Sales is like riding a bike. When you start the process you need to put in a lot of effort. Once you get going and build momentum it becomes easier to get where you want to go. Unfortunately, many sales people and small business owners find that the opposite happens.
Often times a salesperson will start prospecting with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. A great thing then happens – they score sales appointments! The danger happens when they then stop prospecting to focus on those appointments. It’s as if they can only focus on one activity at a time. When these appointments go well and the sale is made there is more to be done with that client. Now they need to be nurtured. So, in essence, a salesperson has three areas they need to be paying attention to in order to be successful over the long term. And each of these areas has to be handled consistently.
When we consider that sales is like riding a bike we understand the value of continuous motion. After all, if you stop peddling the bike stops. And then you have to work hard to get it going again. The same is true with sales. If you stop working each aspect of the process you have to exert a lot of energy to get them back on track. So, what’s a salesperson to do? It’s incredibly valuable to create systems for each area of the sales process and put those activities on a calendar.
For clarity’s sake we will say that prospecting is everything that happens up and until the actual sales meeting. Its networking and target identification. Its outreach and seeking to set the appointment. Having a specific system to work on a consistent basis ensures that prospects are continuously entering the pipeline.
An example of a prospecting system goes like this:
Identify a target market and compile a list of companies/people in that target. Determine if you are connected to that prospect in any way. If you are, ask for an introduction. If you aren’t, put them in a cold calling bucket.
Create a cold calling campaign that has specific steps to it. For example, how many times will you seek to connect with the prospect? When will you call, or email? Will you send an introductory card, note, letter?
Once you’ve decided what your prospecting system looks like put the first steps on your calendar and commit to adding steps to the calendar as they come up. It’s the calendar part that makes the difference. When an activity is on the calendar it is more likely to be done.
This is the system you will use when you are in front of the prospect at the sales meeting. This is the place where you want to be sure you get all of the information you need to determine whether you can help this prospect AND whether this is a prospect you would like to work with. Develop a list of questions that you take with you to the meeting. The list should include things like what their decision making process is, what their timeline is, sense of urgency, budget, etc. If they’ve used your kind of services before what did they like or dislike about the previous experience. What would success look like? Remember that this is your chance to learn as much about them and their needs as possible.
Follow up System
One of the most important aspects of the sales process is follow up. Yet it is one of the most neglected. When sales people get really busy prospecting and selling they can find that they stop following up with people. If they get a couple weeks out they then can feel uncomfortable reaching out because the think too much time has gone by. The problem with this is that you can really limit the pool of people you can build relationships with if you chronically fail to follow up.
So, what does it take? A plan; a system. Decide how you are going to follow up with the people you meet at networking events, the people you reconnect with, the people you connect with on LinkedIn, your prospects, and your clients. Once you’ve decided what these plans are commit to putting them on the calendar when they present themselves.
In other words, after a networking event implement your follow up plan within 24 hours.
After you’ve made a sale you still need to nurture the relationship with your client. So figure out a system that will work well for you that consists of staying in contact with your clients.
When you have systems for these three areas of sales you will find that selling is like riding a bike. You will find it takes a little more effort and work at the beginning to establish those systems and get them working. Once you’ve incorporated them into your business day you’ll find the momentum building and selling easier. And when you stay committed to the systems it’s the same as pedaling the bike. You’ll have an easy ride to sales success.