Now that you are working to grow visibility as a seller and think like a publisher, work to craft a plan to make sales increases happen.
Over many years and hundreds of sales teams, I've seen the most successful sellers work a plan and plan their work. As I think back to the years I sold technology and financial services and professional services – my best successes were those where I felt I knew where I was headed. I crafted plans to work hard to keep myself on track.
What Plans do I Need?
Start with a big overview – how do you see yourself benefiting from this sales position and your career? Actually write out a paragraph or two describing your life in a few years. What is it that you would like to attain and how would you like to be thought of? Write in the present tense. Here’s an example:
I enjoy my job helping companies with technology and have been rewarded handsomely for it. Last year I was able to buy the home I wanted which is on the train line into the office. I’ve put up enough consistent numbers that in the summer I work 4 days with three off during July and August. I’m adding to my retirement fund and plan to buy a vacation home in 5 years.
Next, take your compensation plan and from that, understand what sorts of activities you need to accomplish every month to make those numbers happen. If you don’t have a consistent or formal plan, ask for one. If you do, you should be able to determine exactly what you need to do to hit your revenue targets, including how many prospects and deals you need based on your conversion rate.
Your Most Important Plan
Daily planning is critical to your success. Even without the vision toward the future, you can gain so much by working on the most productive and important things at any given time during your sales day.
In your day you need a block of calling time. This varies depending on what your role entails, how full your pipeline is, how many opportunities you receive from referrals, and what your sales numbers are. If you are newer or not hitting your numbers yet, that block of time needs to be the biggest block of all. Consider breaking it up in two. This will help you to not feel like you have to make calls every minute of the day. You’ll be able to focus on more if you have specific blocks of time segmented out.
In your day you need time at the end of the day to review your day and determine what didn’t get done that will be carried over to the next day. This thinking time is critical.
I do a series of things every morning as a habit to get my day going. They include:
LinkedIn: See my LinkedIn email update to determine who has a birthday or a job change or is in the news. This is invaluable, and takes minutes.
You may have other data sources such as iSell by Onesource or InsideView – if you do, you’ll get a daily email (or twice daily) to quickly view other moves and changes in who you are following. This directly helps you set up new calls and contacts.
CRM: Your CRM system will have to do’s for you (assuming you are setting next actions in your CRM system) – if not, START THIS in 2014. It’s critical that you not keep cobbling together a combo of Excel spreadsheets and Outlook and other sources to know how and when to follow-up with prospective new clients. There is an easier way now - all leads in CRM.
Inbound: Your inbound marketing program, if you use one, will offer you insight as well. We use Hubspot so I get a “Social Media Notification” twice a day showing me who in my world (prospects, partners, industry counterparts, and clients) has interacted with us through social channels so it is easy to quickly respond, thank, or just see the activity.
Calendar: I always check my calendar to better understand how my day - and the rest of the week - will look. I'm more visual so even though I saw it as I put calendar items in, I review to get a fresh view and know where to put in prospecting or other calls. Hopefully you have prospecting calls blocked out in your calendar on a regular basis - 2 blocks daily - with an early morning block to get you started with success as soon as you are in.
Benjamin Franklin said it so well: By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Download the summary tip sheet for these ideas here - FREE Download
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.