Scott Koepf MCC, CTC
Senior Vice President of Sales
Innovation and Change
In previous articles we looked at the importance of attitude and the creation of specific systems when it comes to improving Sales. However having a fabulous attitude and a well-documented and exceptional sales system in place will not necessarily guarantee success. It’s like the story of the three frogs sitting on a log. The first frog decides to jump off. So how many frogs are now on the log? Without too much thinking most people would respond that there would now be two frogs left on the log but the truth is there are still three. That’s because while the first frog decided to jump didn’t mean that the frog actually did jump. In other words making a change is more than just having the right intentions or even the right plan, it means actually putting new things into practice. So get ready to and then actually….jump!
Sales success will require the creation of innovative and comprehensive systems but unless those systems become habits they will not have any impact at all. So once you have the systems you then need to force yourself to make the changes. As Stephen Schiffman said in his book Telesales, ‘All positive changes feel awkward at first! It takes at least 21 days of conscious effort to replace less than productive habits with positive ones’. Repetition over a long period of time is the only way to integrate new programs and scripts and techniques. Most people when trying to break any habit or create positive change simply give up too soon. Set your expectations that to improve your sales (or anything in life for that matter) it will take an intentional plan and repetition over a long period of time.
The ultimate goal is to actually move through the continuum shown below. Eventually you want your systems and skills to be so natural and ingrained that you don’t even know that you are doing them. In the first phase of any new endeavor (think about a new job or role you took on when you were overwhelmed and knew nothing) we don’t even know that we don’t know. It could be the fact that sales is a series of systems that you did not even know that you should know. Well now that you are reading these articles you may have learned that they are needed but don’t know really what they are. Congratulations, you have moved into the second phase. Then as you develop and implement sales systems you know what they are and how important they are and work hard at turning them into habits. This is the third phase. Finally, when those systems become so commonly practiced by you that you no longer have to even think about doing them, you just do them instinctively, then you have made it to the final phase.
This process will take time and perseverance but will have significant rewards. However, as Captain Sullenberger (of miracle on the Hudson fame) said “Innovation is making changes before you have to.” So it’s not just about a change but it’s making sure that that each change you make is innovative and unique. A study done by McGrath and MacMillan determined “when the market in which you compete gets overcrowded, innovation is the only way to break free from the pack’. So as you are designing your sales systems and looking to increase your sales skills, it is important to be creative in every element of your new plan. You don’t want to go through the above process to implement a mediocre and mundane process. Instead, take your time designing each step of the system you want to implement to make sure there is a sense of awe and wonder that will strike each of your clients as they praise the day they found you!
As we continue this series will tackle every step in the sales cycle and provide ideas and best practices to implement. However, don’t wait to start developing your systems now. The best way to start is to document exactly what you do now. While the same philosophy works for marketing as we are focused on sales you can start with the first contact a customer has with you all the way through the two weeks post return from their trip. After that the system becomes a marketing system again so the focus is on a very specific set of interactions. For example, if the first inquiry you receive is by email, what are the steps you will take to engage the customer? How many follow up emails? What is the schedule of those follow ups? What is the content of each email? What is the result you want from those emails at this point in time? Then go through the same process for the first inquiry by phone. Then determine what system (if any) you are using when you have your first conversation. If you can determine how you operate today it will be easier to implement new concepts and ideas to whatever you are doing today or to see what it is you may have been doing that has limited you up to this point.
I know this is a bit of a tedious process but to get to Unconscious Competence in all aspects of the sales process will be well worth it!