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Sales Solutions
Are You Oscar - or Felix? vol 6, issue #2
February, 2009

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 2009.

 

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 away from?

How

 

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 ratiosHow 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.

 

 

ACTION ITEM

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!).


Good Selling!


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