Hindsight: Reflecting on Bad Sales Behaviors
Since all of you who read me know about my penchant for clichés, it will come as no surprise that I’ve got another one for you this week.
If only I knew THEN what I know NOW.
The power of 20/20 hindsight is important, especially if we actually apply some of the lessons we learn in order to make our present and future better and brighter. What follows is a reflection on my past career as a sales person in print. I aim to identify the behaviors and paths I chose that limited me, kept my earnings sometimes lower than they could have been, and possibly even hurt my reputation at times. These are in no particular order.
MY SALES APPROACH—For many years, beginning in the mid ’90s, this is what I sounded like. “My name is Kelly and I specialize in digital printing of all kinds. I’d like to talk to you about saving you money on your printing. Do you have any jobs coming up that I can quote on?”
Yuck! I know the concept of solution selling is a newer philosophy, but just think how much higher my close ratios would have been had I focused on the needs and problems of my prospects—not what my iron did and what my prices were! Or even better, if I had researched the company and actually knew something about it and its goals before I even picked up the phone!
MY PLAN OF ATTACK—As a new salesperson, I was all about cold calling. But as I developed and got more “successful,” my approach to new business development was scattershot at best. It took me about 10 years, and some great coaching by a fellow PI blogger, to realize that I had to have commitment, discipline and a serious approach that was measurable to be truly successful in landing new accounts. If I had executed a prospecting plan and stuck to it with daily activity, commitment and accountability, I am quite sure I would have earned as much as double what I made in my best year.
MY FOCUS—There were many times in my sales career when I was distracted by personal issues. I would check personal e-mail, gave my office number to friends and family, and burned up a lot of selling hours on matters that had nothing to do with business. It was not until I started at Canon Business Solutions after 16 years in sales that I enacted a new policy.
After that, I would never check personal e-mail from a work computer and NO ONE had my office number, not even my husband. I NEVER held a personal phone conversation within earshot of a colleague. Sound drastic? Perhaps. But I was 100 percent focused and present whenever I was in the office, and I never gave any of my colleagues or superiors any ammunition to use against me. I held conversations when I was en route to a sales call (I had a big territory that was fairly far away) and I always waited til the end of the day to check my e-mail.
So now that I am much older and somewhat wiser (I hope), maybe what’s in my rearview mirror can help you change today and tomorrow, even next week and next month.
Please chime in and share with all of us what’s in your rearview mirror. I am always looking to learn something new.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.