"Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed." This terrific quote is attributed to Corita Kent, an American artist and teacher, but it applies to salespeople as well.
If you want to have a successful sales day, you have about 960 opportunities (16 waking hours x 60 minutes) to make it happen. And the trick is to make sure the percentage of successful moments far outweighs the percentage of stale or unproductive moments. What defines a successful moment at work? It is one that makes you more valuable to your customers, work associates, company or industry. While the following moments in your day may be necessary, they are not necessarily increasing your value. Yet many average sales reps burn up too many minutes each day in these areas:
- Drive time
- Doing quotes
- Putting in orders
- Tracking down product information
- Checking email and voicemail
Rather than focusing on activities that may not create or increase your value, try the "960 Moments of PRIDE." These PRIDE moments can raise your value ... and your commission check.
- Prospecting for New Customers
- Relationship Making
- Influence Activity
- Educating Yourself
Prospecting for New Customers
You need to get out of the office and into the offense. Let me explain. Just last week a tenured salesperson complained that business wasn't great. He was not longer calling on new accounts, but when asked why, he said that he was afraid that if he went calling on other rep's accounts they would come after his accounts. News flash! In business, the best way to defend your own accounts is to make people defend theirs (by the way, this doesn't mean low balling the price!). It's the idea that the "best defense is a good offense." If you spend more time in the office and not enough time on offense, your value is decreasing while your competitor is increasing. There is no plateau in this business. Your value is either going up or down.
Make a list of the top 10 people inside and outside of your business who can make you smarter. Then give each of them a call to set up a breakfast, lunch or other meeting (happy hour or golf is often a nice way to spend a 960 moment). Each moment you spend with a networking partner increases your value. That's because of the relationships you create, along with the information you receive, which will make you more valuable to your company and your customers. Reach out to at least one person in your network each week and be prepared with one or two specific questions. Don't reach out just for the sake of "reaching out!" Set a clear objective. For example, "My objective in meeting with Joe is to get him to tell me at least three things that he does to separate himself from the competition." By setting a specific objective for your networking meeting, you will get more out of it. In addition, find a way to help Joe in three ways as well. That will keep him an active member of your 960 relationship file.
Influence Your Activity
If you are interested in saying "goodbye" to the Poconos and saying "hello" to the Bahamas, you need to be very specific about what you want to sell and how much of it you want to sell each day. Pick one or two products or services that you think you could sell a ton of and plan to prospect on EVERY call you make for 20 days. But before you do, think about how many of those products you would like to sell. For instance, if you want to sell seven widgets by the end of the month, first think about how many prospecting calls you need to make and how many formal presentations you need to deliver to get those seven sales. For example: To get seven sales, I believe I will need to set up 10 live presentations (70% close ratio...not bad!). But to get to 10 presentations, I believe I need to prospect with 50 customers.
OK, now that you know how many prospects you need to talk to about the widgets (that's 50, by the way), it's time to get to work. Take comfort in knowing that your competition, because they didn't go through the above exercise, will stop prospecting at about 12, long before you have arrived at your number of 50.
960 Reps don't look, act, think, or smell like the average salesperson. They aren't afraid to take valuable minutes each day to do something a little "deviant." One simple way to deviate from your competition is to take 15 minutes each day to hand write thank you notes to customers and prospects that you met with that day. Keep the notes, some envelopes and a book of stamps in your briefcase, car or office. Then after every high value call you make, take one minute to write it, seal it and stamp it. Find the first blue mailbox you can find and send it! Think about it. When will that prospect or customer get your note? Tomorrow or the next day? Guess what that note will say about your ability to serve them. It says you care, you pay attention to detail, you have five-star follow up skills and you have time to do the little things for that customer. That note can say those things even better than your lips because it is done in the spirit of service. If you prefer to write the notes in your office at night, no problem, just get it done. Also, for you deviants who do everything online, check out this online card creation service. It allows you to pick a card, personalize it and mail it with your handwriting all from one site.
The most successful people in any business are the ones who schedule time each week to learn something new. So grab your PDA or open up your Outlook calendar right now and set a recurring appointment with yourself. Make that appointment between 30 and 60 minutes for the same time each week. During that time, you can read a trade journal, visit a competitive website, call a current customer for feedback, read a sales book...or whatever! But if the ultimate goal is to be able to provide more value to your customers than the competition, you need to be smarter than them. And the 960 rep doesn't get smarter by accident.
Lastly, remember the only difference between top performers and the average ones is how they look at each moment, each hour and each day. There is a sense of urgency in high achievers that has them keeping score between productivity and wasted time. Top performers simply come closer to 960 Moments of PRIDE than others. And when they roll over to set the alarm clock before bed, it is at that moment they can tell themselves, "I made my objectives, I served others, I made a difference, and I did my best. Today was a great day!"
Go make it a 960 day!
Sales coach and business consultant, Brian Sullivan, is author of "20 Days to the TOP - How the PRECISE Selling Formula Will Make You Your Company's Top Sales Performer in 20 Days or Less." As president of PRECISE Selling, Brian helps improve sales, customer service, leadership, and presentation skills through seminars and Internet training programs. For more on his speaking, consulting or book, visit: www.PreciseSelling.com.