Make Yourself a Better Salesperson by Focusing on the Sales Activities That Matter

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Salespeople will do what they like to do, not what they need to do. If it’s uncomfortable to make cold calls, they’ll find a way to justify doing something else — like sending an email or writing up a proposal. But when you’re focusing on sales activities, you need to dedicate time to the activities that matter — even if you don’t like them.

Real, Severe Commitment

There’s a difference in scheduling time and severely committing to something. I’m working with my assistant on an issue right now. I told him, “I want you to spend one hour a day on this. You can pick the hour. But during that hour, do not stop. Short of a life safety issue, commit for the whole hour. If a customer shows up and is banging on the door, ignore them. If our biggest client calls and threatens to cancel their service, so what? I’ll deal with the fall-out — you do this task for one hour.”

The next day, I asked if he did it. Nope. “Life safety issue?” I asked. “Imminent death of everyone on earth?!” No. He just bailed. See, scheduling is easy, but we avoid actually doing the tasks we hate — even if they’re important tasks. It happens all the time. And the more uncomfortable it is, the more adamantly you need to commit to the activity.

“Productive” Distractions

So what do we do instead of the activities we hate? Anything else. And if it seems productive, we gravitate towards it. Here are just a few ways we occupy our time with deceitfully unproductive tasks.

Research

Research is one of the main activities that snowballs into unproductiveness. Of course, it’s good to an extent — you need to know the basics of a company before you call, but we tend to keep searching. We get interested in a topic and over-inform ourselves. Plus, we take rabbit trails and end up learning all sorts of info we don’t need.

Let’s say you’re about to make a cold call, so you start researching the company. For three hours, you read and figure out everything there is to know about them. You know their story, who founded it, where they’re located, and anything else you’d want to know. Then you call them and they say, “My brother-in-law handles this for us. We’ll never switch.” You just spent three hours researching to get a “no” in two minutes. You wasted 180 minutes on one dead-end client.

Instead, focus your research so you know what to look for before you start. Then set time limits to keep you on track. If you set a seven-minute time limit on your research for each prospect, then call them in two minutes, you contact 20 prospects in those 180 minutes instead of just one.

The more qualified the prospect, the more time you can spend on research. Maybe you spend 14 minutes researching someone who called you or a person you’re meeting for an appointment. Still, research doesn’t consume your day. Time spent researching dead-end prospects is wasted.

Here are some other ways we waste time:

  • Calling only your current customers
  • Not being organized
  • Not finishing to-do lists
  • Not putting to-dos on your calendar

We have to direct our time we can’t let our disorganization and procrastination derail us. The more intentional we become in our work day, the more sales we make.

Maximizing Your Time

Don’t let fruitless work fill your day. Instead, surround yourself with high-payoff people and do high-payoff activities. Meetings, calls, customer contacts, and prospect interactions all lead to sales. So spend your time doing those things — not the little stuff. It also pays off to figure out your process.

Related: How to Close More Deals by Mapping Your Sales Process

These activities fit into two categories — strategic and tactical. Give time to each. There can be high-payoff tactical activities and high-payoff strategic activities. There can also be low-payoff strategic and tactical activities. The goal is to be both strategic and tactical in your choice of high-payoff activities.

I do this with my phone calls — for every two customers I call, I call one prospect. Then I hold myself accountable to reaching out to new people and maintaining current relationships — both with high payoffs.

Be strategic about who is refilling your funnel and tactical about how you approach your current prospects. You’re only as good as your last sale so focus on the activities that help you to close.

The Biggest Challenges for Salespeople in 2016

online groups for salespeople

Richardson Group, an internationally recognized sales training and performance improvement company, just released their 2016 Selling Challenges Study. In polling 400 salespeople, 85% in B2B sales, they revealed the biggest sales challenges in prospecting, discovering client needs, and negotiation.

Here’s what they found… but I don’t completely agree.

What Salespeople Struggle With in Prospecting

prospecting

When asked what sales associates expected their biggest challenge in prospecting efforts to be, 16% said, “identifying sales triggers/sales signals that indicate issues that you can resolve.”

Essentially, these reps and managers have difficulty finding out what they can fix. Buyers investigate solutions on the web just like the rest of us. When they go in to make a purchase, they usually know what they want. They leave the salesperson out of the decision-making process. So the salesperson never knows the client’s deciding factors, which means they also don’t know what they need to overcome to make the sale.

Related: 5 Ways to Quickly Qualify Prospects

Closely tied to the inability to discern buyer signals, 14.4% of sales professionals also struggle to identify whom to target. Basically, when we don’t connect with the buyer in a personal way, we don’t know their true buying power. 

Qualifying prospects, a growing problem in the industry, is the primary struggle for 10% of salespeople. Why? Most likely because so few prospects respond to a seller’s attempts to reach out. 

Uncovering and Exploring Client Needs

client needs

When asked about the biggest challenge in uncovering and exploring client needs, most find it difficult to gain insight via conversations and understand the decision-making process.

That makes sense: you have to talk to the right people to get a true read of the potential. More often, sellers begin working with an individual only to find that a group of decision-makers with no clear roles will be making the final call.

If you can’t talk to the person with the power to make the decision, the sale comes to the bottom line rather than the package deal.

Challenges in Closing a Deal

closing a deal

If they had done this survey in 1976, it probably would have had the same results. Why? Because there is always someone selling it cheaper.

Related: How To Eliminate Price From Your Negotiation Process

Sure, the internet has made those options more prevalent (hence the overwhelming 48% who claim this as their biggest challenge), but it’s not unique to 2016. There will always be someone trying to sell for less. How do you overcome it? By finding what you can provide that the low-cost provider can’t.

The Bigger Picture? Distraction

Regardless of the survey results, these aren’t the biggest challenges. Rather, they’re symptoms of a bigger problem.

Most salespeople struggle because they are distracted. With what? Their smartphone. What makes it worse is that few admit the barrier phones create to connecting with clients.

All these issues stem from a failure to know your clients. You have to do the work to get to know whom you’re contacting. It’s much easier to mass-email potential prospects and to try the latest marketing gimmicks, but connection overcomes a world of challenges. When you give your full attention to your prospects, you’ll be able to qualify prospects and find the decision-makers.

If you’re getting distracted, admit it. Then take steps to zero in on your sales strategy. CallProof helps us stay focused. It records our calls and gives us the chance to learn from them. As salespeople, we need to take ownership of our day. If it takes activity to win sales, then we need to put in the undivided work of making connections.

Challenges in sales are inevitable. How will you handle them? My advice: look your challenge in the face. If distraction is your problem, do what’s necessary to focus. Build the connections with your prospects and clients to make your service worth their investment.

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4 Lessons I Learned About Entrepreneurship From High School Band

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I never realized being a band geek was leading me to entrepreneurship. I grew up in Germany on an army base. With my dad as my music teacher, I started playing alto saxophone in seventh grade and continued through high school. The endless hours of practice and the cut-throat competitions did more than just make me a better sax player. They taught me a lot of sales strategies and made me an entrepreneur. Four principles took root in me back in my band days, and they continue to prove true in business year after year.

1. Fail Before You Sail

The first time you blow into a horn it sounds like a dying animal. No matter your natural ability, no one just picks up an instrument and plays it like a pro from the start. In fact, the first few songs you play will be sporadic noise, not fluid music.

Related: Do You Have What It Takes to be a Sales Manager?

Similarly, you’ll probably fail before you sail when you’re starting a business. Accept it and learn from it. Just because you struggle at the beginning doesn’t mean you won’t eventually succeed.

2. Learn to Practice

Hours upon hours of practice go into learning to read music, control air flow, and coordinate finger dexterity before an attempt on the horn sounds like music. Then, that practice must continue in order to perform well.

Entrepreneurship also requires regular practice. You don’t just practice at the beginning and then claim you’ve learned all there is to know. You work unceasingly to perfect each note and anticipate your next moves.

In band, you read music and take lessons from the experts to improve. There’s sheet music for business too. Books such as E-Myth provide a note by note explanation of how to start your business. Take the proven strategies and balance them with your own approach.

Once I understood a piece of music, I learned when and where to improvise solos. In business, there’s also a place to do your own thing. The people that cause waves in the business community are the ones improvising.

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3. Play the Same Piece of Music

A band works as a team playing the same sheet of music at the same tempo to create a greater melody. If the drummer can’t keep the beat, it throws off the whole band. If a director doesn’t know the piece of music well, he may cue the wrong people and mess up the piece entirely. In band, it’s not too difficult to identify the weak player and correct the mistake. In business, this proves a little more challenging.

Related: The Single Most Important Quality of a High-Performance Sales Culture

A business team needs to follow the same plan. If people are off track, there needs to be a way to bring them back on course. This concept spurred the idea of CallProof. I want to catch mistakes as they happen because of the value of correcting in real-time. Then, we get to fix them before they became a real problem.

4. Earn Your Chair

Competition pushes us to excellence. In band, we competed for first chair, challenging each other to see who could play the music better. Sales is the same. You’re all vying for top spot, but just as one person is clearly best, someone else is worst.

As the leader of your company, you have to make tough decisions about firing weak employees so the best people can propel the business forward. In band, it was always clear who spent more time practicing music based on their performance. In sales, the results tell who’s invested their time, but CallProof makes that clear as day.

I knew that my practice hours on the sax, working my way up to first chair and then to All-European Jazz Saxophonist, made me a better musician. In reality, that time also birthed in me these principles that apply to much more than high school music. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to know your content, your presentation, and your audience. And no matter how long you’ve been in the business, you can’t stop practicing.

 

 

 

Strong Sales Presentations: How to Leave Prospects Begging for More

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You’ve made it past the cold calls into the conference room, and now it’s your time to shine. The typical slide shows with bar-graphs and pie charts don’t exactly leave your listener begging for more. So how do you get to the place where prospects are asking questions and ready to sign? What are the best sales strategies for closing the deal?

First and foremost: know your audience. Too many presenters forget this basic principle, but if you want people to listen to you, you have to connect with them. And to build that connection, you need to know your prospective client.

When the Sales Pitch Goes Wrong

Want to know what doesn’t build a connection? A history of your company and a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation on how your product works. Nobody cares.

Related: Salespeople: Fix Your Elevator Pitch to Get a Meeting With Anyone

Instead, clients want to know how this product will improve their business. If you’re selling internet marketing to farmers, you don’t bother explaining the online mechanics. Instead, you talk about the benefits your product will bring and how it has helped other farmers.  Prospects want to know how your product directly affects their company.

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What Do Prospects Want To Hear?

The best sales strategies require getting to know your potential clients. Your future clients don’t have time for a song and dance. They want to know how your product will help them, and that means you have to do your homework.

Ask them questions that grant you insight into their needs. Once you know the needs, you can tailor your presentation to explain how your product solves their dilemmas.   

Be a Storyteller

It’s time to ditch the pitch. You need to get people’s attention, and what’s the best way to do that? Tell a story.

When your narrative shows the benefits of your product for a similar client, prospects find themselves in the story. If your product worked wonders for a restaurant, use that story to when you pitch to other restaurants. When you talk to a tire company, rewrite the narrative to center on a tire store. As you visit clients, start collecting these stories. You want your content so specifically tailored to someone that they have no doubt you’re talking to them.

Related: Telling Stories During a Sales Pitch: Do’s & Don’ts

I’m a storyteller; you give me a subject, and I can tell you a story about it. It’s a skill I want to pass on to my kids, so I do an experiment with them­ at bedtime. They always ask to hear a story, so I make them improvise with me. I’ll say, “Once upon a time…” and my son says, “There was a dog named Frank.” Then it comes back to me, “and Frank was the biggest dog in town…” We keep going back and forth until the story resolves.

Think of your sales pitch like this storytelling experiment. You ask questions, your prospect answers, and you write their problems and patterns into your plot line. You end up with a tale that’s extremely relatable to them.

You can also use your fact-finding to paint a picture of what their business will be like once they have your product. If you find out your client’s pain point is the two hours it takes to enter payroll data each week, you can build your story around what their life will be like with 104 extra hours each year. Your product then solves one of their biggest problems.

Write a story your prospects want to be in. Create a narrative of a better business and your sales presentation will leave them begging for more.

 

How to Set the Right Expectations So Clients Don’t Run Your Life

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Think for a minute about your internet going out. If your service provider sends you an alert that your connection will be down for 2 hours, it’s inconvenient, but you can adjust. You’ll go to a coffee shop during that time or schedule something away from your computer. This simple notification enabled you to adjust your expectations so you didn’t waste time. Rather than sitting at the office trying to figure out, “Is the internet down for 2 minutes or 2 hours?” you planned accordingly.

The same applies to Lyft and Uber. They’ve eliminated transit anxiety because they communicate appropriate expectations. You know where the car is, when it will arrive, and how much it will cost. Their cars and drivers are practically the same as those of a taxi service, but taxi services don’t communicate well. Because Lyft and Uber do, their rides offer a drastically improved experience.

E-commerce companies run on the same principle. As long as my product arrives when I expected it too, I’m happy. But what if there were no shipment notifications? Their call volume would be off the charts with customers wondering when their orders would come.

The same is true with sales. A salesperson’s goal is to solve the client’s pain. You need to set the right expectations for when the problem will be solved. If I have a leak in my roof, my main concern is, “When will the leak stop?” If the company does what they said on the timetable they claimed, I’m satisfied.

What Expectations to Set

You know you need to set expectations, but which ones? What matters to your client? Clarifying these four basic expectations keep your clients happy so you can focus on your prospects.

Related: 4 Negotiation Skills You Need to Close More Deals

1. Delivery Time

When will the product or service arrive? Your client wants to know. Amazon sets a high bar for delivery communication. When you order, you get an anticipated delivery date. Then, you receive a shipment confirmation and notifications as the package is en route. Who actually has to call Amazon? No one.

Take your cue from Amazon and make sure your clients understand when they can expect to receive your services.

2. Delivery Method

Who physically provides the service? Is there a crew that comes out? Will you be there? Is someone else in charge? If so, make an introduction between the client and the person who will now be working with them.

A contractor, for example, sells the house but probably has a project manager carry out the day-to-day business. The contractor needs to introduce the manager to the buyer. By saying, “He knows this business in and out and will take good care of you. If you need anything, call him,” the contractor frees himself up from little issues (like the bathtub being the wrong color) and can continue finding new clients.

Who is bringing the product? Let the customer know what carrier you use (FedEx, UPS, USPS) so they can look up their own tracking information. If it arrives another way, tell them so they know what to expect and won’t need to call you with unnecessary questions.

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3. Payment Time and Types

How should your client pay? Is there an automatic draft option? What forms of payment do you accept? Let them know from the beginning so they don’t have to wonder.

4. Communication and Response Times

When can your client expect to hear from you? Go ahead and set reasonable response times from the start. If you want 24 hours to respond to an email, tell them so they don’t expect a reply within five minutes of sending a message.

Related: How to Write the Perfect Sales Email

Also, find out the best way to reach your client. That way, if a problem arises, you know how to get in contact with them.

When to Set Expectations

Use these expectations to your advantage, not your detriment. Set the bulk of the expectations after the client signs the contract.

They may have unrealistic ideas about how your product or service works. If you go through a list of expectations before securing the sale, you may unintentionally create an issue that wasn’t there before.

For example, let’s say you’re about to sign a contract with a payroll service. What if the representative first said, “Just so you know, you’ll have to submit all paycheck stubs from the last three years and get employee signatures on this document and I’ll need your banking account information….”? You’d probably stop them, thinking it’s not worth the effort.

In reality, those steps may not be as complicated as they sound, but they lost the sale. Just wait until the contract is signed, then administer the expectations in a reasonable dose.  

Laying the right expectations for your clients sets both parties up for success. They’re pleased because you did what you said. You’re pleased because not only did you deliver, but you protected your time.

Salespeople: Here Are 3 Ways To Save An Hour Per Day

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If you were to analyze a typical salesperson’s day, what would you see? Most likely, you’d find them filling out paperwork repeatedly, making conference calls, meeting at specific times (in inconvenient locations), providing customer support for current clients, creating a list of prospects to call, and, let’s not forget, making sales.

Sure, there’s value in some of these activities, but as a salesperson, are you really spending your time in the best ways possible? What if you could get some of the wasted time back?

Too often, large chunks of the day are consumed with low-value tasks. The biggest obstacle to recovering this time is reversing the old habits to form new ones. These 3 routines can make you more effective in less time.

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1. Eliminate Social Media Notifications.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Turn off social media notifications on your computer and mobile device during the workday. What do those notifications do? They suck you into a world of unproductiveness. Every time that chime sounds, your attention breaks and your current task derails. Make your job easier and stay logged out during work hours.

2. Digitize Sales Info.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Imagine a world without paperwork. It almost sounds too good one true, but an app like CallProof makes it possible. Just use your phone to capture data and record it without filling out paperwork or sales reports.

Other traditionally hard-copy processes have been simplified as well. Proposal software options ease the burden of submitting proposals. Online document signature services eliminate the need to fax documents back and forth.

The time saved with electronic documentation and automatic data input is well worth the time you invest to learn the new programs.

3. Prospect Based on Location.

Time Saved: 1+ hours

Think of all the time you spend in the car getting from one appointment to the next. Why not book your appointments based on location rather than spreading your meetings across town?

Be very intentional with the meetings you set. Then, after each meeting, use CallProof to identify nearby prospects and clients. Taking the opportunity to stop by while you’re already close builds your rapport with the client and saves you time in the long run.

For the Sales Managers

If you’re in charge, you can make a few additional decisions that benefit everyone. Scrap the end of the day meeting to save outside salespeople the drive back to the office. Also, do whatever you can to keep your hunters in the field and delegate their customer service issues to someone else.

Finally, give salespeople a list of prospects rather than having them create their own. Data is too cheap to not acquire it for them. Your sales team will thank you… as will your sales numbers.

We all want more time, not so we can add more to our plates, but so we can do a better job with the work we already have. What will you do with your extra hour?

How to Use Facebook Messages to Increase Sales

facebook messages to increase sales

Salespeople typically don’t think of using Facebook for lead generation or increasing sales. That’s probably because the top reason most people use Facebook is to waste time.

I like using Facebook to reach prospects and clients because it’s a place where people aren’t contacted often. If you do it right, it’s wide open for prospecting. Before you dismiss the idea, let’s walk through the process for using Facebook for lead generation.

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When To Use Facebook For Initial Outreach

Facebook is somewhat of a “last resort” for reaching out to a new prospect. It can be effective when:

  • You can’t reach a cold prospect over the telephone
  • You can’t get through a gatekeeper
  • You don’t have an email address for the prospect
  • You have a unique, time-sensitive offer

How To Reach Prospects on Facebook

Many people don’t know Facebook lets you contact someone outside your network for $1 per message. Let’s say you’ve found the CEO of a prospective company using LinkedIn. However, you don’t have a paid LinkedIn account to contact them. You may think that without paying the $20 fee to send an InMail message you can’t communicate with them.

facebook for lead generation
Well, think again! You can find them on Facebook and send a direct message for $1 – much cheaper than buying a LinkedIn subscription or sending an InMail message.

It’s All In The Phrasing

The effectiveness of your message depends on your phrasing. If you send your prospects a canned pitch too many times, Facebook will consider it spam and block it.

Here are the basic rules for reaching out with a Facebook message:

  • Make your offer unique and timely
  • Make your message direct
  • Make it easy – ask simple questions

For examples, let’s pretend you sell communication systems. You know that your prospect is constructing a new building and in need of a phone system. Your Facebook message might read:

“Hi, I realize you’re currently building on 33rd Avenue. Have you picked out your vendor for phone systems? Can I come in and give you a proposal?”

Here’s another example: If I sold cell phone accessories to dealers, and just got a new line of Samsung 6 cases in stock, I could send a message like this:

“Hi, I realize you are launching the Samsung 6 on Friday. I just got the new line of cases in the following colors and models. Are you interested in stocking up before the launch?”

As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of all text messages are read in the first 5 minutes. A Facebook message has a similar immediate effect of a text.

Friend Requesting Clients

You can also communicate with existing clients by adding them as friends on Facebook. However, it’s smart to first connect with a business prospect on LinkedIn and then add them on Facebook. Linkedin is easy and direct – they either say yes or no.

If you decide to direct message or send a friend request to business clients, it might also be necessary to hide some of your personal Facebook posts. You can segment your posts and decide who sees them in your privacy settings. Some posts that are great for family and close friends may not be appropriate for business associates. Make sure to double check your settings before reaching out to clients and prospects.

Using Facebook to increase sales and generate leads can be both effective and cost-efficient.  Just remember to keep it unique, direct, and simple. One brief message could reignite a prospect’s interest in buying from you!

Which Sales Follow-Up Strategies Work Best for Your Prospects?

sales follow up strategies

You’ve just had a great meeting with a prospect. There’s no doubt in your mind they’re going to buy your service. Then you follow up and… nothing. You assume the prospect is no longer interested and it’s time to move on.

Don’t let that common assumption about following up cause you to lose sales. Just because a prospect hasn’t returned your call or e-mail doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. There are many reasons why prospects don’t respond and many strategies for following up with them.

Don’t let the lack of response keep your from reaching out again. Consider these questions to determine which follow-up strategies work best for your prospects.

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Do they need a Dear John email?

Some companies send a “Dear John” email to unresponsive prospects. This type of email helps you determine if your prospects simply aren’t interested, or if there’s a different reason they’re not responding. Here’s an example:

John,

You looked at our solution a few months ago. I’ve been reaching out ever since we talked, and I feel like I have been pestering you. I wanted to send one last email to let you know that I’m here to help, and if you want to do business with me, please let me know.

If there is something you feel is an obstacle to doing business with me, I’d honestly love to hear it.

Do they perceive your solution as additional work?

People generally avoid extra work. If prospects have the impression that signing up for your solution means more work for them, they will procrastinate.

Let’s look at an example. If I sell payroll services to a business owner, he’ll realize he needs to compile all of his payroll and human resources information to make the switch. He perceives my service as added work for him, even if it saves him money.

I need to figure out a way alleviate the perception of additional work. If my payroll solution can save him $1,000 a month, then it’s worth the 8 hours he’ll spend compiling the information.

I might phrase my email this way:

Rich,

Many customers thought switching to my payroll service would be a lot of additional work. If you call the 3 referrals I provided, you will see that it only took them an hour or two of their time. They all saved money and are very happy with the solution. I really feel that you are going to get a similar return on your time. Can we get together next Tuesday at 2:00 to discuss it further?

What’s the best channel for follow-up?

I like using multiple channels in my sales follow-up strategies. For example, I might send an email telling a prospect I’ll be in the area to see another client at 2:00, and I’ll stop by after. I like this strategy because it requires the prospect to respond and take action.

Following up by text message is also great. I’ve said in my previous posts that 95% of all text messages are read in the first 5 minutes. With a text follow-up, you are going to be seen.

I also love following up face-to-face. I can’t tell you how many times a salesperson has walked out of a follow-up meeting with a check in his hand. It’s easy to ignore an e-mail, but much harder to ignore someone standing in front of you.

According to Yesware, “Follow-up emails are worth the effort. You have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered.” Combining email with other channels like phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and text messages increases your odds of turning a procrastinator into a customer.

How to Create a Sales Strategy You Can Stick With

create a sales strategy

Sales strategies are like New Year’s resolutions: Everyone makes them. Everyone tries to follow them. But eventually, they’re forgotten. There are two reasons for this: unrealistic expectations and a failure to adapt to change. Luckily, both of these can be avoided.

Start with the Sales Team

Most organizations have three plans for how sales should work: what the company thinks is happening, what the sales manager thinks should be done, and what the salespeople actually do. Viewing things from the top down is great for setting goals, but not for planning a strategy.

Start at the end of the year. Go beyond intuition and take a look at what it takes a salesperson to develop a customer.

How many emails does it take to get a meeting? Are phone calls more effective? Is there a set period of time, or can the process be sped up by more frequent contacts? Is it better to take it slowly?

These are questions that can’t be answered at the company level. It takes historical data and the experience of your staff to figure it out.

Once you have an idea of the normal timeframe, you can get a sense of when to keep trying and when to move on. Some prospects will never convert. Others will produce little revenue compared to the energy required. Your salespeople need to pay attention to how much work they do to make a sale. You don’t want to stop trying too soon, but when effort exceeds results, it’s time to find a better opportunity.

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Understand Your Market

Understanding your market means understanding the people involved, and how best to approach them. Your audience should determine the approach used in sales. Some customers prefer phone calls to email. Others may be more open to a casual visit. Does the salesperson need to have something in common with the client, or is it all about the product? Understanding this gives you a handle on how to approach that particular customer more effectively.

Mine the data produced by your own team to find the best approach for your customer base. Identify other products or services you can offer existing customers. Take a fresh look at your accounts to find out what you’ve been missing.

Combine all this information to create a growth strategy. This will focus on the clients with the most potential for repeat business or expansion into other offerings. The idea is to continually look for ways to use existing connections to boost sales without increasing costs. Finally, make all your selling activities work for a living: if they don’t pay for themselves, drop them.

Stick with It, But Be Ready to Change

Once your strategy has been in place for a while, check the numbers. Weekly planning sessions can help identify problems and opportunities for improvement. Make sure new salespeople learn how to create their own strategies and use their downtime for planning and paperwork.

If everything stays on track, continue with the plan. Otherwise, use the most recent information to make adjustments, then test those changes. Have someone keep track of progress and speak up if the strategy is being ignored. Dropping a sales strategy should be the result of a decision, not neglect.

Business is dynamic. Your sales strategy should be, too.

How I Closed One of My Biggest Deals at a Gas Station with my Miniature Greyhound

sales opportunity at gas station

Years ago, I had a prospect I just could not get in touch with. I’d tried everything, but couldn’t get a meeting with him.

One day, out of nowhere, I spotted him while walking my miniature greyhound, Sebastian. He was with his two little girls, and willing to do whatever it took to get the sale, I busted out the puppy trick. The perfect excuse to get front and center.

They were going in to a gas station, so I happened to reach the door just in time to “meet up” with them when they walked out. We struck up a conversation, the girls played with Sebastian for a few minutes, and I ended up doing business with that man for the next ten years.

So, what can you learn from this situation?

It’s not always about hunting people down in their offices or place of business. It’s about putting yourself in a situation where you can have encounters with a prospect – even outside of the office.

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Think outside the box. Here are a few creative ways to make a connection:

  • Find out where your prospects hang out. Do some online reconnaissance and find out their favorite hobbies, the sports’ teams they root for, or where they work out. Then, go there. Rubbing elbows with a prospect outside of the office is a great way to move a prospect through a long sales cycle and end up with a sale.
  • Get a drone. Okay, so you don’t actually have to buy a drone, but get creative about new opportunities. I often take my drone to the park and ask people if I can take their picture (everyone loves to see their picture from the sky!) You’d be shocked at how many people respond positively to the question and how many people come up to me on their own to strike up a conversation. I can find out a little bit about the person, get his email address to send the picture, and then follow up on any sales leads.
  • Say yes to everything. When you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to say no to any opportunity to get leads and get in front of prospects. You can’t be too cool to approach people on the street or fly your drone in the park. Keep an always-on-the-job training mentality and build an instant response method for identifying and connecting with leads. It becomes impulse to act on opportunities, instead of actively looking for them.

Take my word for it: Use anything and everything at your disposal, use creativity and ingenuity, and seize opportunities that come up all around you. You’ll quickly adopt a “sales” mentality and start collecting leads that can become customers.