Self-Reflection in B2B Sales – Planning for Sales Success

You probably sit down every month, or year, with your manager to review your performance – but how often do you take half an hour to reflect on your own sales successes and areas for improvement?

Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant, calls it a process of ‘feedback analysis’ and recommends that you write down what you plan to do, or important decisions, and list out what you expect to happen. Then compare what did actually happen with the reality in 12 months’ time. This process of reflection helps you to figure out gaps in your expectation of what will deliver success, and reality – so that you can plan better in the future. (Source).

So what is going to make the difference this year when it comes to your sales targets? There’s no shortcut and there’s no secret sauce, but there is a methodical approach that you can follow to enable you to deliver consistent results and build on each customer success, year on year.

As we are at the start of a New Year, it’s a perfect time to focus on what went wrong (and what went right) about your sales success to date.

Continual improvement

It’s important to schedule in time in our jobs to pause and think about what went wrong and what went right during the previous year. The Japanese even have a term to describe this process: “Kaizen” – it’s about critically assessing what we do to make those small, continual improvements. If we can commit to improving minimally on a very regular basis then we stand to improve much more than if we attempt to make one-off, drastic changes and never end up seeing them through.

It’s a bit like New Years’ resolutions – the big bang approach tends to fade pretty quickly and we don’t keep up the habit.

By evaluating what went wrong (and what went right), we can come up with a plan for how we improve on all those things we did well, and how we rectify the things we didn’t do so well.

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What Went Wrong

Start by looking back over the past 12 months and thinking about some of the real headline mistakes you made. Maybe it was an error of judgment, or a missed opportunity – whatever it was, take a few moments to think about what led you to that situation and why you made that decision at that particular time.

Jot down in a notebook what alternative steps you could have taken if you had the chance again, but more importantly, think about what alternative paths that potential mistake opened up for you. Did it mean that you had to stay in your current role for a bit longer than anticipated, and in doing so you ended up learning a bit more about your company’s processes that may be valuable in your next job? Or maybe it meant that you had to delay that expensive holiday for another year and instead enjoyed a few weeks at home with your family which you may never have got the opportunity to do otherwise.

Reflecting on what went wrong and extracting the positive from a bad situation ensures that we learn something from the mistake and move on.

For more mundane mistakes, make a list and write next to each one how you would approach this differently in the next quarter or year. By continually repeating this exercise after each week, month or quarter, you become armed with lots of alternatives and opportunities to improve.

What Went Right

It’s often easier to build on success, rather than rectify an error – so make sure you note down all of those customer successes from the previous year and think about what made you successful in that situation in the first place.

Now, can you apply any activities that worked well with one customer to any other prospects that you have? Can you tailor what you did previously to a different client who you haven’t yet had any luck with? Or even better, can you take those great success stories out to each of your customers to tell them about the great work you have been doing with other clients which may open up their minds to new ideas or solutions they hadn’t thought of before.

Jot down all of the things you are going to do more of over the next period that worked particularly well last year. Pin this on your noticeboard. Put it on your fridge. This is your own personal recipe for success: tried and tested techniques that work just for you.


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Author: Carrie Morgan

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