How to Stay Ahead of Your Sales V.P.

Last week I wrote popular post called; How to Know in January if Your Reps are Going to Make Quota come December. It was written primarily for VP/Heads of sales, but surprisingly I got this email from Damien a sales rep.

OK, great article.  I feel like I’m definitely a sales rep in the B and C category.  I’m not a VP or a manager, just a regular ol’d rep.  How do I go about getting back in to the swing of things when my start to 2013 was less than stellar?  I know all the usual lines, but am having a harder time than usual finding the energy needed to get things going.  Interested to hear your thoughts.

I love Damien’s self-reflection, acknowledging he is in the B or C category.  It made me wonder how many other sales reps are like Damien.

Sales reps need to take control to be successful. My advice to Damien and EVERY other sales person is to start by taking a person inventory or where you are good and where you need help and back your way into success.


Know your shit! –   First and foremost, as a sales person, you need to know your shit. You need to understand the product portfolio, how it works, and the individual value it brings to your customers and clients. You need to understand the market including; trends, competition, regulations, players, thought leaders, industry insights and more. As a sales person your job is to be as knowledgeable as possible. You have to be able to provide insights to your customers and prospects. You should be able to teach your prospects and customers. The more sales people know their shit, the better positioned they are to be in the A category. Be a deliberate learner.

Create your own processes: Creating your own processes is a sleeper. This isn’t on most sales peoples radar. Sales people are not traditionally known for creating processes. In most cases we’re known for not following them. That being said, “A” sales players create their own processes.  Getting to your number means coming up with unique and effective approaches and processes to prospecting, educating, teaching and selling. Making things work for you means adopting new and existing sales tools. It means creating processes that map to how your buyers buy. It means being deliberate in leveraging or creating the processes that will be most successful in increasing your probability of success. Create your own processes.

Plan: Just as I suggest in my post the other day, build a plan and step back and ask yourself, will it work. If you deliver on all the goals, strategies, initiatives and tactics will you make your number? You need and want the answer to be yes.  The key here is to take your knowledge, the deep knowledge you’ve acquired and develop a robust, specific plan. Assess your selling environment, challenge the status quo, be creative, look for opportunities, look for challenges, and then create strategies and initiatives that will get you to where you want to go. Write it all done and start executing.  If you find you put the plan on the shelf and don’t look at it again, you built a shitty plan.  A good plan is continually reviewed for results, delivery and change in direction. A good plan is not a boring process but a power action.

If you know your shit, create your own effective, efficient processes and build a power plan you will stay ahead of your VP and your customers. No one will question whether or not you are headed in the right direction. You skills will never come into question. You and your VP will know early, whether or not you are going to make quota. You will both know where you prepared and where you are at risk. Your VP will have the confidence that you will make quota and that she doesn’t have to worry.

My answer to Damien and to all sales people is to take control. It’s to be specific and clinical in managing your sales environment. Sales isn’t about how many calls you make or how many appointments you set. In the end it’s about how well you know your shit, how you go about getting things done and your plan of attack.

Too many sales people look to management to solve their problems. Too many sales people want a silver bullet.  Too many sales people look externally, not internally. Before you quit, before you look to the sales organization, before you blame, get your own house in order.

It’s amazing what problems go away when we know our shit, have a killer plan and are efficient operators.

Stay ahead of your V.P.

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