“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine…” may be the lyrics of a 1972 Seals & Crofts’ tune, but this summer seems anything but fine. This summer, the economy is uncertain and people are anxious.
With rules and guidance varying from state-to-state and by country, companies and communities will begin to acclimate to the “new normal” in the wake of COVID-19. Though there is still much uncertainty as we hopefully move to a path of recovery, one thing is certain – it is more important now than ever to focus on process, consistency and discipline. Here are three strategies to help keep focused this summer.
In talking with our clients, we’ve found that companies with well-documented processes – and reps who adopt those processes – are more successful in remote work situations. Process matters when you don't have the luxury of observation and in-person coaching for your sales teams.
With an established sales process, people know what they are supposed to do, and they know how they are supposed to do it. There is no floundering in terms of: “How do I do this?” or “What do I do next?” We’ve seen companies that are process-oriented in their sales approach have a leg up on companies that attempt to manage a bunch of “cowboys” where everybody does their own thing.
What should you do now if you haven’t yet established sales processes? Our research validates that high-growth companies invest in sales coaching to teach their sales teams the skills – and processes – they need to better support customers.
Need to start now? …
Companies that are consistent in their execution are also outperforming companies that lack a consistent approach to selling. One of our associates commented that “consistency is often more important than intensity” and I think this is very true. Examples of intensity might include spontaneously running a road race, writing a book in 30 days, or participating in a week-long meditation retreat.
While intensity might be impressive and make a good story, consistency is what delivers progress. Consistency means you are in it for the long-term. For example, a consistent person might not miss a planned workout out for two years, or will write every week, or meditate every day. In our experience, sales reps that demonstrate consistent behaviors focused in the right direction, outperform their peers.
It’s easy to say, “I’m tired; I don't want to get up and do the grind.” However, when you have consistency, you say, “I am going to get up and do this on a consistent basis, in spite of the grind.” A consistent sales rep will say, “There's always more that I can do to advance this opportunity,” instead of saying “I’ve done enough.”
With a strong foundation of process and consistency, the next key is discipline which builds upon being consistent.
Discipline requires consistency, and often bends and trains our wills and desires through doing things that aren’t already second nature. In my management workshop, I often quote a gentleman by the name of Albert E.N. Gray. He was an official of the Prudential Insurance Company of America in the 1940s, and he gave a speech on The Common Denominator of Success. In this speech he asserts, “the common denominator of success – secret of success of every individual who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he or she formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”
In essence, the only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people make a habit of doing the things that unsuccessful people hate to do. To me, this is the ultimate definition of discipline. You can think about this in terms of diet or exercise, and you can think about it in terms of sales. There are a lot of salespeople who say they hate to pick up the phone, they hate to cold call. Guess what? Successful people do it anyway, and they do it with discipline.
Those prospecting activities become the non-negotiable time blocks on their calendar. Some of the most successful salespeople I know say, “I am going to schedule a call block every day, even when I don't feel like it, even when I am busy with other activities.” They figure it out because they know that if they do not prospect every day, they will encounter a time when their pipeline is not robust enough to support their goals and objectives.