The Aha Moment: How to Know When to Pivot Your Sales Strategy

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As a successful salesperson, you’ve probably spent years perfecting your strategy. But picture this: You’re giving roughly three demos a day, and suddenly there’s no follow-up, no next step, and no sale.

Just about everyone in sales has that moment when they realize their usual steps and tactics are no longer working. The key to a long, fruitful sales career is to constantly change course and re-evaluate your strategy. Doing so will help you continually progress -- and avoid a bad month or quarter.

Pinpointing the aha moment

Things rarely stay the same. As a salesperson, it’s vital to recognize when your usual tactics aren’t getting results and then pivot.

I remember my first aha moment: It was my first sales job, and I was hungry for success. My goal was to make sales -- lots of them -- and put up an impressive number. My strategy was making as many calls as possible. That was the number I tracked and the number my manager looked at.

Suddenly, I realized I was going about it all wrong. While it was a numbers game, I was looking at the wrong numbers. I could bang out a ton of calls to random people and get nowhere -- or I could change how I was playing the game. I realized I needed to start identifying high-quality prospects so my calls were likelier to lead to sales.

I became more selective. I researched each prospect to make sure they met my ideal customer profile, then I determined whether they were ready for a sales approach or needed nurturing.

Being choosier saved me time and improved my win rate. Before ever approaching a potential client, I knew they could afford my solutions. And digging a little before making the call meant I always had access to a decision maker who had the authority to say “yes” to what I was offering.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and continue down the same path even when you’re not getting good results. That’s why you need to take stock of your techniques and approach, be honest with yourself about how well you’re doing, and make some changes.

These three steps can help evaluate your strategy:

  1. Write out your sales process
  2. Define larger and smaller goals
  3. Self-assess

1. Map out your sales process.

Break down your sales process into stages. For example, my sales process looks like this:

  • Identify inbound or outbound prospect
  • Meet with prospect
  • Discover prospect’s goals and desired results
  • Advise prospect on how I can help them achieve these goals
  • Close the sale
  • Foster the relationship and help client grow their business
  • Review results every 30 days

After listing your process, go through each step. Evaluate how each stage is working for you. Are you getting the same results today as you were when you started using this tactic? Consider how you can tweak that step to make it more successful.

2. Set clear objectives

Holding yourself accountable is much simpler with clear, measurable performance objectives. But it can be tough -- defining clear goals takes time and effort, and many people fear being too specific may set them up for failure.

However, Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile found employees who made small wins toward larger goals were more engaged and successful. Take advantage of this by setting large goals for yourself and then breaking them down into weekly or monthly targets.

For example, if your yearly goal is delivering 200 proposals, figure out how many proposals you’ll need to do per month. At the end of every month, see if you achieved your monthly goal, then evaluate your progress toward your yearly goal. Making incremental wins will give you a stronger sense of progression and satisfaction in your work.

3. Be brutally honest with yourself

Re-evaluating your sales tactics and strategies requires self-awareness and honesty. This is where many of us go off the rails -- making excuses or rationalizing our lack of success in a particular stage.

Set up a system to track your activities and performance for each step of your sales process. This forces you to be honest with yourself about your results and helps you identify weak points. It’s one thing to say, “I feel like business is good, and I have the right amount of activity.” It’s another thing to know.

It takes courage to be honest with yourself about your results and change your strategy to improve. Self-assessment is paramount to career growth. It can provide insight into your sales skills, knowledge, and competencies.

No strategy is foolproof, and no strategy can be effective forever. The moment you realize one of the steps in your usual sales process isn’t working, it’s time to make a change. Constantly evolving your tactics will keep you on top of your game.

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