Having a conversation with a Sales Director the other day about his sales team and he remarked that only one seller made their quota last year. Several of the team members were new (6 months in), and the others . . . well, they’re struggling.
The one Account Executive that made quota has been there for more than 5 years. When we talked about how he achieved quota, it boiled down to hundreds of small, transactional orders and few projects. He was up to his eyeballs busy, busy, busy and brought on maybe one or two new clients. And guess what, his margins were not great either. And his pipeline is almost non-existent. Which means he’s unable to give an accurate (if any) forecast. He’s hoping to achieve quota but other than guessing, he’s not sure how he’s going to get there.
He has succumbed to “Order Taker” status.
But you might argue, if he made quota, what’s the problem with being an “order taker”?
Well, imagine you’re a football team and you play DEFENSE the entire game.
Your team is constantly trying to hold the line, prevent the other team from advancing, and your only ability to score comes from an interception or a safety.
Don’t read too much into the methods of scoring but just imagine taking the field with the goal of holding the line.
What happens to defenses that have too much time on the field? They get exhausted, they make mistakes, they give up points.
Whereas playing OFFENSE, or running Business Development plays in this metaphor, YOU decide which plays to run. You leverage your best assets. Read the other team’s signals and make the plays to score.
Being reactive and responsive is necessary, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY way you close business. This happens frequently with Account Executives. They develop business, get addicted to that hit of dopamine they receive when they get an order, and then begin looking for the easiest ways to feel that success. Over time, business development efforts are squeezed out in the name of managing existing business.
It’s logical and human. It’s not effective, or sustainable, however.
Not sure if you’re an order taker or if someone on your team is only playing defense? Take this quiz, “5 Signs You’ve Got an Order Taker On Your Team” and see what matches up.
What do you realize you’re constantly being reactive, waiting for orders to come in, hoping your customers call you?
If you really want to get back into your Business Development groove and start being a Play Maker again –
- Start with asking for referrals. Give your current customers more in-depth time and attention and ask them to make referrals – both in their organization and to colleagues that would be a good fit. Follow these suggestions in this post to build your referral strategy from Referral Expert, Joanne Black.
- Build “Micro Campaigns” that are focused, specific, and have time parameters. These are powerful and effective when compared to long, protracted prospecting and business development efforts. Use the guide in this post to help you build your campaigns.
- Build new prospecting and business development muscles. Challenge yourself. If you do the same exercise for the same length at the same weight, your body ceases to reap the benefits. Mixing up your efforts helps you build new muscles – in sales, just like life. Try these High-Intensity Interval Selling exercises to get out of the rut and begin a more strategic, offensive approach to building more sales.
Football is just an analogy here but you can easily see if you or someone on your team is playing defense. They’re literally defensive, burnt out, always scrambling . . .
This is a tough cycle to get out of and many tenured sales reps leave companies out of frustration when their reactive methods don’t meet revenue expectations.
Check yourself or your team and decide how you’re going to get back to being a Play Maker with a new strategy, determination, and discipline to win.
You’ve got this!
Until next time, stop hoping and start SELLING!