Keeping Score

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If you play sports it's very easy to know how you're doing. Just check the score. In selling there is no program or scorecard. Sure, you can check your sales figures, but selling may take several calls. Unless we make a joint sales call, we have no one to ask., “How'd I do?” Until we get the order, how do we know how we're doing? Let's keep score in a different way.

The 80/20 rule. You can tell the quality of the sales call by who is doing the talking. If your customer is doing 80% of the talking and you're talking 20% give yourself some points. We want customers to feel comfortable with us. We need the information that only they have. We also need to hear if and how our customers understand our message. We can only learn this if they talk with us. If we remember that telling is not selling, we can appreciate letting the customer do most of the talking. Bob Pike, a nationally recognized sales trainer, told me about a very important study of commissioned salespeople He said the only predictor of success was the amount of talking done by the salesman. The successful salesman talked 12 minutes while the less successful salesman talked 23 minutes.

What do they do? I always like to see a customer nodding, smiling or attentive to my selling message. I interpret this as approval of my message and me. There are some customers who are uncomfortable showing emotions, so we may not see them smiling even if they are agreeing with us. For them, I watch their body position. I check to see if their body is facing me when we're sitting. I've been in joint sales calls where I actually saw the customer change his body position and point to the salesman he feels most comfortable with. It's like a magnetic dial. Give yourself some more points if your customer is facing you or turns to face you.

What next? At the end of the sales call do you agree on the next steps and deadlines for both you and your customer? You have now increased the odds that the actions will occur. Most people will honor their words and their commitments. If you clearly identify next steps, give yourself more points.

What do you do with all these points? Take all your points and score yourself after each sales call. After several calls, you'll see if you are maintaining your selling performance average. There are also bonus selling points.

Give yourself some bonus points if you made your sales goals this year. If you gave it all you had and didn't make your goals, give yourself some points, too. After all, we are striving for excellence, not perfection. The two are different. If your goals for 1999 are already written, quantified, achievable, give yourself more points. You can now hit the ground running in 2000 with a clear path and destination in mind. Now that you've got your score for this year, get ready for the new game next year. Wishing you a happy and healthy Selling New Year.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Selling. Copyright Maura Schreier-Fleming

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