I'm revising how I make resolutions in 2018.
Typically, I make resolutions, as many of us do January 1st. My major 2017 resolution was to lose weight. And just like many years prior, 2017 was no different as I did not achieve this resolution. I put on weight despite exercising more and eating healthier (or so I think). But yesterday I got to thinking why I failed year after year in achieving my resolutions. Then it hit me. I never planned it out nor reviewed my progress throughout the year. Common sense actions, but I skipped some critical elements that I should have known better than to skip. I jumped straight into setting a target (without conducting a review of the previous year's activities) nor did I evaluate the progress of the target throughout the year or addressed the habits or skills I needed to change throughout the year to achieve my goal.
Sales reps are results oriented, live for the moment and depend on skills, knowledge and attitudes which we possess. We know to be successful, we set sales targets (or the companies set sales targets for us), we plan and execute to the best of our abilities this year's activities and we evaluate sales progress throughout the year.
BUT do we evaluate the previous year's activities? Do we evaluate our own skills set that we used the previous year that enabled us to achieve or miss our sales targets? Are there any gaps in our Skills, Knowledge or Attitudes that impacted last year's results? Similar to setting annual resolutions, we tend to focus on the results but not HOW and WHY we achieved these good or bad results.
So here's a couple of suggestions for sales reps going into 2018, especially if you did not achieve your sales target in past years. Common sense items but neglected at times.
- Evaluate activities you conducted last year: Start the year by looking through all your call notes (hope you took detailed notes during your calls), the results vs. objectives you set at calls, information inputted into your CRM, accounts where you surpassed expectations (and why) as well as accounts where you were below expectations (and why), number of days you worked in the field vs. administrative days… this list can go on but choose five elements you believe impacted your sales efforts last year. Rate these five activities on a 1-10 scale. Does any activity stand out (ratings less than seven) and need improvement in 2018?
- SKA reflection: Look at the sales SKILLS you use, the KNOWLEDGE you currently possess and the ATTITUDES you exhibit while selling. What better time for an annual, personal SKA inventory review than at the beginning of the New Year!
We all need to grow annually from our current SKA baseline to achieve next year's goals. Write out all the SKA elements you think that a sales rep needs to be successful. Select the three elements in each category you deem as most important. Then do a subjective evaluation of yourself using a 1-10 rating scale (be brutally honest with yourself). If you notice gaps (ratings less than 7), plan to fill in these gaps in 2018.
- SKILLS – Could be as simple as taking notes in calls to strengthening selling skills such as handling objections or how to ask impactful questions to identify customer needs.
- KNOWLEDGE – How well do you know your stakeholders' personal and business needs, the value proposition of the products you currently sell vs. the competitor? Are you familiar with and effectively use the CRM system at your company?
- ATTITUDES – Look at your persistency level (without getting obnoxious), empathy towards stakeholders, pro-active approach or the professionalism you demonstrate daily.
These are items you can use to evaluate your last year's activities, how you achieved them and what needs to be addressed this year.
As for my 2018 resolution, I'm setting it again to lose weight. But, I will take a different approach in 2018 than I did in 2017. I will start with an analysis of what I did wrong last year, what I need to do better, what is a realistic target I can achieve, what SKA gaps I have and how I will fill in the top three gaps in 2018. I am convinced that if I start out 2018 in this manner, I will be able to keep my 2018 New Year's Resolution.
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Best of health and success in your chosen endeavors.
And as always, Good Selling!