During my 20+ years in sales, I’ve learned many lessons and best practices from other sales people and sales managers. One of the very most important is the need to continually work to add new business and new customers. One of the advantages and privileges of being a sales person is that you can earn repeat business from customers that you have acquired. After all, finding and selling a customer for the first time is hard work and you should be able to continue to reap the benefits of that initial hard work. In the insurance business, they call it renewal income, and it can be quite significant over time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you can develop poor selling habits, become lazy and complacent and be caught off guard in case you lose a big customer. You become “out of shape” and not ready to take action if needed. As an endurance athlete, one lesson I’ve learned over the years of running marathons is the advantage of staying in shape. Now when I run marathons, I don’t train for them specifically because I’ve gotten my body to the point of being ready and I continue to put in descent mileage. This allows me to be “marathon ready” at any point in time. If I did not continue to put in some base miles, I’d lose what I’ve spent years building.
The same is true for sales people. It is a major advantage for seasoned sales people to stay “marathon ready” by allocating a specific amount of time or other unit of measure on a consistent basis to the practice of developing new business and new customers, even if it’s not that much. The discipline of consistency in that effort will continue to keep you in shape and will continually open new doors that could lead to your next big customer.
As Kevin Brown, Senior Vice President of Sales for US Signs put it to me, “You can’t ride the donkey forever.” Kevin fully understands the need for himself and his sales team to allocate time every single week to the discipline of developing brand new business, no matter how successful or seasoned the sales person is. Kevin’s understanding and expectations in this regard are part of the reason why he and his team have not only become successful, but have stayed successful and are “marathon ready” at any point in time. They are continuously riding new donkey’s and opening new doors. Way to go Kevin!