My life as a sales hoop jumper negatively impacted my professional development. Here’s why.
You see, I was really, really enthusiastic!!! I was (overly) prepared for each sales appointment. As a result, I listened, I wanted to please. And I made second appointments to provide more information based on questions from the first appointment.
Also, I was extremely sales logical and analytical. So much so that I was exhausted and frustrated. Plus, I was getting major-league jacked around by prospects I never should have met with in the first place.
As a result, my sales cycles were beyond amazingly long.
What a waste of time! I had morphed into an excellent sales hoop jumper. Prospects said jump through this next hoop and maybe we will be ready to sign that contract of yours. Except there always was another sales hoop to jump through at the end of the meeting. And I didn’t know how to say no, either. Because that is not the way we are trained, initially, is it?
Sound familiar? Are you a sales hoop jumper? Let’s have an intervention right now. Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
First, you are a sales hoop jumper when you are prospecting-promiscuous instead of sales-savvy.
Are you prospecting off externally acquired leads lists (mostly unqualified)? Or are you a savvy seller who understands your sweet spot and assembles your own list of qualified prospects well-matched for your products and services? What is the best use of your professional sales time?
Second, you are a sales hoop jumper when you are sales-naive instead of sales-realistic.
You love that endorphin rush when you secure an appointment with a new prospect! However, do not let those endorphins cloud your sales common sense. If the reality of the first meeting does not match up with your overly-embellished expectations of what you want to accomplish, pay attention to your sales intuition. Time to move on to the next prospect?
Third, you are a sales hoop jumper when you ignore the boundaries of the sales process.
In your excitement to sell to customers who seem to always have time to meet with you, do you stretch the boundaries of the sales process? Gradually your sales cycles have no limits. As a result, you do not have enough hours in the day to meet with well-qualified prospective customers who are a solid fit for your products and services.
Fourth, you are a sales hoop jumper when you are a professional doormat instead of a sales professional.
You are the first person to grant prospective (and current) customers permission to walk all over you and abuse your time, talent and expertise. Some prospective customers enjoy being ambiguous and stressing you out about the status of a contract. What makes you think they will act differently once the sale is consummated? Are they really worth the drag on your professional self-confidence?
And fifth! You are a sales hoop jumper when you are sales-desperate instead of sales confident.
If the end of each fiscal quarter is yet another quota horror story, you may be engaged in an endless loop of jumping through your organization’s hoops. Consider you may be selling the wrong stuff for your skill sets and level of interest. Or you just may not really be a hunter-type. In fact, you may even be in the wrong profession. Yet you can become an incredible professional asset within another, more enlightened organization. Understand the difference. And do not be afraid to change your career trajectory.
Right sales place. Wrong sales function?
Sales activities predominantly focus on new business acquisition. If you enjoy the hunt, but are indiscriminately chasing after any and everything that “looks” like a lead, it is time to be more professionally discerning. Focus your skills on clients who are well worth your effort. Otherwise, you short-sell yourself. Consequently, you never have the time to develop sales and subject-matter expertise.
However, if your expertise and interest are laser-focused on retaining customers after they are won (my own self-discovery), your sweet spot resides in a customer success and/or customer experience function within your own organization or a new organization.
Your optimal role may reside outside of the formalized sales organization, such as the consultative, strategic and value-based role I often take with clients.
Here’s my confession as a recovered sales hoop jumper.
Gradually, I became the go-to expert called in to put on my sales hazmat suit. As a customer retention expert, I cleaned up all sorts of sales toxic messes encountered by sales people when it was time to renew and retain their underserved customers. Consequently, I was the sales team master because – even at the initial sale – I focused all my clients on success strategies for sustaining their businesses, post-sale. Do I need to tell you what my customer retention rates were? And my cross-sell and upsell track record?
Your recovery from being a sales hoop jumper starts by defining just whose hoops you are so busy jumping through in the first place. Sure, you can blame your manager and your team. And sure, you can blame your company’s strategy. While these accusations all may be true, you are the person responsible for recovering from sales hoop jumping.
Understand that driving revenue is part of everyone’s job function, whether stated of not. Having sales experience is a plus on your resume. How you leverage your sales experience is up to you. With a little bit of help from me. 🙂 Are you ready?
Will you move on and jump through yet another sales hoop? Or will you fine-tune your sales skills and apply them to where they are needed most? And with an employer who truly values your expertise within their business and human capital strategy.
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken is a refreshingly extroverted STEM professional and skeptical thinker focused on intentional innovation. She helps people, teams and organizations make hard calls when designing products, services, careers and cultures. These are not easy conversations to have. Her ability to translate cross-functional conversations between left-brain and right-brain thinkers provides different pathways for behavior, response, insight and collaboration. Think of the strategic business and human capital value of moving beyond avoidance or group-think, together. Instead, let your creativity, critical thinking, and leadership skills co-develop together, one millimeter at a time. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: iStock / Getty images.