Make no mistake… sales is hard work. The thrill of victory is tempered by long stretches of disappointment. It’s the nature of the game. Yet the best sales people succeed because they marry technology to “the method”. A few years ago I wrote a column about “the method”. The method in brief is (1) work from a list, (2) grind out a daily action plan, (3) go direct and get answers, and (4) prep for every call. The reason… the big wins result from the accumulation of small actions. And when the method is married to technology, technology becomes a force multiplier that produces big results.
1. Pipeline Management
You must prioritize your list and goals. The list is made up of prospective properties and jobs. The goals are (1) monthly proposal dollars, and (2) monthly closed dollars. This list is the scorecard and your pipeline. The method calls for “working” on high probability properties and jobs…. where proposal dollars are driven by prospecting activities, and closing dollars are driven by negotiating activities. You must divide your limited time between these two. Wasting your time on low probability properties and jobs is one way to fall behind on your scorecard, but forgetting to follow-up (because you have a poor list) is the surest way to under-achieve. You must work the list everyday and schedule your time.
Here’s what the pipeline reports looks like...
2. Property/Job Information
You must document essential information for prospecting and negotiating for each property and job. This is information about (1) the scope of work, (2) the primary needs and concerns, and (3) the people who make the decisions. This information is then employed in your daily planning to prioritize your activities and craft your progressively more direct sales messages (why they should choose you and your “solution”). Yes, better messages and better proposals beat low price almost every time. In addition, without this “history” of messaging in a long selling cycle you will likely forget important details essential to the negotiation… and your closing rate will decline.
Here’s what information looks like...
3. Activity Management
You must prep an agenda for every touch, so you control the call… and there are only two possible objectives for every call; (1) an agreed upon action with the prospect to advance the sales process, or (2) a decision (yes or no) by the prospect. Every activity must be on your calendar. These activities include to-do’s, emails, face-face appointments, and virtual appointments (GoTo Meeting). This is the grind of the sales process… managing your daily, weekly and monthly calendar that reflects the necessary follow-up for every opportunity. Only by doing this will you spend time wisely and drive the pipeline to a decision.
Here’s what activity management looks like...
In summary, successful sales people are not necessarily the most well-spoken or charismatic… the best are more often than not the most disciplined and detail oriented. When you marry the method to technology you will look like and sound like a pro and in doing so build that essential condition for a sale… trust.