You Climbed the Mountain; So What Now?
A friend who’s an avid mountain climber once said to me that the thing about climbing a mountain is that once you reach the summit the first things you see are … more mountains.
It doesn’t take a great leap to recognize the metaphor here: Once you’ve achieved a goal, a new goal beckons to you. I was actually just having a conversation last week with the sales manager and a couple of the B2B salespeople for one of my dealers.
The topic was on resetting personal expectations and setting bigger goals and targets for yourself. I told them the old story (and I’m sure I’ve shared it here) that the first hardware sale I made in consumer electronics was a Sony VCR that sold for a thousand dollars.
At the time it seemed like a HUGE sale, and my primary reaction when the customer said she’d take it was shock and surprise.
In the decades since, as my career has progressed, my idea of what constitutes “a big sale” has moved steadily upward.
Over the years I’ve come to see the truth of the expression “one person’s ceiling is another person’s floor.”
A while back one of my dealers landed a big corporate project. Well, it was good-sized, but more importantly it was big for them, and the biggest deal of theirs that I’d seen since signing them up a year before.
My dealer’s sales manager asked about a volume discount, which is a totally fair question. This particular brand I rep has a formal matrix for volume discounts, which go up as the size of the order goes up.
Their deal, while big, didn’t hit the first discount mark: In fact, they were about halfway there.
“Volume breaks start there?” the sales manager exclaimed, “That’s crazy!”
That’s when I kindly told them in the last six months some of their peers had done a handful of deals three times that size.
I didn’t say that to be mean or denigrate their efforts, I wanted to inspire my dealer. I told the sales manager “These opportunities are out there, so light a fire under your sales people, and now that they know what’s possible go out there and close some of these deals for themselves!”
“You know what,” the sales manager replied, “That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
And before the quarter was done suddenly their salespeople landed three deals that were much larger than the first.
One common benchmark in a lot of big-ticket sales channels is for a salesperson to hit a million dollars in annual revenue. Depending on which industry, the baseline might be much higher.
Back when I was working as a sales manager and running a team of salespeople I was hiring, I had one candidate — who had already presented a couple of red flags — boast about producing $300K in sales at their last job.
I recognize that coming from retail, annual numbers won’t be as big as B2B, but I’m sorry, unless you’re selling gumballs door to door, and one at a time at that, it’s hard to see $300K in annual sales as the kind of win that you’d brag about. Set your sights a little higher than that.