Forget New Year’s Resolutions.
Seriously, why set yourself up to fail as most people do?
Instead, read on for practical advice on how to achieve sales success in the coming year.
We have a panel of experts sharing what’s worked for them, plus insight on the best practices they’ve seen with individuals and teams.
Try one. Try a few. Or try them all.
Bob Apollo: Ruthlessly re-qualify
Founder, Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners
“The best salespeople have too much respect for their own time to waste it pursuing opportunities that are likely to go nowhere. Meanwhile, their less confident colleagues tend to cling on to opportunities long after any sort of rational analysis would have proclaimed them dead.
So my advice for sales success in 2020 is to start the New Year with a ruthless re-qualification of any existing opportunities that have been carried over, and a personal commitment to robustly qualify all new opportunities before deciding whether to invest your (or your colleagues’) time on them. You may end up with a smaller pipeline, but it will be of far higher quality. Your close rates will rise, your sales cycle lengths will shorten, your forecast accuracy will improve, and your commission payments will go through the roof.”
Lorraine Ferguson: Get your I.D.E.A. on nowLorraine Ferguson
Author, The Unapologetic Saleswoman, trainer, coach and associate, Sandler Training
“A year that starts well, ends well. The time to prepare for selling success in 2020 is now. While the average sales representative is ‘checked out’ from Thanksgiving to New Years, the superstars are on their way to next years success by implementing their I.D.E.A. by:
- Identifying what success will look like and feel like on December 31, 2020. Having a clear vision of where they are headed and why it matters to them and their family is critical to doing the hard work that follows.
- Developing a written sales plan will solidify their vision of success and help to see the path forward. For example, what percentage of their business will be generated from clients they can count on for similar revenue? What percentage will be from newly acquired and re-engaged clients? And from client expansion? What percentage of the business will be generated from referrals/introductions?
- Executing on the written sales plan. Ahh, this is where the superstars are already out of the gate. They develop a behavior plan of exactly what they will be doing on a weekly basis to make progress and track their progress daily. Their plan is to make every Friday ‘payday’ meaning they did the right activities at the right level to accomplish their vision.
- Actively strengthening their referral relationships. ‘We get by with a little help from our friends.’ The sales superstars and referrers are mutually sharing goals and working to identify who they ‘should know, that they don’t know,’ and scheduling meetings now for a jump start in 2020.”
John Larson: Connect with big accounts
Co-author, Capturing Loyalty: How To Measure, Generate, and Profit from Highly Satisfied Customers, Senior Partner, John Larson & Co.
“We find in our sales force work that there is no statistical relationship between sales rep contact activity and account potential. Surprising as it may seem we consistently find that our clients’ smallest accounts (in terms of total sales potential) receive the same level of contact frequency from sales reps as do their largest accounts. Increasing contact frequency at your larger accounts (in terms of total potential) is the easiest way to drive increased sales in 2020.”
Phil Gerbyshak: Practice the 3 Ps
“To get greater success in the new year, stop chasing what’s new and shiny, and return the focus to your sales fundamentals every day: The 3 Ps.
Get your list ready for who you’re going to talk to the next day. Prepare a talk track, the first thing to say, questions you’ll ask, value you can add, the voicemails you’ll leave, the emails you send. If you’re not a ‘day before salesperson,’ get in early and do this first thing in the morning. How you set your day up for success says a lot about what you’re going to accomplish that day. Prepare for a successful day.
Whether you’re doing demos, giving a presentation, or even just talking on the phone, you need to practice your conversations. Say customer’s and prospect’s names out loud to make sure you say them correctly. Practice what you’re going to say (I recommend using Otter to record it so you can hear yourself, read the transcript, and then edit it to make it even better and tighter). Practicing makes the preparation you did valuable, not because it makes you memorize it in your brain, but because it etches the key points in your heart, and helps you be fully present for the other person because you’re not fumbling for what to say next. In the end, practice makes better, and perfect practice makes even better than that.
Get out there and make the calls! Send the emails! Send the InMails. Have the conversations you’ve prepared and practiced for. Leave great voicemails. Produce as much as you can, knowing that there are only two answers you want to hear: yes or no. Produce more yeses by preparing and practicing better. You will produce more results by doing better research. Produce more results by personalizing all you do.
Prepare. Practice. Produce. Your 2021 self, your bank account, and your manager will thank you for returning to your sales fundamentals in 2020.”
Deb Calvert: Do What You Say You Will Do
“Sadly, the sales profession is plagued by unfair stereotypes. What’s more, these stereotypes are perpetuated by sellers who aren’t honest and forthright with buyers.
That’s why buyers are guarded. It’s why they don’t immediately and completely trust even sellers with the highest levels of integrity. They’ve been burned before, and they proceed with caution when sellers make promises about product features, pricing, delivery, etc.
Buyers hold sellers to a very high standard. The only way to earn a buyer’s trust is by disabusing them of the notion that you can’t be trusted. There’s little room for slip-ups. In a study with 530 B2B buyers, open-response comments revealed that buyers reject sellers who don’t follow through on their commitments. Even the little ones like ‘I’ll call you at 8:30’ become big ones for buyers. Early in the relationship, buyers have no other barometer to gauge your trustworthiness, so these promises become their ‘test’ of whether or not you can be trusted.
To overcome the unfair stereotypes and demonstrate trustworthiness, sellers need to consistently DWYSYWD (pronounced dee-whiz-ee-wid). DWYSYWD stands for Do What You Say You Will Do. Simple advice, yes. But when you DWYSYWD in sales, the impact is instant and profound.”
Mike Kunkle: Shift toward buyer-centric
“B2B buying research consistently shows that a large percentage of buyers are disappointed with sellers. For greater success in 2020, I’d recommend a shift to a buyer-centric approach.
For each of your most common buyer personas, work to learn their COIN-OP, or the Challenges and Opportunities they face, the Impacts of the current state/status quo, the Needs those impacts create, the Outcomes they hope to achieve, and the Priority of those outcomes.
This will help with prospecting and getting conversations started because you will know how to approach buyers based on what matters to them (versus product pitching, which needs to die in 2020). When managing opportunities, go beyond the generic persona-level to get to the specific COIN-OP for each buyer.
Work to uncover
In each stage of the buying process for your decision makers, work to uncover, understand, and meet their ‘buying process exit criteria,’ which are the things every decision maker needs to see, hear, feel, understand, and believe in each stage to feel comfortable moving forward to the next stage with you. Once you’ve met the criteria (or think you have), some of which will be the same per buyer, and some of which will be different, confirm it with each buyer.
This will eliminate “selling by superstition” and radically improve your win rates.
Keep in mind that shifting to buyer-centric doesn’t mean you:
- don’t need to qualify to know you are spending your time wisely.
- are a pushover and will never need to nudge your buyers appropriately, or share insights to help them see things differently, or make a business case.
- shouldn’t use your influence skills to earn the opportunities that you should win.
- shouldn’t negotiate to get the best terms and conditions possible for your company.
It does mean that you are doing those things with the best of intentions of solving your buyers’ problems and enabling their opportunities.
Do this in 2020, and you will develop a reputation and the skills needed to become a valuable and trusted resource for your buyers, many more of which will become your customers.”
James Muir: Build a referral system
“Data shows that traditional channels for prospecting are becoming less and less effective. For 2020, sales professionals need to focus on the highest leverage channels in their prospecting. And while every industry is different, what the data shows, is that across all industries referrals are the highest-leverage, most underutilized channel in sales.
They convert 300 – 500% higher than any other channel. In 2020 sales professionals should have a system for generating referrals rather than just allowing it to happen randomly. That is a key area where organizations and sales professionals can improve effectiveness in prospecting and business development.”
Mario Martinez Jr.: Change tune to strike tone
Mario M. Martinez Jr.
CEO, Founder, and Digital Sales Evangelist, Vengreso
“Are your prospects singing the blues like Ray Charles and telling you, ‘Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more!’
Or are they screaming like James Brown, ‘You got, you got, you got WHAT I NEED!’
If you’re constantly turning people off, are frustrated at your sales prospecting results and not getting enough meetings, then you’re not rocking the right approach to connecting with your buyers. Keep it up and you’re going to be hitting sour notes and going broke in a hurry!
Fortunately, there’s a way to change your tune in 2020 to one that strikes the right tone with your prospects. And it involves embracing just a few mindset shifts and learning a simple but powerful three-step formula called the PVC Sales Methodology. It stands for:
Leveraging the PVC Methodology will turn you into a rock star connector, prospector and seller. So whether it’s a voicemail, email, LinkedIn connection request, an InMail or video message, sellers must leverage the PVC Sales Method to get the desired results and start more sales conversations.”
H. John Oechsle: Get hyper-specific
H. John Oechsle
CEO/President of Swiftpage
“In 2020, sales professionals will need to embrace hyper-specificity when it comes to goal setting if they want to be successful. Do you want to win your company’s President’s Club Challenge? Make a certain dollar figure commission? Increase your customer base by XX percentage points? Start now and develop a detailed road map for how you’ll reach these numbers. Sales growth is achieved through strategic planning and foresight as much as it is through passion and drive. Create a year-long plan broken down not just by the week, but by the day. You’ll need this level of focus and commitment to maintain a sales pace that will allow you to reach your identified goals.
Once you’ve completed a comprehensive action plan, the next step is to review for gaps or impediments to success. Are you missing anything? Are there roadblocks you can identify and prepare for now? Is there a new skill or tool that might help you become better positioned to achieve the success you’re looking for? The 2020 sales environment is going to be extremely competitive and any advance goal setting, strategy development, troubleshooting and research development a sales professional is willing to commit to will pay dividends when it comes to year-over-year growth and success.“
Dax Cornelius: Get regimented, interested
CEO/USA of Bastion Collective
“The recipe for salespeople who want to achieve greater success in 2020 is two fold. First, it’s all about smart statistics. You must conduct a certain number of calls, emails, visits and outreach to secure a certain number of won deals. Think of it like trying to lose weight. There are wonderful strategies on how to drop pounds but it all boils down to calories in vs. calories out.
To be successful in sales it is no different. You have to maintain a regimented behavior pattern of smart, continuous and productive outreach to deliver the number of customers you deem to be a success. Looking at historical data in your industry or your personal data will generally tell you how many calls or in-person meetings you need to achieve to close the sales you want.
Activity is the mother pearl of sales and without it, the result is the same every time: stagnation. Its no different than efforts to lose weight. Without the activity, nothing changes. In order to increase our sales pipeline and success rate, change habits and fears of failure and rejection.
Secondly, after nearly 25 years working in and around sales, I’m convinced greater success requires striving to establish a better relationship with your client outside of the scope of work (SOW). The more one can strive to have a personal relationship in some shape or form with the client, the more likely you are to get better business, repeat business and referrals.
Most sales associates are so busy just working on the sales and deliverables that they forget how much more rewarding the relationship can be personally, professionally and financially by just getting a coffee, making a kind gesture or talking with their client about something other than the deliverable. This applies to every industry and every vocation. Show some genuine care and interest in getting to know your client and you will see a different year of success. It is the difference between top and mediocre sales executives.”