COACH KEN: THE VALUE OF SYSTEMS
One thing I learned early in my work career was the value of systems. I started my work career as a high school football and track coach. I was fortunate to be mentored by a wonderful man, Coach Wink Criswell, Head Football Coach. One of the first things he said to me was “Football is about having a “system” that you believe in and then working that system to the fullest. He was right. When I entered the business world, one of the first things I did was create a “sales system.” I was new to my territory and a “rookie” to the mortgage insurance business. My system was a duplicate of the sports system we used when I was a high school coach. It worked! I was covering an underdeveloped territory and had only recently moved to that particular state so was completely new to all my prospects/potential customers. Within two years sales had grown over 400% and I was asked at our national meeting to talk about how I had achieved the impossible.
The title of my talk at our national meeting was “The System.” I started with a statement, “Given a talented salesperson and no system he or she will struggle. Given an average salesperson and a great system, he or she will reach a high level of success.” It is all about the system. When I went out on my own and started my company, I went back to the system. It worked so well I started using the system to help dealerships grow their commercial departments. Here is the system and why it works in any endeavor from sports to business.
Step One is to believe in yourself and your system. You need a passion for what you are undertaking and willing to spend the time and effort to achieve greatness. You will not have both the persistence and consistence to succeed without a strong belief in your system. IMPORTANT! Your management must also believe in the system or you will not get the support you need to be successful. This is the major reason for failure when starting or growing a commercial department.
Step Two of any system is having a plan of attack. This plan must be written so it can be reviewed on a regular basis. A written plan is often completed and then put in a file, never to be reviewed until the end of the year. There is little wonder that most of these plans fail. In football it is a “playbook,” in sales it is a sales and marketing plan as well as an inventory plan. Playbooks in football are reviewed daily and weekly. A business “sales and marketing” plan should be the same.
Step Three of the system consists of quality activity. In football or any sport it is being highly conditioned, having a quality strength program, and practicing every play hundreds of times until they are automatic. In sales it is sales training, practicing your skills, right down to memorized word tracks and preparing for any situation that can arise including unhappy past customers you many encounter and business owners who are loyal to other brands. Sales professionals that attend our three day boot camps walk away charged up and we get calls when they implement what we teach!
Step Four is putting your plan into action with quality activity that is performed daily. In football we call it “blocking and tackling.” In sales it is putting yourself into the game through activity such as appointment-based sales calls, attending group functions such as trade associations, and sponsoring events like trade shows and customer appreciation days at supply companies.
Step Five is simply repeating steps one through four consistently. Sales research from the Huthwaite Corporation tells us that only 3% of sales in any industry are made on the first contact, while 81% of all sales are made on or after the 5th to 8th contact.
Step Six is making game day adjustments on the field. If you get an objection be prepared to change directions and handle the objection on the spot. If a prospect is loyal to another brand that’s okay but have a plan to stay in contact because something will happen with their current brand or dealer and you will be next in line!
Step Seven is keeping your management informed through a weekly report that outlines all your activity and successes! I cannot stress this enough. In sports it is like a scouting report. If your dealership management does not know what you are doing on a weekly basis, they will assume and that is never a good thing! You will get more resources and more encouragement if you keep management in the loop. Our dealers who do this often get leads from management who happen to know some of your prospects!
Step Eight is “HAVE FUN!” Building relationships is fun! Winning new business is fun! Learning your product is fun! Becoming more skilled at sales is fun! Success is really fun!