Anthony Iannarino

Another great post from Anthony Iannrino landed in my inbox this morning. Day after day Anthony produces insightful and valuable blogs for sales people of all shapes and sizes on his website The Sales Blog. I’ve mentioned it before, but I thoroughly recommend subscribing to his work, it’s all excellent.

Today’s was especially good. Not an especially novel idea, but as always, the particular ‘Iannarino’ take on it made it well worth the read. Basically, Anthony argues that its not better Time Management that we need as sales people, but better ME management.

Anthony starts with a number of examples of what he means like this:

Time management is putting all of your appointments on your calendar. That’s an easy, straightforward task that no one has a real problem completing.

“Me management,” on the other hand is the part where you make your prospecting calls to schedule those appointments. Getting yourself to make your calls is “me management,” not time management.

Another painfully accurate insight from my perspective goes like this:

Time management is scheduling time with your team to help them produce better results, to grow, and to develop. It’s one of the most valuable investments of time you can make, as long as you give it your full attention and focus.

“Me management” is shutting the laptop lid, turning off the phone, and giving the person you are working with your full, undivided attention. “Me management” is giving them the coaching and growth opportunity they need, and not giving them the easy answer so you can be efficient.

Time Management

Time Management (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

So you get the idea? He is rather cleverly differentiating between the time you need to allocate to complete a task, and the actually ‘motivation’ you need in order to complete it. Its such a fascinating area.

I’ve have lost count of the times I get frustrated with sales people that just simply don’t do enough of what is needed. And all sorts of excuses often result – With time management being at the heart of those excuses.

I think you’ll find its more complicated than that 

I’ve come to consider its much more complex than that. Take prospecting, the first example Anthony makes as a case in point. Everyone, without fail, recognises that they need to do more prospecting, but so many sales people singularly fail to act on this.

This leads to under cooked pipelines and volatility in target plans, as well as an undue reliance on individual clients or deals that you are waiting to close. This in itself creates stress for the sales person and sales management, as well as single handedly being the number one cause of missed targets – not having enough out there in the first place.

A healthy, full pipeline insures you against most circumstances. Everything from a client who defects to a competitor to one that suddenly goes bust owing you a load of money are all mitigated when you have a ton of deals in the background waiting to close.

Having too little, or worse, too little of real value in the pipeline, leaves you extremely exposed.

I’ve yet to meet a sales person that does not understand that simple principle. Yet getting people to actually build their pipelines is another matter. Building pipelines takes a lot of work. They don’t fill up over night. But ultimately the process is simple, it’s doing it that’s not.

Typical Pipeline Strategy

1. Segment market and identify client

2. Prospect and appoint clients

3. Undertake some brief taking process and establish need

4. Create value for the client and present solution

5. Close the deal

This is clearly simplistic, but covers most bases. The logic is sound. And all it actually takes is a concerted effort to progress yourself and your clients through the stages.

That’s it.

Sales is simple from this perspective. Simple build, then ride the pipeline. Rinse and repeat.

Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters 2008

A gratuitous pic of a pipeline from the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters 2008 (Photo credit: surfglassy)

Sales is a management of processes:

Find the client, appoint the client, understand the need, present a solution, close the sale

Why is it so difficult to get sales people to do it then? And why is it so difficult to get sales people to do the other stuff associated with winning as well?

Well, here are two potential answers, you tell me which one you prefer?

Firstly, the sales person avoids doing something that effectively causes them pain.

Fear of loss in effect. So prospecting actually makes them vulnerable to rejection, which we all relate to. And spending a day making calls to prospective clients and getting told ‘NO!’ in no uncertain terms is clearly a tough thing to do. As is a day of asking people to buy and getting turned down.

But what if the desire to do all this stuff is not present in the first place?

What if the sales person simply does not have the motivation to keep on plugging away. What if they can’t ever get themselves up to make the prospecting calls, or can’t face that client that they know is going to say ‘NO!’

What if the sheer mind numbing tedium of making a hundred dials in order to secure the requisite number of appointments is such a turn off that person will never be able to do it consistently?

As the great Dave Gifford once said ‘You can’t put in what God left out’.

Here’s the thing

Maybe the reason that only a precious few succeed to the highest level in sales is because its actually really hard to do. And most people find themselves in it by accident, as its one of the easiest jobs to get. And then have no way to back up the fast talking that got them there in the first place.

Maybe the precise combination of drive, single mindedness, mental toughness, business acumen, outcome focus, and people skills that are present in all great sellers is just extremely rare, and everyone else in the industry is merely a pale imitation.

Not everyone would expect to make it to the top in other professions. Not everyone can be a premiership footballer or tour golfer, a top lawyer or a noble prize winning scientist.

Maybe not everyone , despite what people might think, and what the training manuals would have us believe, can be a great sales person either.

What do you think?

Is it just really hard? Or is it that not everyone can do it? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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