We talk often at Gordon Flesch about fostering a team atmosphere. We take this very seriously and encourage managers to promote an environment in which everyone feels as if they’re part of a collaboration, building on one another’s strengths towards a common goal.
As a company, we also “put our money where our mouth is” when it comes to supporting our sales team, by providing best-in-class resources to increase their chances of being successful. This support comes in many forms: Business Analyst teams who assist our Account Executives in opportunities that are technical in nature; Sales Support staff who help alleviate the burden of administrative tasks, expert Service Technicians who support their customers…the list goes on and on. The interesting part is, while we work tirelessly to continually develop that team culture at Gordon Flesch, ultimately, sales is an individual sport.
The Similarity of Swimming and Sales
When I was young, my swim coach said, “In swimming, it’s you, the water, and the clock – there’s no place to hide in this sport.” That really had an impact on me, and I think the concept transfers well to the world of sales. In sales, it’s you, the prospects, and the close. And like swimming, there’s nowhere to hide.
Sales is a uniquely difficult job because we have to do the two very difficult things: try to convince people who don’t want to talk to us to schedule a face-to-face meeting, then convince them to give us their business. There’s a lot of work to be done throughout the sales cycle, especially in our industry, but it’s the front and back ends of that cycle – the prospecting and the close – that present the greatest challenges to the salespeople. In these stages, the “heavy lifting” is their responsibility, and the likelihood of success depends almost exclusively on their abilities and actions. The company team is here to support yet, as the point person, it’s all up to you.
That can be a daunting (and lonely) task – and what do you do if things aren’t going as planned? If you’re struggling to hit your numbers, it might help to ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can to reach my goals?” It might be time to take a look at your process and go back to some basics to help you refocus:
- Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the tools and resources available to support your efforts. We work hard to deliver all that you need to succeed, and using these assets will help you throughout the sales cycle. Make use of them, and if there’s something additional you think could make you even more effective, we welcome your ideas.
- Be proactive and develop a plan to win new customers and enhance your relationships with existing customers. Success rarely just happens; rather, it’s a result of a practical, actionable “plan of attack” and discipline around executing it.
- Keep in touch with our clients, at least quarterly, giving them reasons to rely on you as a business partner. Having something new, relevant and valuable to present at every meeting (with customers and prospects) will make it clear that you’re there to help them be successful…and invaluable. Sales is a job that continues after the contract is signed; it’s far more costly and time-consuming to win a new customer than it is to continue satisfying – and getting more deeply engaged with – an existing client, so treat them like gold.
Gordon Flesch’s culture focuses on team because we’re better when we work together: we’re stronger, smarter and more valuable to our clients. But each person on the team, individually, has the power to enhance his or her value to the whole. The more effective each of us is, the more remarkable our results will be. As you think about your contributions to the whole, remember that it’s you, the prospect and the close. There’s no place to hide – but you can find much-needed support in your team.