Use these questions to analyze your recent sales performance–both wins and losses–to get more wins in 2012.

“Learn from your mistakes.” You’ve probably been hearing this all your life from well-meaning parents/teachers/bosses. And at this point in your life, you probably have one of those roles yourself and are saying it to those in your charge.

Hopefully you are not directly observing the eye-roll of boredom and disdain–but trust me, it’s there.

What about learning from your success? Anybody have some pithy quote for that one? There is just as much to learn from successes–even if all that you can immediately conclude is, “We got lucky.”

What I know from my work with hundreds of companies is that the change cycles for what works and what fails in selling are accelerating. Even in industries that are a bit calcified in their processes–like health care, state government, military, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals–there is a lot of change happening in the selling process. And for people selling in more fluid industries–such as media, logistics, digital marketing and services–the change cycle can feel like a turbine.

To be successful selling, you have to be current with your data and refine your approach. The world of selling is just like everywhere else: You adapt or die.

Here is what you want to capture and learn from 2011 to leverage in 2012:

Consider Your 3 Best Sales of 2011

“Bests” typically have some variations from the norm. Using the single best is risky, because one point alone does not indicate a trend. However, if you consider three points, you may find a pattern to build upon.

You choose what “best” means to you. For many people, the qualifiers include qualities like: “biggest,” “new market toehold,” “team-effort,” or “market icon client.” Then, using those three sales as your data set, answer the following questions:

  •  Who and where was your point of entry into the account?
  •  What was the problem that person or group wanted you to solve? Be careful; don’t answer this question based upon the product or service they bought. Instead focus on the problem that needed solving, from their perspective.
  • What caused this process to accelerate at what points in the purchase cycle?
  • What caused this process to delay at what points in the purchase cycle?
  • Who from your team made the greatest impact on winning these accounts?

Find the Patterns

You now have your data. It’s time to find the patterns.

I know from personal experience that if you want to change your success in a sales process, you have to break down the component parts to the process and improve those components the same as you would in manufacturing. For us, this means:

  • People: Set your absolutes. Who from their side must you meet? Who on your side will your best deal opportunities need to meet?
  • Artifacts: What process documents, tours, samples, examples, presentations and so on create the greatest confidence and unstick the friction points in the sale?
  • Time: Where you found delays, you had a bad recipe of people and artifacts. Where you had acceleration, there was a good recipe. Repeat the good; change the bad.

Inside of your three best sales are the seeds of your future great successes–but you have to dig a little bit for them.

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