Monday, 23 June 2014

Make Each Dart Count

Ever watch Darts?  If you have, ever seen a 9 dart finish?  I bet not often if you have.

If you haven’t, 9 darts are the minimum number of darts required to clear the 501 points - the starting total.  It is the ultimate way to win a leg – and very difficult to achieve.  You need to hit two 3 dart maximums of 180 and then a 141 on your final three darts (of which there are 1 of 2 ways to do this) – every dart needs to hit where it was aimed.  It is like a 300 in bowling or 147 in snooker.

It doesn’t happen very often – though every dart player first addressing the board has a 9 dart leg in mind.  What often happens is a mis-directed dart is thrown which requires them to change their strategy to finish the leg.

Sales isn’t any different – we all meet with clients with the anticipation of a smooth, linear sales process.  You start on ‘501’ and aim to get to zero in ‘9 darts’.  However, very seldom does it happen this way.  Often either the client throws in a curve ball or, sometimes, we derail the sales process ourselves.

Many sales people fret over this – yet it is completely normally.  Sure, some sales go to plan – but most don’t.  Most require you to reassess out way to get to ‘zero’ – to close out the sales action (whether a minor leg like arranging a meeting or bigger like closing the sale).

Darts is easy in this respect – zero is absolute.  There is a math formula to work it out.  Sales isn’t.  The end differs on each stage and, unfortunately, can move.  It requires you to constantly assess the ‘board’ to work out the next best path to your outcome and, sometimes, whether your outcome is actually still desirable.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Start with the end goal in mind and have a plan to get there (your ‘9 Dart Finish’) and constantly assess it.  Like darts, if you know the end goal in your sales process, adapting to the current situation becomes far easier.
  • Whilst the ultimate aim is to win the business, focus on the specific outcome you’re currently engaged in.  Don’t try to win the match in a single leg.  If you’re ringing to get a meeting – this is your outcome, not closing the sale.
  • Don’t panic if you lose one leg (eg don’t get that meeting), reassess and re-approach again when appropriate (ie sales isn’t always successful, we do lose some)
  • Even the best players lose a match only to win another day.  Some clients will not close out successfully, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never close them.  It just means you missed this opportunity.  Good clients remain good clients whether they said no or not.
  • It’s not about throwing as many darts as possible – it’s about throwing the right dart at the right place.  Think about the ‘next best step’ when working with your clients through the sales process.  You get to your outcome one dart at a time, make each count and the sales process is easier.

Like Darts, in sales you need to make each activity count – plan it, execute it, review it.

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