A Top 10 Bucket List For 2019
And just like that, 2018 has wound down and we look ahead to 2019. This is the time of year for thanks and gifts, visits and joy and, of course, Top 10 lists. Salespeople? Here’s yours. It’s a bucket list for achieving sales success during the coming year. Do not enter 2019 without:
1). Having read these three non-sales books:
a. “Never Split the Difference” (Chris Voss) — Written by a former FBI agent, this book gives you a new perspective on two universal sales weaknesses: Negotiating and closing. It’s even better as an audiobook.
b. “The Five Elements of Effective Thinking” (Edward Burger and Michael Starbird) — Become a more creative thinker by learning unique problem-solving skills that you will use again and again.
c. “The Assertiveness Workbook” (Randy Paterson) — Learn how to turn up the dial on your sales approach and engage a “one more” attitude. Become more than passive and less than aggressive.
2). Someone who will say to you, “You can!” All of us, but especially salespeople, have a basic human need for encouragement. As the saying goes, no one gets dropped off at the top of the mountain. Growing your sales and reaching the summit will consist of fits and starts, advances and retreats, booms and busts. You’re going to need someone in your corner, not telling you how great you are, but rather how capable you are and how much confidence they have in your abilities.
The four most powerful words in sales management are: “I believe in you.” Said with honesty and sincerity, the benefits are twofold. First, you will achieve greater success and, second, it will give you the ability to hear …
3). Someone who will say to you, “You suck!” A friend will give you constructive criticism, kind feedback and suggest gentle course corrections. A good friend removes the filter and delivers the raw truth. If you want to get better and reach the upper echelons of sales — and if you truly want to be No. 1 — you will need to be brave enough to bear your soul and take the occasional gut punch.
Yes, it will bring you to your knees. No, you will not recover suddenly or quickly. But you will be glad in the long run that someone has removed the sugarcoating and cares enough about you to accept this difficult, but necessary, role in your life.
4). An answer to the question, “Why do people buy from me?” Two salespeople sit side-by-side. They could not be more different. From gender to personality to approach to level of assertiveness, they are the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito of twin salespeople.
One succeeds on purity and strength, and the other on devilish charm and tenacity. Almost universally, clients prefer one over the other. But why? You need to understand the reason(s) that someone chooses you over another. Such an understanding will help you to better and more quickly identify your target market.
5). An answer to the question, “What problem am I solving?” Too often, print salespeople “sell print.” That is, they believe it’s their job to provide the customer with the lowest possible price and to win business through the removal of all profit.
Instead, learn the story behind the printed piece, put some thought into their business needs, learn their problems and then sell ideas and solutions. In doing so, you will reestablish customer loyalty and get a seat at the cool table where customers discuss meaningful ideas and where you are able to design jobs to your own specs.
6). A “Where do I want to be in 12 months?” goal. Close your eyes (actually, it’s best to wait until after you read this bucket list item). Think ahead to the end of 2019.
While considering everything from your sales volume to your income to your health, relationships and any other personal aspect you want to toss into this equation, where do you want to be at the end of the year? What do you want to achieve? Think big. Remove limiting beliefs. Describe your life in its highest and best terms.
The more time you spend on this aspect and the more detailed your description becomes, the more motivating you will find this exercise to be.
7). Achieving a basic level of organization. In the coming weeks, when the holidays are over, things will get crazy again. The new year will start, and with it comes kickoff meetings, client reviews and sales quotas, followed by prospecting and a return to a chaotic work environment.
Now is the time to take stock and hit the reset button. Start with a physical cleaning of your office. If you can’t tell what color your desk is, that might be a sign that this action is overdue. Go through your to-do’s. Read back emails. The net result should be a list of actionable items. Then, you can get to the task of …
8). Creating an opportunities list. Not all of those actionable items should receive action. Just because it’s a to-do doesn’t automatically mean it gets to-done. A task that has been open for several months is likely to still be there next summer. Where should you spend your time?
Which customers on this opportunities list represent the best, well, opportunity? This can be nothing more than a spreadsheet that lists the company name, a quick description of what’s going on, and then a running record of the calls that have been made and what needs to get done next.
9). Identifying your profit pillars. This is a concept that you might need to spend some time considering. When you think about your total sales volume, and then break it down, you might see a pattern emerge. You could separate the numbers by product lines, client size or vertical market. That way, you’d be able to focus future sales attention to only those areas instead of scattering your efforts.
10). Taking a break! Before you begin and before the ball drops — ushering in a new sales year — exhale. You’ve earned it. Push your chair away from the desk, grab a pad of paper and a pen, and get out of the office.
Do some free thinking. Look back. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? Answer the question, “Why aren’t I selling more?” and then be honest with your self-appraisal. Think about the skills and support you’ll need to reach the next level.
There’s a reason why we had recess in elementary school and you’ll need to take a time out in order to put everything into perspective moving forward.
Okay! Once you work your way through this list and put a check mark next to each number, you may proceed to 2019 with expectations of success. There are sure to be new challenges, new opportunities and new adventures.
And the boss of it all is sales. But you’ve met this new boss. It’s the same as the old boss.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.