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!
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’.
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.
Working in a professional sales position, you will find many pressures occurring on a daily basis. Sometimes it is tempting to take the ‘easy’ way out when it comes to issues and tasks. It is not unusual for most sales people to take the ‘road of less difficulty’. Unfortunately this does not always bring in the best results in new business and income.
When you look at your career, your industry, and the competition, it will be very obvious what needs to be done if you are to rise to the top of your market. Are you doing all of those things now? Could you do more of them? What would happen if you started working on those difficult things that you have been putting off for so long?
Here is a list of the common ‘matters of avoidance’ for most salespeople:
- Contacting clients in an ongoing way
- Paperwork and reports
- Key performance indicators
- Database entries
- Following up on business and transactions
Just about all of these things will have a big impact on the business activities of the average salesperson. Some of these things will be more important than others.
The rules here are quite simple:
- Look at the list and decide what you could improve on.
- Get the knowledge that you need to build your skills that may require more work.
- Start practicing your skills.
- Take action to a plan.
It is not easy being a salesperson in any industry. You must rise to the market and the pressures of the day with a great attitude and a momentum to take your business and market share forward. Developing a plan for the process is a good thing, however the start of any day should feature the things that are hard and that you have been putting off. Get the ‘hard stuff’ done first and the business will start to move ahead.
When it comes to sales team effectiveness and your results, your time is the most important resource that you have available. It sounds so simple and yet so many salespeople waste time. In an average group of 10 salespeople, only a few would have time optimised for the tasks at hand. It is common to see 50% of the working day being wasted.
If your salary or your commission is based on performance and outcomes, you simply cannot avoid the time management rules and controls. Everything that you do every day should be well considered.
Here are some rules to help you get your business and your activities under control:
- Set some goals for yourself. In this way you will know where you are headed and why. Make sure those goals are based on specific outcomes and time. Each week you can track your processes and adjust where necessary.
- Identify the 3 things that are critical to your business growth. Those things should be done every day to allow you to improve your market share and client outcomes.
- Control your telephone both in the office and on mobile. When people ring you they put other tasks and focus into your day. Preserve a period of 3 hours each day where you get key things done. During that time the message bank on your telephone can take messages.
- Tidy up your desk, car, and briefcase. Nothing is more off-putting than a desk area that is out of control. If you see the clutter you will feel that you are getting nowhere fast.
- Use a written diary to control your time in manageable chunks. Work in chunks of 2 hours. In this way you will get 4 or 5 things done each day.
- Use a system to get the basics and everyday things under control. This will normally be a computer and a database. Record the important things and get back to them later.
- Set priorities in your business and for you personally. Some things are more important than others and you are the best person to know what the priorities are.
- Audit your use of time so you can identify the weaknesses and remove them.
- Do the hard and difficult things done each day first up. In this way those issues are likely to be done. It is a known fact that most business people put the hard things off and wait until the very last minute to do the job.
- Exercise each day to give yourself some personal time. This will help you feel less stressed and remove some pressure from your life.
We tend to forget that we are the ones that are in control. Seek to get yourself under control and optimise your business outcomes. These rules will help you do that.
In business today a salesperson just has to be effective. That includes a number of things such as getting to your clients and current sales or orders every day, building market share, and finding new business. Time therefore becomes a precious factor in the average working day for a salesperson.
Here is an observation for you.
‘Your day will fill itself up with things for you to do’.
It is a known fact that many things will happen each day that you do not expect. Your day will therefore become complex and demanding. As salespeople we have to build our day to some system. In only this way will you get some results on the things that really matter.
On average, at least 33% of your working day should be controlled to the point that nothing will take over and interfere with that segment of the day. You can then do the key things every day that are essential for you to grow your business. In most cases with salespeople, that will be the key task of prospecting.
When you have done all your prospecting for the day, you can talk to other people and do other things that are important but not essential to your income and market share. Don’t let life’s pressures take over your day entirely. If you can control some of your day with essential activities you will feel that you are starting to get somewhere.
When you feel that you are in ‘control’ the business around you, your efforts will be easier to direct and results are easier to achieve. ‘Out of control’ salespeople are a waste of time for the business and themselves. Develop your system of control and exercise it every day.