In these turbulent times, companies are pivoting at nearly every turn, trying to keep their business moving forward while dealing with a mobile workforce, downsizing, and other disruptions.
One trend I’ve seen is sales managers having to “roll up their sleeves” and get back into business development activities again. And while some might say it’s like riding a bike, the truth is that reengaging with clients through direct sales efforts can be daunting.
* Can I actually sell again?
* Will I have the stamina to succeed at it?
* How do I begin the transition of it?
* How do I neutralize my survival fear throughout the process?
* How will I engage prospective clients I know?
While returning to a sales role might seem like a step back and one fraught with old/new issues, it doesn’t have to be. Now is the time for you to shine by example, learn from your team’s efforts, and contribute at the rubber-meets-the-road level.
Successfully Transitioning Into a Sales Role Again
Here are several steps critical to succeeding in this transition. They will maintain your self-actualization in the process and ensure your celebration of achieving it!
Step #1: Enjoy the Journey
Do not criticize what you’re doing, hold it as an adventure. Promise yourself you will have fun in the process. Determine the difference you’ll make and what you personally will provide to your clients, i.e., your personal brand promise.
Step #2: Own the Choice You’ve Made
Complete this sentence factoring in your unique talent: i.e.
“I chose to make this transition to _______.”
Possible answers are:
– get back to servicing people my way.
– gain the creative time I’ve wanted.
– inspire confidence from my team in my leadership. “If I can do it, so can you.”
(or, whatever your personal declaration is that inspires you).
Step #3: Create for yourself a Project 25
A Project 25 is a list of 25 people you respect and with whom you have a solid trustful relationship. They are people who are important to edify about your change. They will accept the direction you are taking and support you as you move into it.
Step #4: List and divide A, B, and C contacts
Prioritizing who first you will contact is paramount in importance. “A” contacts are strong potential clients. Within this group, pick the “low hanging fruit” that you can contact first as you dust off your sales skills. They are the people who will be most receptive to whatever you say and how you say it. “B” contacts are possible clients that may require more effort. For now, though, they represent possible referrals and should be mined for those contacts. “C” contacts are valuable centers of influence for the future. They may never become clients but their opinion of you and your services/products will inspire others to create a relationship with you.
Step #5: Meet Them Face to Face
Now is the time to meet your “A” listers. Set up a face-to-face meeting if they are comfortable with it (do it outside if need be). Video call is a second-but-still-good option. Your intention is learning how they see their business going into Q4, how they’ll drive revenue in this COVID era, and what their new challenges are. By being interested in them, they will reciprocally be interested in your change. Be prepared…they will ask about you and what prompted your change. Have a great answer at the ready!
Step #6: Enjoy presenting Step #2
And notice how this resonates with them. Realize you’ve successfully announced your change in a professional, responsible, declarative manner. Now it is up to your trusted contacts to embrace your change and support you in whatever way they’d like. The benefit of this is that you get practice in introducing yourself to prospective clients in a conversational, confident manner.
These six steps should ease your transition into a new sales role, even if it’s temporary. And remember, your directs are watching and learning from you. Not only will you be giving them these steps (right?) but you will be embodying them. Success breeds success!