Here is another one of those blogs where the Universe has conspired to bring a topic to light.
I’ve been on a campaign to move sellers from their Intuitive behaviors to intentional actions.
We do so many things naturally, in the course of selling, like building relationships, asking questions, responding . . . but often, we don’t carry our intentions forward through our intuitive actions.
For example, we dial the number of a prospect because we want to talk about next steps, but have we really stopped to consider WHY they would move forward, WHAT the next steps should be, and WHO or WHAT could impact their process? Setting your intention is preparing for desired outcomes and thinking through pushback, obstacles, and challenges.
It’s not happening enough. I’d almost say at an EPIDEMIC level. Not enough intention.
So, this past week it seems like signs are everywhere that I should be more intentional about sharing how intentions intentionally produce results.
- I worked with a sales team selling to existing manufacturing clients to set up defined conversations about upgrading to a specific product that’s better quality and a premium price. The sellers were simply mentioning the product previously – they didn’t want to push too hard. Setting and prepping for focused conversations converted 30% more clients than their previous efforts.
- One of the sales pros I work with re-tooled his follow up messaging to apply value and offer insights that are more meaningful to his prospects (shared research on the customers’ customer’s industry, introduced a team member, created a personalized video). After we finished, he had an increase of 3 more responses this week than average, including one target that had been radio silent for 4 months.
- An attorney friend was extremely anxious about a meeting with a difficult client. We walked through all the potential push-back scenarios and discussed obstacles. She was able to handle the client with ease and renewed the boundaries of their working relationship.
- And, lastly, when I gave my volleyball players a target to hit in practice – as they were serving – their percentage over increased and they were remarkably more accurate. Then I had them “call their shots” to tell me if they were serving low and fast or high and deep. Again, more accurate!
Intention creates purposeful outcomes. Pay ATTENTION to your Intentions with these 3 guides:
Intentional Acts vs Subconscious Habits. There’s a biological reason we fall into habits. We operate from our subconscious brain probably 90% of the time. We are on autopilot so we don’t have to make decisions and constantly think about things we’ve already learned, like, how to walk, fire is hot, look both ways before crossing the road, et cetera. Well, if you put enough things on autopilot, you’ll end up sort of sleepwalking through your day. Ever driven to work and not remember the trip? Yeah, that’s your subconscious – your caveman’s brain – taking over and making stuff happen. Your caveman brain steps in a lot and you end up doing things because of habit, reacting because of prior experiences, or also potentially devastating – your actions are based out of fear (stay safe, don’t leave the cave or the cave bear will eat you!)
Being intentional about your actions is about preparation, foresight, and anticipating challenges or obstacles.
What can you bring more intention to in your daily sales practice? Calls? Emails? Meetings? (yes, yes, and YES).
Incremental Measurement vs Results Only. There’s this principle out there called, “Goodhart’s Law” – which states, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”
You can see this very visibly in the Inside Sales (or SDR) roles within many organizations now. Sales reps are pounded with the “Make more calls” creed. Make 50 calls daily. Or, they are measured by a goal to set 20 appointments a week for Account Executives to follow up on. If there is only one measure of success – the end result, the quality and purpose are lost on the goal. SDRs that are hammered with this and measured only by the number of calls made or the number of appointments set, start generating garbage appointments. The goal is not a QUALITY meeting, the benchmark for success becomes, “Just get one set up and you’re good. Goal = met.”
What measurements of quality and quantity indicate you’re successfully moving towards goals?
When you have several measurable checkpoints and include qualitative evaluations, your results will improve greatly. For example, have 10 prequalified conversations daily, listen to recorded calls for feedback, collaborate with your AE partners to get feedback on meetings . . .
Rewards and Consequences. Let me go back to volleyball practice here (#SorryNotSorry – sports is such an incredible training ground for sales). My players – ages 12 and 13 are still learning how to be athletes. How to anticipate plays, think strategically, and react reflexively. The thing that hacks me off most is when a serve hits the floor and no player on my team “went for it.” I mean, REALLY steaming mad. I used to make them run laps, do pushups, and burpees right there when we had a “Cow Patty” – which I’ve affectionally named these dropped balls. All this accomplished was making the players tired and angry at whom they believed inflicted this punishment upon them. More “stick” than “carrot” type of coaching. Then, I instituted a new plan – I would tally up the number of “Cow Patties” during a practice and have them do some really awful-terrible-hated conditioning at the end of practice (think a combination of burpees, squats, pushups, wall sits, and planks).
However, they could “work off” those cow patties if they successfully executed a three touch play: Bump, set, spike. This works like a charm. They let fewer balls drop and really work together to work them off. Cheering each other on, calling for the ball, and celebrating like mad when they work off a point to try to get to ZERO by the end of practice. And what you practice – shows up in the game. Making the results all that more awesome!
Rewards are excellent incentives but combined with consequences that you can effectively influence, the combo has a remarkable impact on outcomes.
The intention here might look like working through your list of follow up calls before you leave for the day. If you don’t make it through your list, perhaps your consequence is that you don’t watch a movie or eat dessert. Perhaps the reward for working through your list is, CLOSED DEALS! Whatever floats YOUR boat.
What systems of rewards and consequences can you use to govern your actions and improve your results?
Intentional behaviors, purposeful actions = positive results.
There are dozens of opportunities to be more intentional. I’m applying more intention to my practice right this very week (the Universe is telling me this, right!) We can be more intentional in our relationships, with our customers, with our children and friends.
I’d love to hear about what YOU are going to be more focused and intentional about this week. And share your results too!
Until next time, stop hoping and start SELLING!