I’ve read another great post from Anthony Iannarino over at The Sales Blog today called How To Execute a Turnaround. Its compelling stuff from someone who has an intuitive grasp of sales strategy and a fantastic turn of phrase capable of making even complex messages easy to understand. I’d thoroughly recommend you popping over to read what Anthony says. I’m going to discuss some of his ideas here in this article and one in particular.

Anthony lists the following 7 steps as the road to sales recovery:

1. Control your thoughts – Being positive and hopeful is essential in a sales turn around situation. And here he goes into great detail as to why. The best bit is when he talks about the search for magic bullets! I love this analogy, and I’ve seen it millions of times. There is no need to rush around looking for solutions that didn’t exist before and don’t exist now

2. Get back to fundamentals (more on this later)

3. Create a sense of urgency and mission – Bonding the sales force behind an idea or plan to get team back to winning ways is essential. A blog post in itself

4. Change what needs to be changed (fast) – Generally, as Dave Gifford would tell you, we hire to fast, and fire too slow! Generally not enough care is taken finding the right people in the first place. Do you run psychometric testing of candidates? How many interviews do you run to? What scenarios do you explore in the interview? And in terms of performance management, nothing is more demotivating to a sales team than someone ‘getting away with it’. And a great tip here – make the change you make VISIBLE.

5. Focus on close wins – In a turnaround situation, people are often looking for the big win, the magic bullet mentioned earlier. The one hit that will make everything better. Far better to take the easy small ‘close wins’ and build momentum.

6. Take actions to build the long-term – As Anthony himself has said, ‘you can’t fix today, what you should have fixed two months ago’. If you’ve a long lead time, you need to respect that, and take the hit. Build from now, and work your way through.

7. Enlist the help of smart people – People in your organisation or outside of it. It’s too easy to get blinded by what is right in front of you. Simply talking to someone with a different perspective will help no end. Anthony suggests building a ‘turn around team’ – Great idea!

Seven terrific ideas there, and ones I know from personal experience will work. They are proven techniques in themselves. The one I wanted to major on in this article though is number 2. ‘Get back to fundamentals’.

I see it all the time. Sales people work really hard to get themselves to a position where they consider they have won. Usually hitting a target provided by the organisation or even one they have set for themselves. Then they stop.

They don’t stop on purpose of course. But its a natural inclination when having achieved something to take some time to reflect. To bask in the glory maybe. In some jobs there will be the simple fact that the sales person, being the seller and the implementor, actually gets bogged down in non selling though essential activities like making sure the customer is getting what they paid for. All understandable and entirely relevant.

But invariably performance suffers. Having climbed Everest, there sometimes seems an inevitable decent. I have seen this cycle in various forms repeated all over the country with sales people of all sorts of abilities. The period differs. For some its month to month. Others its quarter by quarter and so on. But the result is the same. A series of high performance is interrupted by a downturn of some sort.

However it happens, I see it happening all the time. And every time for exactly the same reason.

The sales person stops doing what it is they were doing that made them successful in the first place.

It amazes me how many sales people don’t know what it is they do that makes them win. There believe there is almost a luck to their success. A coincidence. And even looking at things the wrong way can set off a chain reaction that will only lead to failure.

You have to learn what it is that you do that makes you successful, and do more of that. Doing more of the right things more often, is the only way to ensure regular success.

Winning in sales is not that hard. Given you’ve sales related attributes like good communication skills, persistence and resilience, it’s a question of having a plan, knowing what it takes to win, and having the discipline to stay on plan.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet me on @radiojaja and let me know.