The other day, I was teaching a group of seasoned salespeople a handful of basic, core principles that will make even the best salesperson better and when applied, make an average salesperson excellent.

As I began the workshop, I asked the question, “What are you trying to accomplish as a salesperson?” All of their answers were in the ballpark. We agreed on this definition: “The purpose of a salesperson is to bring profitable sales to the company.” Simple, yet profound.  We then discussed several reasons why salespeople were not as successful as they could be. I’m going to list a few reasons we discussed, accompanied by my thoughts relating to each one. These reasons may seem similar to the ones that plague you, and my responses may be a solution to your own sales dilemma.

  1. Not enough time:  There will never be enough time in a day.  There will be constant challenges for the time you have and emergencies will endlessly raise their ugly heads.  The only way to deal with time is to begin your day with a plan. Plan to be on time for work and leave after completing a full day.  Make a written plan of all the things that must be done, along with all the things you would like to get done during the day. Prioritize and then determine how much time you will spend achieving each item on your list.  Remember, the number one “time waster” in the world is spending more time on a task than it deserves. Now, move each item to a time frame. Block out as much time as each task requires. Move from one task to the next throughout the day, maintaining a constant vigilance against the ever-present distractions that will throw you off track.  Don’t take the complacent attitude that you are too busy to plan. Planning takes work and application; it will improve the effective use of your time by a minimum of twenty percent. Once you have made your plan, do everything within your power to avoid distractions and strive to stay on course.

  2. Don’t have enough prospects:  Make prospecting a major part of your daily activity.  Even during the busiest day, as you deal with all the detail and drama of selling, make sure you still spend even fifteen minutes prospecting.  Stay in the habit of daily prospecting. The definition of prospecting is to engage yourself in those activities that will allow you to discover profitable sales opportunities.  The most effective source of prospecting centers on your current and past customers. To be effective, you must know their business as if it were your own. Look for opportunities to solve problems through the use of your products or services.  If there are no current sales opportunities with current or past customers, ask them for referrals. Also, make sure you have a current letter of recommendation from each customer that can be used to influence other prospects.

  3. There are too many distractions throughout the course of the day:  Guess what? There will always be distractions.  You can avoid the majority of them through the daily practice of planning and scheduling your day.  You must make a constant effort to stay focused on the achievement of your daily plan. Success doesn’t just happen, and luck is not a component of the success process.  Planning and then following the plan is the main ingredient of success. The perfectly executed day, void of any distraction is about as rare as a colorless, flawless diamond.  Be vigilant, constantly on alert for those distractions that will move you off course.

  4. I’m really busy, but not making much progress:  Probably the most common words spoken by a salesperson refer to always being busy.  That may be true, but busy has nothing to do with profitable. The solution is to set goals.  Sales goals must be realistic, challenging, and achievable. Every sales goal must be time and date specific and should have a list of activities that, when completed, will result in the achievement of the goal.  You can monitor your performance by the completion of the goal activities. If you are not doing the activities, you are not making progress, and if you are not making progress you will not achieve your goals no matter how busy you are.

Now that you understand the four plagues of sales success, you can apply the solutions and enjoy even greater success.  Remember, it is not what you know, but rather what you do with knowledge that makes a difference.