In Keith Thompson’s book Sales Automation Done Right, sales automation is defined on page seven, and I paraphrase that definition to read, “efficient and effective, technology-assisted selling.” The precision of that definition, the importance of both effectiveness and efficiency, and the ability of modern technology to support them, is critical to success in selling today.
Now I want to get something relevant to this definition off my chest. Something that continues to nag at me whenever my sales staff, or peers, or even bosses or clients, postulate this one particularly absurd assumption. Here is my rant:
IT ISN’T ALL UP THERE.
One of the silliest things I ever heard came from a young, very aggressive, very ambitious, and otherwise very intelligent salesman, while he tapped his head with his index finger. “It’s all up here,” he said.
He meant that he didn’t need technology to record and save and use his sales opportunity information to help him sell, because he kept it all in his head. Technology was good for keeping his contact information and his calendar, but that’s all. Presumably, recording these bits of information on his computer left room for everything else to fit in his head.
Sales people are often smug, pretty confident, sure of themselves. We have to be to get up every day and go out there and try to convince people to do something. Usually something they should do anyway but are dragging their feet for some reason, and usually with someone else trying to convince them otherwise. Often, we succeed, and this success can blind us to some realities. And when we fail, many times we don’t know why.
I don’t care who you are, or what you sell, it is critical to understand that it isn’t all up there. Some of it is. Maybe even enough to enjoy some success. But never all. If it was all up there, then you would be proving the big bang theory (the beginning of the universe, not the TV show), or playing with super strings, or something equally esoteric. Or, you would be closing 100% of your opportunities.
But you’re not.
Look at it this way – if you had just one opportunity to work, and you could devote 100% of your time, your resources, and your talent to it, and as long as it wasn’t selling a fleet of 787’s or something equally complex, you would have virtually a 100% closing rate. It’s as simple as that.
As more opportunities are added, or as opportunities become more complex and require more activity, focus gets blurred, information remains undiscovered, chances are missed. And sales are lost.
So, whatever you can do as a salesman to focus all of your might on one opportunity before you move on to the next, do it. Even if you have a hundred open opportunities and you have to switch gears fifty times a day. And use technology to make the transition from one opportunity to the next smooth.
When you do switch those gears, focus on the one opportunity. Treat it like it was your only one. And let technology keep track of the other ninety-nine until it’s their turn.
Do that, and it never will be the only one opportunity to work because you will be in demand as a successful sales professional.