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Habits of successful salesmen: How to be a grinder

May 5, 2014 -  By

How do you sell more work? Relationships certainly help. Luck is a good thing, too. But it’s good habits consistently executed that create results. This is true of almost everything in life. Develop and practice good habits and good things usually follow—like great relationships and a fair bit of luck.

The first habit of successful salesmen is to keep the sales pitch simple (see my last column). The second habit is to be a grinder. This sounds awful, doesn’t it? Yet of all the habits it may be the most essential. Selling is a process of rejection, rejection … victory! It’s long stretches of routine punctuated by moments of glory. In other words, it can be a grind. If your work plan does not take this into account, it’s hard to achieve excellent results.

My favorite commercial landscape maintenance salesman in the industry is a grinder. He does the math, makes a plan, executes the plan and takes very little of the rejection personally. He doesn’t rely on his good looks, boyish charm, relationships or luck. He gets up every day, makes his cold calls, keeps in touch with his referral sources, shows up for appointments, makes his presentations and asks for the order. If he gets it, he smiles. When he doesn’t get it, he goes on to the next opportunity. Here’s how he grinds it out.

The math

My goal is to sell $1,000,000 annualized new contract sales.
My close rate is 20% I win one for every four I lose.
My bid requirement is $5,000,000 Sales goal/close rate
My target job size is $30,000 This is a $2,500 per month job.
My qualification rate is 50% I turn this % of my leads into a bid.
I need this many leads/prospects 333 Bids/job size/qualification rate
I need to touch each prospect 12 times to get an answer(yes or no).
I need to have this many touches 4,000 Prospects * touches
I have 46 “real” selling weeks to do it.
I need to make this many touches 87 every week. I need a plan for every week.

Touch = Phone call, email, qualification meeting or presentation meeting.

The plan

Vince Lombardi said the Green Bay Packers had only eight basic plays. There were many options on each of these plays, he said, but these options only became apparent as the play unfolded in real time. The key was to execute the basics flawlessly and take advantage of the opportunities the other guy provided you to run to daylight.

That’s what it means to be a grinder: Execute the basics flawlessly and take advantage of the opportunities that arise naturally. Now, go do the math and make a plan.


Photo: Public Domain Pictures/ Marina Shemesh

Photo: Public Domain Pictures/ Marina Shemesh

About the Author:

Kevin Kehoe, a longtime landscape industry consultant, is the founder of Aspire Software.

1 Comment on "Habits of successful salesmen: How to be a grinder"

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  1. Daniel Notter says:

    I like the magazine very much. Need to read more.