By Brett Lyons
Lots of people set personal goals each new year, but not enough of us take the time to sit down and reflect first. In both our personal and professional lives, it’s important to take stock. The new year is an opportune time for sales people at all levels to reflect on their professional performance and plan for challenges ahead.
Reflection is the first (and often hardest) step of improvement. You may be a sales director, sales manager, account manager, sales executive – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re honest about your track record in 2015. Which of the following are you?
2015 has been a great year; you have achieved your objectives, delivered outstanding results, developed your industry profile and won the respect of management, peers, colleagues and customers.
It has been a tough year, but by calling in favours, perhaps pulling business in from next year and frantically closing sales cycles by 31 Dec 2015, you managed to make your objectives. You’re relieved to have made it through the year.
This year has not been what it could have been; for whatever reason, things haven’t quite gone to plan. 2016 has to be better, because you can’t have another year like the last.
Acknowledging which one of these you are is important. So is recognising which one you want to be for the coming year. Whether you’re a Performer, Scrambler or Struggler, you cannot change the past. You can, however, change the future. Desires for positive outcomes will not get you anywhere, they will only happen if you put a plan in place. So what is your plan for 2016?
‘What am I going to do differently in 2016?’
This is a difficult question that deserves careful consideration. But if you really want to succeed, you owe it to yourself to take that time. Remember: desire is great, but action is reality. If you are:
A Performer: what are you going to do differently to stay a performer? You have had a great 2015, but there’s always room for improvement. So how can you improve in 2016?
A Scrambler: do you really want to be scrambling again this time next year? What are the changes you will make in the way you do your job to make sure you have an outstanding 2016?
- A Struggler: your approach in 2015 clearly hasn’t been working – it needs to change. It’s not about experience. It’s not about luck. It’s about doing things differently.
New things to try this year
If you haven’t already got these measures in place, put them into action now.
Get a Mentor or a Coach: Talk to someone you respect. Meet up with them regularly to run ideas past them. When advice and guidance are offered, put it into action.
Look in the Mirror: What is the honest advice you would give someone in your position? No excuses, defensiveness or rationalisation. What would you tell yourself to do?
- Growth Accounts: Most of us have accounts like these. A growth account is one that does business with you but could do considerably more. So what do you have to do to get more?
Your Contacts: Do you need to deal with different, maybe more senior, stakeholders?
The Needs: When did you last complete a needs analysis with all the stakeholders? Is your business proposition what they are looking for?
The Decision Factors: What are the things you would have to change for the customer to place more business with you, e.g. terms, pricing, product, service and support? If a competitor is winning business you’d like, they are doing something different to you.
The Competition: What is the competition doing differently to you? If there is a competitive advantage, would the potential increase in business justify changing your offering?
- Perception: Does the customer realise you would like to do more business?
New Business Development: How many new accounts would make a substantial difference to your performance? Whatever your target, what do you need to do in order to achieve it?
- Your Personal Brand: How do your colleagues, customers, and your line manager see you? Ask people you trust for an honest opinion and decide if you need to make changes. Top performers are usually viewed as ‘go to’ people who attract customers and have the respect of their peer group.
So, Performer, Scrambler, Struggler – which will you be this year?
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