You know key customers and accounts could be purchasing more of your product, solution or service, but they are not. As you start a new year, I challenge you to apply some new thinking to unleash your full potential as a sales professional.
Dream like you mean it
One of your most important challenges is to ensure that you are dreaming specifically, and dreading vaguely about your accounts – rather than the opposite. You should have a specific dream for each customer – they’re not simply a sales number or objective. What is your customer’s dream as a company and how can your product, solution or service help them achieve that dream? Armed with their dream you are much better equipped to define your ‘consumer-in’ and ‘customer centric’ dream for that account. Make it as specific as possible; as measurable as possible and as time bound as possible – but also make sure it synchs up fully with their dream. While not a sales example, one of JFK’s dreams was very specific – that within a decade, the US would send a man to the moon and bring him safely back to earth (that last part’s important!). We had no idea how to do it – but stayed focused on the specific dream, addressed the issues one by one, and achieved the dream ahead of schedule. Had the dream been vague, or had not all the suppliers been aligned, we would have been paralyzed by all the challenges we needed to overcome and it would have never happened.
Climb the Ladder of Intentionality
With your specific dream in hand, as a person in sales you need to ensure that every relevant individual in the customer/supplier relationship is not only aligned to, but is also highly intentional about, the specific dream. You need to climb ladder of intentionality. You can’t just write something down in a memo, and hope it will drive the organization to action. MLK would have been much less effective had he just written his dream down in a memo. You must declare your intentionality in such a way that both your sales team and your customers are talking about it. That’s the highest rung on the ladder. How many times have you seen the CEO of a company declare the dream of the company being more innovative – but changes little in the structure or processes to enable it to happen? That’s low intentionality in action, and it’s crippling. The higher you climb on the ladder, the more intentional you get. No matter where you, or your team is on the ladder today – put an action plan in place to climb higher and enable the specific dream for your customer to come to life.
Ready yourself and your crew
With a clearly articulated and specific dream and a high level of intentionality, you are now in position to ready yourself and your crew to succeed with your customer. All too often, in my work with companies of all sizes, I find poorly thought through strategies. In fact, what are often articulated as strategies are nothing more than objectives. Many of these are due to a lack of thorough analysis, training, testing, competitive analysis etc.. What are you going to do and how are you going to act in a way that is unique to your customer, and will give you sustained advantage over time? To get to really powerful strategies, you need to ensure that you, and your sales team are planning and preparing well. Michael Phelps would never have become the most decorated Olympian of all time if his dream had been vague, his intentionality been low, and if he’d failed to ready himself and his crew. He had a very specific dream, was highly intentional about it, and pursued distinctive and competitively advantaged training/preparation strategies. There were no short cuts. Same applies for you and your customers.
Summon your courage
Having worked through the three ‘steps’ above – you must summon the courage to set sail – to untie the lines and go for it. You need to unleash the full potential of your business. You must not only have the courage to set sail, but also to venture out into the unknown – do things that have never been done. Amazon had never been done before. Neither had Microsoft, nor Facebook, nor Tesla. You must have the courage to keep going in the face of adversity – remembering that everything is difficult before it is easy. You must summon the courage to trust yourself and your team – because barring a few exceptions, you can’t do it on your own. Practice building your courage on a daily basis.
At a foundational level, no company is sustainable without the sales team getting out there and securing purchase orders. Approaching your customers in a new way – by dreaming specifically/dreading vaguely; climbing the ladder of intentionality; readying yourself and your crew; and summoning your courage – will increase your odds of success in 2017, and help ensure that your customers, your company and therefore you, achieve your full potential.