Paul provides some practical ways to help you get back to it and maximize your performance after vacation.
Returning to the grind is tough. You unplug for a week or two and then, BAM, you’re right back at it. It’s like vacation never really happened.
Conduct a Weekend at Bernie’s pipeline review. Tune in to find out just what Paul means by that.
A deceptively inflated pipeline accounts for more missed quotas than poor performance.
Make sure your messaging is hyper-relevant to what is going on in the buyer’s world right now.
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Do you need another vacation?
(Transcribed from podcast)
Well, today we’re going to talk about a topic—it’s so important—and that is vacation. We’ve talked about the benefit of vacation on previous episodes, just a couple of episodes ago. But right now, I know many salespeople are returning from vacation or they’re a week back from their vacation. And, when you get back from vacation, it can actually be a challenging time. Albert Hubbard, the American author and artist, he said, “No one needs a vacation more than the person who just returned from one.” And we’re going to talk about that on today’s show. We’re going to give you some tips, some ideas on what you should do when you come back from vacation. Because returning to the grind is tough. Hopefully you unplugged for a week or two and then, BAM, you are right back at it. And it feels like that vacation never happened.
I know that’s, at least, the way I feel. I mean, we went down to Disney just a few weeks ago, spent some time in St. Pete Beach, and now it’s like that is a distant memory. It’s almost like it never happened because we’re back in the grind. And if you’re anything like me, it takes a couple of days to get into vacation mode. Now that also means that it’s probably going to take a few days to get back into work mode. So that’s what we’re going to focus on in today’s show. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed. We’re just going to talk about some practical ways to help you return and maximize your performance in those first few weeks back from vacation.
Now, before we get into that, just a quick reminder. You know, just watching the news, there are several key things happening right now. The stock market is performing great, but we’re heading into an election year. There’s going to be some uncertainty. There’s rumors of a recession and slowdown happening either in Q4 or beginning in 2024. And so, we want to make sure you’re prepared. So for that reason, it’s critical right now to pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.
The worst time to dig a well is when you’re thirsty. So now is the time you want to dig that well, you want to prepare so that when you do face those tough times, you are prepared. And one thing you’ll learn as you read through Selling Through Tough Times, you’ll learn that tough times are good. Tough times are good because of the opportunities that tough times create. Tough times also reveal your weaknesses so that you can become stronger. Tough times are not pain free, but they are good. So pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.
So let’s get back to it. You just returned from vacation. You had a week or two sitting on the beach, traveling, whatever you did. Now it’s back to reality, and I know that it can feel overwhelming at times, but we need to ramp up our effort now. Hey, halftime’s over. We’re going to finish the year strong. I’m going to give you five ideas to help you maximize your performance while minimizing your stress as you come back from vacation.
First thing you want to do—thoroughly purge your pipeline. You need to just ruthlessly review your pipeline. Those deals that you pretend are still alive, they’re dead. I know that happens. You know, sometimes, as salespeople, we leave those deals in our pipeline because we think that maybe they’re going to happen, when in all reality, maybe they’ve gone silent. Maybe it’s now been in your pipeline for twice as long as it should be. Meaning, your sales cycle is six months, let’s say it’s been in there for a year. We need to face reality and purge our pipeline. In Selling Through Tough Times, I call this the “Weekend at Bernie’s” pipeline review.
Now, if you’re a child from the eighties, you remember this movie, Weekend at Bernie’s, where the two knuckleheads try to convince everyone Bernie is still alive. Oftentimes, salespeople do the same thing. So we need to make sure that we are thoroughly reviewing our pipeline. Quit pretending that deals are alive when they are dead. I guarantee you, a deceptively inflated pipeline accounts for more missed quotas than poor performance. So we need to make sure that we thoroughly review our pipeline. Get the deals out that are dead; take an open, honest look. And what that’s going to do, it’s going to motivate you to want to fill that pipeline with the right prospects. So, tip number one, thoroughly review your pipeline and purge out all those deals that are dead, that are no longer happening.
With that said, next thing we want to do is work on our messaging. We want to ensure that our messaging is hyper-relevant to what’s going on in the buyer’s world right now. A compelling message that you create will not only open up the prospect’s door, it’s going to open up their mind as well. There are three questions we need to answer to ensure that our message is compelling. The first question:
- What are critical problems that your prospect is experiencing?
The #1 reason why decision makers will meet with salespeople is because it appears that that salesperson can solve a business problem that they’re experiencing. Problems open up doors. Problems are relevant to what’s going on in the buyer’s world. So I would talk to some of your sales colleagues, discuss that question, highlight three or four common problems that every prospect is facing. Use that as a way to kick off your message.
- What potential outcomes will the prospect experience when they partner with you?
And here we want to be specific. What are they going to gain? Now, the outcome should be detailed and dollarized. We need to be very specific on what they’re going to gain. When our solution will help them reduce labor costs, that sounds great, but be specific. In what way will it help reduce labor costs? Is it going to lower maintenance costs? Is it going to help them do more with less? Be detailed and specific, but also, we’ve got to dollarize it. How much? That’s the payoff question. How much are they going to gain? We want to tie a dollar amount to it. Dollarizing the deal is going to help it be more tangible. When we can tie a number to the actual outcome, it’s more compelling to that buyer. So we want to calculate this. We want to identify, what are they going to gain? Be specific, but also what is the dollar amount?
In Selling Through Tough Times, we have an entire chapter that is dedicated to persuasion, and one of the techniques we talk about is how we can dollarize the deal, how we can be specific and how it’s compelling. So check that out.
And the final question:
- Why should they act now?
Your decision makers are always going to have a legitimate reason not to do something. It’s always going to be easier for them to pause and continue with the status quo. We need to establish urgency, so we need them to answer the question, “Why should they act now”. What is the benefit to moving now versus moving later? If there is no compelling reason to act now, prospects are going to wait. So, what kind of pressure is that customer experiencing? How can we help establish a little more urgency? Why should they act now? That’s the question we need to answer. So, answering those three questions will ensure that you create a compelling message for that prospect.
The next two may sound similar, but they are not. Number three, we want to focus on high-value prospects. We need to ensure that the prospects that we are going after fit the profile for good business. Remember, time is the currency that you have to invest, so we need to ensure you invest it wisely. Here’s why that’s important now. As you return from vacation, you are going to be fully recharged and motivated and ready to go. Sometimes our desire to act overpowers the discipline to be strategic. So we need to temper our excitement with practicality. Just make sure that you’re focusing on the right prospects. I know that, upon return, you’re going to want to go out there and call on every single opportunity, and that spray-and-pray-method is not a strategy. It’s simply that it’s hoping that we’re going to get lucky by sheer volume of activity. I’m all for high activity and keeping our calendars full, but let’s make sure we fill it with the right opportunities. So, I would create a top-10 list of prospects—and talk to your manager if you need a little guidance—but just ensure that those prospects fit the profile for good business, and then go after them. Ruthlessly pursue those opportunities.
Next, we want to protect our high-value customers. We want to go back and look at our top-10 existing customers, and we want to make sure we’re creating more value. Remember, your best customers are the competition’s best prospects. And your competition is also coming back from vacation. They’re also recharged and motivated, and they want to attack the second half of their year, which often means they’re going to go after their best prospects—which are your best customers. So we want to initiate a campaign to create more value. Give the customer more than they expected. In Value-Added Selling, we call this tinkering. Tinkering is about re-creating value for the customer. It’s about that mindset—embracing that positive sense of insecurity, knowing that you can always do more for your customers.
So, a practical way to apply this concept is to conduct what we call a tinkering sales call. And during this sales call, you’re going to ask questions to reveal new ways to create value. Here are five questions:
- What would you change, enhance, or improve about our current solution?
- Customer, how can we make it easier to do business with us?
- What do you dislike doing that we can do for you?
- What would you like to see from suppliers that’s not available?
- What’s missing from our current solution?
These five questions will give you opportunities to create more value. The problem is most salespeople will not ask their existing customers these questions. And the reason why is simple. They don’t want to know the answer. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to poke the bear or wake a sleeping dog, whatever analogy you want to use. They don’t want to call attention to areas where they’re falling short. The key here is we want to find out where we can improve and get better before our competition can. Because, whether you’re asking this question or the competition is asking the question, the question is being asked. I’d much rather be part of the conversation. So make sure again, you’re protecting your high-value customers. Those five questions will help you do that.
And finally, finally, let’s focus on small wins. When you’re coming back from vacation, you don’t need to make up for lost time. That vacation time is not lost time. It is important time where you recharge, refresh, spend time with your family, your friends. You’ve earned the right to take that vacation. So don’t feel like you need to come back and cram a week’s worth of vacation time into one day of work. You don’t need to finish everything in one day. You don’t need to make up for that week of vacation in one day. Stop trying to cram it into one week. Realize it’s going to take a little time to generate momentum. So, adopt a small-wins approach. Focus on progress, not perfection.
I know there’s going to be a list. When you get back from vacation, there is going to be a list of things that need to get done. Well, rather than creating a list of 30 items, cut your list in thirds. Think about it. It’s easier to complete a 10-item list three times than a 30-item list once. Start small, generate momentum, and you’ll finish fast. So break down what you need to accomplish into bite-size, meaningful chunks. It’s going to help you progress forward. It’s also going to help reduce stress. That’s key.
Those are the five ideas. Purge your pipeline; craft your message; focus on high-value prospects; protect those high-value customers; and focus on small wins. I’ve got to say, welcome back from vacation. I hope you’re recharged and ready to go. I hope you enjoyed your time with those people that mean the most to you. I hope you feel grateful for the experiences that you’ve had. But finally, I hope you spent way too much money. That way you’re even more motivated to work harder.
As I heard this over the weekend, I thought it’s great. One of my buddies, we’re out playing golf and he says, “You know, in our industry, there’s no such thing as an expense problem, there’s only a revenue problem.” It’s amazing how going out there and making more sales, hitting your targets, it’s going to cover that added expense from that vacation.
All right, everyone. That’s the show for today. Thank you for tuning in. If you have a colleague who needs to hear this episode, please share it with them.
Make it a big day.