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Follow These Basics to Ensure Sales Success

By: John Chapin


John Wooden, perhaps the best college basketball coach ever, used to start each season by showing players how to properly put on their socks and sneakers as a mistake here could ‘domino-effect’ its way all the way to lost games. Vince Lombardi, the great Green Bay Packers coach, once said that football basically comes down to two things: blocking on offense and tackling on defense, and those great Packer teams spent 80% of their time practicing those two basics. Red Auerbach, who coached the Boston Celtics to eight consecutive championships, is known for having players practice basic shots like layups and free-throws over and over and over again. Wooden, Lombardi, Auerbach, and all other great coaches have always known that mastery of the basics was the best way to ensure success. The best teams, companies, and individuals in any field of endeavor have always been really good at the basics. Selling is no exception to this. Here are basics to get great at if you want to be great in sales.


The 5 Basics to Sales Success:


Basic #1: Plan your work and work your plan.

You have to start every day with a plan. To come up with your daily plan, start with your annual sales goal and work backwards. Based upon the size of your average sale, how many sales do you have to make to hit your annual goal? Based upon your closing percentage, how many proposals do you need to present to get that number of sales? Based upon your prospects to proposals ratio, how many prospects do you need to present that number of proposals? Finally, how many contacts, initial and follow-up, are necessary to get that number of prospects? Now break these down to annual, monthly, weekly, and finally, daily goals. Once you have those goals, formulate a plan to make them happen. Finally, execute the plan. Once this plan is developed, you need grit and determination to stick to it daily. Evaluate where you are at the end of each day and adjust where necessary.

Note: Your primary objective is to hit these goals, your secondary objective should be to exceed these goals.

Basic #2: Spend more time on your most important tasks.

The three activities you should be spending the majority of your time on during the workday are: prospecting, presenting, and closing. That’s it. Everything else should be delegated or done during off-hours. Now I realize the world isn’t perfect and things will come up that you need to handle. At the same time, if you’re focused on these three activities and adamant that you will do as much of them during the workday, avoiding procrastination and other time wasters, you’ll find it will do wonders for your business. 

Remember: sales IS a numbers game. Yes, relationships and quality are important but to have the relationships and the quality you first have to be talking to lots of people. It’s simple, the more people you talk to, the more business you will do. As an expert networker once said, “If you get your face out there enough, you’ll eventually run into someone who needs you or knows someone who needs you. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”

Note: Put a large sign in your work area, and also place one in your car if your outside sales, that says, “Am I doing my most important sales activities right now?”  If you’re on your way to the gym at 5 a.m. and the answer is ‘no’, that’s fine, but if it’s Wednesday at 10 a.m. and you’re sitting in your office cleaning your desk, that’s a problem.

Basic #3: Get back to personal communication and build relationships.

Today we have a plethora of technological devices at our disposal and there can be a tendency to use them too much. In-person communication has been replaced by e-mails, text messages, video conferencing, and sometimes, little or no communication at all. Focus on making more in-person visits to customers to say “hello”, drop off the proposal instead of mailing or e-mailing it, and follow up in-person instead of trading voice messages, texts, or e-mails. Also, send hand-written thank-you notes, birthday cards, holiday cards, and anniversary cards on the anniversary date of the day you started doing business with someone. Your objective is to have more personal contact at a time when your competitors are calling less and being less personal.

At the end of the day, it’s all about people and relationships. You have to connect with people on a personal level, stay in communication, and continue to build the relationship.

Basic #4: Get better at selling.

The better you are at selling, the more efficiently and effectively you’ll work, your life will also be easier and more enjoyable. The fastest way to get better at selling is to one: make sales a study, and two: do what the top salespeople do.

Become a student of selling, be a sponge, read, listen to, and watch anything you can on the subject of selling in the form of books, audios, videos, classes, courses and the like. Next, find the top salespeople in your company, your industry, and in other industries. Call them on the phone, e-mail them, or otherwise get in touch with them and ask them what makes them successful. It’s simple, success leaves clues. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel and you don’t have to, simply find out what makes the top salespeople the top salespeople and do what they do and you will get the same results. If they have books, audios, or other programs, invest in them and go through them thoroughly.

Note: The two most effective ways to increase sales are one: making more prospecting calls, and two: getting better at selling.

Basic #5: Work smart and hard.

The first four basics above are all great ways to work smarter. Some other ways to work smart: look for ways to work more effectively and efficiently; organize your workplace, put systems and processes in place, and learn to manage your time well.

In addition to working smart, hard work will add to your success. The most successful people in any field are the hardest workers. Hard work is particularly important in the beginning of your sales career and in tough times. At these times, you may have to make more calls and work more hours to make up for inexperience or to overcome the obstacles created by a tough economy or other industry disruption. Hard work also comes into play regarding your attitude, motivation, and in simply getting done what needs to get done when it needs to get done. Hard work makes up for a lot of mistakes and will bail you out of almost anything. If you’re willing to work extremely hard and you combine that with working smart, you’ll have a combination that’s tough to beat and your sales success will be all but guaranteed.

John Chapin

#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages). 508-243-7359

John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place.

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