In 2012, Dean Jackson cohost of a popular podcast “I Love Marketing” stated in marketing… “you need to think like a chess master.” Ever since then, I have applied that philosophy to the world of sales. And now, I’m a sales professional who has a plan and sees the end before I start.
1. “Sales is a process, not an event.” Zig Ziglar
Although there have been many changes in marketing and sales over the years; the fundamentals haven’t changed much – prospect, learn about your customer’s problems, then follow up with how you can solve them. I’ve learned “the close happens” naturally if you understand the end before you start.
2. Create a Habit of Understanding
Begin by building a habit of understanding. Last year, I challenged myself to make 500 cold calls in 30 days. It wasn’t about the cold calls, it was about building a daily habit of connecting with prospects and listening to their challenges. I heard consistent problems from prospects and asked hundreds of follow up questions to understand them better. I suggest scheduling time on your calendar each day to focus on understanding because your sales day can get very busy with tasks unrelated to selling new deals.
3. Track Your Sales Results
When you start your quest for understanding, it’s easy to get discourages by a lack of closed sales. Remember to begin with the end in mind – the more you understand your prospects and their problems the better your ability to help solve them. Keep a record of all your interactions – large and small. The more information you have on each prospect the more you’ll start to see patterns and commonalities.
4. Manage Your Sales Results
Peter Drucker said it best, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Using a tool to manage prospect information is critical for tracking and most importantly managing what you’ve ascertained. Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like HubSpot allows you to measure and manage daily, weekly or monthly activities that are most likely to move a prospect to a sale. Over time, your effort to consistently track results will help you see if what you are doing is working or not.
5. Automate What You Can
Automated, does not mean automatic. Yes, and you can’t simply set it and forget it. But a large part of building a sales habit means being in the system daily. Today, you can be selling or helping 24/7 – and be there at the exact time your prospect is ready to engage. Take advantage of emails or tasks that trigger from your prospects digital behavior. HubSpot has a feature called Sequences where you can create customized email streams. When I discover a prospect, who’s pain point is converting leads to customers, I enroll them into a Conversion Sequence which offers up helpful content around moving a lead down the sales funnel.
When you add enough of the right information in, you’ll begin receiving results back from prospects you haven’t even spoken to and you’ll begin understanding what’s important to them. Your next emails and follow-ups will be tailored to achieve higher results with less effort.
6. Adjust Your Contact Strategy
Most sales happen between the 5th and 8th contact, so don’t give up early. You’d be surprised at the results you can get by remaining persistent. At the 2017 Infusionsoft annual conference, CEO Clate Mask shared a story about a sales experience. After he received an initial bid from a company to work on his backyard, the salesperson didn’t contact him again. It appeared the sales person was too busy. Many of these salespeople still exist and you can take advantage by creating contact strategies which ensure opportunities won’t fall through the cracks.
7. Understand Your Prospects Needs
Today, prospects can smell a close. Forget clever closing strategies to a much more sophisticated buyer. Neil Rackham, author of “Spin Selling” did extensive research on how many companies “say they need to learn more closing techniques” yet, his research indicates otherwise. You need to understand your customer’s needs so well that they realize you truly understand their needs. How many ways have you asked your prospect to explain their biggest problem? After a call or meeting, how accurate could you reiterate your prospect’s pain points?
8. Receive Your Sales Rewards
When you create the habit of getting yourself in front of more prospects each day, you begin seeing the results of your efforts. Today, after a year of testing, I have an email which really connects to prospects. I know this the email regularly gets me introductory calls scheduled at a day and time most convenient for my prospects. Because of this email, instead of 5-8 contact attempts, a prospect realized I understood their challenge and was a 3-call close.
9. Start the End in Mind
One of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “start with the end in mind.” When you get up each morning, know the importance of getting your product or service in front of your customers so you can deliver the results they are searching. Zig Ziglar, a sales inspiration to many sales professionals, famously said, “the last four letters of Enthusiasm are I.A.S.M. which stands for “I Am Sold Myself.” Once you are sold and you believe, take the necessary steps to help prospects believe and purchase from you.
Create sales habits, start understanding your prospects needs better, religiously track your results, use tools to manage results, automate what you can, create a contact strategy, start with the end of in mind, and start receiving the results you want. Now it’s your turn.
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