One of the biggest challenges in business and in sales is in breaking old habits. If we cannot change old habits then we are trapped in the past and nothing will change for us as sales professionals. Every year the market, the competition, and the customers we work with will change circumstances and buying patterns. For this very reason, we need to change as salespeople, or improve on our daily efforts. Redundancy is not far away for those that cannot change their business habits.So why is it so hard to change old habits? It is quite simple to understand; we have had years of preparation and routine to set habits in place, so when you find that you are in a new market or challenging business situation, the change that you need to implement to adjust your focus is so hard to pull-off. Most salespeople can’t do it or lose focus quickly and return to their old ways.
This factor of reality can be a good and a bad thing, and here is why:
- It is good because most of your competitors will find it equally hard and time consuming to change their business plans and habits.
- It is bad because the effort and focus required by individuals to change their habits and approach business differently can be a difficult task for most.
A process of constant improvement and mindset to support it will usually take you to the top of your market. It all comes back to our ability to change in the right way and produce the results that the industry and market requires.
Given all of this, here are some tips to help you create change in your business and build some real momentum on a daily basis:
- Define what the market or your business needs now by way of change, and determine the habits that are required to deal with that.
- A small number of habits are easier to implement than a great number at once.
- Pick three new habits from your list of required changes, ensuring that those three habits are the most important in your list.
- Organise your day around the three habits. Without fail these three things have to be done regardless of anything else. At the start of every business day, the three habits should be implemented before anything else is attempted.
- Keep telephone calls and clients away from you at the start of the day so you can get these major and important issues underway.
- Track your progress when it comes to these things. When you track numbers and ratios, you can see when progress is starting and how valuable it is for you.
- It takes about 3 weeks to implement the required changes of habits for most salespeople.
Top salespeople in any industry know the value of action and focus. In reality, habits are precisely that; decide what will take you forward and start taking the required action. In a few weeks you will be seeing the results that you need.
In business and in life many people struggle with the targets and goals that they must achieve. All too often the path to progress gets clouded and confused. When it comes to sales, the same process and observation applies.
When you want to go on a holiday, what do you do? You set your targets, you plan, and then you figure out the steps that are required to get you there. Every week or month you do more things to push the holiday closer to you. In 12 months or so you will have achieved the holiday of a lifetime.
Most salespeople stay in the average zone of achievement. They will have some good months and some not so good months. Only the very best people rise to the top of their market, and they do so because they know what has to be done and they create a system to do it each and every day. They work from a base of achievement.
Some of the biggest problems you hear some ordinary salespeople refer to are any or all of the following:
- Not enough time
- Incorrect resources
- No support from management
- Need to go home early
- It’s 5:00pm and the clients are not in their office
- The market has changed
- It’s time for a holiday
- The client is away for a few weeks
- Nothing happens at Christmas time
- I left a message and they did not get back to me
So these are all ‘excuses’, and top salespeople know that the results that they need come from one source; that is themselves. They systemise themselves and they take daily action to get the result that they need. If they have any shortcomings in skills, they practice until they remove the problem.
If you work in a sales related job, and your salary depends on your success in client connection and orders, you would be best advised to look at your systems and your actions that you do every day. Would you say that most days are effective and positive as to results?
If the answer is not clear, don’t worry; you are not alone. Do however take a step back and closely review exactly what you do each day that is high priority business. If 40% of your day is not business generating then you need to modify you actions and focus.
It takes about 3 weeks of deliberate effort to change your focus and develop new habits, but soon you will be on the road to new and better outcomes.
In sales and business today, the salesperson that masters the cold calling process will build market share and customer relationships faster than others in any business team.
That being said, it is remarkable how few salespeople consistently make calls every day. Most salespeople choose to avoid the cold telephone call. They give the issue a name of ‘call reluctance’. It is a real problem in business.
Let’s say that your business success is really important to you personally. Perhaps it impacts your pay packet or commission. On that basis you should have some clear goals and targets set so you can ‘win’ when it comes to making the calls and building your business.
Here are some rules to help you with making and converting cold calls to opportunities.
- Set a time to make calls and a different time to have meetings. They are two different things that should not be allowed to interfere with each other.
- The call contact process should be made to people that you have researched the day before. In that way you will keep up the momentum in your calls.
- Understand who the right people are and the best times that they should be contacted. Some executives are best contacted early or late in the working day. The rule here is to start calling early and finish your day with calls.
- If you strike any gatekeepers or receptionists that are restricting your access to the decision maker or the target person for your call, show them total respect as you converse. They have a job to do and allow them to do that. If you strike some resistance with them, devise another mode of contact that will reach the decision maker a different way; a targeted letter is the best way to do this.
- If the ‘Do not call register’ is a factor that exists in your location, then research the register and call the people that are correct to call. Do not make the mistake of calling without the right research.
Today you can drive better market share and significant client contact from a call contact program. Make it an essential part of your working day.
Every business should have a solid and defined system when it comes to finding new clients and converting them to customers over time. I like to split the system up into just 3 stages of;
- Follow up
At the end of each week you can do your numbers analysis of each of these pipeline phases. In that way you will know that you are moving forward. As a business or as a salesperson, you have to be moving somewhere positive over time. It takes about 3 months of prospecting to build positive momentum and new market share. It takes the same amount of time for a business to slide backwards in their market.
Great salespeople prospect continually so the 3 months factor never seems to be a problem; the good salespeople just keep driving more market share.
Ultimately the follow-up phase will be the precursor to an order or a sale. This ratio of sales success will change from salesperson so salesperson and will largely be established on experience and relevance of each salesperson to the client.
Most clients will base their decision on the value of the deal and the quality of the product over the experience of the salesperson, but the experience of a salesperson will greatly impact the factors of repeat business. If you want repeat or referral business then the quality of your sales team will have a lot to do with the results that you get.
Here are some tips for new salespeople in any industry:
- Make prospecting your lifeblood so that it features in your diary every day for at least 2 hours.
- The best time to prospect is first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you.
- Focus on making calls to new people for at least 50% of your prospecting time. In this way you will grow your client base.
- Spend more time in face to face meetings each day. The office paperwork can wait to the end of the day.
- Clients like to trust the people that they do business with. Would your prospects regard you as ‘trustworthy’?
In any business at any point in time, there will always be challenges that will arise. If you can be a ‘solutions based salesperson’ you will find that the deals are easier to find and close. Most clients like to work with experts that can relieve the pain of any decision. When you negotiate or close on a deal with a client, provide facts and figures that support their agreement and order to be placed. Top salespeople do that all the time.
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