It’s in the details
One of the great challenges of doing something for multiple times is the tendency to take shortcuts. I’ve been leading and coaching sales for years and doing a great deal of selling myself. When I fail is when I don’t stick to my processes. There are a few rules I must follow:
· Always prospect, even when you are busy executing
· Prepare for your meetings, even when you have met with the prospect/client multiple times
· Always ask for an appropriate commitment
· Be prepared to let the opportunity go, if the timing or solution you offer isn’t right for the prospect/client
Prospecting is difficult and I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking I have plenty of business, so it’s easy to forget to prospect. I build it into my calendar each week and I can’t move it on my calendar, once its in place. It may not always be me doing the prospecting, I may have someone on my team doing it, but it is always appropriate. Without opportunities for the future, your business dies.
Meeting preparation is critical. It includes doing research and preparing appropriate questions for the type of sales call. It includes determining what commitments you want at the end of the call. It also includes anticipating objections. Believing you can wing these types of things has two negative outcomes. Lengthening the sales cycle or losing the opportunity.
Building on the commitment idea. Preparing a primary commitment and a secondary commitment helps you move the opportunity forward in the pipeline. I once worked with a client team making sales calls and I’d ask each individual if they were good closers. They all assured me they were. Then I’d ask what commitment they were wanting to walk away from the meeting with. Most weren’t prepared and when we left the call, they didn’t earn a commitment. As we walked out of one 45-minute call, I asked the salesperson if he earned his commitment. He was embarrassed but walked back into the store and asked for his commitment and walked out with the information he had wanted. Preparation is important.
Finally, be prepared to let the opportunity go if it’s not the right time or the right solution. We all love to chase the big sale. However, if you work for a year and the opportunity is lost, you have wasted a lot of time that could have been better utilized. This is skill that needs to be learned through experience. Pay attention to your intuition and don’t get caught up in the excitement of what could be, as opposed to what you can close. I’ve been selling for years, and I still get caught up in the excitement. My way of dealing with this is to create a folder in my prospecting file and not creating a file for my prospects until I have an agreement. If I don’t see them committing to my primary commitments, I move them to trickle marketing and spend less time working on them.
I come from a family of sellers and sales leaders. We all hold each other accountable for hitting our numbers. The best scenario is to find an accountability partner that won’t allow shortcuts.