No matter your title, industry or experience, there is one constant trend that all salespeople experience: As the end of the month/quarter/year approaches we realise we’re behind with our sales targets and replace a well thought-out sales strategy with the much less effective strategy of ‘hope’.
Hope is not a good sales pipeline development strategy.
Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that sales leads will magically come in and close, it is much more productive to evaluate the root cause of why you’re behind target.
Ask yourself questions like “Did I spend enough time developing the sales leads pipeline?” Then be honest with yourself – prospecting is tough, filled with rejection and can feel unproductive in the short-term however we all know that without this essential step you will be staring at the opportunity list and praying that everything closes just to hit target.
Look at what you did in the weeks leading up to this moment where you are banging your head against the table and wondering why nothing is closing; no doubt you will find that you managed to tackle every item on your list that wasn’t prospecting.
We all find unnecessary activities to do because we are trying to delay doing a more difficult, challenging or unpleasant task that we know we need to complete as part of an effective sales strategy.
Make a list of all the activities you do when you really should be prospecting and analyse why you do them. Once again you need to be honest with yourself to decide if these activities were necessary or if you were avoiding the more challenging and less glamorous tasks.
How do I stop this happening?
The simple answer is to analyse your sales activities and evaluate their effectiveness. By keeping a record of what you did in the ‘good months’ and what you did in the ‘bad months’ you will be able to create a more effective pipeline development strategy.
Understanding what tasks are wasting your time and what tasks are completely necessary is the best way of executing a killer sales plan. Then comes the hard part… You must stick to that plan.
When the going gets tough and sales professionals are staring at a target that they don’t think they can hit, their plan is usually the first thing to be abandoned as panic sets in. Although this is counterintuitive we all do it. My suggestion is to schedule some time each week to plan the next week’s activities – that way you can walk through the door each day and get right to work without having to sit and think (and worry) about how you are going to achieve your goals.
Set a specific time for the following:
Don’t just have prospecting at the top of your to do list as you WILL find other things to do
· Opportunity Management
Your open opportunities should be high on your to-do list but by scheduling a specific time to reconnect with clients you will avoid contacting people too early and seeming desperate
· Reconnecting with existing clients
I am a huge advocate of prospecting for new business but you must not forget that it is much easier to sell to an existing client than open a new relationship. Also you don’t want to neglect your existing accounts.
· Other Activities
We all have other activities that are not directly part of the sales process. Schedule some time each day to get some of these tasks done – DO NOT LEAVE THIS TILL THE END OF THE WEEK! By using a little bit of time each day to complete these tasks you will not have to ‘go offline’ for hours at the end of the week to catch up on everything. You should be selling for 90% of your time so make sure 90% of every day is dedicated to this.