Nature vs. Nurture: Sales Traits You Can Learn – Part 3

By 1stFive Archives
Cover image for  article: Nature vs. Nurture: Sales Traits You Can Learn – Part 3

In the previous installments of this series, we discussed how the sales traits of being persistent and goal oriented can be taught. Well, now let’s get into how any seller can become organized.

Be sure to read Part One and Part Two of this series.

Normally, we consider organization to be an inborn trait and it is.

But, what is “organized?” And how do organizational abilities relate to sales success?

You can compare “organized” to “being in shape.”  But what does “in shape” mean? Doesn’t it depend on what athletic thing you are doing? Being in shape so that you look good in a bathing suit is different from being in the right shape needed to swim the English Channel.

There is no “in shape” that exists in a vacuum. One is only in shape for a specific activity.

In the same way, the goal is not to be organized per se, although that makes some things work more smoothly. The real goal is to be organized around the task. For naturally organized salespeople, this is somewhat easier to do.  But, for the naturally disorganized seller -- and frankly for most sellers -- organizing around the task must be learned.

To be organized around a task means the organizational system in place should work even as the seller gets busier than they have ever been. Now they are moving faster and selling more stuff than they have ever sold. The goal of being organized around a task is to account for all of the potential failure points, which are those things that usually hinder any attempt to increase velocity and scale.

Every day a salesperson will have more things to do than they can fit in their day. No amount of organizational skills can change that. If I find a way to organize myself so that I am more productive, I will not use the saved time for relaxation. Instead, I will leverage the new level of organization to achieve a new, unprecedented level of being busy, but now, more productively.

Can an undisciplined person learn to use organization as a way to prioritize and complete their tasks? What tasks do sellers need to become organized around?

A good organization system -- custom fit to the tasks -- is what prevents the things that normally stop you from actually getting in your way. Yes, organizing is a discipline; but the purpose of discipline is to give you more freedom, not less. Framed up in this way, even the laziest person can and will be inspired to do this.

In sales, these are the four particular tasks you need to organize yourself around:

  1. Getting more sales, some of them bigger
  2. Negotiating more of the right solutions at the right price and margins
  3. Attracting more business from existing customers
  4. Finding new customers – inside and outside of your existing client base

So how do you go about this and how can you avoid the typical failure points?

These are the main issues you’re likely to encounter:

1. Not getting more specific about the exact challenge so you can create a clearer target.

You need specific numbers and benchmarks, for results and activities, against each goal.

The first set of numbers are the ideal numbers -- what is the right number of deals to close each month? Working backward, what is the right number of proposals, meetings, prospecting calls, etc., needed each month to reliably achieve those sales targets?

When you systematically look at your actual numbers, you should first compare those actual numbers to these ideal numbers so you can adjust your activity accordingly.

Measuring causes success; without data there is no improvement. Not only does this kind of tracking help you coach yourself, it helps you be your own cheerleader. It’s very encouraging to watch your own numbers improve.

2. Not reverse engineering prior failed attempts

While it’s important to be optimistic, nothing beats the power of negative thinking. You need to push yourself mentally into the future and imagine that it’s a year from now. By this point, you now know if in fact you’ve reached your sales goals.

Imagine you missed your goal. This mental action leverages the power of negative thinking. More than positive results, negative or disappointing results will cause you to study what went wrong.

A year from now, what will you conclude you should have done better today? Better to think of that now -- a year ahead -- while there is still time to benefit from that insight.

Use your organization system as a way to put a bridge over your failure points so you can get past them, break through old barriers and keep yourself on track.

3. Not being honest about your time

While there is always more than one right way to spend your time, there are huge consequences to spending any time on anything.

What is the opportunity cost? What could you have done instead? And how would that other activity have benefited you over time?

Don’t fall into bad habits by not spending enough time prospecting. You need to schedule time with yourself to prospect, generate leads, follow up and pencil in weekly first appointments. Once salespeople learn to properly organize themselves around these tasks and successfully hit their goal, they will never go back to their old ways.

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