For this months’ column I’ve decided to share my list that I include in most all of my sales training classes on how to be smart about your selling approach. It’s a collection of tips and ideas from my days at commission sales for Seafirst Bank in the 80’s that helped me stay organized, utilize my time better and get the most of every day. Smart selling takes discipline, planning and focus. There are only so many hours in the day and making them work for you can make all the difference in your results.
Let’s be smart about our selling approach.
- Sell by appointment so that your sales time is quality time. When someone agrees to an appointment they have taken the first step (and made a partial commitment) to saying YES! You are able to plan your day as are they. Time is a precious commodity, we must use it wisely.
- Have a pocket size list of your 20 best prospects with you at all times so you can use even just a few minutes of unexpected free time to strengthen one or more of your relationships.
- Write a “To Do List” every night so that you will have a focus for your next day. Prioritize the action items that need to go first.
- When prospects become marginal, change your selling to telephone or by mail.
- Very important. Make your sales calls in concentrated, well planned groups of selling rather then spreading them out throughout your schedule. In this fashion your voice tones will project success and your enthusiasm will be transferred over to the customer. Your success will increase as a result.
- Sell to decision makers and leverage sales contacts by meeting with other buying influences or gaining referrals. Build one activity onto another.
- Do what needs to be done and not what you like. So many of us are guilty of doing only what we like to do, and putting off those big projects or those activities that seem a little intimidating or not as inviting as others. Do what needs to be done, not what you like!
- Always make one more call. Don’t stop, especially when you are on a high. When you’ve just had a successful interaction with a customer, don’t stop there. Your confidence will be higher, your focus more direct, and your results better. Selling gets easier.
- Continue to refer to your goals and ask yourself “What’s the best use of my time right now?”
- Stay away from other sales people that don’t use their time well. Every office has the office chatters. They roam from desk to desk and sit down in front of you and disrupt your day. You end up spending extra time or staying late to finish your work because someone else has “sucked up” your time just because they want to chat. There are a number of techniques that you can use. You can stand as they sit, suggest you’d like to finish your current project and would like to chat with them later, or you can be direct and say “I really need to focus on my work right now and I don’t have the time to talk.” Whatever it is, take care of yourself and your own priorities as opposed to letting someone else determine how your day is spent.
- Whatever sales actions you choose to take, give them your full attention so you get results in less time. Focus, focus… focus.
- Break time consuming sales activities into smaller projects so you can make progress on completing them without waiting for a large block of time. These are the basic elements of any time management class. So many of us push the big projects off because they are overwhelming and feel as if we’ll never get them done. We’ve all heard the saying “eating an elephant one bite at a time.” This is exactly the principle. Block off 15 minutes a day towards a large project and before you know it that project will be completed.
- Give the highest priority to closing your best few prospects, developing your key accounts and adding new qualified prospects. So when you’re hot you’re hot! Focus on the activities that will get you the highest return.
- Don’t over schedule. You want quality time with your prospects and you want time available to react to key people, inquiries and other top opportunities.
- Respond immediately to inquiries. “The early bird gets the worm”. If you’re not calling on your customers somebody else is.
- Build a network of referral sources that will sell for you. This is the greatest activity toward successful selling. Have a number of key referral sources that will help you succeed. Look around at the top realtors in your marketplace or the other very successful salespeople and you will see that they operate through referrals. Your best salesperson is a happy customer.
- Always follow-up referrals with a thank you. This is paramount. If someone gives you a referral its basic courtesy to let him or her know that you have taken action on that referral. In so doing you are most apt to get another referral as well as keeping yourself on track with the task at hand.
What are your very best ideas for staying in touch with your customers? This can be in a variety of methods. It could be by telephone, in person visits or in writing. What are the reasons that you could make contact with your customers? Some of these might be operational, others more sales oriented. Follow-up is certainly a key reason and let’s not forget “just to say hello.”
Make a list of as many reasons as you can to make contact with your customers and prospects. Keep your list handy. Refer to it often. Put your ideas into action!
Establishing a Referral Base
List 10 to 15 people that you come into contact with regularly. These are individuals such as your hairdresser, travel agent, CPA, babysitter, church, local school, community involvement etc.
Now that you have made this list, think of ways that you can initiate a conversation with them and let them know how you might work together.
Smart selling is really all about demonstrating by your actions that you genuinely care and are interested in your client. In my classes I say it takes 3 contacts before a prospect really remembers who you are and what company you represent. The national average is 6 contacts before a sale is made. Selling is a process. The more you stay in front of them with interesting and creative ways to simply “keep in touch” the more successful you will be in selling. It’s my belief that you need to earn the trust of a client before you establish a relationship with them. Once you do selling is easy!