The Sales Success Stories Book – 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals was published October 16, 2018. Learn more: http://top1.fm/book
In between the regular interview episodes we’ll continue to release sample stories from the book like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear Trey read his story, or read the full text below.
We all hear about the importance of setting our goals high, but I struggled for many years to understand what that meant, and how to create a plan to overachieve on my quota. As a seasoned sales rep, I’ve watched many of the best focus on their numbers. They dissect their territory well and seem always to have a plan to quickly exceed their quota, get into accelerators and make some real money. That’s why we do what we do – right?!
A better way of managing this process became very clear in January of 2010. I had just attended a conference where Mark Allen, six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, spoke about his struggle to be one of the best tri-athletes of all time. Mark shared that although for years he dominated in triathlons around the globe, he continuously finished behind Dave Scott at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Mark shared that to be a World champion and to beat Dave Scott; he had to change his diet, training and focus to be the best. Mark’s talk got me thinking that maybe I needed to step back and change my approach to sales.
When I returned to the office that year, we were in the middle of territory planning. Instead of doing what I always did, I took a different approach and scheduled a meeting with my sales operations team. I asked for detailed stats on my average deal size the prior year and the average deal size of the broader sales team. I requested conversion rates for how many emails it took on average across the team to get to one sales call, and how many calls it took with a prospect before it created an opportunity. With that information, my close rates were easy to understand; this helped me set weekly goals around the pipeline I needed to achieve my higher goals. I wanted to look at my sales activity as a math problem.
I took the time to back into what activities it would take daily to reach my higher annual sales goals. We all know that 4x pipeline is a good target for sales bookings. That number divided by 50 selling weeks helped me realized how much pipeline I needed to generate each week. Taking it a step further, my success rate for calls or meetings that turn into an opportunity was also one in four. As I dug deeper, I discovered that it took about 32 emails or about eight phone calls to generate one meeting.
Once I knew my numbers, I threw out any thought about my quota and created new habits and routines based on my personal annual sales goal. I have a wife and two children, so three days of the week, I got up an hour earlier and sent thirty-two emails and made eight phone calls. Most of the phone calls were messages, but I found prospects to be impressed that I was up earlier than they were.
The emails and phone calls became an obsession, but I believed in the numbers. I knew if I stuck with the routine. Eventually the pipeline would come. Early morning emails and calls required me to prepare the list of whom I wanted to contact and the messaging the night before. I even scheduled 90 minutes of time to myself every Sunday to get direction on whom I wanted to target and the message I wanted to share.
Over time, the pipeline started to come. I found that the way I spent my days was changing. I would have all my prospecting done by 6am before my daughter woke up and when I arrived at the office, my time was spent fielding client calls, preparing proposals and progressing deals. My productivity went through the roof!
As the end of the year approached, I was tracking towards $2.5 Million in sales. As often happens, a $300,000 deal pushed out into the following year, and I finished at $2.2 Million in sales – 92% of my $2.4 Million goal. Internally, I was devastated. I had changed my routines but failed to hit my sales goals.
Externally, I celebrated. I finished #3 out of 60 reps globally and made more money that year than I had made the two years prior. Further, I closed the last $300,000 deal in late January of the next year starting off my next selling year with real momentum.
I continue this routine today, knowing I must understand my numbers and set my goals high to be one of the best, for both myself and the company I represent.
Want more from Trey Simonton? He was the star of episode 35: Trey Simonton of Bazaarvoice – Consistency is the key to success