Optimism & Opportunities for Selling More Print This Year
In a thoroughly forgettable movie, called “The Gumball Rally,” a cross-country car race is held amongst an international cast of characters. It’s a strange place to look for inspiration, but Franco, the Italian driver played by Raul Julia, delivers a line we can use to think about all that happened in 2020, put it in perspective, and view the year ahead. At the start of the race, Franco rips off his rearview mirror and throws it out the window, exclaiming, “What’s-a behind me is no important,” and then screams down the road.
You might still have your helmet on, carefully strapped under your chin. That’s good. We are not out of the woods yet (as your author learned when he tested positive for COVID-19 in early December). Hopefully, the tank is full of gas, and the tires are properly inflated. You might even have a roadmap, a plan for how to grow your sales.
That’s good. All that’s left is the right attitude. It’s an approach you have probably not been able to take for quite a while: optimism. That feeling has been in short supply of late, but it’s time to dust it off and see life ahead through the lens of making 2021 a record year! It’s doable. You have the skills and the means. The ingredients are there. They just need the recipe, and a cook with the right mental approach.
Almost every sales challenge you have faced in the past 12 months can be blamed away, and rightly so. It was not your fault, and you can look to a large number of events and circumstances no one saw coming. Ordinarily, when asked “Why aren’t you selling more?” a sales rep’s response would sound like lame excuses and misplaced responsibility.
Such explanations sound like weak excuses when, in actuality, they are not doing their job, or they offer up a statement like, “I could sell more if our prices were lower.” Sales challenges in 2020, such as not being able to find the decision-maker (or anyone for that matter), loss of business, lack of motivation, etc., fall squarely on the shoulders of the Lord Voldemort of pandemics: COVID-19.
Ring in the New Year!
What’s more, the blame was deserved. However, after the ball dropped at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the page has now turned and a new year means new possibilities. New opportunities.
That’s an important word: opportunities. It’s plural for the Latin phrase, ob port veniens, or “coming toward a port.” Think of it as a favorable wind — one that finally fills your sales (pun intended).
The only question is, do you have enough opportunity identified to make 2021 your best-selling year ever? After all, that is a primary function of a salesperson looking to increase sales volume. To better understand, let’s begin with the end in mind, and then work backwards.
Ultimately, we need to make a sale. Sales are derived from opportunities. Opportunities are identified after contact is made with a customer or prospect and potential is found. Prior to that, salespeople are trolling for business, looking for their target market, and trying to see where they might fit, make a difference, solve a problem, or meet a business need. A prospect shows potential, and that becomes an opportunity. The more opportunities identified, the greater the chance for growth.
Take a Measured Approach
Top salespeople are always aware of the number of opportunities they currently have. Some even have a spreadsheet and a weekly alarm on their calendar recommending they review the list and take action as necessary. Without a robust number of opportunities, meeting their sales goals will come down to luck. That is not a plan.
The best-of-the-best focus their attention on moving a selling situation from “cold” status, where there is nothing but a contact name, phone number/email, and potential, to the possibility of doing business, a.k.a. an opportunity.
Next, as each opportunity is revisited on a regular basis, the sales needle moves a little here, a little there, and then one of two things happen: either that runner crosses the plate or is tagged out. But success cannot happen and a sale cannot be rung up before it first becomes an opportunity.
Make it your job, then, to start that list and make certain there are enough boxes filled to meet your sales goal.
It’s Really All About Attitude
Optimism will help get you there. A sales rep with a good attitude — one who sees the glass as more than half full — can harness that emotion into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You need to believe that things will get better, believe that you can sell your way out of any hole, and then add a firm belief both in and for one more thing: Your customer.
The general mood in the marketplace has been anything but positive. Fear and uncertainty are rampant, even among the rare bright financial spots. That’s a difficult environment to sell into. The soil is not exactly fertile.
But it’s interesting to see just how similar the challenges your client base faces are to your own. You need business. They need business. Has it ever occurred to you that you can solve your problems by solving theirs? Customers and prospects are sitting around wondering how to drive business. Can you help with that? They need to get a message out. Got any ideas on how they might do that? Ponder this: The true essence of your job as a print sales rep is to help your customers find their customers. Put that thought between your ears as you go about your selling day.
The core message you must deliver comes from a place of optimism. Life is about to get better. 2020 is over. We survived. We made it through. You can choose to wallow in what was, or you can choose to see what is possible ahead. Which windshield do you want to look out of? There will be plenty of opportunity to tell your grandkids how you quarantined for weeks with only 200 TV channels to choose from, and how things got so bad, you actually read a book. Oh, the horrors.
The year 2021 is now upon us. Let’s go. Start by grabbing the rearview mirror with both hands, snapping it off, and throwing it out the window. There is no need to look back. No more excuses. What’s behind you is not important.
Let’s talk about sales growth for your clients and prospects and, therefore, you. Let’s think about their business needs and create an abundance of opportunities. You can sell your way out of any hole. You can lead clients forward to a better place. You can choose optimism.
Go sell stuff!