by Cheryl Powers
Earlier this month my daughter and her Girl Scout friends received their awards for cookie sales. These girls were on fire this year and as I look at the reasons why they did so well, individually and as a team, I couldn’t help but notice that the factors contributing to their success are the very same factors that will make or break your sales force.
They were motivated and goal driven. Beyond the satisfaction of knowing their world would be a better place with more Girl Scout cookies in it, the girls knew what they were playing for; each of them had chosen the level of success they desired and had picked out the pre-determined prizes they were each going to get when they reached the level. Beyond that, they knew the more they sold the more money would be left over for a party and a trip. They were in it to win and had the written goals to prove it. How many people on your team have written goals? And do you know what motivates each of your salespeople?
They wanted success and were willing to do whatever it took to achieve it. Girl Scouts have commitment levels off the charts. From knocking on doors to spending rainy weekends at grocery stores in makeshift booths, to recruiting Mom and Dad to let them sell cookies at the office, these young ladies did whatever it took to sell as many cookies as possible. How committed to success are your salespeople? How do you know?
They loved selling cookies! Even the shyest among them enjoyed the process. The girls loved the idea of customers enjoying the cookies, they loved meeting to discuss goals and tactics, and they loved delivering the end product to happy customers. Do your sales people love to sell or are they just going through the motions?
They were accountable to the Girl Scout Law. They showed up ready and willing to take on tasks and they learned how to take responsibility for their wins and losses. Whether it was failing to make proper change or writing down the wrong items, the girls stepped up, corrected their mistakes, and got back out there to support the organization and their troop members. How accountable to standards of performance are your salespeople?
They prospected willingly and regularly. They looked for new opportunities to sell cookies everywhere they went. They made lists of possible people and approached these people in person, by phone, and even through their parents’ social media outlets. These girls stopped at nothing to reach new potential buyers. Can you say the same about your sales team? Why not?
They asked great questions. What’s your favorite flavor? Who would you buy an extra box for? When was the last time you had a Thin Mint? Why? Why not? How come? What flavor does your mom, sister, brother, neighbor, fill-in-the-blank like best? How many boxes would you like? Have you ever tried them frozen with ice cream? Why? Why not? How come? How many great questions are your salespeople asking their best prospects? Why not more?
They believed in themselves and in their organization. These girls knew they had what it takes to succeed. They weren’t caught up in whether or not their sash was on straight and some of them even forgot to wear their uniform. No matter. They could sell without it. The girls weren’t encumbered by the steady stream of negative thinking and perfectionism that plague many a sales team. These girls were “right there” and “in the moment” and naturally curious. How do you deal with Self-Limiting Beliefs in your sales organization? How much are they costing you?
They were undeterred by rejection. The best part about this is that they simply couldn’t fathom someone not wanting to buy Girl Scout cookies. When faced with a “no” they smiled and asked the prospect if they needed the sugar-free or the gluten-free cookies or if they knew about the new flavor. They let prospects know that they could donate a box (or more) to the military serving overseas. And of course they could always make a donation to support the Girl Scouts. How does your sales force handle rejection? What are the revenue implications to your sales organization?
They had no problem holding their price. At $4 and $5 dollars a box, Girl Scout cookies aren’t the low cost cookie leader and yet they outsell comparable grocery store cookie brands year after year. Can you say the same about your sales force selling against your competition? How much are you leaving on the table?
They created a compelling sense of urgency. When they’re gone they’re gone, at least for this year so you’d better get yours now. “Seriously, Mrs. Thacker waited too long to place her order last year and when she came by the booth, we had sold the last box of ThanksAlots. She was first in line this year because she didn’t want to miss out again.” How are your salespeople developing urgency with potential buyers?
While the jaded among you are thinking that Girl Scouts have a cuteness factor going for them, you’re right. But don’t let that stop you from finding out what your advantages are and leveraging them.
Most companies simply lack data about their people, processes and systems and have no way of quantifying the gap between where they are and where they should or could be. They don’t know where the low-hanging fruit is and have no strategy or plan for finding it.
Is your sales force capable of performing the way it needs to? Do you have the right salespeople? Are your systems and strategies in alignment with reaching and sustaining that high-level performance? What’s missing? What impact is leadership having (positive and negative) on the sales force? What are the three or four initiatives you could begin now that will have the greatest impact on your revenue growth in the next 12 months? Contact me if you want to find out.
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