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Knowledge is Powerless Without Action

Tips on how to boost your sales today

By Nathan Jamail

Nathan JamailThe biggest sales inhibitor is the same now as it was for the past decade. Many salespeople know what to do, but are not willing to do what they know. How many times does a salesperson say he or she knows they should prospect from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. four days a week but yet they don’t? Just like any other profession, there are always excuses for why we don’t do something we know we should. This does not mean the excuses are not real, but many times the excuses can be overcome or removed. How many times has an obstacle or excuse gotten in your way of picking up a signed contract or a customer payment?

Action is the power:
Knowledge is powerless without action. Selling is a skill and just like any skill it takes practice and, most importantly, discipline and commitment to be successful. Continued learning by reading books, attending training and practice sessions are all very important, but a salesperson must put that knowledge to work before there will be any results. Many times, a sales manager or salesperson knows what to say, but the difference between the top sales rep and the bottom sales rep most often is the execution of the knowledge.

Accountability ensures action:
Sales managers always expect their sales reps to hold themselves accountable, but most of the time that is not the case. If it were the case, there would be very little need for sales managers. To increase sales, you must hold people accountable for executing the activities needed to be successful. Many managers struggle with this because they don’t like conflict. Conflict can be good or bad, it simply depends on the reason for the conflict. For example, if the conflict is to make a person better or more successful then not only is it good, it is helpful (it’s all in the approach).

Usually when we look back to people who affected us in our past, and choose the person who affected us most, it ends up being the person who would not accept anything less than the best we could offer. At the time, we might have thought they were just being mean or hard on us, but in retrospect we understand they were working hard to make us better people. A goal of any sales leader should be to expect and accept nothing less than a person’s best. Because just like in life, in sales you will get exactly what you are willing to accept.

How to hold your team accountable:
Every person on a team should have expectations and not just a job description, but a list of performance expectations that will ensure the saleperson’s success. Have each salesperson complete an activity plan of what actions they are going to take and how they are going to execute them.

As a sales manager, you need to conduct weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one sessions with each sales rep to make sure he or she is executing the plan. Then, you need to take action based on the salesperson’s results. If he over-achieved, recognize and praise him, but if he didn’t reach his goal, hold him accountable by taking action and help him understand how to execute the plan and why.

Too many managers try to mange the sales result and not the activity. If you manage the sales results, your ability to correct a bad month of sales has passed – you can only respond to the results. But, if you manage the activities, you can correct them and therefore affect the sales results prior to having a bad month. The difference is a manager who manages activity will spend more time coaching the salesperson as opposed to the manager who manages the sales results, who will spend more time training the replacements.

The business is out there – are you willing to take it?

The difference from today and three years ago is now salespeople have a new excuse: the economy (although is this really a new excuse?). There is no doubt that the economy is weaker than the past, but many businesses and salespeople are still flourishing. Just because the economy excuse is real does not mean a salesperson has to accept it. You have to be willing to go get the business and, like most things in life, something worth having is worth fighting for, so get ready to fight.

Create a plan of action and put it to work. Sales is not an easy job and not everyone can do it, but if you are willing to practice and commit to doing what you know then you will be successful regardless of the economy or any other obstacle. As salespeople, we need to stop staring at the phone and rearranging the desk and just make the call. Taking action is the only way to set up the appointment and close the sale.

Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of "The Sales Leaders Playbook," is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former executive director for Sprint, and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. His clients include Radio Shack, Nationwide Insurance, Metro PCS, The News Group, Century 21, Jackson National Insurance Company and ThyssenKrupp Elevators. To book Nathan, visit or contact 972-377-0030.


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