Zoom In, Zoom Out.  How to become a High-Performing Enterprise Sales Professional.

Summary:   High-performing Enterprise Sales Professionals have the ability to Zoom.  No, not your video conference app but the lens you use to manage your sales opportunities.  Top performing Sales Professionals & Leaders are capable at using multiple lenses and excel at knowing when to use the right one.  Where do your skills lay?

Zoom:  

Some salespeople, despite being paid, are amateurs.  They are not consistent performers.

I fit in this category early on in my sales career.   

At that time, it was all about my product which I knew inside & out. I had strong technical skills so therefore used my product knowledge to sell.  But this was a crutch.  Being good at selling my product did not mean I knew how to sell.  

My sales method was fully reactive to the buyer and made minimal impact on their buying process.  I was not in control of my sales process, barely made quota and was living paycheck-to-paycheck. There was no use of any lens to get better focus.  This had to change or I would be looking for a new job.  

Zoom In:  

Most Sales Professionals are good tacticians.  They know how to sell. 

My change started with learning how to sell regardless of what was being sold.  I developed better tactical sales skills as I read more sales books, took sales training courses and worked with my sales managers & other mentors.  My productivity accelerated as I learned to ask better questions of the buyer, qualified them with more sophistication and negotiated better outcomes.

This Zoom-In perspective is common in relationship-intensive settings.  My execution had a sharp focus and my sales opportunities increased in volume as well as size.  Just as importantly, my forecasts became more accurate.  At this stage of development my performance improved dramatically, my income doubled and I was banking commissions.

But I was still not performing at the level of the top sales performers in my company.  

Something else was missing.  

It turns out this zoom-in focus on sales tactics has significant downsides.  You become dependent on favors and getting too single-threaded meaning you are dependent on a single sponsor for all activity in your sales process.  If you use this zoom-in only lens, your sales cycles are probably too long, discounts too steep, sales forecasts inaccurate and performance inconsistent.  

In my case, I knew I had to pivot. I was missing the big picture.  I had to become more strategic in my approach.

Zoom Out

Few Enterprise Sales Professionals are good at deal strategy.  It’s not that we are not capable, but we are rewarded by our management for tactical activity not strategic planning.  

I realized I was not good at deal strategy …. the who, what, when, where, and why someone should buy from you.  So, much to the dismay of my sales manager, I turned all my attention to developing my strategic skills.  I started reading more books on strategy, took strategic sales training courses and I sought out people with strong strategic skills for coaching.  This enabled me to perceive events in better context and see larger trends.   There were a lot of planning sessions and whiteboarding which initially was driving my boss crazy.  But I was having better quality meetings with higher level Buyers.   I started closing larger deals and earning higher commissions.  I even closed the largest deal in my company’s history and my income tripled.  This was cool work. 

But…

My performance against quota was all over the map.  One quarter great and the next zero.  I was earning more and getting bigger commission checks but fewer of them.  My overall performance for the year was better but getting there created a lot of stress in the system.  I was not consistent.

What happened?

It turns out a strategic, zoom out only approach to sales has its own traps.  My activity declined too much.  I became too cautious.  Everything had to be planned out and I failed to notice when the moment was right for action and rapid execution.  The focus on the development of being a good strategist came at the expense of being a good tactician.  I was still only using one lens.

Time to pivot again.

Zoom In.  Zoom Out.  Zoom In:

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand” – Ansel Adams

Like a professional photographer, you need to know where you need to be positioned on a deal to successfully close it.  To have maximum impact on the buying process we need to be skilled at not only using multiple lenses but also knowing when to use each one.  Your position on a deal tells you if you should zoom in or zoom out.  This takes hard work along with some sales training & coaching.  But if you commit to developing your Zooming skills you will see yourself consistently making your number, becoming a top performer and earn “game-changing” income.

You need to be both a good sales strategist and a good sales tactician.  And you need to excel at knowing when to move from one zooming activity to the other and then back again.

The chart below is what I call the Zoom chart.  It is meant to help you visualize the key activities of strategy v tactics.  Of Zoom Out v Zoom In.

Zoom Chart

Zoom
Zoom Out
Strategy – who, what, when, where, why
Zoom In
Tactics – how
Attitude Open, CreativeNarrow, Focused
ActivityGenerate & Refine IdeasProvide Insight
MindsetUncertainty, AnalyticCertainty, Intuition
Approach Explore, Test, ModelExecute
DriverData, ResearchInformation, Outcome
ActionPlan itDo It
VehicleInternal Deal WorkoutsDirect Customer Engagement
TimeTimelessTimely
VelocitySlow, PatientFast, Intense

Zooming can help you take control of your sales process and it can help you respond effectively to rapidly changing business conditions. But because you have more control and increase deal velocity you can also manage more deals simultaneously.  This means more consistency in your performance, higher earnings and becoming a high-performing sales professional.  

Navigation:  I wrote this article listening to Head On by Jose Gonzalez