Blog by Carolyn Burnet.
How are marathons and sales related? They both take up a huge amount of dedication, tenacity, and focus.
I love to run marathons – but my goodness they are tough! I need to decide to run a marathon a long time before the date of the event.
Once a date is set then I need to work backwards and target certain dates that different types of training must be done by. Then I start today and look forward to race day and know that to achieve the result that I want, that I must hit each and every target. If I don’t hit the targets then I know that, while I may finish the race, it will be an ugly run.
Each week I know that I need to log a certain amount of kilometres, that they need to be run over different types of terrain, and at different paces. Regardless of the weather, lack of sleep, sore muscles, etc. I need to complete the kilometres. And each week I start from zero kilometres again.
Most training days are a joy. I start out just after 5.30am and head out in the crisp morning air. There isn’t usually much traffic at that time which lets me pretend that I have the city to myself. At least four days each week I include part of our beautiful Tamaki Drive where I can watch the sun come up, smell the sea, watch the birds, and delight in other people walking, running, and cycling. I love a wet day when I can have fun splashing in puddles and getting totally drenched.
Some days though are very tough. The wind is rarely my friend as it never seems to blow from behind but always seems to be pushing against me. I may be tired and my legs feel heavy and it is just hard work as I check off each kilometre – knowing that I am getting closer to home with each step. However I keep going and don’t take any short cuts as I have a goal in mind that keeps pushing me forward. I want to complete a marathon in a good time and in reasonable form.
While running is a solitary sport, I am never entirely on my own. I have my back-up team who are ready to encourage, massage sore legs, bring me drinks on the long runs, understand my total lack of energy after a long training run and generally offer support to help me to complete my goal.
If I have done the necessary training then I can start the marathon in reasonable expectation of finishing in the time that I have prepared for. A marathon is just far enough to be able to race the distance so I know that nearly every step will be painful and that I will have to fight back the internal voice telling me to just stop. Each kilometre is measured by time and I must ensure that I start at a pace that I can continue to the end. If I set off too fast then I will use up my energy and crawl home. If I start too slowly then I have to push even harder to finish on time. It hurts all the way and I have to stay focussed with every step. But I am not alone as my support team comes along too. At certain points I know that I will have a drink waiting, an encouraging word, information about what is coming up, and they will be waiting for me at the end. Together we will celebrate.
And so it is with sales. A date is set for achieving a sales target. Before starting however, we need to check that the target we set is SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timetabled. It is impossible to move towards a target if it is vague and unrealistic. We then work backwards from that date, targeting dates when milestones need to be completed. These dates work backwards into quarters, months and weeks.
Prior to starting out each day we need to make sure that we have the tools to achieve our targets. Is our product knowledge as good as it can be, are we focussing on meeting the needs of the customer rather than focussing on getting the sale, can we adapt our sales presentation to show that we have listened to the customer and can fulfil their requirements, are we able to provide the product or service in the time that we promise to the customer?
Each week we start with zero sales and work through each day making calls, visiting clients, asking the right questions, gaining referrals, checking stock, ensuring supply chains are working, following up. Perhaps have a weekly check that what we are doing is effective rather than just keeping us busy. The next week we start again with zero sales. Some weeks go quickly with sales coming easily, while other weeks it is just sheer hard work. Clients are difficult to contact, something unexpected has come up to delay closing, perhaps a change of heart – the sales are hard to come by.
However, we also have a team that supports us. Congratulating us on good sales, reviewing our weekly goals and planning a strategy to meet them, cajoling when lacking in motivation or losing confidence, ready with a new idea to try, rewarding when a target is met, breaking down a complicated sale into achievable parts.
Day by day, and week by week we work towards the target. However, we know that we cannot simply repeat the work that we did last week. We need to try out different ways of meeting new clients and we must ensure that we add value to our existing customers so that they want to continue working with us. We know what is needed to be accomplished each week and need to remain focussed on the end result. By concentrating on providing excellent customer service to every customer to ensure that we are meeting their needs then weekly, monthly, and quarterly targets will be met. If we achieve each milestone along the way then we know that we will reach the target in good shape.
And when we reach those targets, regardless of how we reach them, it is time to celebrate together as a team.
To talk more about keeping your team on track call us today 0800 338 356