My life as a sales hoop jumper negatively impacted my professional development. Here’s why.
I was enthusiastic. I was (overly) prepared for each sales appointment. I listened. I wanted to please. I made second appointments to provide more information based on questions from the first appointment.
I was so sales logical and analytical. I was exhausted. I was frustrated. 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. Boom! I was on it like flies on you-know-what.
Are you a sales hoop jumper? Let’s have an intervention right now.
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?
- Sales naïve instead of sales realistic. You love that endorphin rush when you secure an appointment with a new prospect. Don’t let those endorphins cloud over your sales common sense. If the reality of the first meeting does not match up with your overly-embellished expectations of what you wanted to accomplish, pay attention to your sales intuition.
- Sales process boundless or sales mindful. 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. 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.
- 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?
- Sales desperate instead of sales confident. If the end of each fiscal quarter is another quota horror story, you may be engaged in an endless loop of jumping through your organization’s hoops. You may be selling the wrong stuff for your skill sets and level of interest. You may not be a hunter-type. You even may be in the wrong profession, but may be an incredible professional asset within another organization. Understand the difference. Don’t 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. Otherwise 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 role may even reside outside of the sales organization, although having a stable base of loyal and retained customers was dismissed by no sales organization – ever!
Here’s my confession as a recovered sales hoop jumper. I was the person who was called in to put on my sales hazmat suit and clean up all sorts of first-sales toxic messes when it came time to renew and retain those dis-served and under-served customers. I focused all my clients on success strategies for sustaining their businesses. Do I need to tell you what my customer retention rates were? Especially during the global financial meltdown between 2001-2010?
Your recovery from being a sales hoop jumper starts by acknowledging that you are jumping through those hoops in the first place. You can blame your manager and your team. 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.
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?
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring and developing collaborative technical and non-technical employees. As a sales newbie, Babette walked into her first manufacturing plant – a slaughterhouse in Oklahoma – over 25 years ago. She fell in love with manufacturing. She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, focusing teams on creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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