In professional selling, the day that you have before you is the most important. With the 12 hours you have ahead of you, every minute should be optimised for the actions that will bring you the best results.
Top salespeople do not waste a minute, an hour or a day. They work to a plan and understand what should happen to help them build market share and sales opportunities. They then start the process and they control it to the very end. Yes, I know that some things will always happen that will upset the process and some of the actions that were planned, but most of the time the top salesperson got the right things done as part of their day plan; they knew that they were in control and they did not give that control to anyone else.
If you are a professional salesperson, the same rules should apply to you. Here are some questions and concepts to consider:
- How will you focus your energy all day to get the job done at a high level?
- What do you need to practice that will have great benefit on the results?
- What barriers will you strike and how will you handle them?
- How will you stay focused and ‘cool’ under pressure?
- What thoughts and actions will help you rise to the challenge?
- What are your goals to focus on and how are you doing that?
Have you ever noticed how top golfers approach their game? They practice for hours before the game, and then they approach the game with a sequence of focus. Every shot that they take is a planned event. They size up the shot, stand behind the ball and visualise the ‘drive’ and the ‘direction’. They are prepared for performance.
The same logic applies to professional salespeople. Here are some tips to help you:
- Plan the events of the day.
- Start every day with focus and practice before you get to your office or sales territory.
- Understand the key issues that will take you to the top of the ‘sales’ game.
- Every telephone call, meeting, proposal, presentation, and negotiation should be well crafted.
It is surprising just how many salespeople do not focus and practice their skills. That is an amazing opportunity for those that are prepared to do so.
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.
When you work in professional sales, you must have a marketing packet that is of the highest quality. It must support you in every way possible given your market conditions, competition, product, and service. You should know what’s in it and how to put your fingers on the right bit of information relative to the active connection with the client or prospect that you are making.
Some salespeople do this quite well, whilst others do not. A client will view the condition and relevance of your presentational materials before they will listen to the story that you have to tell.
So what can or should you put in your presentation packet? Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Ensure that the packet or folder is very professional in appearance. That will mean a black folder with all relevant information placed inside. It should be clean and not damaged through any ‘over use’.
- Include ‘visual’ charts and graphs to help your clients understand the trends and changes in your industry.
- Have colour brochures relating to your products and services.
- Carry plenty of business cards ready to use
- Company information and testimonials
- Photographs of samples, and other client situations
- Price lists plus order or agreement forms
- A history of successful situations and stories from other clients that can be referred to
- Letter of introduction will be useful to leave with the client or prospect
- Statement of benefits available when using your products or services
- Press clippings relative to your industry and market share
The keys to winning new business include professional tools like these. Preparation is the rule here. Let the client or prospect see that you are professionally competent and skilled in the right way to help them. Beyond that point everything comes down to what you say and the confidence you convey.
In any sales profession today the resources and tools that we take to a meeting, presentation or a sales pitch are quite simple. It is up to us to use them to the best of a situation. We are judged on all of the following:
- How we appear
- How we sound
- What we say
- The relevance of what we can offer
- Our knowledge
- Our experience
- Our reputation
When you enter a client’s office or work environment you are judged in a ‘visual’ way; it takes about 20 seconds for the client to do this. If you do not ‘pass the visual test’ any further connection with the client will be a lot harder. On this basis you have to look and act the part. The client will have their own ‘visual standards’ that they set for any salesperson that they work with; on that basis your appearance has to be of a ‘generically’ high standard for your industry. You really do not know what the client expects of you ‘visually’. In the first instance they need to see you as a ‘professional’ and that is before you say anything!
So let’s presume you can get over the ‘visual’ challenge and pass that test (most people can). To take matters further your voice and words should be practiced and refined for your products and service. I know a lot of salespeople do not like ‘role playing’ but the process is of high value when it comes to verbal confidence and negotiation. You can safely ‘role play’ within your team and with your business partners. You can merge the challenges of the market currently into your practice sessions.
Another thing you can do personally to boost your voice and word confidence for any sales presentation or meeting is to read a book aloud each morning when you first arise. Do so for 20 minutes or so; the process helps you develop greater confidence with words and gives you verbal ‘flexibility’. This system also helps greatly with your cold call prospecting that may be part of your sales process.
If you want to rise up the ranks of your industry and towards the status of a ‘top salesperson’, focus on your verbal confidence in this way. Some of the greatest orators and speakers of the world are very impressive and they make people listen; watch what they say and how they do it. Learn some of their skills and develop ‘voice confidence’.
Practice your voice and your conversational ability for your sales profession. I go back to the point that the easiest way to do that is in reading a book aloud each morning; it helps ‘program’ the mind and brain for conversational advantage.
When you work as a professional salesperson, your time is your most valuable resource. How you spend your time will impact on your income.
It is a fact that the the greater your success in sales, the greater the pressure will be on your daily activities. For this reason you do need a plan of control.
Here are some tips to help you with managing your business activity and your sales opportunity.
- Each weekend, review the activities of the last week to identify the current opportunities moving forward. They will need to be carried into the next week with the correct amount of focus and commitment.
- Plan the week ahead so that at least 1/3 of each working day is under some form of personal control. In that time frame, you can do the things that are most important and that will have impact on your growth of market share and client connection. When you believe you are under some control, you make better decisions and take the action. That is why at least 1/3 of the working day is so important to your momentum.
- From the previous point, the other 2/3 rds of the working day can be set aside for those reactive issues and pressures that arise each day. Clients, fellow staff members, and managers will impose on your time so move them into the remaining 2/3 rds of the working day.
- Spend 15 minutes at the beginning of the day planning the activities that you need to get to. Write them into a written diary as a process of organisation. Prioritise the main and important issues that must be done on that day. This has been proven to be highly effective as an organisational tool in business. The success of the process has a lot to do with how the human brain deals with pressures and time.
- Allow for some slack time in the day where you can relax and regroup. The best time to do this is around the middle of the day as part of your lunch break.
- The circadian cycle is part of the biological clock of human performance. It shows that you have two peaks of effectiveness during the day. The first peak is between the hours of 7.00 AM and 11 am. The second peak is usually between 2.00 PM and 6.00 PM. Use these windows of time to do the most important things in your business day.
- When you get involved in a complex and time consuming issue, it takes about 20 minutes to get deeply into the task and committed to the process. Keep people away from you so that this 20 minute momentum is not broken and reset. After the initial 20 minutes, you are good for the next 2 hours of focus and dedication to the task.
- As you achieve things during the day, cross them off the list in your diary. This single process gives you the feeling of momentum and completion. At the end of the day you will have a number of things that have been crossed off the list. This is a success process and valuable to the mind as you struggle with work pressures.
Don’t equate being busy with being efficient. They are totally different things. In professional selling, efficiency is far more important than anything else. Don’t attempt to do more than you are capable of in the time frames available. Recognise the time has to be used wisely.
In business and in sales today, things change on a regular basis and you need to see that change. For this reason you need a personal business plan and a process to keep you on track. High performing salespeople develop a plan that keeps moving them forward.
Here are some tips to help you develop your business model and plan.
- Once every quarter, it pays to review your market for changes and pressures. Look at the opportunities of change that can provide you with more clients or sales. Compare each quarter to that of the previous quarter. Look for the trends over time. Pay particular attention to the seasonal sales activity and patterns in your town or city. Generally most salespeople have a window of 10 months each year as a core selling period. That is the time frame where you really need to work hard and with focus. That is where your plan will be most important.
- Your product or service will require knowledge, skills, and market updates. That should be an ongoing process of tracking and improvement. The clients that we serve like to see confidence and relevance when we do our sales pitch or presentation.
- Considering the current market and your services, ask yourself the following question. Why do people need you? The best answer to this question will be your unique selling point. The answer that you give needs to be quite specific and all of your marketing efforts should be centered on those facts.
- Determine where you are right now when it comes to market share, clients, sales, and income. All of these things should be part of your business plan and improvement model. Targets should be set when it comes to each of these categories. The target should be realistic and yet also optimistic. Set the rules so that you know exactly where you are headed with your sales targets this year.
- The targets that you set should be established on a timeline given your core 10 months of market activity. If you are starting your selling career in a new area or business, you will need to stagger the growth of sales over the 10 month period. The first three months of the period are likely to be devoted to the establishment of market share.
- From all of the above items, you should be setting your action plan in motion. That action plan will require resources to support the systems that you create. A database will be part of that process. The client connections that you make should be tracked in the database so that ongoing customer relationships can be built. In many respects, the success of a salesperson is largely based on trust.
- On a final note, always track your progress on a weekly basis. In this way you will quickly know when things are improving or slowing down. Your plans and actions can then be easily adjusted. Pay particular attention to your prospecting processes, conversions to meetings, meetings to sales, and customer service. Providing everything moves well, you should have the opportunity for ongoing referral business and repeat client activity.
The results that you get as a professional salesperson are largely driven by your mindset and your actions. Protect and support both of these processes with the right attitude and consistency. Over time you can build your market share and income.