“Peter F. Drucker was a writer, professor, management consultant and self-described “social ecologist,” who explored the way human beings organize themselves and interact much the way an ecologist would observe and analyze the biological world.

His 39 books, along with his countless scholarly and popular articles, predicted many of the major developments of the late 20th century, including privatization and decentralization, the rise of Japan to economic world power, the decisive importance of marketing and innovation, and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning.”

Sales Relevance

Here are ten (10) quotes from Peter Drucker and our interpretation of their relevance to sales professionals.

  1. The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Are you waiting for sales ready leads or are you actively prospecting to build a balanced sales funnel? Are there enough opportunities with the right dollar value and the right fit to your ideal customer profile in the funnel to make your revenue number? Is your product mix sufficient?

Let’s assume its January 1st and the start of your fiscal year. Your sales goal is $2M and your sales cycle is one year. Let’s further assume that your close ratio is 50%. If your funnel has $4M in it your in reasonably good shape to make your revenue number as long as your close ratio stays the same, no opportunities get stalled or leave and your sales cycles don’t lengthen. This also assumes all your opportunities are of equal dollar value and are a good fit to your ideal customer profile. If you have $8M in your sales funnel, then you only need to win 25% of the opportunities to make plan with the same aforementioned assumptions. If you continue to close at 50%, then you are going to exceed goal by $2M.

Tracking the number of opportunities and their dollar value is important. This measures volume. Tracking the fit to your ideal customer profile ensures that you have winnable opportunities in your funnel. A best practice is to routinely look at the composition of your sales funnel and ensure you are devoting sufficient time to prospecting.

  1. The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Planning for every sales call keeps you from being a “talking leaflet” and it reminds you to ask good thought provoking questions and then listen.

In school, most of us have taken a speech class. Few, if anyone, has taken a listening class. Listening is an acquired skill that takes practice.

  1. Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.

Improve your skill set by reading sales, marketing and leadership books, newsletters, magazines and sales blogs. Join key LinkedIn groups. Attend sales training programs. Most of these programs focus on one concept or topic and all offer valuable information. Some programs are delivered in workshops with a facilitator while others offer e-learning. Develop a relationship with your company’s top performers. Learn what they do differently that makes them stand apart from the rest of the crowd…year-in and year out. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your best customers for insight on what you could do better.

As an example, top sales performers excel at account management by applying their knowledge of the customers’ business enabling them to bring mutually beneficial solutions.

If you want to hone your skills, be prepared to learn something new on a daily basis. Ask yourself each day- “What did I learn today that made me better?” You should always evaluate yourself objectively. Be honest and ask yourself: What did I do well? What could I have done better? Where are the gaps in my knowledge and ability? What do I need to do differently in the future? Then develop a plan and execute it.

  1. Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.

In sales, time is your enemy because there are never enough selling days. How you spend your time each day is critical to your success in making your number.

Selling time is time spent face-to-face or phone-to-phone with a buying influence talking about how you will help them fix a problem that they currently have and want to fix, avoid a problem or capitalize on an identified opportunity through the use of one of your products, services or solutions. It’s a combination of account development and/or opportunity pursuit.

Selling time should be sacred time. If you have good products, services and solutions and good sales people then increasing the percentage of their selling time will drive sales results. It’s the quickest and easiest way to increase sales productivity.

Top sales representatives can tell you the number of sales days left in the current quarter and they can tell you the revenue they must generate per hour or per day and not just their revenue against plan. They prioritize their daily activities and they get the most important things done first. What percent of your time is selling time? What will you do today to improve it? If you don’t know how many selling day’s there are per month and per quarter, you can download a selling day’s calendar on our website (www.strategicdynamicsfirm.com).

  1. Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

A business model for sales effectiveness creates a common language and ensures the sales team is executing the right selling behaviors to provide a competitive advantage and win more opportunities faster.

  1. The purpose of a business is to create a customer.

Sure you want the sale but what you’re really after is acquiring and keeping a customer because that’s what gives you retention, referral and repeat business. In sales, we must constantly remind ourselves that every sales activity that we perform must be customer centric. Satisfied and loyal customers will always drive additional business.

  1. Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action!

A sales call is focused; it’s focused on action. It must advance the buying process. It’s difficult to do this in a positive, professional manner that builds relationships without planning. If a number of different stakeholders have influence over what is purchased from you, do you take enough time to understand their personal wants, needs, KPIs and value that each must achieve to support your product? Do you document it so that you and others can securitize your strategy? In most markets today, the sale is too complex with too many different stakeholders for a sales representative to keep all this disparate information in their head.

  1. “What’s measured improves.”

Metrics drive results. In sports everything is measured. Take a quarterback in football as an example: he is measured on passes attempted versus completed, passes thrown to different receivers, total yards, number of touchdowns within the 20 yard line etc. What are your metrics? For example: Where do you stand versus others in your organization relative to percent to quota achieved this year and over the last several years? In sales no one can rest on their laurels, they must constantly be improving. What you did last quarter and last year is in the past. Its yesterday’s news. No one cares. They only care about the present and the future.

  1. “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.”

Until you know what the customer is buying, you don’t know what you are selling. You learn this by asking well worded questions that encourage the buying influence to provide you with both the quantity and quality of information. When you plan, you ask better questions.

  1. “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

Every sales call should end with an action commitment. If you don’t end with a measurable next step you have made a visit and not a sales call. Planning ensures that you define in advance the best and minimum actions that you desire to keep investing your time with this stakeholder.

Parting Thoughts

Hailed by BusinessWeek as “the man who invented management,” Drucker directly influenced a huge number of leaders from a wide range of organizations across all sectors of society. Among the many: General Electric, IBM, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Girl Scouts of the USA, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, United Farm Workers and several presidential administrations.1 While Peter Drucker is gone. He is not forgotten. His legacy and writings continue to inspire all of us. If you are a sales professional keep these quotes in mind. They will serve as a beacon to keep you focused and successful.

  1. Peter Drucker’s Life and Legacy: The Drucker Institute.
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