Q: What’s the hardest part of sales

Q: What’s the most stressful part of sales?

A: The answer is the same whether you’re a quota-carrying sales person, a sales manager, or the CEO of your company. And the answer is…making your numbers!

So how can you alleviate much of that stress –and “automate” the most psychologically difficult part of your job?
Here are a couple of quick hints:

1. Make a plan – and stick to it. How many calls and visits do you need to make each week to be successful? How many per day? How many proposals do you need to get out the door each month? Break these numbers down as finely as you need to…and then make it happen. If the last week of the quarter rolls around, and you’ve still got 80% of your calls and visits left to do, something’s wrong. These activities are 100% under your control—meaning that you are in control or your own stress levels!

2. Understand your prospects’ buying process. Nothing is more stressful than having to guess “what’s next” on a given deal. If you know the sequence of events involved in a purchase (or if you can help your prospective clients to develop a good buying process) you won’t be feeling your way along in the dark. There’s a lot of uncertainty in sales – don’t insert unnecessary doubt into the process.

3. Have your clients and prospects sign off in advance on all major milestones. When does the budget committee meet? When will the demos be held? When will the board convene to take up this matter? Who will sign the contract – and when is she going on vacation? When your prospect or client has agreed to the timeframe for each milestone, he or she becomes equally responsible for getting the deal done. And voilà, you’ve just cut your stress by 50%!

4. Describe your selling style to the prospect. “The way I usually work is to check in with folks once a week via phone, and several days before each milestone is due.” “I also occasionally email information that I think is relevant or important.” “Does that work for you – or do you prefer a different style?”

A quick explanation such as the one above insures that you aren’t “bugging” your prospect – nor are you burying him in an unwanted avalanche of unnecessary and irritating information. Of course over time you’ll develop relationships that transcend such formality – but setting rules and parameters early on can dramatically decrease everyone’s level of stress and uncertainty.

And there you have it! Four quick ways to ease your stress, greatly increase your productivity, and put your prospects and customers at ease.