The typical salesperson would never be confused with the
likes of Felix Unger, the neatnik roommate of the sloppy,
disorganized, sportswriter Oscar Madison. Yet good, solid organization skills and
personal discipline are critical to success in sales. This month's tip is less prosaic than usual; instead,
it's more directly instructive. Its
purpose is to get you to do some introspection, some self-analysis, to ensure
that you've got the basics covered before you race headstrong through the year
We've all heard the adage, if you fail to plan, plan to fail. Good advice - but are you following it? Let's find out.
To being, ask yourself: "Do I have a
territory plan?" A territory plan is to the salesperson what a business
plan is to the owner of a business. It specifies what your goals and objectives
are, how you're going to achieve them, what obstacles you anticipate encountering,
and a host of other considerations. Back
when I was a regional sales rep with Thomson Financial, our manager had us prepare a "business plan" at the start of each year. A
novel idea to me at the time - but I've been doing them ever since.
Do you know who your best prospects are? List 5 characteristic of what a best prospect
is for you. Then go down your list of
active prospects - those who've made it into your forecast pipeline, and those
you're working but which aren't quite there yet. How well do they match up with your
ideal? Are there any you should walk
Do you have a strategy for reaching your best prospects? Which will you call, and how will you
prioritize them? How will you reach
them? What obstacles do you anticipate
encountering, and how will you overcome them?
Are you optimizing your selling time? Studies have shown that a typical sales rep
spends less than 25% of his or her time in direct contact (face-to-face or on
the phone) with prospects or customers.
What the heck are we doing the other 75% of the time? Here's an exercise I want you to try: keep a
time log for one full day. Set an alarm
(most pda's have one) to go off every fifteen minutes. Quickly write down what
you did during those fifteen minutes. Then
reset the alarm and repeat the process the rest of the day. At the end of the business day [the hour
after which you know you can no longer reach anyone (hint, it's not 5:00PM)], review your log, adding up how much
total time you spent calling on prospects and customers. If it's 50% or less, look for tasks you did
that could either be eliminated, or done before or after prime calling
time. An improvement from 50% to just
60% translates into almost an extra hour a day.
How many more calls, and how many more appointments could you make in
that extra hour?
Do you know your ratios? How many calls you need to make to get the
number of appointments you need to deliver the number of proposals necessary to
close the amount of business which you're responsible for producing?
Do you have the discipline to make those calls?
Do you have and follow a sales process? A sales process
is a repeatable set of steps you execute during each engagement with a
prospect. It provides a means of
determining your progress throughout your engagements, and ensures that you
don't skip or forget critical steps that could derail your sale.
Do you have and consistently use a method for qualifying opportunities so as to ensure you're working with a healthy pipeline?
Do you have a way to quickly access notes and other
important information (such as commitments to prospects and customers)?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking
yourself if you want to be a more effective and productive salesperson.
Print out this month's tip.
Then take a moment at the end of this week - say, at 4:15 on Friday, when no one is taking
prospecting calls - and answer "yes", "no", or "not sure" for each
question. Revisit and highlight any
questions that you didn't answer, "yes".
Then think of - and write down - what you will do to turn them into
"yeses". Starting next Monday, begin
executing one, then another, of these items.
Before long, you'll find yourself operating like a well-oiled machine -
organized, in control, and more productive than you've ever been. Granted, you may not find yourself having
become Felix, but you sure will have left his pal Oscar in the dust (where he'll
no doubt feel right at home!).