When asked to choose between detail and complexity versus simplicity and clarity, most of us choose the route of the simple. Perhaps it is our short attention spans, our sense of being time-impoverished, or our feeling of being overwhelmed by the increasing number of tasks or commitments we all juggle in the span of the day. Whatever the cause, we often just want to tell others to”
- Cut to the chase
- Get to the point
- Strip out the fluff and talk brass tacks with me!
What is your goal?
I often speak with salespeople and sales managers and assist them in putting their business plans together. Invariably, the effort morphs into a multi-paged presentation, with numerous clauses and caveats to cover every conceivable possibility. What tends to be contained in the document is confusion, uncertainty, and inability to focus on the “what counts” factors.
What I have done is asked sales people to highlight in one sentence what it is they do/why they were hired/how they should be measured. That is it. One sentence.
What I will see is some variation on one or more of these:
- “My job is to provide a comfortable lifestyle for me and my family.”
- “Uncover customer needs.”
- “Offer solutions to prospects and escort them through the sales cycle.”
Well, those are all good intentions, but they are not exactly why the person is in the role they are in. There role is real simple and very easily measured – increase sales.
Taking that as the mission, the sales person can then recognize that any activity that does not contribute to that outcome should be looked at with suspicion. Further, recognizing that level of clarity in one’s own role helps the sales person distill their purpose, product or service, and offer to the prospect or customer similarly.
The customer or prospect is not interested in being distracted with a presentation, has no desire to discern how to use whatever it is being sold to them, and could fill the time taken to participate in a sales call and used it productively to move their own business and interests forward. So, you had better be providing them with a real clear mental picture of what is at stake for them to take a phone call, attend a meeting, or engage with you on any level.
Surely, nearly everyone wants to make money, but that does not happen until a sale occurs. Focusing on getting the sale is the highest priority and the riches one receives may be the motivation, but it is not the goal of the transaction. Similarly, meeting a prospect’s needs, but not making a sale may be emotionally satisfying, but it will not allow a business to thrive long-term.
So, if that is the goal (to increase sales), then there are two steps that wil naturally follow:
- Prioritize – One will look at time, tasks, and efforts very differently. Does the current activity hinder or contribute to the desired outcome? Are the right tasks being undertaken to best accomplish the increasing of sales? Are distractions allowed to take time, energy, and efforts away from more productive tasks?
- Measure – Are the actions undertaken effective? Is it a Sales Revenue Generating Activity? Very directly, does it bring the sale closer to happening, or put distance between the seller’s organization and the prospect? Is it helping to increase sales or not?
Crystallizing one’s Focus
When you identify what you are trying to accomplish in such a direct and simple way, it is like the difference in watching an HDTV vs. looking at something through a kaleidoscope. It brings it all into sharp relief and it is not all about colors. Goals become easier to identify, your time becomes easier to manage, your tasks and activities are easier to prioritize, and you will be able to maximize your efforts.
As Mark Neerema commented in his blog:
As sales people you hear it all the time. You have to manage your time, be focused, work on the right things etc. Well, it doesn’t start or change by focusing on those specific things. If you just focus on say being better with your time, but you still haven’t given yourself the clarity, you might as well go skip stones in the lake. In order to make them better you must focus on what is driving them! THE driver behind your priorities, goals, and time is how clear your understanding is of what you are there to do.