Recently I read an interesting statistic: People tracking their calories underestimate by 25%. I guess that would explain why so many diets “don’t work!” Good intentions alone can’t help you make a goal that’s based strictly on math.  It’s as true for sales as it is for waist lines. Reps know their sales goal and what it will take in terms of prospecting calls, meetings, and quotes to reach that goal, but they tend to overestimate that they have actually done the work to mathematically achieve goal. Since both weight loss and sales are dependent on the numbers, and both require hard work but have awesome results, I thought I’d get you off to a great start to the school year by stealing the experts’ diet tips and turning them into sales hacks we can use to stay on track to goal!

  1. Set Goals. Just knowing what you want to weigh isn’t a specific enough goal. To achieve it, you need to know how many calories you have to net each day, and make a realistic plan to execute on that. It’s the same with a sales goal. How can you meet it if you don’t also have sales activity goals of the right things to do in the right numbers that will secure your goal? This school year tune up your activity goals. Top reps know roughly how many calls it takes to create an opportunity, how many opportunities result in a proposal, and how many proposals close. If you don’t have these numbers yet, a good guess in B2E is to devote 1/3 of your time to prospecting activities designed to create new opportunities. Those activities are usually calls, emails, cold calls (in person drop-ins). Keep measuring your results to build your own index of how many of each it takes to succeed.
  2. Plan Ahead. If you head into dinner hour hungry and without a plan for a healthy meal, chances are you’ll let your “hangry” emotions take over and wind up making a poor choice. Sales prospecting work is the same thing. If you start the week without a prospecting plan, you’ll find out quickly enough that by mid-week you haven’t done very much outreach. Most reps that do this will react by researching a list of targets to contact, which is ready by late Thursday or Friday morning. Then they think, this is bad time to call anyone so I’ll just wait till Monday. D’Oh! A whole week without prospecting. But not this school year—you’re always going to plan the week ahead by blocking time to accomplish all your needed activity goals. You’ll start to realize that to reach your activity goal for a whole month you need to plan carefully around the many school holidays, testing days, “popsicle days,” and otherwise useless sales days in the school year. Those dark days are when you can afford to work on administrative tasks, list building, research, picking things up at the printer, and so on. Don’t even think about doing that during the time you’ve blocked for prospecting.  
  3. Track Activity. Weight Watchers is a billion dollar business for a reason. They have mastered tools for dieters to track what they eat so they stay on target. You may think you are accomplishing your sales activity, (Yay, I sent out emails today!) but are you like the people that underestimate what we really eat by 25%? You may know you’re supposed to make 50 outbound contacts on a particular day, and you are happy that you put in a few hours at it, but maybe you are really making only 37. Do you want to miss your sales goal by 25%? So don’t miss your activity goal by 25%. Track everything you do in your CRM and you will not only be far more organized and more effective in the work you do, you’ll know exactly what the right activities are to do in the right amount to make your goal. No better way to do it.
  4. Track Results. I guess I gave this away in the last tip, but you need to routinely “get on the scale” and reflect on what works and in what quantity. My favorite ROI game to play with sales reps is when they submit a request to exhibit at a trade show. The next sales rep I coach that doesn’t love attending conferences as a form of prospecting will be the first rep I coach that doesn’t. Personally I find most conferences to have poor ROI. Why do I know this? Because I’ve meticulously tracked the amount of time it takes to prep, travel to, attend and travel back from conferences. I’ve tracked how many real opportunities reps create at these conferences. Even setting aside the expense which is another negative, the time invested doesn’t yield the same amount of opportunity dollars that direct sales activities during those hours would. Now, I get it. There is likely some PR value and lead generation from conference participation that isn’t measurable. I’ll concede that each state or region likely has one you should be a part of each year. But this year, when you track all your time and the results you get from it, you’re going to realize trade shows take away from, not add to, your ability to fill your pipeline.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. If a dieter gets off his calorie plan and the scale knows it, what’s the best solution? Do better next week. Life almost always gives us another chance to make a better choice. The point of kicking off your school year with a fresh attitude and new tracking techniques is that it is a school year-long effort to make all this kind of tracking and executing habitual. If you felt you could only commit to one habit of all the ones I’m suggesting, the best one to build into your routine is 30 minutes of reflection every Friday at 5 pm.   Look back at your week, honestly make your tallies, and think about what you want to do first thing Monday to drive your success. You’ll have good weeks and bad weeks but none of us are judged one week at a time. Have a better week next week, every week.
  6. Reward yourself for success. When you lose those ten pounds you get a great new outfit to show it off, yes? Find ways to reward yourself for sticking to your sales tracking and meeting your sales activity goals this year. Pick a treat that you earn for tracking a solid month, and another for each month you meet your activity goals. Eventually your sales commissions will be your reward, but I think it helps along the way to celebrate the small victories, even if it’s just putting a sticker on your wall calendar.

Here’s to you having your best school sales year ever!

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