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The Three Pillars of Successful Sales

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Selling is essential for any business, but people often find it challenging.

One common issue is confidence, either in the company, or in themselves. Another is the lack of a framework for sales. That framework is what I address with my three fundamental pillars of good sales.

Let’s have a look at what those sales pillars are.

1. Look after your list

Every business has a list. It might be in your head; in a notebook; an excel file; your Outlook contacts, or even in your CRM. But there is a list somewhere, and the job of sales is to extract money from that list.

Segmenting your list

The first thing you need to do is to segment that list. What stage is each and every person or company at in the buyer journey with you?

Start with somebody who looks you up on Google, identifies you as a potential supplier and puts an inquiry into your business. That's a lead.

At the other end of the spectrum is somebody you've been dealing with for the last three years. They may have spent $100,000 with you or more. That's a returning customer.

Returning customers are excellent. You want as many of them as you can get. But each one of them has to start somewhere – as a lead. Then they go through all the stages – lead, prospect, customer, repeat customer. (Note: I often find that businesses have different definitions around what a lead is and what a prospect is. It doesn’t really matter how you label them, what matters is they are both potential customers). To extract money from your list, you need know for each and every person what stage they have reached.

A word about CRMs

Lots of sales people loathe CRMs. And lots of business owners don’t use CRMs. I’m not one of them.

I 1000% believe in CRMs – as long as they are good CRMs.

If you’ve got a list with 50 or 100 potential and regular customers, you might only contact the top 10 on a regular basis because of the law of familiarity: that we gravitate to those we are familiar with. A CRM is a great way to keep your list all in one place, with all the information you need about each contact. A CRM will help build familiarity and help with consistency in contacting the entire list.

Too many businesses rely on too few clients. A good CRM will prompt you to engage with all contacts and customers, so they’re continuously getting value from you, your company and your product. That's what customer relationship management is in its purest form.

CRMs are typically not installed to serve the customer like this in larger businesses. Usually they’re installed to serve leaders in the business, as an inspection tool and to generate reports. They don’t help the sales person or the customer, and they’re often clunky to use. That’s why sales people loathe them.

Get your CRM right and the problem will go away. Or use another system. Just make sure it serves the customer, not the business.

2. Show sales leadership

Sales leadership means being proactive about the sales engine in the business, proactive about revenue generating activities.

That means weekly review of the list and pipeline. It means understanding who’s in the pipeline and where they are up to. It means asking what’s changed, and how we know it’s changed. If you don’t know or your sales rep can’t tell you, it’s time to talk to the customer again and find out what’s happening.

Once you’ve done the review, you know what to do next. So you say things like, ‘Next week, we need to make 50 contacts. We know exactly who we're going to target, and what we're going to talk about with each person.’ It’s based on how you’ve segmented those people and it means you can have really good conversations with them. Results follow on from that.

Those revenue-generating activities might be calls, or quotes, or something else. It doesn’t really matter. The key thing about sales leadership is deciding what needs to happen in the week ahead and making that a high priority.

The essence of good pipeline management is that you are engaged with everyone in the pipeline, whatever stage that they are at in terms of buying from you.

Another thing is sales leadership is identifying opportunity for improvement. Your people should be held accountable, or coached. You might say, ‘You're doing a great job. Here are some areas for improvement.’ Or you might say, ‘Why aren't you making the calls? We've heard the same story, week after week, but there's no business. What’s happening?’ Either way, you’re leading your team to do better.

3. Use sales engagement

Far too many salespeople just want to sell the products. They have no plan beyond the one call or meeting. I call it the ‘show up and throw up’ model. That's not great for rapport, or for understanding where your client is at.

For B2B sales especially, the average is seven touch points from open to close of a deal. Most salespeople struggle after the first or second call. They either want to close at call three, or they go back to being a good guy and chat without progressing the sale.

I use a framework I developed called MYSEL, which is modelled off the psychology of influence. It follows the AIDA model - once you've got Attention and Interest you can then create Desire and Action.

It means you have to take a step back and ask good questions. Show empathy. Align yourself with the client and show that you’re on their side. Then you can start pushing a little.

· What do you think about this?

· How could you benefit if we tried that?

· What's the cost of inaction?

· What's the worst-case scenario?

Now you can get your clients to venture beyond their current belief system, try something new.

What a call looks like in this engagement framework

The first thing when you call is to ask permission. ‘Can I take some of your time?’

The second thing is to ask about what's happening. ‘I've got some ideas but before I share them, tell me what's happening in your world.’

Now you’re in a position to talk about what you’ve got and how it aligns with them.

‘I've got some things that I think might help you. Can I share them with you?’

‘We've got this new information in the marketplace.’

The important thing is that the goal is to add value for the client. If they’re not ready to buy now, that’s fine. Talk about when it would be appropriate to meet up and take things a bit further. On the other hand, if they really want to do business, it’s time to discuss the next steps in more detail.

Summing Up

So if you’re looking to improve your sales, consider these three things:

1. Don’t just look for new business from new leads and prospects. Look at your existing list and you’ll find there's new business in there, if you can just talk to the client a little bit better. Cross selling and upselling are how you extend a client to make more business.

2. Make sure you drive revenue-generating activity. That’s the most important part of sales leadership.

3. Follow an engagement framework to get more business from all your contacts. The steps in the framework don't change, whether it's an existing client or a new client. The only difference is a new lead might not buy from you in the same interaction, whereas things go faster with an existing customer. That’s because you have the trust, rapport and knowledge about each other's business and personality already.

For more information about the MYSEL sales framework, visit


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