We Are All Martians: Successful Selling in 2017

Have you seen The Martian? In this film, Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut who is left behind on Mars who must learn how to survive on a planet that is barren and he is utterly and completely alone. The thing that struck me most was how his character has to overcome so much adversity to survive that it seems like most of us would give up.

Now I realize it was just a movie, but as I watched it, the parallels I began to draw to sales were crystal clear and very relatable. In one scene Mark has to figure out how to grow food on a planet where nothing grows and there is no water.  (Spoiler Alert) To overcome this seemingly insurmountable challenge, he creates an artificial environment and figures out how make water condense so he can grow plants. (By the way, you won’t believe what he does for fertilizer.) 

So how does a futuristic mission to Mars relate to sales?

In the past few months we have witnessed a turbulent presidential election, massive swings in the stock market while oil prices are dropping and companies are scrutinizing purchase decisions more than ever before. 

In the midst of this challenging environment, one recent situation really stands out. A new client in Seattle is a company that offers a complex ERP solution and it is very difficult to get the attention of the companies they are trying to sell to. At their company kickoff this past year, the team displayed an amazingly positive attitude; 50 attendees came prepared and ready to learn. They adapted to new ideas and techniques, and then spent time practicing them and trying to see what they could make grow in an industry that is dominated by the “big boys.” They are Martians living on a planet where nothing grows unless they make it happen. 

These folks completed every pre-study and then spent the time digging out new ways to differentiate their offering starting with the first touch. With most companies I have seen a flash of brilliance from some members of the team but here it was rampant with people wanting to make money and succeed.  

As you begin to think about next year and company kickoffs, be sure that you consider and set specific objectives. Remember that motivational speeches are great but typically, the momentum dies off once your sales reps get back into the field. That’s why a kickoff that focuses on specific sales skills and outcomes will have a much more lasting impact that will drive additional revenue for the short and long term. Some potential goals for consideration include: 

  • Maximize your sales time and productivity: Do your sales reps identify urgent vs. important tasks?
  • Effective prospecting: Does your team know how to cultivate their territories and build rapport with key prospects quickly?
  • Utilize social selling: Can your sales reps leverage social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to find and connect with the right people? 

There’s one thing we know: it will be even tougher to survive in 2017 and make new opportunities grow. So how will you do it? Start preparing now with new goals and planned activity that will get you the first appointment, the first new opportunity and the first sale of the year.  

Did you make a new contact this week? Did you get a chance to tell someone how your products will rock their world and make it better for them? Be The Martian and make it happen!