I was reading a book by Dan Kennedy yesterday and he quoted another author on the topic of achieving what you want. I don’t remember the other author’s name, or even the quote exactly, but it was something like this:
“To win, forget results. Focus on process.”
As an example, he explained that if you want to improve your golf score, you don’t focus on hitting hole-in-ones. You focus on fundamentals like your grip and your swing, and the results will naturally follow.
Likewise, in negotiating, he explained that there’s no way to force someone to give in to your demands, unless of course you’re in the Mafia – as The Godfather put it, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse!”
The same is true in sales. You cannot control the outcome of a sale. There are too many variables – the prospect’s ability to pay, their real need or desire for the product, whether the prospect can even make the buying decision or if it must go to committee, and so on.
However, there is one thing you CAN control in sales. One and only one thing. And those are our sales activities.
Control Sales Activities To Get More Sales
I’ve said many times that in sales, you’re paid ONLY for completed sales. You’re not paid for going to appointments, for time spent driving in your car, for cold calling, for going to sales meetings & mandatory training, and so on. The ONLY thing you get paid a commission for is a completed sale.
But far too many salespeople, and especially sales managers, don’t seem to understand this. Remember my article about the myth that “if X number of sales equals X number of appointments and X percentage of appointments turns into a sale and each sale is worth X, then each cold call puts X dollars in your pocket!”
Of course that old line is a lie and a sham, because if it were true, companies would pay salespeople per cold call, not per completed sale!
The truth is that no one really cares how or where you get your leads. All they care about is that you bring in completed sales. That’s why we have sales quotas. Only the dumbest and most mismanaged of companies have activity quotas. (But, sadly, some actually do.)
To Get More Sales, Forget About Sales Results
Unfortunately, to go back to the golf analogy, most salespeople shoot for the hole-in-one. They don’t focus on the fundamentals.
That’s also why most salespeople fail.
The truth of the matter is that, unless you’re The Godfather, you can’t force people to buy. All you can do is take them through a natural, logical sales process that induces them to buy.
In the few books Napoleon Hill wrote on sales – he spent part of his early career as a sales trainer – he explained that a good salesperson never has to use “closes.” A good salesperson takes the prospect through a natural process that induces them to simply and willingly BUY in the end.
A Sales Process That Works – and One That Doesn’t
If you’re going to expect sales success, you must begin each and every sales interaction correctly, right from the start – remember, focus on the process, not the result!
The absolute worst way to begin a sales transaction is with a cold call. For starters, 80% of decision makers simply don’t take them anymore (source: University of North Carolina’s Business School), so you’re restricted to dealing with the 20% of the market that is bombarded with salespeople, and has extremely high sales resistance as a result.
You also put yourself in a position of weakness. A basic law of negotiation is that the person who displays, up-front, that they have a need is in the weak position, and by making a cold call, you communicate that you need a sale.
The key to sales success, and a correct sales process that DOES result in sales is, therefore, to stop cold calling. Forever.
And let’s face it – there’s really no sense in continuing to cold call when even university studies have concluded that 4 out of 5 people will never respond. That’s pretty bad odds. And in terms of actual sales results, it’s even worse than that.
If you want more sales, first of all, stop focusing on sales results, and go back to the fundamentals, just as the best golfers do. And in that process, be sure to eliminate wasteful and unproductive activites like cold calling, and focus on what really works in our new 21st Century economy.