I will be the first to admit that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions…I set goals instead. However, I thought it was an appropriate topic for the year’s first newsletter. Here are 11 resolutions that will help you make 2014 your best year ever regardless of how long you have been selling.
I resolve to…
Make prospecting a priority
Prospecting is the least enjoyable task in sales; however, it is the most critical activity you can engage in if you want to avoid peaks and valleys in your results.
Devote a specific amount of time to look for new sales opportunities. It is easy to get sidetracked and distracted by more enjoyable tasks but if you dedicate consistent time to prospecting every day and week, your sales will consistently grow.
Use a variety of approaches
Don’t get lazy and rely solely on one or two prospecting methods to generate to new opportunities.
A sales person I once coached hated making cold calls so she relied strictly on networking to find to new sources of business. I don’t care who you are, very few people can generate enough new opportunities through networking alone.
Unless you rely solely on cold calling because your prospects are geographically dispersed, you should use as many different approaches as possible. This can include cold calling (telephone, face-to-face), networking, attending conferences and trade shows, asking for referrals, etc.
Many sales people attend networking events that have little chance of providing a return simply because their target market does not attend those same events.
Improve your results by figuring out what type of events your top prospects attend (trade shows, conferences, product launches, etc.) and you will dramatically improve your results.
Research before calling prospects
A lot has been written about the merits of researching prospects before contacting them and I agree with this concept…to a point. Unfortunately, some sales people spend an inordinate amount of time doing this research. They use it as an excuse NOT to contact prospects.
The key is to do just enough research to get some insight into your prospect’s business so you can effectively position your product, service or solution.
Develop a new and powerful opening
As soon as a decision maker picks up the telephone and they realize that the person on the other end of the line is a sales person or wants to sell them something their immediate thought (conscious or subconscious) is, “How do I end this call?”
The vast majority of sales people suck when they first initiate a call with a prospect. They fail to create a compelling opening and as a result miss the opportunity to connect with their prospect and keep the call alive and going.
In today’s competitive and hectic business world, you need to have an opening that stands out from your competition and that captures the attention of an ultra-busy prospect. Skip the stuff about your company and the typical benefit statement.
Get right to the point and reason for your call. Show that you have done some homework and that the research you did is relevant.
Launching into a canned, rehearsed sales pitch or presentation is one of the least effective ways to convince a prospect to buy but it is still one of the most widely used tactics.
Avoid this and create a highly tailor presentation that addresses each prospect’s key concerns, issues or problems they want to resolve. When you take this approach you will notice a significant difference in how your prospects respond.
Develop and ask thought-provoking questions
I have long-believed that the key to successful selling is to learn how to ask great questions. Weak and feeble questions that every other sales person from every other company asks, will not help you stand out from your competition.
Instead, develop tough, deep questions that make your prospects sit up and think and take notice. If you ever hear someone say, “That’s a good question” use it again with other prospects.
Prepare before every sales call, meeting or presentation
Unfortunately, too many sales people still wing it during important sales calls and presentations.
The type of amount of preparation will vary depending on the type of call as well as its value or importance. The more valuable a sales opportunity is, the more critical it is to invest time preparing. Some of the things you should consider preparing include;
- A list of questions you want to ask your prospect
- How your solution addresses the most important issue for your prospect
- The most relevant points you want to discuss
- Anticipate potential questions and objections and plan your responses
- How will you adapt to the other person’s style and approach
The list could go on but I think you get the idea. I am not a planner by nature (it used to drive my mother crazy!) but I have learned how important it is to properly prepare before a sales call or presentation.
Create a powerful and effective proposal or presentation
The most effective sales presentations and proposals focus on the prospect’s situation. They avoid lengthy commentary on the sellers company. They are short and to the point. They do not contain marketing hyperbole or corporate-speak. Most importantly, they clearly answer the “What’s in it for me?” question every prospect has running through their head.
Be diligent and thorough in following through
I’m surprised how frequently sales people drop the ball after initial contact. I recently had a sales person forget our scheduled appointment and another one neglected to send me the information she had promised.
I recognize that we’re all busy but with the technology we have at our disposal, there is no reason NOT to follow through on commitments you make. Remember, prospects will notice if you fail to deliver during the courting stage of a sale and will not hesitate to use a competitor if you fail to follow through as promised.
Know when to fold ‘em
Far too many sales people waste time chasing sales opportunities that have little chance of turning into an actual sale. They make call after call, deal with false objections or people who have no interest in moving the deal forward.
You have a limited amount of time in any given day, week or month so it is essential that you invest that time working on opportunities that might actually turn into a sale. In the words of Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold em, know when to fold em.”
Resolve to incorporate these concepts into your sales activity/routine and make 2014 your best year ever!