Sales – Stop Thinking About Your Targets!

Sales – Stop Thinking About Your Targets…

When I train sales people, I often get asked the question “how can I hit my sales targets more frequently?” Before I get a chance to answer, the question is usually followed by a long list of reasons why they think they are not hitting target, and to be honest some of these reasons sound more like excuses.

“The market is changing”

“Everyone buys digitally”

“The High Street is dead”

“No one has any money”

Without sounding too harsh there are going to be some clients for whom this is true, however, more often these are simply objections placed in the way of the buying process. Objection handling is a different blog though.

The answer I give them is two-fold.

  • Stop trying so hard, clients can sense when you are desperate, it is like smelling chum in the water, and then even if they do buy, your desperation will push them to negotiate harder on your price.
  • Try to put yourself in their position, genuinely think like your buyer.

When I coach sales people either by visiting clients with them, or listening in to their calls, I find myself surprised at how little the sales person has thought about the client. Their focus is on making the calls, covering the market and going through the same patter for each client. Rarely do I hear anything in terms of insight, opinion, industry knowledge or creative ideas being discussed. This is in no small part down the poor questioning skills being used. Often the same of thing is being rolled out. “Tell me a bit about your business?” “Who are your target audience?” “Have you any plans to expand?” that type of thing. Now whilst this type of questioning has its place, it can be better to come at the sale from a different perspective.

Think like a Bank Manager!

If anyone went to a bank manager for a loan to start a business, then evidence will need to be produced that answered some fundamental questions and these really need to asked of the client when selling, after all, isn’t the outcome to get the client to give you money?

Clients who are sold advertising, trade goods or services are all motivated by different things, however they all are interested in the same thing, themselves and the survival, maintenance and or growth of their business. So the outcome of the sale is to see how, with what we are selling, we can help the client make more money. If we can demonstrate effectively the viability of our offering in terms of how it will not only benefit their business by making money then the client will make the sales person money without even thinking about it. Remember Jerry Maguire? “Help me help you”.


Questions that really will resonate include:

  • What do they expect from suppliers to their business?
  • How is money actually made and realised?
  • What is currently going on that is a problem for them and why?
  • How does money made actually impact on profitability?
  • How do they believe people find out about them and how they actually promote their business?
  • How can social selling actually enhance what they are currently doing?
  • What is the plan once they have landed a customer? Think retention and account management.
  • How do they keep the pipeline topped up and healthy? Think less about the here and now, and more in terms of the next quarter.
  • If they have staff, how do they inform them and train them on new products they are selling and promoting to get the maximum mileage from the ‘honeymoon’ period?
  • What would they actually consider to be value for money and in turn do they know why their customers should pay their price?
  • How do they compete and stay ahead or two steps ahead of the competitor?
  • What does competitive advantage mean to them? Is it about being the best, trading on price, market share?
  • What are they more focused on, less sales but greater margin or more sales and fewer margins? Does such a plan exist?
  • How do they go about selecting the right products to showcase and sell in their business? Is their a tender process, how does it work, do they have loss leaders or cash cows, think Boston Growth Matrix!
  • If they know where their business comes from then have they considered other not so obvious sources of business? E.g. transient buyers, dissatisfied customers who have used the competition and need to replace, infrequent buyers, early adopters.
  • How does the customer if they are in the market for what you offer think it will benefit or make a difference to their business? Have you considered what they might have perceived your strengths and weaknesses are?
  • If they themselves lose out to another competitor do they ever ask their client what they didn’t have or do that their competitor did? In fact have you ever done this?
  • If they have invited you in or maintained the interest, then ask yourself, just how badly do they want it and what would be the outcome if they did not buy it?

So many things to think about and consider right? Some of the answers to these questions you can actually answer by researching online or by getting hold of a bank business plan pack; this is packed with all sorts of insight and relevance. You see it is not just about finding out the ‘need’ anymore, oh no, clients are very switched on to this. It is about how to ask questions and bring insight that actually resonates with the client on some level, this then leaves you better equipped to differentiate your offering above and beyond what your competitor is doing and in terms of extra value you can substantiate and back up your sales story with testimonials for example.


This process of resonating, differentiating and substantiating is the foundation for The Insight Sales by Schulz and Doerr and well worth your reading time.

A Word on Disruption.

pos disruption

Disruption is a buzzword right now and it was only a matter of time before it came to sales. In short it is really is about asking or challenging clients on key things such as:

  • Why they have chosen a certain route or outcome
  • How they plan to do something or go about something
  • What would happen if they didn’t do something
  • How they would go about making something right if it didn’t work

These questions can make sales people feel nosey, however be brave, you might find clients find it refreshing to talk to someone on this level who actually gives a shit and is genuinely interested in what is going on. Remember, clients love talking about themselves, as do sales people (don’t worry you will know when you can!) but getting a client to talk is pure gold, and helps to build that all important trust and business rapport. A client that is genuinely engaged with a sales person will ask their advice and advocate them behind their back. This takes work, but boy is it worth the effort. Why? Because when they do this, they actually help you to hit your target without you even trying and this, along with everything here is the answer to that question “How do I hit my sales targets more frequently?

So in order to hit your targets you need to think like your buyer and as a wise man once said “before you can walk in someone else’s shoes, you must first take off your own.”

Boy Wearing Men's Dress Shoes and Suit --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Boy Wearing Men’s Dress Shoes and Suit — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

This Blog is part of sales training offered by SerialTrainer7 Ltd. If your business needs help with sales training, get in touch here as my sales training really works, just read some of my testimonials on the site. Email or call me on 07979 537824 

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