“If selling was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
That phrase makes sense, right? It resonates for 2 clear reasons.
1) The rewards are high! There is an incredible potential income to be had from commission driven selling incentives for those that choose ‘Selling’ as a career.
2) Selling really isn’t easy at all! There are many obstacles/hurdles/pitfalls/roadblocks to overcome.
Both the ‘novice’ and ‘experienced’ seller agree wholeheartedly on one thing. Of all the ‘challenges’ they face in selling, prospecting is the biggest.
Many Sales Professionals (those paid to ‘sell’ for a living) spend entire careers trying to hide from or avoid prospecting. The prospecting landscape is littered with pitfalls and traps that have claimed many a ‘seller’. We all know someone who has floundered at the ‘prospecting’ step of ‘selling’.
There are 3 core components to success.
If you do not have this trilogy of powers, in equal balance, you too may succumb to the allure of non-prospecting.
Let’s take a deeper look at the first of these three components.
Behaviour is agreed to be the blueprint for success in the sales word.
Great Sales professionals stand out. They stand out because they do the behaviours. They know what it takes, they do what it takes, regardless of how it makes them feel.
That allows them to succeed where others fail.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? It can be, but you must get past these limiters first.
1) Not maintaining proper schedule orientation
Every successful salesperson I know maintains an almost obsessive schedule orientation.
Their mantra is “If it’s not in my diary, it doesn’t happen!”
They use time-blocking to manage their time ruthlessly efficiently. Every daily, weekly, monthly task is in the diary. In this way they can focus on accomplishing their tasks, and progress towards achieving their goals.
When they block out time in their calendar, they follow through, no matter what the task is.
How do you treat the time you spend with clients, versus the time you set aside for yourself?
Do you allow interruptions in a client meeting? No? Of course not, time with prospects is precious.
However, those with poor schedule orientation comfortably allow interruptions and distractions to hinder their personal efforts. They might even be tempted to go and find a distraction if one doesn’t immediately present itself.
If you learn to maintain proper schedule orientation, you will not allow distractions to interrupt your prospecting time. Just as you would not allow distractions in a meeting with your most valued client.
There is a big difference between scheduling time on your calendar and following through at the allocated time.
Lack of focus and discipline can be crippling to your prospecting efforts.
By dedicating yourself to your work and your objectives during specified time blocks, you can greatly reduce the risk of succumbing to poor schedule orientation.
2) Not having a goal for meaningful conversations
Too often, meetings can come to pass without accomplishing a purpose.
Firstly, let’s distinguish the difference between Suspects and Prospects
A Suspect is anyone who might, possibly, perhaps, someday, with a good following wind, with Venus and Mars aligned, buy what you do.
A Prospect, then, is someone who has gone through a qualification process. Someone who has engaged with you, has problems you can solve, an investment level you can solve them for, and is willing and able to make a decision in your expected lifetime.
When you speak with potential prospects, you should have a clear goal in mind. Each ‘meaningful conversation' should mean progress in the ‘opportunity’ you are working on together.
These conversations must take place with decision makers. Your goal should be for them to make and take a purchasing decision in every interaction.
REMEMBER: Only Decision-makers can get others to take and make decisions!
Spend some time getting to know them. Establishing bonds and developing rapport will strengthen your relationship with your potential prospect and have important long-term impact.
Don’t fall into the trap of allowing every ‘meaningful conversation’ to be 'further adventures in the forging of bonding and rapport' though. If that is the only thing you are accomplishing on your calls, then your competitors thank you.
Every call should have a clear, pre-set and agreed, agenda. Every call should have a clear, expressed, outcome.
For example, if the agenda is to get to know each other and establish a ‘fit’, make sure that both parties know to take time at the end of the call to agree the ‘fit’ and establish a date and time for a follow-up call or politely part ways; based on your conversation.
3) Not placing importance on booking first time appointments
It can be very gratifying to keep calling on your biggest current client, to snuffle out new billing opportunities.
It’s certainly easier than opening up a new conversation with a new potential prospect that may or may not lead to business.
Both approaches are integral to becoming a successful seller.
If you don’t pursue new business, your ‘book of business’ will start to shrink over time.
If you don’t place importance on booking first-time appointments with new potential prospects, you are hindering your business.
Bringing in new business is the core behaviour of successful salespeople.
New business keeps your business fresh. It brings with it a myriad of new referrals, new opportunities, fresh insights, and information into your pipeline.
The Sales ‘Veteran’ and ‘Novice’ agree on one thing.
Selling is hard work!
You must do many things, in the right way, at the appropriate time to achieve success.
You must limit the mistakes you make, learning lessons fast and not repeating the same mistakes time and again.
If you wish to be successful at sales, then your weekly behaviours are no exception.
Whilst sales may never get any easier, maintaining a proper schedule orientation, focusing on meaningful conversations, and consistently setting up new appointments will dramatically ease your path to success.
Prospecting can be a daunting task for any seller, but it is an imperative if you want your career to grow and develop to the highest level.
Pop back here next week and I will share with you how to develop Attitude and avoid the traps that the average seller falls into.
Join Sandler on Thursday 22nd October at 19:00 UK time for '21st Century Prospecting'.
When it comes to today's economic marketplace, we often have little direct control.
But what can have a huge impact on your sales success is your ability to build a strong, robust pipeline during any economic condition.
You can reserve your space for this one-hour session here 21st Century Prospecting