Are you closing sales deals? What is the sound of one sale closing?
If after reading the title of this blog you instantly thought of the famous Zen riddle: “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”, then you are on the right track. That riddle best describes a recent experience I had when trying to turn around what would be my worst month (revenue-wise) this year.
If you are familiar with the aforementioned riddle, then you are aware that the right answer is… whatever you want it to be. In other words, it is all about perception. When reviewing my numbers during the middle of last month, I discovered we were only at about 15% of our monthly goal. I needed to act fast and work on closing sales deals—but first, I needed to think about how I was going to approach the situation.
Closing Sales Deals
- I could sit there and say that as a result of the Government shutdown, there was a ripple effect on buyer confidence. With time, our prospects’ confidence will come back.
Discipline My Team.
- We must be doing something wrong. If we are so slow, all of our prospecting efforts should be doubled. I should place my team on a performance improvement plan.
Dangle The Carrot.
- I could create a reward for hitting our goal that is so attractive my team would triple their effort just to reach it and start closing sales deals quicker.
- I could use this as an opportunity to test the tenacity of my team and their commitment to our overall success. By presenting this as an opportunity, I could ask everyone to step up.
So which path did I choose? Trick question – I chose Secret Answer 5: get personally involved. I reviewed each lead and our activity, then built a story for each opportunity to find out where we may have stalled. I then met with each sales person individually and co-created a plan to focus their efforts.
As I met with each team member, they all shared their frustration. My message was simple and it was the theme that would carry us through the month: “All it takes is one sale.”
One sale, and our confidence as sales people grow; one sale and the drought is over. One sale and we put an end to the internal voices and excuses that plagued our thoughts.
In the week that followed, I asked my team to identify a specific opportunity they were struggling with. It needed to be an opportunity where my personal involvement could make a difference. I committed myself to working this “hit list” with my team—making phone calls, attending sales meetings, and sending emails—until each member hit their first sale. Management presence during the sales cycle showed prospects we were committed to earning their business, while lending support to my staff.
My commitment was matched by an effort that we can all truly be proud of. In the final week of the month, we hit our goal. Words can’t express how proud I was of my team’s resolve.
When reflecting on the previous month, my team said that the “one sale” mentality truly shifted their thoughts and helped them to be more engaged. As a leader, I learned that sometimes you need to show your support and show your team that you’re just as willing to pull the month out as they are. To quote Rocky, “It ain’t over, ’til its over.” Now, let’s start closing sales deals!
Every sales leader has faced dire selling situations. What was your biggest challenge this year and how did you overcome it?