When you work in sales it is easy to be overwhelmed with daily events and tasks. The more clients and prospects that you know, the easier it is to be overloaded with issues and business matters every day. When you lose your focus you lose business. It is a simple fact that has a real impact on our profession.
In these days of smart phones and computers, the traditional written ‘to do list’ is still the most powerful way of tracking progress in sales and customer service. Whilst a computer based program can remind you to do something that seemed important a few days ago, it doesn’t help you get it done. That is the difference between a written ‘to do list’ and something that the computer gives you.
It is a known fact that the process of writing something out as a ‘list’ helps you deal with the order and priority of things. The brain functions in particular ways, and one of them is known as the ‘Reticular Activation Process’ or RAS as it is often referred to. The frontal cortex of the brain is thought to be the main area where RAS processes occur. It creates the order of things.
So let’s go back to the ‘sales profession’ where we are typically very busy most days. The main issue for most sales people is in being effective and getting results. The list writing process will help you. That doesn’t mean that you should do away with your smart phone or computer; it does mean that you can take the issues from your computer and write them into a day planner. From that point onwards you have a list to work with. It is remarkable just how effective you will feel as you tick off your items from your list every day.
In summary the great advantages in all of this are:
- Gives you focus
- Helps you take action
- Understand what really matters
- Allows you to compound your progress
Make tomorrow a great day in sales by starting a list of priority issues and targets. Win more business the right way. To your success in professional sales!
In any sales office the regular sales meeting can be a weekly frustration for many. To solve the problem it is wise to set some rules and practical processes.
Here are some of the most common problems with poorly planned sales meetings:
- No set agenda
- The team leader loses control and let’s emotion drive the facts discussed
- The person running the meeting is inexperienced in doing so
- The topic of the meeting gets off the key facts
- Lack of direction on topics and decisions
- People don’t want to contribute for a variety of reasons
- The process of tracking from the previous meeting is poor
- The meeting goes for far too long (most meetings should be over in 90 minutes maximum)
- The feedback from all of the team in the meeting is not accepted in a positive and business like way
- Lack of respect is shown by the team leader to the meeting process and the comments of others
- Issues are discussed in the meeting that should be raised individually and privately
So there are many things here that can be real problems and hurdles in a sales team meeting. For a sales team to be of the highest quality in performance and cooperation, the weekly team meeting should be carefully considered and structured.
Personally I like to see sales meetings over in one hour. If any other meetings are required on special issues then set them at other times. Most adults have an attention span of up to two hours, and in most cases the attention starts to lapse after one hour. If you want your sales team to cooperate and contribute in meetings, keep the meetings short, and to an agenda that is meaningful.
Every person coming to the meeting should have a copy of the agenda and they should bring the required information to discuss key issues. Lack of professionalism cannot be tolerated in a top performing team. Everyone must be accountable for contributing as agreed in the meeting.
In sales today, we can easily get bogged down in doing things that are of little value to our careers. We have to do these things because we have a client or a boss in the background pushing the issue. This type of work is called ‘reactive’ and it doesn’t disappear (unfortunately).
The key to a successful sales career is to balance your work between reactive and proactive work. If you can spend at least 1/3rd of your day on proactive things, you will generally see a growth of market share and opportunities.
It is worth noting that many salespeople never get out of the ‘reactive’ zone of work. They are constantly battling between the requirements of the market, clients, customer service, the boss, and the competition.
It takes some time to shift your work patterns from reactive to proactive. Set yourself a pattern of work that gradually moves you away from the things that are wasting your time. After about 4 weeks you should have achieved the result and momentum you are looking for. You owe it to yourself to make the business change. Soon your commissions or income will improve as a result of you proactively moving ahead with the right elements to your business.
In sales it is wise to remember the factors of ‘reciprocity’. The act of giving freely and willingly has great impact on attracting repeat business and return customers. Clients know when you go out of the way to help them with their situation.
Certainly ‘reciprocity’ will help build your profile, trust, and respect with the customer. Be prepared to do some things for ‘nothing’ understanding that the person you are helping will really value your interest and help.
Consider these questions:
- How long is it since you ‘called in’ to talk to that customer who purchased from you last year or some time ago? Go back through your database to find the people that you can help and support further.
- What could you do for your customers today that would be of value to them? Go and see your clients and customers. Get in front of them at every opportunity when ‘in the field’.
- When the last sale went through, what did you do to extend the value of the product or service? Could you have done more?
- What can you do with your clients today to show them that you really value their business and contact?
It is a fact that people like to do business with those that they trust and respect. It takes time to achieve that profile; certainly reciprocity will help greatly as part of that process.
Find the people that you can help and go out of your way to do so. Over time that will bring you more clients and lots of repeat business. Establish the relationships with the right people that you know are of value to your business and your income.
Have you ever seen a reactive salesperson? They are generally fairly well out of control most of the time, and doing lots of things at the beckon of clients and management. At the end of the day they go home on the dot of 5pm because they have ‘had enough’ of other people. Most of the things that they wanted to do in the day they would not have achieved.
So we all have choices as to how we structure a working day in ‘sales’ and who we respond to as part of ‘doing the business’. Perhaps we have to respond to clients and management, but we should have and retain some flexibility in doing so. To be a top salesperson, your career just has to be under control and each day at least 50% of the things that you do should be proactive towards growing your market or your income.
Here is an interesting exercise for you. On a piece of paper, write down the key things that will bring you new business or increase your market share. In most cases the list would look something like this:
- Researching new and current clients
- Touching base with customers
- Presentations and pitches
- Placing orders or contracts
Now that you have done the list, think about yesterday and the events of the day. How many things in your short list or priorities did you get done? If you are like most salespeople, you will have got to less than 50% of the items on your list.
Perhaps we make our days and working weeks overly complicated, but the fact of the matter is that we are really in control and from that point we can make our ‘sales day’ quite proactive and productive.
When a salesperson tells me that they are getting nothing done or are losing market share, I usually say to them that the solution ‘lies within’. They are the problem and the solution in one. They have the key to resolving the challenges.
Every month I recommend that every sales person in a business team takes a serious look at their successes over the last month and where they are headed. If they truly want to be ‘proactive’ they can plan their way forward for even greater results in income and customer connections. They just need to commit.
So the message here is ‘don’t work harder, work smarter’.
When it comes to working in sales, albeit in any industry, it is essential that you have a solid and reliable prospecting model established at a personal level. That will be something that works for you and you can commit to every working day.
The reason why prospecting and networking has to occur every day is simply that consistency builds results. Lack of call and contact consistency tends to ‘reset the numbers’ and you lose ground on all the efforts and things that you may already have done.
Here are some top tips to help you get your system up and running:
- One of the most important parts of prospecting and networking is to create a habit in your business diary. A regular habit of prospecting and networking will take you forward in the marketplace. That being said, it takes quite some time to modify your business skills and habits. That can be some weeks of deliberate prospecting effort of before you accept the requirement to do the job in that way.
- Focus on just a few prospecting activities but make them quite effective and consistent. I go back to the point that consistency will be critical to the results that you achieve. Like it or not, the cold calling process will be part of your prospecting model. Reach out to new people every day through fresh telephone calls, direct letters, and door knocking. Use your business card as an affective and timeless business tool.
- The prospecting process is not a sales pitch. It is a communication between two people to establish common ground and potential interest. When the client or prospect appreciates your knowledge and skills, the chances of new business escalate. It is just a matter of maintaining contact over time and waiting for the right opportunities to arise.
- Every prospecting call should be focused on the opportunity of a meeting. Meetings build relationships, and relationships lead to potential transactions, agreements, and contracts.
- Provide valuable market information and resource updates to your clients and prospects. At every opportunity and certainly on a regular basis send out product and service updates. Follow-up that information with a telephone call or meeting. Most of the business you create will be through a personal relationship built over the long term with the right people.
- 6. Practice your dialogue for presentations and prospecting. At every opportunity refine the words that you use and the phrases that relate to your product or service. Regular practice will help you with your conversions in prospecting.
It is not difficult to rise the top of any industry as a top salesperson. It is simply a matter of determining the right processes to support your actions and activities. From that point onwards, you repeat the process is every day and consistently grow your client or prospect database.
A clear advantage here is that most salespeople do not have the commitment to do the work required in prospecting and networking. That leaves the marketplace wide open for those quality salespeople that can get their industry and focus under control.