Want to Improve Sales? Here's How to Set Up Your Day
A real life story...
One of the issues we face in our sales endeavors is the fluidity of what we do. In my opinion, sales is one of the few professions in which results are defined almost entirely by the decisions of others. Think about that for a minute. What other professions have a mandate to move people toward making decisions?
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As entrepreneurs and sales professionals, we go about our days inching our prospective clients toward making decisions.
A few months ago, my friend Danny came to me and asked for my thoughts about how he could spend his day more effectively. He said that his days were consumed by unproductive activities. He reminisced about how it had not always been that way and that earlier in his career he was the go-to sales guy at his company. He expressed a desire to recapture that feeling and the level of positive activity that not only produced results for him and his company but made him feel more fulfilled.
As I listened to Danny, a deep sense of empathy came over me. My mind went back to a few times in my life when I felt similar and how I kicked myself out of the rut.
Instinctively, I laid out two key suggestions for how he should approach each day:
1) Focus time on each phase of the sales pipeline
Personally, I am not a fan of positioning sales as a numbers game. In theory, yes, it can be looked at as a numbers game. But who takes pride in being a number? I try to steer away from focusing on the energy of numbers. I prefer to focus on the energy of progress.
Instead of focusing on the energy of numbers, focus on the energy of progress. http://bit.ly/1UjV8kQ
This involves taking pride in small wins. So, I told Danny to map out his pipeline. We talked about lead generation and networking. We scheduled time each day for him to focus on building new relationships and finding new problems to solve. We scheduled time for follow-up and follow-through. (Follow-up is touching base with prospective clients in the pipeline who have the problem that your service solves and helping them to move closer to making a decision; follow-through is checking in with current clients to ensure that the delivery of the service is going well and solving any issues that arise along the way.)
My suggestion to Danny was that he look at his seven-hour day as three-two-two: three hours for new relationships, two hours for follow-up, and two hours for follow-through.
2) Formulate your vision
I asked Danny where he wanted to be in a year, three years, and five years. We did not focus on trivial things, such as the type of car he wanted to buy. Such things come as a result of executing on a vision. Instead, we focused on how he wanted to feel about what he was doing.
Focus on how you want to feel about what you are doing. http://bit.ly/1UjV8kQ
We focused on his relationships with others: his family, coworkers, clients, and so on. We focused on the value he wanted to bring to each of these stakeholders in his life.
The more we dug into this, the more Danny sat up in his chair and engaged. He began to smile. If energy were a color, I would have been able to see it enter his body. He fell in love with the picture of the life he wanted. We took fifteen minutes to write out a page of notes about his vision, and I suggested that he review those notes first thing each morning after waking up. I also suggested that he take time occasionally to refine his vision by adding more depth and color.
The key to the success of this focused-time approach is that Danny be motivated. Motivation should come from the vision, and in Danny’s case that did indeed happen.
Earlier this week, I received the following email from Danny:
I’m killing it! I haven’t felt this good about what I’m doing in 9 years! The pipeline is full and I’m out the door now to spend two hours with a new client who signed on the dotted line yesterday. Thanks for the advice, man.
Although I felt pride in having helped Danny to find new fulfillment in his day-to-day activities, I replied to his note and suggested that all I had done was to help him find within himself something that was already there.
Do you find it easy to become caught in a rut of mindless activities that chew up your time? What have you done to kick yourself out of it? I welcome your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.