The most telling tale of forecasting future sales is not the close rate or the amount of dials or site visits a sales person makes. Now both of these metrics do focus on when and how the sale will close but the most important metric that a Sales Professional has at their disposal and one that is in full control of that person is the Opening of a new Opportunity. Opportunities exist all around us if we look in the right places. Finding them is what sets apart the great from the average. Some call this the filling the funnel, others the sales pipeline, I like to think of the entire sales process like the baking of fine pastries.
Now it is one thing to lay out all the ingredients for the making of a fine Cake and for some one who does not bake well (I do many things really well but Baking is not one of them) this can seem to be a daunting task. So to can laying out the foundation of a Sale. I work as an Inside Sales Specialist but from what I have read and heard from colleague’s that hit the road and meet their clients face to face the concept is very similar.
In the world of Sales there is nothing worse than closing a sale before it is Fully Baked. It does not help the situation at all and can be one of the most frustrating things to provide after service too. Do your do diligence, focus on providing clear recommendations and focus on not the sale but on the resale and reorder. You WILL NOT get rich with one order but you will get rich by providing your client with exceptional service and will win there reorder, their referral and their testimonial.
Now there are many factors that can cause a sale to be pulled out of the oven too early and if you have done your job as a sales professional there are a few ways that you can ensure that there is still a win at the other side:
- Lack of Experience – either in general or with that type of client/industry/product, lack of experience can lead to the sale being “Half-Baked”. My personal recommendation for anyone regardless of how long you have been in sales…have a checklist handy of the things that need to be done for you to have a long term customer at the tail end of your sale.
- Management Pressure – this comes in many forms. End of the Month, End of the Quarter, getting your first sale, poor prior performance. When a Manager is pressuring you to close the deal, it is usually because something is coming from higher up the food chain. This is an aspect of sales that really gets my goat at time but I am also far too patient at times so Pressure from my management team has become an intricate dance. Focus, apply a targetted amount of pressure but also…give the feedback…there is nothing worse that a runny cake to ruin your day.
- No Guts, No Glory – some sales people (notice I changed professional to people) have a hero complex. These are the Sales Guys/Gals that are always full of piss and vinegar and live from the external validation of their last big deal. They rush into everything they do and while they may come up big and save the day…they are often apt to fall flat on their face and unfortunately…if you are selling things to people…people talk…and your sales in the future may be adversely affected but a rush to action.
- Buyer’s Remorse – It happens but sometimes the Cake just jumps out of the oven all on its own and then realizes that it shouldn’t have done it. This again places an onus on the Sales Professional…ask just a few more questions, walk the fine line between ensuring your new client will be happy with their purchase and you don’t talk them out of the sale.
My strong recommendation for anyone who is a Sales Professional (and really don’t we all have to be at some point), there is nothing more satisfying that sitting back and enjoying a finely crafted, delicious piece of cake…especially one that you made all by yourself.
Get out their and Bake me a Cake…I am hungry!
Cheers and have a Great Week…a New month Starts today!
Chris J Powell