You reach a plateau in any challenging endeavor-physical training, a weight-loss plan, marriage, career, you name it. In sales, you may find that after several months of steadily increasing volume, sales level off. No matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to break through to the next level. Something is limiting your upside.
When you begin to feel that sales have flat-lined, take the following five steps to blow the lid off of any upside limitations:
- Identify your best customer.
- Build relationships.
- Hire an assistant.
- Expand time.
Identifying your best customer
Every salesperson has a best customer-one who values your products and services, calls you first, allows you to do what you do best, and exposes you to new opportunities. To find more best customers, single out your best customer and then find out:
- Who your best customer is. Study the demographic-age, sex, race or ethnicity, household income, geographical location, and so on.
- What your best customer does. What does your customer do? How was she doing it when she met you? How did you help her do it better? This gives you a clearer idea of where to look for your next best customer and what to offer.
Identify the top seven sources for getting more customers like your best customer-referral, networking, Internet marketing, print advertising, and so on. Where would you need to look and what would you need to do to get more customers like this?
Don’t hesitate to fire your worst customers…nicely, of course. A bad customer wastes time and resources that you could better spend by serving your best customers.
In business, almost everything is quantifiable except the relationships that are ultimately responsible for success. You can’t really measure relationships, but they’re the collective force that generates new ideas, draws people together to execute those ideas, and functions as the infrastructure for developing, advertising, marketing, and distributing the products and services spawned from those ideas. Yet, salespeople and other business professionals often limit their opportunities by focusing too much on the bottom line and overlooking the true force behind sales and profits-relationships.
When you think relationships in terms of sales, most people naturally think of “customer.” That’s only one of the four “C” words you should consider. As a salesperson, tending to relationships in all four C categories builds the strongest foundation for success:
- Company: What’s good for your company is good for your customers, colleagues, and community, and for you, as well. Look for opportunities to improve your company’s success.
- Colleagues: Your colleagues include everyone you work for and with and anyone who works for you. Do whatever you can to surround yourself with the best people, and then make them better. Partner with colleagues to tap the power of synergistic relationships.
- Customers: Every customer who fails is a customer lost. Team up with your customers to make them as successful as they can be. This doesn’t mean simply placating them. A customer or client often needs to be challenged to make a positive change.
- Community: Dynamic, vibrant communities are places where people want to invest and spend money. By investing time and resources in building and bettering communities, you establish a dynamic, ever-growing consumer base.
Hiring an assistant
When I set a goal to sell 300 houses in a single year, I immediately realized that I couldn’t do it on my own. To achieve my stated goal, I had to outsource the most time-consuming chores and focus on what I was really good at-selling. I decided to deal with clients and hire others to answer the phones, shuffle the papers, and tie up the loose ends.
You’re not responsible for doing everything. You’re responsible for making sure everything gets done. To optimize your time, take the following steps:
- Write down a comprehensive list of everything you do at work and at home.
- Highlight any tasks someone else could do faster, better, or for less money.
- Group tasks that are related and assign each group a job title.
- Hire people to complete those tasks and treat them well.
- Remember, if you don’t have an assistant, you are one.
Time is relative to how much you get accomplished in that amount of time. If I can get twice as much done in half the time it takes someone else, I’ve just expanded time by a factor of four.
When I discovered that time was limiting the number of houses I could sell, I began double-booking appointments. Instead of showing homes to one set of buyers, I invited two sets of buyers to drive around and look at houses. I loaded them into my Suburban and showed them the same houses. I usually sold two houses on the same trip, and never once did two couples decide on the same house.
After this accidental success, I purchased a 16-passenger van. We started marketing this new house-hunting approach, and people loved it. I was driving three or four or five families around at a time to look at houses. During the house-hunting tour, I would call back to the office on my cell phone and have an assistant prepare the paperwork. On my best day, I actually sold 14 houses from the van. This became so successful that we eventually had entire convoys out looking at homes.
In his book Illusions, Richard Bach writes, “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” When you feel boxed in, think outside the box. Shake things up a bit and try something new. You’re likely to surprise yourself at just how much upside you really have.