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.