Sales is about uncertainty, it’s true. Just ask anyone who’s been in this game for a while. Prospects, appointments, quotas, un-returned calls, meetings without any follow ups from the prospect and many other things just add to this overall feeling of “I have no idea where my next job will come from”.
Yes, uncertainty is definitely one of the sales problems many small business owners experience. The trouble is though, most of it is self inflicted.
I very rarely write about things that do not closely relate to the actual mechanics of selling. Today however I want to talk about something that’s related but not entirely a part of the selling process, it’s still quite important though.
The fear of what will happen tomorrow.
I bet you know it really well. It’s that feeling you have in your belly when you look at your projects list and realize that you are working on the very last one and there is nothing else after that. What’s even worse, you know that there are no new projects coming in and that none of your prospects is ready to buy (or even worse, you have no prospects you are working on at the moment). It’s the moment when you realize that you actually don’t know what is going to happen next in your business.
And I bet it sounds familiar.
What’s this got to do with sales? Quite a lot actually and believe me, it affects the way you make sales and the sales you make. Why? Because the moment the fear and the uncertainty kick in is the very same moment that you start making serious sales mistakes:
You reduce your price (I wrote more about it here)
You panic and lose focus
You look for quick wins (as if there were any in selling)
You stop nurturing your current relationships, even ignore them and manically focus on getting new clients
You start to look desperate
You try to set up meetings with anyone
You stop qualifying prospects before initiating the sales process
You make promises you can’t keep
You start giving discounts and add-ons you can’t afford, just to get the job
and many others.
Of course, no one expects from you to know what to do all the time. Even professional sales fall into the trap of panicking. However, most of them know very well that selling takes time. It is very rare that you make sales the minute you meet your prospect for the first time ever. It happens, sure. It happened to me once or twice, however focusing your entire sales strategy on that is a business suicide.
Sales takes time, there is nothing you can do about it. Sales is also uncertain, you work on it but quite often you can’t tell what the final result is going to be. There’s nothing you can do about it. However, you can learn how to control the state of your sales and make sure that you always have something going on that can result in more work.
If you want to make it in sales, you need to work on them consistently, every day. Even if you don’t make a sale that day, simply by working on them you ensure that a new sale is practically around the corner.
And you do that by following a strict sales plan.
Most sales people will tell you that they have their own sales plan worked out. In reality, on a small business level, it is possible to establish a simple, generic plan that you could use in your company.
I created a 14 day quick start guide to selling that takes you through all preparation stage for setting up your sales process and creates a routine that you can implement into your workflow and work on to make more sales. It is a good starting point to developing your own process in the future (or keeping the one from the guide, it works)
The key in sales is consistency. Even a tiny action every day brings you closer to a new sale. A solid sales process ensures that you know what to do and do what is necessary in order to make it.
Remember, the difference between those who make sales and those who make accidental sales is the use of a sales process.
How do you establish where in the selling process you are with your prospects?
How many sales happen to you accidentally and how many are the ones you worked on really hard?