At Sandler, we have a saying, “You either win or you learn.” And, while wins might be harder to come by during the pandemic, there are plenty of lessons to be learned. Here are a few that relate to business development and your sales team.
1. Qualification is essential when prioritizing your efforts.
In healthcare and sales, it is crucial to identify who qualifies for your time, money, and resources. In the face of the pandemic, hospitals canceled elective procedures and asked only the most critically ill patients to come in.
In sales, especially prospecting, we should also be selective in whom we choose to invest. We have a limited amount of resources, and if we try to sell everyone, we are probably wasting those precious resources, like time, on people who will never buy. Instead, we can get clear about what our ideal client looks like and what measurable criteria would qualify them as worthy of prioritization. At Sandler, we recommend looking at their pain, budget, and decision-making process.
2. A little separation can be a good thing for your health.
Physical distancing is a proven way to avoid getting the virus. The less you interact with unhealthy, contaminated people and things, the better your chances of staying healthy.
At Sandler, we teach a concept for business professionals called I/R separation. In short, I stands for your Identity or self-esteem, and R stands for your Role as a salesperson. Negative results and feedback in your Role can be infectious to your self-esteem and Identity. With the amount of rejection involved in sales, it is imperative to separate who you are from what you do. Don’t let the day-to-day grind of your job affect your belief in yourself and your value as a human being. Instead, keep your Identity safe by realizing that it is separate and unrelated to any role, task, job, or function you might be performing at any given moment. Never get emotionally involved in a sale, especially a prospecting call.
3. Flattening the curve removes stress from the system.
By now, you are probably sick of hearing about flattening the curve of the virus, but it simply means spreading out the resources needed to treat the illness over time so that hospitals do not become overwhelmed. If everyone gets sick at once, we can’t treat everyone, but if we allow enough time for some people to get better and move through the system, it frees up resources for more people.
The same lesson applies to sales. At Sandler, we often see salespeople who operate in peaks and valleys. They make a whole bunch of prospecting efforts to build their pipeline, and then they get busy servicing those buyers and stop filling the funnel. This frantic cycle needs flattening out. Best results come from doing a little bit of activity, consistently, all the time.
It is important to identify your critical behaviors for results and then block time to work on all of them each day, week, or month. Typically, this includes prospecting for new business, servicing clients, expanding existing accounts, and trying to recapture clients you may have lost. Flattening your curve by being consistent in your effort will lead to sustainable business growth, instead of peaks and valleys.
4. Traction takes time.
People around the world have been learning a valuable lesson when it comes to washing their hands and physical distancing. Because the virus is invisible and has an incubation period, it is almost impossible to know when you or someone you are in contact with is infectious. That has forced us all to be proactive in our actions to prevent its spread. If we all do the right things, we can trust that the number of infections will eventually go down.
You can apply this lesson to your sales activity, as well. We have a Sandler Rule for this. “Never manage your results; manage your behavior.” Our sales are a result of our prospect’s buying cycle, which means we can know ahead of time who is going to buy and when. Instead, we need to focus on what we can control, the inputs instead of the outputs. Leading indicators like the number of outreach conversations, sales meetings, and the proposals we do will give us proactive behaviors that we can do to ensure a healthy sales pipeline. If we do the right sales behaviors, we can trust that our sales numbers will eventually go up.
5. Negative tests are great news for everyone.
This one is a little counter-intuitive. Obviously, testing negative for the virus is preferred. But, when it comes to sales, would you say the same thing about disqualifying a potential sales opportunity? Hospitals wish everyone is and stays healthy. Shouldn’t we also hope people do not need our treatment?
At Sandler, we hope you don’t need business development help. We hope you are crushing quotas and growing the business of your dreams, but we also know that is not the case for everyone. The chances are that no matter what you sell, in a perfect world, people would not need it. The reason people trade money for products or services is that they have a need for something greater. They would be so happy, healthy, and satisfied that they would be off living the dream instead. In sales, “no” is at least the second-best answer we can hear. It might even be the best.
One of our Sandler trainers and authors, Jody Williamson, said it best. “It is unethical to sell something people don’t need, but it is also unethical to NOT sell something people do need.” Finding someone who doesn’t need your help means you have more time to work with people who do. Doing both of those things is critical for doing your best work for yourself and your clients.
Success in life and sales often comes down to a few fundamental principles which are universal to every person and profession. Things like adaptability, consistency, self-confidence, proactive planning, and lifelong learning build healthy people, teams, and organizations. Those lessons can be learned from and applied to countless situations. At Sandler, our mission is to collect those best practices and share them with you.
If you would like to learn more about how to succeed in sales or sales leadership, you can access our free Sandler E-learning Library at sandler.com/SELL.