Three sure-fire ways to guarantee sales failure

Friday, April 8, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 15

In the world of sales, we are conditioned to live life by the month. We are driven by monthly sales goals and monthly paychecks.

But when we don’t take time to create a plan of attack at the start of each month, we are workhorses rather than stagecoach drivers.

We work reactively instead of proactively. We allow our sales pipelines to control us and ultimately find ourselves spending the last week of the month scrambling to close business and meet targets.

If you would rather be a workhorse and who merely produces instead of performs, consider the strategies below for staying at the bottom of the leaderboard.

You’ve gone this long without planning; don’t start now:

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

What you’ve always done may be getting you by, but if you’d like to improve your game, it’s never too late to adopt the practice of strategically planning your month.

Consider your sales funnel. How many new prospects do you need to contact each week to close one deal?

Plan to front-load your month with prospecting activities such as prospect research and cold calling to set up meetings with potential customers so you can spend the second half of your month bringing those prospects across the finish line.

You don’t need a more detailed plan than “sell, sell, sell”:

When you aimlessly sell, you lose sight of activities that align with your goals.

Adopting 5-15 planning can help you better focus your energy. Spend five minutes each day tactically planning the following day and 15 minutes each Friday planning your upcoming week. Write down stalled prospects and creative solutions to “unlock” them, prospects or clients you absolutely need to contact and your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Planning can make you up to 25 percent more productive, which equates to adding two more hours to your day.

Leave prospects soaking to ensure you have sales lined up for next month:

It can be tempting to stall a sale until next month when you are fairly certain you have enough lined up to meet this month’s goals.

But what happens when a sure thing this month falls through?

If the prospect is ready to close, don’t leave them soaking in the wading pool. Rather than intentionally dragging out your sales cycle, become diligent about prospecting activities that keep your pipeline active.

Like a good game of Texas Hold ’Em, what looks like sheer luck in sales is actually a well-played strategy.

Whether you steer the stagecoach or allow the wild forces of an unmanaged pipeline to drive you is your choice.

Jenny Jo Smith, Manager of Training and Development at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at