This is a guest blog post by founder and managing director of the Menemsha Group, Dan Fisher. The Menemsha Group provides sales training and consulting services to the IT staffing industry. You can connect with Dan on Linkedin, Twitter, or on his IT staffing sales blog.
Have you ever heard the tale of the woodcutters? Woodcutter A cuts wood all day long. Woodcutter B keeps stopping and sitting down. At the end of the day Woodcutter B has three times more wood than Woodcutter A. Woodcutter A asks “how could this be, you were resting all day?” Woodcutter B says, “I wasn’t resting, I was sharpening my saw.”
I remember after my first year in sales thinking to myself, “I want to double my income next year. I just need to double my activity level.” While I did accomplish that goal, I also remember waking up to many cold Chicago winter mornings at 5:00 am so that I could get into the office and fit all of my sales tasks and activities into the day. Looking back on those days, I feel pretty foolish. What a rudimentary thought process! That was almost twenty years ago.
What continues to amaze me to this day IT staffing firm however is that when I consult with IT staffing firms and work with IT staffing sales professionals, the mentality, philosophy and core strategy still hinges almost exclusively on activity levels. This philosophy is flawed because it’s not scalable and it is rooted in the belief that sales is primarily a numbers game. But is it? Seriously, think about it. Is sales a numbers game? I think not.
Over the years I have learned that top performing sales people are usually not the hardest working nor do they work the longest hours. I could go on and on about the guys I worked with at Oracle (who killed it without working very hard) but that’s another story. Top performers are top performers because of the quality of the work they produce and their ability to execute. It’s not the number of meetings they go on but what they accomplish in those meetings that sets them apart.
Imagine if you could make three more placements per month without exerting any addtional effort? Even better, what if you could close more deals per month AND work less? There is a way to accomplish this. I know there is because I have done it and I have helped others do it as well.
Are You Ever Going To Get Off That Wheel?
Now please keep in mind that I have worked with thousands of sales reps in the IT staffing industry, so what I’m about to say is NOT bravado but based purely on experience. For the most part, IT staffing sales professionals “wing it.” That’s right. 2% call planning, strategy and execution, 98% “no guts no glory.” How can I make such a generalization? Those of you who have been through my workshops know that I often start them by playing the objection rebuttal game. Real simple….I put people on the spot by giving them an objection and they have to offer up their best rebuttal. The objections are basic, stuff you hear everday. But 95% of the rebuttals I hear would never fly with a real client. Many of the rebuttals are not credible and the delivery of the rebuttal….let’s just say it’s not a smoothe and polished delivery. This little exericse tells me that most sales reps in the industry are investing little to no time at practicing and honing their skills. Instead of practicing and working on improving their ability to execute, they simply hop back on the hamster wheel. Why? Because sales is a numbers game. More activity means more deals right? Let me ask you, how hard and for how long can you run? Who are you, Forrest Gump?
Close More Deals….Work Less….How?
What if you knew exactly how to execute every possible sales scenario-objection, negotiation, candidate feedback, email response, f2f client meeting, etc-you face as an IT staffing sales professional? You’d clearly be a top perfomer. You can. You just need to create a sales playbook. What is a sales playbook you ask? A sales playbook is a documented guide containing content specific and experiences on the most successful ways to sell your service. Your sales playbook is the accumulated wisdom of your sales reps, and entire staff who have had experience selling to your customers. Every scenario that your staff enounters is documented so that you can learn from it and practice. The worlds leading organizations across a multitude of industries are utilizing sales playbooks. In fact, a recent study conducted by CSO (Chief Sales Officer) Insights revealed that the number one priorty on the mind of CSO’s in 2013 is “improving sales effectiveness.” Not on cross-selling, improving customer loyalty or opening new accounts. Improving sales effectiveness. This means improving how you execute each step of your sales process.
When you (or your employees) are in any customer facing situation, you’re in one of two categories. Either you have practiced the situation before and know exactly how to handle it or you don’t have the information and you have not practiced how to deal with it. Which category would you prefer to be in?
If we learned anything from our friend Woodcutter B, taking the time to sharpen your tools and hone your skills will make you FAR more productive in the long run. Think about that before you step back on your hamster wheel!