Today there are many priorities and client issues for a professional salesperson to balance. There are limits to how much work can be done in one day by one person. The important issue to understand here is that time waits for no one. In the selling profession, time use and time management are valuable resources to work with.
Forget about working long hours; focus on working effectively and directly in just 5 hours. Elevate the quality of business that you create and implement in this time.
If you are struggling with getting results in your market or your industry, it is likely to be the case that you are not using your time very well. Here are some tips to help with that:
- Time is valuable – In any 8 hour working day, only 5 of those hours will be very effective. That fact is largely due to competing people, clients, personal performance, and issues that arise that cannot be controlled. Expect to be interrupted but control your response. Make 5 hours of your day highly effective. Do the things that really matter in those 5 hours.
- Control your diary – Don’t let others book you in for appointments. If you are a professional salesperson, make your workload decisions and diary entries yourself based on priorities and people. If the issue or person is not important, then don’t put it in the diary; delegate unnecessary issues.
- Take notes – From every meeting and conversation take notes in a suitable book that can be referred to later when time is less intense. In that way you are not letting immediate things overtake your work priorities. Carry your notebook with you for this purpose. Change your notebook at the end of each month so you have a reliable reference system that you can look back on if important issues arise.
- Circadian Cycle – It is a known fact that the beginning of the day is far more effective for most people when it comes to getting things done. The observation is known as the ‘circadian cycle’. Manage your diary so that the most important things are done in the morning; they should be the things that can bring you the best results.
- Pareto Principle – Most people know that this is the 80/20 rule. It is an observation from the times of Vilfredo Pareto (an Italian Economist from the late 1800’s). He determined that 20% of actions will bring 80% of results. This then says that we should all take the time to focus on important issues for at least 20% of the day. In business and professional selling that is a good rule to have.
- Technology – With the advances of technology there are many tools to help us stay organised and communicate with others. Effectively these technology tools can save us a lot of time. The tools can also help us to remain in contact whilst out of the office. There is no real reason for a salesperson to sit in the office waiting for the telephone to ring; professional salespeople should be out of the office and in the market talking to clients and prospects.
Simple rules like these help us stay on track in professional sales today. Are you up to the challenge?
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.
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.
In the profession of selling it is wise to remember that the customers and prospects that we work with essentially do business with people they know, respect and trust. It is the personal connections that you establish and the marketplace that will help you win the sales and the deals.
Make it a priority to establish valuable relationships with quality clients and key businesses. The strength and the integrity of the relationships will underpin your market share over time. Some of those relationships can extend for months if not years before a transaction will occur. You will need to be quite selective when it comes to the right clients and the right prospects to work with. Understand the best clients to work with and help them do business with you in a relevant way.
Here are some tips to help you build that foundation of client connection and trust. You can add to the list based on your business type and location.
- Your business card is likely to be the most effective marketing tool that you have. The stock paper that you use should be quite solid and not flimsy. A solid business card gives the perception of strength and relevance. On the front of the business card, have all of the relevant contact information, e-mail address, and website contact. On the back of the business card, have some dot points that relate to your business speciality and professional services. Be quite specific so that the client can retain the card as a quality contact. The size of the business card should be on the larger size of ‘average’. That being said, it should not be too large to be inconvenient to be handled or retained. The colours of the business card will be relevant to your business branding but also to your market. If you work with certain communities and different nationalities, be aware of the perceptions of colour. Choose the colours that work with your business and with the prospect or client communities.
- Most salespeople today will have some form of electronic or e-mail newsletter. The process can be integrated to your website, and your database. A newsletter should be sent fortnightly or monthly to your database. It should contain relevant articles, news clippings, and links to product or service information. You can use an auto responder process to streamline and simplify the dispatch of a newsletter.
- Segment your clients and prospects into valuable categories. Create a VIP club of special clients that should be serviced in a particular way. They will receive a greater percentage of your attention and service. Those clients should have the ability to give you repeat and referral business over time. They should also have the potential for frequent ongoing valuable business at the higher end of the scale.
- Establish a call contact program where you can be prospecting for new clients and contacting established clients each day. Devote approximately 3 hours to the call contact strategy. Half of that time should be devoted to those clients that you already know, and the other half of that time should be devoted to new people that you want to connect with. In that way your pipeline of opportunity will grow. The best time to make the calls will usually be the mornings. That leaves the afternoons for important meetings and contracts or negotiations.
From these points, it is easy to see that the client should be at the centre of your business model. Remaining in contact in a relevant way will help you build market share over time. People like to do business with people. That business secret will never change. Establish the required levels of trust and commitment to the prospects and clients that you know.
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In professional selling in any industry you will meet many salespeople that have a drive and a passion for what they do. Those salespeople will form the top 10% of the market. The fact of the matter is that the most successful usually have a ‘lust for growth’. That is a growth in clients, sales, opportunities and market share. They strive to build things and improve their performance in many different ways. They can see the road ahead.
So how does one get this magic elixir as a salesperson? It’s a ‘mindset’ that when nurtured helps actions and results evolve.
If you want to dominate your market and your industry you must start with the ‘internal’ stuff first. Over time your focus and your efforts must improve and that is a personal thing. Breaking old habits and setting new ones can be a real challenge; many salespeople fall back into the ‘comfort zone’ and struggle with the change.
Here are some tips to help you effect change and growth:
- Understand that there will always be opportunity around you. It is just a matter of digging to find it.
- Build your working day to a system and a plan of action. Regular steps and action can take you forward.
- Establish clear goals that have real meaning for you and where you must go.
- Track your progress every step of the way.
- Look for mentors and highly experienced people that have achieved what you are looking to do. Success always leaves clues.
Growth is a good thing. Champions of any industry have a real lust for growth. You can too. Drive your sales career with a real lust for growth of market share and income.
In professional selling I see so many salespeople that are struggling or at best are just in the ‘average’ zone. The problem evolves from one single fact. They are ‘reactive’ and not ‘proactive’. I call it being on the ‘back foot’.
To get anywhere in sales and customer contact you really do need to have a process of being on the ‘front foot’. In other words you are taking the right action and you do so in a controlled way. You are moving ahead under control.
So what issues can this have an impact on? Try some of these:
- Client contact programs
- Key account management
- Sales or order follow up
- Referral business or leads
- Database contact
Any of these things offer the opportunity for you to be proactive and in a position of taking action. That’s how you win new business and grow your market share.
All of this being said the ‘front foot’ process involves a sales person planning what they want to do and action. It is a deliberate process of moving ahead.
Let’s take prospecting as an example. Here are some stages to taking the right action:
- Researching the new people to call and contact
- Establishing the best time to make your prospecting calls
- Getting out into your market to door knock the local businesses that may need your services
- Tracking the responses from your prospecting processes in a database
- Making return calls to people on a regular basis
- Creating meaningful content to provide to your clients and prospects
It is easy to see why some people are more successful than others. It’s a choice. Put your front foot forward and take the first step.