Sales results are all too often a point of contention for organizations, agencies in particular. Sales goals are usually some function of just putting out a number to make the accounting department go away. There is a rarely a plan of how these pretend goals are going to actually be met. Finally, the accountability for following the pretend plan to hit the pretend numbers is non-existent. And yet we wonder why we rarely hit sales goals.
The gut reaction to missed goals almost always takes us to the tactical/process issues.
- How many calls did you make?
- How many prospects are in your pipeline?
If we truly want to drive more predictable sales results, we have to start by addressing the cultural issues within the organization.
- Leaders who lead by example – In most agencies, the leaders still have sales responsibilities. If the leaders aren’t doing the right things, nobody else will either.
- Accountability – Every other position in the agency is held accountable for driving their respective results. Producers (because everything is driven off of revenue) should be held more accountable than anyone.
- Have everyone in the right role – I don’t care how hard you try, some people just aren’t producers.
- Properly define success and celebrate the progress – Success in each step of your sales system should be defined as getting the prospect to the next step. Celebrate each of these victories, not just the final sale.
- Producer confidence – Selling is a transfer of confidence; confidence that you are offering a better solution, but you can’t give away what you don’t have. Producer confidence is a combination of: 1. Being able to take a prospect through a value driven sales process. 2. A full pipeline of prospects. 3. Knowing that you have the team and solutions to make a difference for the future client.
- Proactive vs. Reactive – We have to do a better job of planning what we will do to drive results rather focusing on what has already taken place.
- Understanding the “why” – Until a producer truly understands his/her motivation (hint: It is never money. It may be what money can allow you to do, but it isn’t the money.) it will be difficult, at best, to keep the proper focus and determination.
Until the appropriate cultural foundation is laid down, no amount of tactical, process-driven solutions will ever make a sustainable difference.
Trokey is president and chief executive of St. Louis-based Benefits Growth Network, a consulting firm for benefits agencies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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