Every salesperson has made the silent declaration that this year will be the best sales year ever.  

You hope, you wish, you think about it and talk about it; you might even think about it a little bit more.  You have a great day and the next day turns into a disaster.  After a few weeks you can’t possibly believe anything will be different, so you console yourself by believing that your past results are about as good as anyone could expect–considering the circumstances, whatever they may be.  You have rationalized (rational lies) your results instead of truly calculating what efforts are necessary to achieve your goal.

Let me share with you my approach to making this year the best sales year ever.  There are several steps that must be followed to turn your dream into a reality.  You have already tried your approach with less than satisfactory results, so open your mind to a different method.  Here are the steps:

  1. Review your historical sales by month and by customer.  Come to an understanding of what you have done and what it took to achieve those results.

  2. Based on your prior sales results, set a goal that could be achieved this year if you were able to reach the average of the top six sales months of the past year, each month of this new year.  You have achieved those results six times in the past, so you ought to be able to do it again.

  3. Evaluate the lowest performing six months of the past year.  How much more would you have needed to sell to raise those results to the average of the best six months of last year?  Is it humanly possible to achieve that kind of an increase?  Would it have taken just one more sale, or two or even three?

  4. Take a few minutes and evaluate the amount of effort you put into your sales last year.  Did you prospect effectively?  Were you asking for referrals and introductions to prospective buyers?  Did you assess the needs of the prospects as well as you know how?  Was your focus on solving the prospect’s needs?  Did you follow-up effectively?  Did you resolve all of the prospect’s concerns?  Think about your sales process and how well you performed each step of the process.  If you believe you could have done better, then determine, by way of a percentage, how much better you could have performed.

  5. Make an honest evaluation of the amount of time you spent last year focused on selling and following your sales process.  National statistics reveal that the average salesperson spends only about 4-5 hours each day working their sales process.  The rest of the time they are busy, but not selling.  Could you spend more time this year actually selling than you did last year?

  6. What did you sell last year?  Do you have products or services that could have been sold but you didn’t focus on them?  Did you sell the easy items, the low priced items; those things you felt most comfortable selling?  Sometimes it doesn’t take any more time to sell multiple items than single items.  As an example, if you are focused on selling parts, maybe you could also offer service.

  7. Evaluate your historical balance between finding new customers and servicing existing customers.  Are you spending too little or too much time with either group?  Remember, you lose existing customers if you don’t spend time with them and you will soon wonder where all your sales have gone if you don’t develop new customers.  Are you getting all the business possible with your existing customers?  How much more business could you discover if you just spent the time and asked the right questions.

  8. Top salespeople are not born that way; selling is not a genetic trait.  Like most other professions, the skills and knowledge are learned.  “Get yourself some learning.”  Read books, listen to MP3’s, enroll in sales training programs and improve your skills.  A doctor will study and train for ten to twelve years and then spend an average of ten hours each week learning new techniques just to stay current with their profession.  Attorneys, accountants, professors, engineers and every other professional person, spend years in college to qualify themselves in their profession.  How much training and education have you invested in to qualify you for a career in sales?  Let me say it again–educate yourself in the field of selling.  To be great, takes more than experience, it takes knowledge applied correctly.  You will never be the best salesperson you can be, until you have studied, practiced and applied those principles that the best salespeople know and do.

Make this year your best sales year ever.  Follow the steps I have listed and commit yourself to them.  They are simple, yet basic principles that will allow you to achieve a level of success you never thought possible.  By breaking down each aspect of your sales process and activity, you can clearly identify those things that will produce the results which have escaped your grasp until now.  The only thing standing in the way of realizing your best sales year ever, is you.