I started off as an SDR in the lead gen pit making 130 dials a day and progressing to Territory Manager and Account Executive. A career in sales feels like a sprint – ‘always be closing’; ‘close by the end of the quarter,’ ‘pound your pipeline until it is drained.’
We always need to working towards the close, but it is important to remember that a career in sales is a marathon not a sprint. You can race to the finish line at Q4 but on January 1 you are back to square one. Sales is a constant motion of research, building pipeline, closing pipeline, expanding accounts, etc…
If you run your sales career as a sprint you will get burned out and be unable to sustain your numbers and grow organically as a sales professional.
Marathons demand endurance, persistence, hydration…it has mini sprints, but to get to the finish line – consistently and execution is necessary. You have the end goal in mind, but also recognize you have to run the first mile before you get to mile two. You can map out the journey – but if you race through or take shortcuts you will get burned out and not complete the race.
I’m reflecting on this as I’m in a new position and am in the ramping period. I want to rush to the end of the finish line and become a top performer again. It is hard to recognize I’m starting over at a new company with a new set of goals and measurements.
My goal is to succeed – to hit my numbers and make my OTE. I have to treat this period as a marathon. If I miss training or don’t really target my pipeline effectively I will fail. I might get some quick wins burning through accounts – but that is not sustainable in my role. I know my WHY – my professional why is I want to help clients improve the way they connect with their customers with our software. My personal WHY is I want to make a good living to provide for my family and to travel. Why gets me running the marathon, but HOW is what drives me forward. During the purgatory ramp, I keep thinking about HOW.
You start with WHY, but to reach the finish line with meaningful solutions you must FOCUS on HOW
How can I ramp effectively and quickly? What can I control? Am I doing everything in my power to hit my numbers (calling leads, effective demos…)?
In this life, 99% of the time we cannot control the greater ecosystem around us, but we can control how we react to situations and the actions we take to overcome or improve the situation.
I am a creative and process oriented – agile but also needing structure to ensure I don’t miss the mark or get buried in the ‘noise’ and ‘frustrations.’ Being in a new role that has some challenges, I’ve leaned into what sales methodologies and systems of actions have worked in the past. I’ve then dug in deeper to HOW can those be applied in my current role to drive my professional development forward.
My new FOCUS on HOW series will explore HOW you can move your deals forward and close business; How you can grow professionally; How to be a better communicator.
It all starts with WHY:
As discussed in previous posts as well as by popular thought leaders like Simon Sinek…you have to start with WHY. That is the compelling reason that drives you as a sales professional, an organization and client in their decision making process.
The problem is that so many sales professionals dig so deep into the why – why the client wants another solution; why your product is the best, etc…that they neglect how they can transform the Why to resolution. That bridge between ‘why’ (pain, goals, etc) to resolution (ongoing or end result) is HOW.
Solution Selling digs into HOW:
- How the product works and you can implement it (demo)
- How this impacts your ROI
- How you can achieve your goals.
HOW is twofold – Focusing on HOW – puts you in the driver’s seat because you can take the Why and create an action plan – figure out a solution with HOW so the problem is solved (problem selling) or the art of the possible becomes reality.
Focusing on HOW ensures the client’s WHY becomes actionable and they have a guidepost to implement and improve their current state.
Focusing on HOW ensures that you are not passively waiting for deals to close – but rather are strategic in planning HOW to get to the PO. Overcoming challenges by evaluating the HOW (How can we prevent x objection; How can we overcome the competition). It allows you to control everything you can control in a thoughtful, strategic way without pressure selling. HOW empowers you to stay on track as you run the marathon and empowers you to finish the marathon by closing a deal.
In my next post I will share my own sales methodology based on Focus on HOW. It helps me to prioritize and focus – especially when I’m treading water or stuck in the trenches in sinking mud.
Sales is tied to short term goals, but it is a revolving door of building pipeline and closing. The finish line goes beyond just closing deals. The WHY and HOW for Sales Professionals demands you focus on the fact your sales journey doesn’t have one destination. Each sale is a step along the journey, but one big win could be a big loss tomorrow – so your WHY and HOW have to be tied with a marathon mentality of growth and success.
Thanks for following and hope these musings are helpful