)
Do the work!
That’s it, that’s the magic formula. Execute this with consistency and discipline, and you will tilt all the odds to your favor.
Unfortunately, this piece of insight won’t be popular among sales people and many leaders.
- First, it’s really tough stuff. There are no shortcuts, there are no silver bullets, or technologies that will suddenly drive success.
- Second, it’s really tough–boring stuff. Somehow, we seem attracted to the promise of miracle cures, shiny objects, new approaches and solutions that relieve us from having to do the work. After all, life would be so much easier if there was some technology, content, or approach that just gets the customer to start texting/emailing/phoning in the orders.
- Third, it’s really tough, boring, tedious stuff. We have to pay attention, we have to focus on the details, we have to be present and engage our customers in meaningful and impactful ways.
- Fourth, we discover that “doing the work” is about helping the customer navigate their own challenges, buying journeys, fears, risks, uncertainties. Doing the work is about helping the customers make sense of their situations and gain confidence in their decisions. That’s tough stuff (oops, back to that again).
- Fifth, it’s not about us it is always about the customer. Until we help the customer successfully navigate their buying process, we can’t be successful, we can’t get the PO. But everything we do is targeted to exactly the opposite. Everything we do is focused on us and our processes. We pitch our products, we manage customers to fit into our selling process, we move customers through our sales assembly line because it is more efficient for us, though perhaps not helpful to what the customer is trying to do. Doing the work requires us to shift our perspectives, putting the customer at the center, focusing on the efficiency and effectiveness of their buying journey.
- Sixth, we not only have to do the work, we have to do the whole job. Many miracle cures focus on just one part of the sales job, “Just focus on prospecting… Focus on your value proposition… It’s all about your questions….” All of those things are important, but focusing on one as “the answer to success” is just wrong. We have to do the whole job. We have to have healthy pipelines, we have to have strong deal strategies, executing a selling process that is aligned with the customer buying process, we have to plan and execute high impact calls, we must develop and execute rich territory and account plans–prospecting to identify or create new qualified opportunities. We must have both a strong value proposition, but we must create value in every interaction with the customer. All of these work together, focusing on any single area, weakens our ability to execute in other areas.
- Seventh, WE have to do the work. Too often, we try to lay off the work to others–marketing, SDRs, the web and compelling content, influencers, partners. Each play important roles in supporting or facilitating the customer and us, but ultimately, it’s we that have to do the work. Telcom old timers talk about “the last mile.” Buying is intensely personal, each individual’s and each organization’s buying journey is unique. Ultimately, it comes down to each of us. How we engage the customer, how we develop empathy, trust, how much we care and demonstrate that care. It’s our job–if you don’t want to do it, do something else. But if you choose to do it, then do it. No one else can, and our customers are crying for that help.
I’ll stop here. You get the point. As much as others might try to point you other directions, as many that promise miracle cures, we keep coming back to a single reality that underlies our success.
You have to do the work!
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