Around two or three years into the job, many sales people begin a slow transition to taking orders rather than selling. That is, in the early years when there is no business, the job is to find new customers, build up the base, etc. Once that’s done, the phone starts to ring. We must take our customers’ orders. It’s easier work. And we must service the customer. Some people call this gathering. Problem is, for most people, it tends to be mutually exclusive from hunting.
We don’t prospect any more. We don’t call customers when we haven’t heard from them for months or years. We don’t ask much about other items the customer may need from us, because we are in the business of fulfilling their requests and, also, now, responding to their problems. We are totally reactionary to incoming requests. There’s little happening that is proactive.
Sure, this is a natural progression. But this approach to selling is hugely problematic: You are not in control of your sales. You cannot be strategic about revenue because you are totally dependent upon incoming requests. If good ones come in, you’re going to have a good month or year. But if small orders come in, then you’re filling those. There’s no way to plan or budget predictable growth if you live this way, See what I’m saying? You’re bouncing around like a pinball from one incoming request to the next.
This happens so much that I’m advising some clients now to create new positions for “prospectors” whose job it is to talk to non-customers and develop them into customers.
Even so, my program has turned hundreds of order-takers into proactive salespeople in the last couple of years alone. Here are the key behaviors that put you in control of your growth: Call customers proactively, check-in, see how you can help. Dramatically increase the time you spend on the phone talking to customers and prospects. Offer products to existing customers that they are not currently buying. Call prospects, not just customers. Follow up on quotes and proposals.
Take control of your sales work and growth. It’s too important to your life, your family, and your company.