Most sales people have aspirations of being the best in their field. Most have a desire to excel beyond their peers and rise to the top of their industry. One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do I become a top sales person?”
Well, let’s relate the selling profession to other professions. In many areas, one way to recognise someone who is a qualified expert in their field, who has an abundance of knowledge on a particular topic, is someone who holds a PhD in that field.
The abbreviation PhD stands for “Philosophiae Doctor,” which is Latin for Doctor of Philosophy. Of course, I would say that term could not be any more appropriate to describe a master sales expert! If you want to become the best, then get a PhD, a doctorate in sales!
On average, earning a PhD or Doctorate’s Degree requires 8 to 12 years of study or at least 4 years after earning a Master’s Degree. However, one of the most appealing aspects of the sales profession is that time is not the issue. In the sales business, it is all about merit. Like a car, it is the mileage, not the age that counts. In sales, it is not about time; it’s about productive activity.
How Many Prospects Have You Seen?
In sales, the true test of knowledge and experience eventually comes down to how many qualified prospects you have seen and how may closing attempts you have made. The challenge then is to figure out how many closing attempts you need to perform in your business to be able to compare your knowledge to the level of a PhD. Well, of course, there is no available science for this, but I believe below is a very sound idea on how to earn a PhD in sales.
How Many Closing Attempts Earns You a PhD?
Remember, the goal is to come up with a number of closing attempts, sales presentations, or interactions that demonstrate a doctorates level of knowledge and experience. In addition, the method must take into account the vast differences in products, services, commission structures and sales processes.
My idea is to figure out what is the top annual income in your sales profession, determine how many closing attempts (on average) it takes to earn that earn income, and then multiply that number by three.
In other words, find out how many closes it takes to earn the top annual income, and then close three times that amount. Why three times the yearly amount? I think it demands more consistency in work ethic, which is an integral part of achieving any successful sales career.
Use These Steps
You want to find out how many sales presentations it takes to earn the top annual income in your business. Multiply that number by three and you have the goal to earn your PhD. Here are the steps you can use to go about this.
#1 – Top Income
First, find the top earning sales person in your profession or industry. That does not mean just in your firm, but in your industry. Find a top-level sales person or consider what the highest level of sales achievement is in your company. In either case, get a number in terms of annual income that the big dogs make.
#2 – Average Sale and Commission
Now, find out what is the average sale in your business, and the average commission for that sale.
#3 – Divide the Average Commission into the Top Annual Income
Next, take the average commission earned on the average sale and divide that into the top annual income. This will give you the number of sales needed to earn the top income.
#4 – Times the Closing Average
Multiply the number of sales needed by the closing average to get the number of closing attempts needed to earn the top income for one year.
#5 – Times Three
Finally, multiply that number by three.
The resulting number is the amount of closing attempts you need to earn a PhD.
Let us assume that in your field the top sales people earn £100,000 a year. You then find that the average sale commission is £250. Therefore, on average, it will take 400 sales to earn the £100,000. (£100,000 / £250 = 400)
Of course, the top sales people may have a much higher average sale. However, use your personal current average or the company average, not that of the top sales person.
Now, with 400 sales, consider the closing average. Again, this is your average or the company closing average and not that of the top producers. The closing average we will assume is 20%, or one out of five. Therefore, we will say that it will take 2,000 closing attempts to close 400 sales. (400 x 5= 2,000)
Finally, take that 2,000 and multiply it by three and you get 6,000.
If the above numbers represented your business, and you put yourself in position to close, to ask for the order 6,000 times, you would have earned a PhD!
You see; prospecting skills, setting appointments, closing skills, knowing your business, understanding the competition, account management, referrals, everything must come into play for you to be able to perform the required number of sales interactions.
How Long Does it Take?
How long it will take to achieve a sales PhD in the above example, is completely up to the sales person. The goal is to do 6,000 sales interactions. That may take one sales person three years, doing an average of 2,000 per year. However, another, harder working sales person, may see 2,400 people per year and get it done in two and a half years. Yet still, a sales person with exceptional cold calling and appointment setting skills, may see 3,000 people per year and earn a PhD in just two years!
Alternatively, for a less organised sales person with a lackluster and inconsistent work ethic, it may take six years to get there. Figure out how many closes you need to get your doctorates.
Then earn your PhD in selling your product or service and you are sure to become a tenured member of the sales elite in your industry!
MTD Sales Training
Our open sales training courses are always full and we are kept busy following up on the coaching we offer to sales people after they have returned to their businesses and started putting the ideas discussed into operation.
We’re often asked what they can do to make the training as effective as possible, so they don’t go away thinking they’ve had ‘a good couple of days’ and then go back to the normal routine.
Here’s what you can do to make sure the application is carried through and the benefits are seen as quickly as possible:
1) Before attending, agree with your manager what the key learning points should be and what areas you need to concentrate on specifically. This will help you achieve your goals more confidently, and arm you with questions to ask on the course.
2) For the time you are away, make sure all business-related matters are cleared up. You don’t want to attend while worrying about a specific client or wondering whether a message got through ok. This will detract from your learning experience and you will be less engaged. By all means keep in touch with the office, but make sure you are able to keep your concentration in the room.
3) Connect the learning with the real world for you. If necessary, ask how the ideas discussed can be applied in your industry or with your type of customers. Selling theory is all well and good, but if you don’t see the connection between the real world and what you do in practice, you will quickly forget it all.
4) Immediately afterwards, discuss with your manager how the ideas can be implemented and set some actions together that can measure the effectiveness of some of the changes you are practicing. If you have colleagues, discuss with them what you’ve learned and try out some of them together through safe role plays.
5) Set a target for yourself to achieve based on the new concepts picked up on the course. It will help you see the value of the learning and identify what else you may need to learn in order to create a development plan for yourself over a longer period.
6) Think about how you can be coached to improve. Maybe your manager can act as your mentor, bouncing ideas around as you learn on the job. Put some measurables into your job, so you can see the effectiveness of any training and coaching. This will enable you to find areas that you still need to develop and can create a good analysis of future training needs.
Remember, the training course should be the first step on the long development journey you have to undertake in sales. It might seem a daunting task, but it is worth it in the long run. Promise me you won’t let the opportunities that training opens up for you go to waste!
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MTD Sales Training
Let me ask you a question: up to this moment, how much time have you spent on perfecting and learning your craft as a professional sales person?
I mean, if you added up all of the time you spent in sales training classes and all of the time you spent reading sales training material and books and every minute you invested in doing your own homework on your industry and competition and on your product, if you added all of those hours up, how much would it come to?
Think about that carefully, and please, don’t lie to yourself.
You can lie to me or your boss or your spouse, but don’t lie to yourself. Add up all of the time you believe you have spent on learning the profession of selling. This does not have to be with only one company, either. Add up all of the sales training and sales related learning you have done in your whole career.
How many hours does your actual training come to?
Forty hours? Fifty? A hundred? Now divide that by the number of years you have been in the business and what do you get? Do you know that I spend on average around 30 – 40 days per year in improving my skills? Yes, you heard it right – I spend 30 – 40 days per year. Here’s how.
On average, I spend 1 hour in my car traveling to work and to appointments each day and on every single occasion without fail my friend I listen to sales improvement CD’s, personal development programmes, leadership, management, marketing, strategic planning, NLP – you name it! And then there are the courses and seminars that I attend too. You see, I take my own self development very seriously. I want to be the best and therefore I train to be the best.
I would even imagine that the average sales person only spends about 10 to 20 hours a year or so on actual training for their profession. And that includes listening to programs like this. Now, remember I said quite boldly that the average entry-level sales person should earn more than the average entry-level lawyer or doctor. So, let’s look at the doctor and the lawyer in retrospect.
How many hours do you think the average medical doctor or lawyer spends learning their craft and training in their profession by the time they reach five years in the business?
Well, first of all, we are looking at about a few years in actual schooling and internship BEFORE they earn the degrees needed to practice their profession. So, if you look at going to University or College for 3 years and attending classes at least 200 days per year, and sitting in class at least four hours a day, not counting homework, then we are talking about roughly 800 to 1,000 hours! per year. And that is before they go to work!! By the time these people reach five years in business, you’re talking about around 4 to 5,000 hours of training and learning. And they continue to learn, with many going on to earn PHDs in their field totaling twelve years or some 10,000 hours of very specific and directed learning and training in their profession.
Now, does it make any sense that you, with a whopping 40 hours of learning, that you should earn what a person with 10,000 hours dedicated to his or her profession earns? Can you see why you don’t earn what other professionals earn? You see, the amount of time that you invest into perfecting your craft has a direct correlation on what you earn.
Getting (and keeping) Your Mindset Right
Let’s face it; there are times when it seems everything is going wrong: You lose a few sales you thought you had in the bag. Sales you closed fall out of financing. Prospecting seems to become a nightmare and it feels like you are hearing “NO,” more times than humanly possible. No other business in the world can mess up your mind, self-esteem and confidence like the world of professional selling.
Now if you are a true professional who has invested time in study, training and effort, then these bad times should never last very long and you should have a very consistent flow of business. However, when one of those weeks or months comes along, when you are in the middle of the storm, what do you do? What do you do to keep your composure and your confidence? How do you keep your mindset focused and on track and remain positive?
If you have been in the world of selling for any length of time then you have heard the familiar rhetoric on how to handle these trying times: “Don’t take it personally.” “They are not rejecting you, just your products or services…” “It takes 10 NOs to get one YES.” “Each no gets you closer to the sale.” “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
In short, the answer to maintaining a positive attitude when besieged by negative circumstance is usually to just THINK positively and things will get better. Positive thinking will solve the problem.
Well, I am as big a proponent of positive thinking and positive projection as anyone in the world. However, I also know that positive thinking followed by negative action, results in negative outcomes. I understand the critical role your thinking plays on your life and career. And while some people are able to “think” themselves out of the dumps; controlling their thoughts and uplifting their attitudes, others simply have a real hard time accomplishing this.
When sales fall off, income gets tight and spouses get nervous, for many sales people positive thinking becomes wishful thinking, then desperate thinking and finally delusional thinking.
As a professional sales person you need a few simple, tangible and quantifiable activities that will help you to get your head straight and keep it that way, even when your attitude is so deep in the toilet that you have a difficult time conjuring up a single positive thought. If you had a few simple, physical tasks that you could perform; no matter how awful you felt, that could lift you up, show you some positive results and get your head back in the game, then you will find it much easier to begin to apply more of that positive thinking.
What follows are three easy tasks; physical actions you can take that will immediately help you get your mindset right and avoid future doldrums, and you don’t have to have the psychological aptitude of Norman Vincent Peale to do it!
Set Short-term, Activity Targets and Next Step Goals
A quick and simple way to get your head straight when things get you down, is to set short-term, ‘activity targets’ and ‘next step goals’ and strive to reach them.
Although you have your big and long term goals, you need to have many incremental targets to help you stay focused. Set an activity target to call on two more prospects than you called on last month; or to send out 20 more emails or to set five more appointments. Set a goal to add ten more new qualified prospects to your database or to make 21 additional cold calls this month. The key is these targets must be short term, obtainable and easily quantifiable.
Usually the sales person’s only measurement of success is the end result of the entire sales process—the sale. Therefore when the sales are slow or late, all seems lost. However, if you have activity targets in between the sale; small next step goals to reach, then you can see tangible progress and accomplishments in between sales. Small successes will get your head on straight.
Bury Your Mistakes
That big proposal you had been working on for six months falls though and you know it was because you screwed up. Ok. Learn from that mistake, set systems in place so it does not happen again, and then MOVE ON!
I am not just talking about mentally trying to put the mistake out of your mind and trying to forgive yourself. I am referring to the tangible memories that linger in the psychical world—get rid of that stuff. If the sale is dead at least for a long time—then you have to forget it.
Get rid of the ad specs. You say you want to forget about that fortune 500 company sale you lost, but you keep that coffee mug with their logo on your desk. I am not saying that you need to feel bad or develop any animosity for that company, but stop reminding yourself of your failures. Every time you start to get a few NOs on the telephone, you sit back, a little call-reluctance starts to settle in, and then you look over at the coffee mug that is saying, “Yeah, you are messing up again!!”
Erase the marketing strategy you used for that company off of your white board and start fresh. Take that old proposal off of your desk and file it. If you are not going to do any business with that company any time soon then remove their web site link from your “favorites list” in your web browser. You want to keep your head straight and keep your spirits up? Then stop hitting yourself over the head with past mistakes and failures.
Use Science to Put Out the Emotional Fire
Finally, the most important and effective way to get your head right and keep it right is to use science to put out emotional firestorms and to help you see clearly.
Selling is the most subjective business in the world. It is easier to fool yourself in sales than in any other profession. As a sales person, you have to understand that your brain, your mind is not an objective witness to the facts, and will therefore always cloud your judgment. This clouding of judgment comes in many different forms. Based on your feelings alone, you will often find the number of prospects you THINK you called on does not usually match the number of prospects you ACTUALLY called on. The closing average you THINK you have is significantly higher than your real closing average. And your imagination will make you feel like you’ve lost many more sales than you actually have.
You simply cannot rely on feelings, emotions and assumptions; you have to rely on facts. You need to have factual data that will let you see what is really happing rather than what you think is happening. Scientific data will help you see clearly. You need to know the science, the numbers of your business. You need to apply S.O.S. – The Science of Selling. You can find a ton of training material on The Science of Selling at MTD Sales Training, but here I will give you just a few SOS tips that will help you get your mindset right.
First, find out your averages; all of your averages: Your closing average, your appointment setting average, your average sale amount, your average commission, etc. You can not guess on these figures or make them up. They must be from actual past performance records. If you do not have such records, then your sales management should be able to give you the numbers for the average sales person with the firm, compiled over time. Use REAL numbers and rely on them not your feelings.
As an example, let’s say you feel that you worked really hard the last three weeks and sold nothing. Don’t’ panic and begin to let depression set in—look at the numbers. For instance, let us say that your closing average is 20%. That is, history shows that you close one out of every five closing attempts. And remember, as with any average, it is over a length of time, so there are times when you made four or five sales in a row and times when you missed several in a row. But when it is all said and done, it equals a 20% closing average.
Also, your company sales model suggests sales people make five closing attempts per week, thereby closing one sale every week. But you went three weeks with no sale.
As you check the records you find that you only made 9 closing attempts instead of 15 over the last three weeks. Well, guess what? There is no need to feel like some bad luck is on you; you simply did not do the work you thought you did. Nine closes with no sale is not a big deal as the next two sales will put your numbers right. If you did 25 closes (like you felt you did) then maybe there would be a problem. In this case, there is no need to feel bad, just get up and get in the numbers you need.
However, let us say that you check the record and you see that you did indeed do 15 closing attempts and you sold none. Now what? In this case you should not get sad. In fact, you should jump for joy!
Remember, the law of averages is as real as the law of gravity—it will come true. Your closing average of 20% will eventually come true. So, if you did 15 closes then the law OWES you three sales! If you see you invested the correct work ethic, then you have a big payday coming!
Think about it this way: You know that if you flip a coin 100 times, it will land heads 50 and tails 50 or very close to it. Over time it will average 50% for each side. Well, if you flip a coin and it comes up tails 22 times in a row, what does that mean? You can bet that the heads side will catch up and you will get a rash of heads landings. It is the same with selling. If the law owes you, you will get paid! But you have to look at the facts.
Another example of using your SOS to get your head straight is this: Let us say that you are making cold prospecting calls to set appointments and you are having one of those days. Once again, don’t let it get you down—-just check out the numbers!
Figure out your average sales amount; that is how much you earn on the average sale you make when you go to one of those appointments and close the sale. Then check out your closing average, and finally look up your appointment setting average.
For this example, let us say that you find that when you close a sale you make a commission of £500 on the average. Also, you see that it takes you five appointments to close one sale; a 20% closing average. Well, if it takes you five appointments to close one sale and on that one sale you earn £500 then you effectively earn £100 or 20% (1/5th) on each and every appointment you attempt to close. Of course these fractions add up until they make one complete sale and you get the £500, but you must understand that you effectively EARN one fifth or 20% on EVERY appointment, regardless of the outcome of that individual appointment!
Now take that a step further: Let’s say you find that it also takes you five prospecting calls on the telephone to set each appointment. And you earn £100 for each appointment. Then you actually earn £20 for every decision maker (DM) you talk to on the telephone regardless of what they say!
Imagine this: As the sales person in the above example, you earn £20 every time you get the right prospect on the telephone—no matter what happens after that. I come to your office with a huge wheel barrel filled to the brim with money. As you are making your cold calls, every time you get a DM on the phone, I am going to throw £20 on your desk for you to keep!! No matter what the DM says or what happened, you get £20 to keep every time you reach the DM.
If that were happening, would you get all upset because a few people rejected you? Would you even worry about it? If the prospect told to ‘get lost’ and hung up on you, would you become depressed waste time at the water cooler? Or would you start dialing the next prospect as fast as possible?
Please understand that this is not some psychological mind game to hype you up and make you feel good. This is fact. It is science. This is how you actually earn your money. So use science to put out that emotional fire to help you see clearly.
So how do you get your head on right in the face of hard times? Take Action!
1. Set activity targets and immediate next step goals
2. Bury all evidence of your mistakes and failures
3. Pour SOS on your emotions
Sales consultancy is an activity that is high on a lot of our client’s agenda.
MTD Sales Training Consultancy
As a company looking to improve your bottom line you should take time out to look at how you do things and the sales systems you have in place.
Everything that you do should support how your client’s purchase from you. This includes your website, your literature, how you approach your clients, your follow ups, the way your back end systems record data – you name it!
As a leading Sales Training Consultancy, MTD can help you with this and we would be delighted to do so but there are certain activities that you can and should be doing yourself.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
– How do our clients make their purchasing decision?
– What is important to our clients?
– When was the last time we asked our existing clients what they think of us and what they need?
– Do all of our sales people know how to “consult” with our clients?
– What CRM system do we use and is it actually helping us or is it a time consuming hinderance?
– Do our sales people have the tools they need to close the deal?
– Do our back office sales support staff know what our sales people do?
– Have we revisited our USP’s in the last 3 months?
– When was the last time we completed a competitor analysis?
– What are our competitor’s strengths and weaknesses?
This should keep you quiet for 5 minutes! Use your answers to make your sales operation more efficient.
By periodically asking yourself the questions above and many others you can become your very own Sales Training Consultancy!
MTD Sales Training are currently undertaking an aggressive recruitment campaign and are looking for B2B and retail sales trainers.
Due to MTD’s global reach and ever increasingly popularity within the UK and Europe we are currently being inundated with sales training enquries and requests.
If you are looking for a sales training job then MTD can provide you with a very rewarding career.
A WORD OF WARNING THOUGH!
We do not employ trainers who dabble in every area! You need to be a specialist sales trainer and you will have had a very successful career in a sales role in the past and have walked the talk so if you have not had this then please do not apply.
That’s not me being harsh it’s just that we only employ successful sales people.
An MTD person is…
Part of what makes MTD as successful as it is are the highly motivated people who work here and their enthusiasm for developing the business, entrepreneurialism and being apart of “something bigger”. We recruit individuals whose honesty, integrity, initiative and creative approach to their working lives shines through.
An inspiration to your colleagues, you are tenacious, driven and highly motivated sales professional with a proven record of success in the B2B or retail selling environment with experience of selling to “Blue Chip” companies at all levels, with a strong empathy for people. Hungry for success and with a committed motivation to getting things done, you always place the client at the centre of everything you do.
So, if you would like to roll the dice and receive a detailed job description, please click on the following link and make an enquiry
I’m often asked “What is the best type of sales training?”
My reply is often quite simple!
The best sales training any company can receive is an ongoing programme of some sort.
The problem with one off sales training courses is that they are good for a shot in the arm but they do not have a long term lasting affect.
You want to keep your sales teams “hot” all of the time and the best vehicle to do this is with an ongoing programme of continued sales development.
The best sales training is modular where your sales people can try out different techniques and strategies and then come back a month later to go through what went well and what didn’t go so well as well as learning new and upto date selling methods.
A lot of what has been taught in the past no longer works in the internet age! Your prospects can find out all about you and your company before you even show for your sales pitch so you need a different angle of attack.
One on one sales coaching is proving to be very popular too. With this, individuals can receive the very best sales training on a personal level with a sales coach. This is also very popular with Sales Directors and Senior Sales People who can at times feel they are all alone in the quest to raise the sales for their company.
So, in closing am I saying that 1 or 2 day sales training courses are a waste of time? Of course not.
They are still a valuable refresher to get your staff back on track and getting them into good selling habits.
But if you are deadly serious about providing your sales teams with the very best sales training, then an ongoing sales development program is something you will definately want to look in to.