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.
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 you work in sales and it is a major part of your career, you should be very serious about prospecting. It really does not matter how long you have been in the industry or in your career, the prospecting process should not stop.
Here are some rules to help you understand this important priority:
- If you have been in your career for some time and you have an established market share, then you should be prospecting for 2 or 3 hours per day. Half of that time should be devoted to existing contacts whilst the other half should be devoted to new contacts. Do not overlook the requirement to find new people to talk to.
- If you are new to your career and have few contacts of any type, then your prospecting time should take up at least half of your day and in that case over 4 hours. The research required to make that work should occur outside of those hours. Use your prospecting time to make calls and meet new people.
- Make at least 40 to 50 outbound calls per day. You will need a tracking system and database to help you there. Monitor your calls to meeting conversions. Also track your meeting to new business conversions.
- The way to get your ‘head’ into the process of productive prospecting is to understand that you are a ‘specialist’ in your field and that you are calling to see if the person has a need or an interest.
- Understand the best segments of your market and the best clients to keep in contact with. Maximise your efforts in the productive areas and segments of your market.
- If you are new to prospecting, you may require a script to help you get started. After 3 or 4 weeks the process becomes more natural and you will not need scripts to keep you on track and professional in your call connection.
To make all of this work, you will need a good time management process that allows you to do the right things at the right time. Prospecting and cold calling should become a regular daily event in your diary. It has to become a habit.
As a professional salesperson today, you have the opportunity to be proactive or reactive when it comes to your marketplace and the tasks of the day. The choices that you make will have a major impact in the levels of business that you create.
Top salespeople in any industry are highly proactive and like to retain control of the things that matter in their business. Normally those things will include:
- Selective prospecting
- Client contact systems
- Contracts or orders
- Referral business
All of these things are important when it comes to growing market share and strengthening the personal profile you require as a top salesperson. If any of these five things are neglected, the results that you achieve are likely to be lessened.
So the key issue here is for you to be proactive in all the things that you do. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Use your time well and control it through an effective diary system. Don’t let other people make appointments for you. Their priorities will be different than yours.
- Understand the three or four things that are critical to the success of your business day. Ensure that those issues are merged into your diary activities every day. Get those things done before you attempt anything else. Remember the proactive approach will bring you better results.
- Place some priorities in contacting key clients on a regular basis. Those key clients or key accounts will be responsible for 80% of your business income. Strengthen the relationships of every possible opportunity.
- Understand the seasons of prospecting and sales. In your industry there will be times of the year where sales or more frequent and customers are more receptive to placing orders and signing contracts. Optimise your prospecting activities for those times of the year.
- Your existing high quality clients will be opportunities for future new business and referral leads. Ask the right questions at the right time.
- Help your clients succeed within their business and with their business requirements. In that way you will be bringing a level of value to your clients that will be hard to refuse.
- Always be networking when any spare time is available.
It is not hard to be successful in any industry when you understand that true success is built from proactive and not reactive base of control.