I have a client that I’ve been ‘playing with’ for a couple of years and seriously working with over the last 7 or 8 months. We had a coaching and mentoring session last Friday and when I asked her if I could write about what we’d talked about, she said ‘yes, but call me Matilda will you?’
Let me tell you the story of Matilda.
Matilda has had her own business for more than 10 years. Some of that time, it has been really successful and at different times it has been a bit of a financial albatross around Matilda’s neck. The reason it became an albatross is that at the height of its success, Matilda was working too hard and made herself ill. Not only was she racing around the county running her business, she had small children and was also running the family business too. In short, she spectacularly over did it. She’s better now, but that experience was a sobering one. It left Matilda with the conviction that she couldn’t (and shouldn’t) get her business back to where it was because it would make her ill again.
I met Matilda a few years ago and we hit it off straight away. She was on a sales course I was running and spent the whole day arguing the toss with me. This is quite unusual, because normally, people who attend my courses are there to learn, not to tell me that they already know. She was lovely but extremely argumentative; not in an aggressive way, but in an “I’m doing this already and it doesn’t work” kind of way. I was particularly impressed with her because not only could she challenge me, she could take it when I challenged her. I asked her if she was already doing the things we were discussing, where was her evidence and why did she think it wasn’t working? She laughed and said “touché”.
Matilda has attended a couple of my courses and one of the most maddening things about her is that I knew that she could have the business of her dreams. She could have everything she wanted in terms of a work/life balance and not make herself ill again. In short, she had potential, but boy, she fought it!
One of the biggest issues that Matilda had was that she would not have targets and she would not track her sales. She kept everything in her head. It is a huge mistake to think you can do this. I can feel some of you disagreeing with me as I write this; you know you’ve got this sorted, it’s all ‘up there’ (touches side of head to demonstrate). Guess what? It isn’t. It just isn’t. You may think that you know where you are, but it isn’t possible for you to know. We’re humans and we forget stuff. You may have a handle on some of it, but you certainly don’t have a handle on it all.
You Need A Sales Target
If you don’t have a target, how do you know when you’re there? How do you know when you’ve sold enough to pay for X, Y or Z? (X, Y and Z are whatever you want them to be.) The thing about having a target is that if you have, say 10 widgets down as your target for this week, if you sell 9, you’ll keep trying until you sell 10. You’ll know that you need to sell one more to make your income goal. You’ll make that extra phone call, send that extra text, create that offer to sell a couple of widgets in last year’s colour. If you don’t have a target, you’ll stop at 9. You’ll stop, because you don’t know any better.
How Do I Create A Sales Target?
Matilda didn’t see the point of a target. However, a change in her domestic arrangements meant that she suddenly needed to earn a ‘proper’ income and that was when we started working together seriously. She confessed that she wasn’t actually sure how to create a sales target, so here’s a simple formula.
Sit down with a pen and paper (or a spreadsheet for those techies amongst us) and write it all down. (see notes underneath this list)
- What you need to earn each week/month
- What £££ profit you make on each thing you sell
- If you work with a direct sales company and you get a different wholesale price depending upon how much you buy, use the highest price that you have paid over the last year to work out your profit per item. That way, when you get to a better discount band, you’ll be better off but there are no nasty surprises in the meantime
- How many of each thing you need to sell to reach that income goal
- The average spend per customer (and therefore average profit)
- The number of customers you need to see to make that profit equal your income goal
- If you find yourself thinking ‘it depends’ when you’re doing this exercise, go with the most conservative estimate. You can always find a number, don’t let yourself get away with a fuzzy ‘not sure’ answer.
- If your customers vary wildly on what they spend with you, take your last 50 customers and add up the total of what they spent. Then divide that total by 50. If you don’t know what your last 50 customers have spent with you, contact me – we need to talk as much as Matilda and I needed to talk!
Once you have your sales target, you need to track it.
How Do I Track My Sales?
You write them down. It’s as simple as that. You write them all down somewhere that is a) consistent and b) you’ll remember. You write down your sales target and then each sale as it happens, or at the end of each day.
Depending upon your business, you could have a few different things that you track. Some of us track the number of customers we need to see, others the number of items we need to sell. Others yet will track the number of phone calls that they make (because they have worked out that X calls = Y appointments and Y appointments = Z sales). You need to know what you have to track.
Matilda tracks both the number of customers she has seen in a week and the total figure for her daily turnover. When we started working together 1:1, Matilda panicked if she sold £700 in a week because she thought she’d get sick because she was working too hard. She now turns over nearly twice that each week – all in under a year, because she has a system and she tracks her sales. She had 22 regular clients (and boy did it take me some time to get her to figure that number out!), she now has 46. She works 4 days a week and has her business under control, not the other way round. In short, she’s getting there. She’s not there yet, but she’s getting there.
I Need Sales Accountability!
The one consistent thing that I see day after day is that we all need to hold ourselves accountable for the work that we do. If we don’t have someone to report in to, then we fall off the wagon with our businesses and procrastinate our week away with networking meetings, with website updates, business card designing etc. We stop doing the income-generating bit of our job; the selling.
Make sure that you hold yourself accountable for your income generation. Don’t let yourself get to the end of the week and think ‘well, my sales are down, but hey my kids had a parents’ evening this week and the washing machine broke down, so my eye was off the ball’. Don’t do that to yourself. You are better than the excuses that you use to alleviate the guilt you feel about not doing what you said you were going to do.
Footnote: If you find yourself having a bit of a lightbulb moment and realise that you need some accountability, contact me. There are several ways in which we can work together to give you that accountability and they start at just £10 a month.