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5 Strategies towards Smashing your Sales Targets in 2010

The environment in which salespeople now sell has changed considerably. The process of buying has changed – therefore the process of selling has changed accordingly…. Markets are smaller and more complex – there are less genuine opportunities for salespeople to sell…. Decision makers and the people involved in decision making have changed meaning purchasing decisions are now longer and much more complex. Reality check! The bottom line is that the market will not adapt or return for the salesperson, it is now up to the salesperson to change – so as to meet the needs of this new sales environment. If you are still a salesperson in 2010, firstly congratulations – here are 5 recommended strategies you can employ towards getting on top of your target this year.

1. Start by Moving the Target Up

What? I hear you ask, my target is challenging enough without putting additional target and pressure on top. Wrong! Sales are ultimately about smart averages, so putting your target up a notch means you give yourself more breathing space from the get go. In planning for a higher target, you automatically increase your chances of hitting and exceeding your original target. It’s a simple fact!

2. Analyse Performance and then Plan for Success

It amazes me to this day how many companies continue to use KPIs badly and how many salespeople insist on trying to fudge the figures. Your KPIs are one of the mostly deadly sales tools you have. A proper and realistic analysis of your KPIs will provide you with everything you need to know and do to improve your performance. In short, they provide you with the building blocks for both your long-term and short-term sales planning.

So KPIs provide you with the relevant information and your sales plan decides how and where you intend to spend your time. You will need to plan for long-term (yearly) and short-term (monthly, weekly). It’s critical that you get this right, because your time is your ultimate resource in sales – so ensure that you are spending it wisely. In the words of a famous ex-Manchester united captain “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

3. The Trick is to Prospect rather than Close

A key skill for all sales people in this environment is their ability to find genuine prospects. Its takes time and research but it pays to do so. A problem for a great many salespeople right now is that rather invest in prospecting, they are choosing instead to invest in closing. In other words, they are continuing to spend the majority of their time chasing prospects that don’t want to buy rather than finding prospects that do. You could almost call it, a type of sales madness. Remember, research is the key piece when prospecting. The more thorough your research, the better prepared you will be to meet the decision maker and ultimately the greater your chances of success.

4. Selling is Easier when you Embrace Technology

While technology may on one hand threaten the very role of the salesperson, it also assists us to be increasingly more effective and professional. Information is freely and widely available on the organisations and the people that we want to sell to. It is now easier than ever to connect with these people and networking can happen at speeds unimaginable only a few years ago. A salesperson that is not willing or afraid of these new tools will quickly be left behind. Embrace rather fight technology, it just made selling a whole lot easier.

5. Become a Business Person, not a Sales Person

In 2010, being a salesperson alone no longer cuts the mustard. Prospect’s time is increasingly valuable; they are only interested in speaking to people who will bring lots of value to any conversations. The flipside is that you now are expected to know a lot more than merely what you sell. The salespeople that will succeed will be those who bring with them developed and strong business acumen. They will be those who can step behind the desk of the senior managers within organisations and see the world through their eyes.

This means that the role of salesperson is also that of someone who has an aptitude and appetite to constantly better oneself. If your company are lacking in their support in this regard, you must pick up the slack, and consciously devote both your person and time to learning. The wealth of available information means that this is now very easy to do. So whether it is reading a business book a month or subscribing to some top class business blogs, it will not happen unless you make it so.

My Sales Prediction for 2010…..

While 2009 could be considered perhaps survival of the fittest in terms of its effect on professional sales and sales people, it is my prediction, that in 2010 – we may start to see the survival of the most knowledgeable. I am not one who subscribes to the theory that technology is making sales a redundant profession. It is my belief that what we are actually seeing is the start of the true professionalism of sales. It would make me exceedingly happy if this turns out to be the case…. Please be sure to share your strategies towards making target in the comments section below and the very best of luck in 2010.

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (, & to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care.

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  • Hi Cindy. What a comprehensive and informative post. Thank you. I have just started on “Outsourcing Your Marketing Dept With Blogging” and it is a very interesting read for someone who is starting out on this road – concise and full of relevance! I agree with you on the absence (or apparent absence) of alot of business taking blogging seriously as an international marketing avenue. Even with all of the hype out there about social media, it has not taken off as I would expect (with some obvious exceptions of course). Perhaps this is because it requires more thought than a “Tweet” or a Facebook update. For me, it is going to be critical part of helping drive my business. I am going to read the rest of the posts in the coming couple of days – based on your first recommendation, I am looking forward to the quality of the rest!

  • Hi Cindy – thanks for sharing these articles – look forward to reading them this week.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post Cindy, if this can continue at this kind of quality then I can see your breakdown becoming a bit of a one-stop-shop for solid tips and advice.

    I’m not sure how best to say this without causing anyone any offense (though I’m sure most of the people here this shouldn’t apply to), but the fact is that there’s a fairly widespread impression that an awful lot of people in “social media” and “blogging” are, to some degree, snake oil salesmen.

    It’s nice to see people talking about maintaining humanity, being an individual, getting across the fact that you’re a person, talking to people. Those are the kinds of posts on businesses blogging that I would have thought deserved highlighting… and I’m most pleased to see you doing so 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Cindy

    I will cheat here and say “Outsource Your Marketing Department with Blogging” as I just read it. I have been blogging through a number of my sites for about 3 years BUT 2010 will see launched. (no point clicking as not set up yet :-(. I know the power of blogs but will be changing my strategy in 2010 from getting traffic to getting the right traffic.

    Thanks for sharing the posts


  • Niall, Great point and you know something else… I think small businesses need to have the fun element to keep going over time and the bigger businesses need to have fun to bring more of their own team on board.

  • Hi Fred, yes, there is a timing element. I remember last year I heard quite a bit of talk about a large US retail store which started a French blog as their first approach to this market. At the time this seemed quite forward thinking. Today I think there are more opportunities, not necessarily in France. But social media has extended its reach in many countries. The timing has got to be right for some businesses and some foreign markets.

    Let’s face it, any non-American company interested in selling their wares to North America should seriously consider investing in a consistent and strategic online content strategy whether it looks like their idea of a blog or not.

  • Hi Martin, No I did not follow LeWeb this year, but I heard echos that they continued the same argument as last year about American working more than the French. And there was a new one because some of the French entrepreneurs were not on Twitter.

    Thanks for sharing these books too! I’ll definitely check them all out. Love the title of the first one.

  • This really got me thinking too. I know that 365 days of blogging daily on two different but related blogs gave me online visibility for lots of those long tail words. I didn’t really go after the keywords, but I wrote all around my topic. I’d also like to get more strategic with this.

    And I think this is great news for the smaller companies who take the time do the ground work. In the end anyone who wants to put in the effort has their spot online. But I do think there is the price to pay first of consistently putting in the effort.

  • Hi Barney, I also see people who are afraid of not being able to blog “perfect” content. And companies obviously worry about whether their “brand” gets translated well in the foreign country and how any online cultural blunders will impact future endeavors.

    The one thing I learned was that no matter how perfect your blog is when you start, it’s not going to be perfect immediately. I think of blogging as a journey to get to know others. And in the beginning you don’t really know how to hook up with your readers. So when you first stick your neck out, it’s normal for most people to appear awkward. It’s just part of the learning process.

    And this is why I really think the early adopters of international blogs could have a head start.

  • Hi Marc – there have certainly been lots of references to “snake oil salesmen” last week. There is a huge learning curve to use social media for business… at least it is a huge one for me. And the social media environment is still moving, so this learning curve has not become static yet. I think it’s important to listen to people with both a solid business background and strong social media skills.

    I don’t use the term “snake oil salesmen”, instead I use the image of “cheerleaders”. I think these people simply do not have the business acumen you need to see the whole picture and remain stuck in admiration of the fun gizmos. I hope that next year we’ll hear more from the right crowd of people. Cheerleaders do make a lot of noise though.

  • Hey Paul, I noted that you have been blogging for 3 years. I’ve often heard that you need 3 years of blogging to “get” how to use it for business. I’m not sure how much relevance I put on that, because things change so much. But I’m at 2 years of blogging and looking forward to this upcoming year.

    You’re so right with regards to targeting the “right” traffic. I also like to remember this for Twitter.

    As you say you had a number of sites, I’d be interested in knowing whether they were on related topics and how you think this helped you or not. I blogged on 2 different but related blogs in 2009 and put one aside in 2010 to focus on other things. But I’m starting up that 2nd blog again. Having the two on related topics worked very well for me. I know this probably has lots to do with my subject matter and the 2 blog angles, but I’m always interested in hearing other feedback from bloggers with multiple blogs.

  • Cool Elaine. I’d also really like hearing of any other articles you come across that inspire you on topics related to international business. Maybe it’s the short days and the cold weather…

  • Agree 100%. I fall into that category myself!

  • Anonymous

    Great post. I have always enjoyed your insights….usually through Twitter. Delighted to see your presence on Bloggertone and I have now enjoyed many of these articles.

    Thanks again.


  • Great post Niall. Points 3, 4 and 5 are vital, especially because it will take out of the comfort zone the majority of people in sales. Though challenges: more prospecting and be more in business mode than sales mode…

  • As someone who is knew to sales and the sales process this is knowledge and insight that is well received. Thanks Niall

  • If the sales people become more knowleadgeable and business focused in their selling strategies as you say, we may even experience a shift in the way the non-sales-people regard them, and the renewed sales people will be called “consultants” or something along those lines. That would be interesting to see.

  • If the sales people become more knowleadgeable and business focused in their selling strategies as you say, we may even experience a shift in the way the non-sales-people regard them, and the renewed sales people will be called “consultants” or something along those lines. That would be interesting to see.

  • If the sales people become more knowleadgeable and business focused in their selling strategies as you say, we may even experience a shift in the way the non-sales-people regard them, and the renewed sales people will be called “consultants” or something along those lines. That would be interesting to see.

  • Facundo, Niall – not only interesting to see, but it would change the way people do business as we know it today. I would feel, that if sales people start concentrating on being ever knowledgeable, it may dilute the role of aggressive salesperson – and people will do business through networking and linking in to eachother. Just another turn in the tide of business relationships. It’s going to be a very exciting year. Sure, Spring is nearly on us already, there is a great sense of newness around. I would rather not do business with people that want to remain stuck in old strategies. Leave that for the spammers 🙂

  • great post Niall – thanks for sharing. Working on my targets the next few weeks, so some well timed post for me 🙂

  • Cheers Fred! Good sales mode is business mode, that’s the point. For too many years, sales is been sold as some kind of black art where the salesperson somehow talks an unsuspecting person into becoming a buyer. It’s based on this stupid believe that you can sell anything to anyone (snow to Eskimos) This is BS. The reality is that you need to invest time and energy into finding genuine buyers, but when you do, the sales bit is just a natural progression.

  • NP Barney, glad it was useful 🙂

  • Hey Facundo, I agree, it’s about time that we actually started to listen to how people want to be sold and sell accordingly. Thanks for the comments.

  • If salespeople are doing their job properly, there will never be a need to come across as aggressive. There are no silver bullets in sales or as Facundo points out, its a consultation and a process at the end of which the prospect may decide against buying. Thanks as always for comments Elaine 🙂

  • Anonymous

    You nailed it Niall. Very clear points. Challenging targets and planning your success are very important. I think it is also important to continually seek feedback.


    P.S: When you have landed your Feb targets come over and give me a dig out 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hi Niall, I have read more than 15 articles (online) on How To Achieve Sales Targets and I find your article on this subject quite revolutionary. Your idea that sales people transform themselves into business person so as to be more successful in their career should be regarded as a strong eye opener. That alone, I believe, could act as a Quantum Jump for sales people.

  • Cheers Paul, Feedback is good so long as you are prepared to listen 🙂

  • Wow! Thanks so much! I’m not sure that I would agree its revolutionary but I do believe that it’s where our profession is heading. To be fair, I don’t think that I am the first or indeed will I be the last to form this conclusion, but I appreciate you taking the time to leave such a positive comment. Warm regards, Niall

  • ragavendra choudhary

    i want to know about travel & tour magazines sales answer its strategy?

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