Stop. Just stop for the next several minutes that it’s
going to take you to read this. Okay, now take a breath. Get off the treadmill for
a moment and ask yourself these questions. Yes, these questions are that
important. So important, in fact, that they could change your entire perspective
around what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how much you really need to
be doing in order to generate the worthwhile results you’re looking for.
Because the truth is, you just may be running so fast in an
attempt to catch up on your sales numbers, that you didn’t recognize the blinders
you’ve developed which are obstructing your view of the fuller picture; the
landscape you’re trying to farm and manage when it comes to selling and driving
the right sales activity. Here are those questions you need to ask yourself
(and your sales team).
“With all the effort I’m putting forth in an attempt to
generate more prospects and selling opportunities, following up and retaining
existing clients to ensure that I’m bringing in as much business as possible:”
I acutely aware of the activities and benchmarked proven practices (both the
activities and the dialogue/message I need to communicate) that I need to
engage in daily that would secure my success?
I measuring the numbers and the results of my efforts and allowing these statistical
data points to be the driving force behind my sales activities?
I know how much cold calling and prospecting activity is actually enough
(emails, voice mails, live calls/connections, letters, and so on) and when to
call it quits and move on when attempting to convert a contact into a qualified
I know how many calls/contacts I need to make each day, each week and how often
I need to follow up with a qualified prospect in order to earn their business
or move them to the next stage of my sales process? (And have I even defined
those specific steps in my
sales process to begin with?)
I holding myself accountable when it comes to engaging in the right activities in
the most efficient way possible through the effective use of a daily routine?
calling on or meeting with prospects, do I have a clear set of outlined objectives
that I need to accomplish on every call and during each meeting, especially
when delivering a presentation?
I identified the lifetime value of each client or account in order to classify
customers according to their sales potential? (What’s the economic impact of
the time you invest?)
I have a detailed strategy for each of my clients to ensure that I’m maximizing
every conceivable up selling and cross selling opportunity?
I fully leveraging the power and potential of my CRM solution for prospect,
client as well as territory management? Do you have a call report system?
I have the right questions that provide me with the critical intel I need in
order to qualify each person as a viable prospect so that I can most effectively
determine where my limited and precious time is best invested?
And to clarify further when it comes to the type of
questions you need to be asking each prospect, this isn’t limited to Selling 101 – Uncovering a Need. I’m
also referring to understanding how they buy, how they make decisions, the
internal workings of the company, the people and egos involved, the process
they are going to go through when they hang up the phone with you or end the
meeting and then attempt to solve the problem or find a new solution on their
own using the resources or venders they currently have, the concerns or
roadblocks that you could encounter down the road that would stall or destroy
the potential for a sale, the timely and relevant issues that are going on
internally, the overall mood of the company and its leaders, and so on. (Hint:
Low closing percentages = misalignment in who you should be presenting to and
following up with in the first place.)
If you don’t have the answers to these crucial questions,
you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to enjoy the certainty and peace of
mind that comes from utilizing a formulaic approach to selling. After all, if
you define it, you can then refine it. So, if you’re ever wondering why
you or other salespeople fall into what’s known as a ‘sales slump,’ here’s the
main cause of that. They aren’t honoring their sales process by the numbers and
as such, those who continue to ‘wing it’ as their overall selling strategy are
destined to experience the ups and downs in performance and in their stress
level, as well as the waning sense of satisfaction and confidence that’s sure
to follow in its wake when this amount of ambiguity and uncertainly is present.
I’ve decided (and many of my clients and readers are on
board with this as well, so I hope you’ll join us) that it’s no longer as tough as it was out there. That’s right. Strip
away what you hear in the media, and look objectively at what you can control;
this one telltale sign that something in your selling formula needs to be
developed, modified or redefined:
If there are people in your organization,
even in your industry or profession who are currently performing like rock
stars, that should provide you with one very critical insight. That is, it
can be done because it is currently being done by someone else!
Of course it is going to remain “tough out there” if you
don’t have your defined best practices, data points and numeric formula to help
support your selling efforts. After all, it’s one thing to up your game and
work on developing and refining your selling skills as well as your sales
management skills. However, to complement this so that you have a comprehensive
solution to better performance, you need to have your finger on the pulse of
the numbers that will drive your activities in the first place as you exercise
your newfound selling and leadership strategies and newly developed
competencies. Use these questions I’ve
posed to help uncover the gaps in your data pool that in turn, will help refine
your overall approach to how you prospect and sell and the measurable effort
that’s required for you to do so successfully.
Here’s a very clear insight into one example of some general
statistical information about the selling profession that will help you begin
the process of fine tuning and developing your own data driven solution to
increasing your sales.
48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts.
Now, get this:
2% of sales are made on the first contact.
3% of sales are made on the second contact.
5% of sales are made on the third contact.
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
But 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth
Now, these numbers may change depending upon your selling
cycle, geographic location, the dollar amount of your deliverable, target
audience as well as the service or product you’re selling but the essence of
this message still remains in tact. That is, do you have your own set of data
available which you have used as the cornerstone to constructing your prospecting
and selling strategy? If not, it’s the same as getting into your car and saying
to yourself before embarking on a trip, “Okay, I need to get to a specific destination,
but I’m not exactly sure which direction to travel nor how long it’s going to
take me to get there.”
It’s no longer about simply ‘doing more’ but about doing
more of what’s right. In our new marketplace, going out in the field and just
doing more of what you did yesterday would be the same as trying to sell VCR’s,
pagers and CD’s today. (Even my youngest asked me the other day, “Dad, what’s a
CD?”). Your product has changed over the years and while your selling and
management strategy needs to evolve as well, this evolution must be guided by the
numeric benchmarks in order to see the full, panoramic picture of the truth
that surrounds your current situation. This will eliminate the costly oversights
I’ve detailed earlier and ensure your future success.
We all need to be reminded of this universal law, “We
resist what we need to learn the most.” And interestingly, while salespeople
and sales managers are more inclined to take the reactionary, visceral attitude,
“Lets just get out there and make it happen,” we need to pull back the reigns before
engaging in blind sales activities and instead, start with doing what is often
perceived as the more mundane, often boring task of benchmarking the right
practices and then measuring their effectiveness by the numbers before
embarking on these activities. Empirical data will provide the blueprint you
need to succeed as well as the certainty, confidence and conviction necessary
for a healthy sales mind and attitude.
After all, the greatest rainmakers realize the importance
of checking the weather first so they know where the best locations are to make
it rain, and have the tools to do so.
Note: If you’re looking for a great tool to help develop your prospecting
formula and the measurable efforts needed to achieve your sales goals, check
out my Prospecting Calculator here and enjoy the confidence and certainty you’ll experience when
you prospect by the numbers.
Here’s the link to the Prospecting Calculator.