(Blog #15 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.” The book was written for printers to use as a guide in training their sales teams through a series of two-hour sessions over 48 weeks.)
Now we’re going to work on the hard part of planning—committing to personal sales objectives. I have a couple of immutable rules. First, the objectives must quantifiable. Second, they must be in writing.
It’s unacceptable to say, “I’m gonna sell more printin‘ this month.” More than what? More than last month? More than last week? How about more than last year? I know salespeople who can’t tell you how much they sold last week, last month or last year.
It is acceptable—and certainly desirable—to say, “I’m going to sell 15 percent more this year than last year. Since I sold $1.2 million last year, I’m aiming to sell $1.380 million this year.”
Now you don’t want to give it away just to make a total sales objective, so you should add, “I intend to improve the margin on my work by 10 percent. Since my profit margin last year was 18 percent, I want to improve to 20 percent.”
The profit margin numbers I have used above are provided as an example and should not be interpreted literally, since printing companies keep their books using different methods and different management information systems. Some companies—even some large companies—don’t bother to measure or report the profitability of sales by salesperson. In those cases, the salesperson is severely handicapped and can’t be blamed for poor pricing.
The more informed and measured a salesperson can be, they better he will perform.
An ideal sales objective should read, “I am aiming to improve my sales for the year 2011 from $2.0 million to $2.4 million. In addition, I will improve my profit margin by a minimum of 15 percent for the year.”
Those objectives can, and probably should, be broken down into sub objectives by week or by month due to the seasonality of your business depending on markets served. It could be that your seasonal peaks are March and April in the spring and September and October in the fall. You can be grievously deceived if you are weak in any of those months; and failures in those months can lead to some unhappy surprises in December when you are totaling up the year.
The next of my rules that is cast in concrete is that the objectives be written and retained where you can review them periodically. There is something about writing the objectives down that locks them in your brain. You don’t want to disappoint yourself. You want to keep your personal promises.
OK, your exercise for this blog is to write four to six objectives for the remainder of the year 2011. You can have two objectives, for example, that deal with total sales and total profit on those sales. Then you may have several more objectives that deal with your personal sales development (training), product knowledge, prospect development or new account development.
In the next blog, I will write about selling strategy and how it’s used to attain your objectives. One strategy might be, for example, to make 30 percent more face-to-face sales calls this year so to that end.
Get out there and sell something!
A Year of Selling Profitably By Harris M. DeWese with Jerry Bray
Employ techniques and tools that turn weekly sales meetings into energetic learning experiences, resulting in a more enthusiastic, more motivated, and more effective sales force. Understand how these techniques and tools required to build successful marketing, sales and, ultimately, profits, will help you achieve “A Year of Selling Profitably.” Click to order a copy.