A week ago I sat down with a sales professional who told me that when he started at a midmarket big data company in sales, he was given no guidelines, no leads, and very little guidance in getting started with his new sales territory. He started just one year ago. Luckily he had industry connections and with little direction from his leadership, he made his own plan. He worked it, and has a year under his belt along with his first large deal.
In order to get where you are going you need a plan to go there. As I plan my next flight I'm mapping out where I'll be, what is nearby, and how long it will take to get to all the places I'm headed. The same is true with business planning. People say we will spend ten times as much time planning a vacation as we would in planning our business week. I think that is true.
With a little practice and some simple tips you can get into the habit of planning out all of the major things you do in the course of your sales week. Let's overview some of these areas:
Contact tracking - Record who you are talking with in a safe repository of knowledge - typically is a CRM system for most in sales. If you don't have CRM to utilize, contact me and I'll help you make the case for having it and using it. It is critical to keep track of the people you connect with in the course of your day. Follow up with them, and you'll nurture relationships that turn into sales. Lose track and you'll miss opportunities and money in your pocket.
Opportunity tracking - As important as tracking who you're talking with, you need to know what sales opportunities you are working on and at what stage each of them is at. All sales opportunities fall into stages - early stage, mid stage, and later stage. Each of the stages have their own characteristics and issues so knowing that you have 3 early stage and 2 late stage sales opportunities is important. How do you track these currently?
Activity tracking - Are you aware of how many good conversations you are having each day? Does your boss know how many? If you have a higher than average number of conversations, I think you'd want your manager or VP to be aware of that, don't you? If your numbers are low, and you can see that through some sort of a dashboard, you know to ramp things up. That's the power of seeing the actual numbers in front of you and the reason it is so critical to track some aspects of your weekly activity.
If you want to cause some outcome to happen, work backwards:
Start with the "why" - of your project. Who does it help, and how does it help them?
Think about how you can make this project move all the way to completion.
Break it, and any project you have down into simple, doable chunks.
If you need to, block out time in your calendar and honor that time. Make it happen.
Once you complete a project or two this way, it will be second nature.
If you are disorganized, learn about GTD by David Allen, the productivity master of our generation.
If you have been a sales professional for a while and learned to tackle being more productive, what is your biggest tip?
If you have been a sales professional for a while and still not accomplishing as much as you want, what is holding you back?
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". 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 in selling.