We learned this at school:
- A verb is a doing word.
- An adjective is a describing word.
Many people describe themselves as “being in sales”. They aren’t.
Rainmakers “do” sales.
Sales is a verb. It means to take action and sell stuff.
It does not mean passively scanning the bid board and lobbing a job over to estimating.
We worked with a flooring company who had a sales pipeline with over 100 active bids. Nearly all these bids were with General Contractors and sourced on a public bid board or they had received an electronic invitation to bid.
On review we were surprised, no a better term would be, gob smacked, to find:
75% of bids were submitted without having an initial conversation with the GC!
Guess why the client asked us, Flooring by the Numbers, to undertake a review?
Low conversion rate and low margins.
In another client review we sat with a mature salesman and reviewed his pipeline. It had 60 bids in it. We went through each one, line item by line item.
And, we are so brainy (not), we devised these devilishly probing questions:
- What is the status of the bid? Won, lost or ongoing?
- When did you last speak to them and what is the next step?
Most of the time the answers were
- Not sure (or not sure “our” GC got it)
- Er, I haven’t followed up on that. And, “what do you mean by next step?”
We discerned the “sales”man thinks sales is a describing word.
His modus operandi was to bung in a lot of bids and then let the prospective customer do the work—thinking the customer would call the salesman and tell him whether he had got the job or not!
We kid you not!
This blog is too short to set out a comprehensive sales training.
So we’ll make it really simple.
1. Before you ever submit a bid, the salesperson must have a conversation with the GC or end user.
Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Do not waste an estimators time unless you have had the conversation. NOT AN EMAIL
You have maximum leverage before you submit the bid.
Once the bid is in it is hard to influence. If you don’t have the conversation you are heading toward the lowest bid death spiral.
2. Follow up. Follow through
Take ACTION. Sales is a doing word. Do your job.
Agree a follow up action and date EVERY time with your prospect and then follow through.
They will learn:
- You are a business person
- You are building a business partnership with shared accountabilities.
- You get respect.
- You get your calls answered.
- You build trust.
- You win more deals. NOT HARD.
Nuff said. Make it rain (make is another doing word!)