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Sales can be tough in any climate, but especially in a down economy. Whether it's economic conditions, new competition, market saturation or perceptions that your product is obsolete, reaching sales goals can be difficult. Whatever the circumstances, you must rise to the challenge if you are to keep your job.
Clear the Air
Unless you have committed an act of misconduct, the reason your boss wants to fire you is probably because you have not met your quota – or if you do not have a quota, you are still not selling at an acceptable level. You need to clarify whether you have an unspoken hunch or whether you have been given a specific warning. In the former case, meet with your boss and discuss the situation. Ask yourself – and then the boss – if your sales goals are realistic. Many quotas are set arbitrarily and may be unattainable. If your meeting is productive, you will leave with both a sales target and a firm deadline to meet it.
Develop a Winning Attitude
As famed salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” You cannot work at peak performance if you are feeling downtrodden. If you focus on your deadline, you will become paralyzed and unable to take the steps to make your sales. Instead, refocus your mind on the tasks at hand and not on the endgame. Recognize what you can control and what you cannot. Use positive affirmations to help you stay mentally focused. Activity – a workout at the gym or a walk with your dog – can help you maintain a sound mental and physical balance.
Build Yor Plan
Take time immediately to plan your strategy. You should be familiar with your sales process. Remember the sales funnel – how the number of prospects is narrowed as you qualify them and move them into the sales cycle until finally only a few sales are closed from the pool of names you began with. Take stock of your prospects and ensure that you have enough to reach the desired number of sales. Then take an inventory of the tools you will need. Tools include sales brochures, samples, demo equipment and anything else that can make the sales go according to plan.
Close the Sales
Once you have your plan intact, it's time to execute it. Do not attempt shortcuts. For every product there are steps in the sales process that cannot be circumvented. Keep your mind focused on what you are doing today, not what will happen in the future. Use all of the resources at your disposal. If there are other reps where you work, perhaps one senior to you, ask for advice. Ask the boss for his input – he has a stake in seeing you succeed. Depending on the nature of your business, you might ask him to make a sales call with you and critique your performance. It is important that he sees your commitment and understands any problems you may encounter. With hard work and adherence to your plan you should succeed.
Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.
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