Sales and Sales Management Blog

May 30, 2012

Four Hours a Day Guaranteed to Make You a Successful Seller

Filed under: career development,prospecting,sales,selling,success — Paul McCord @ 10:17 am
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 There have been hundreds of millions—billions and billions if not trillions and trillions—of words written about how to become a successful seller.  Who knows how many tens of thousands of books and millions of articles have been written in the sales area? In my 30 plus years of selling I’ve read hundreds of the books and thousands of the articles.  I’ve even written three books myself and written hundreds of articles.  All of it designed to deal with one simply action—making a sale.

Some of these books and articles are quite profound with wonderful charts and diagrams designed to show the flow of a sale or the relationship between different parts of the sale or to expound and clarify how buyers and sellers interact.  Others are less complex and more immediately applicable, usually dealing with specific segments of selling.

Whether the work is simple or complex, a short article or a tome rivaling War and Peace, the supposed goal is the same—help the reader sell more.

We’ve broken the sales process into miniscule pieces and then put back together again.  We’ve developed numerous theories of the sales process.  We’ve analyzed how buyers buy, how sellers sell, and how sellers shouldn’t sell but instead help buyer’s buy.

We’ve done so much talking and writing that at this point 99% that is said and written is nothing more than a rehash of what has already been said and written.  I honestly don’t know if I’ve read an original thought in any book or article I’ve ever read.  In fact, it is highly likely I haven’t.

All of this is not to condemn the thousands of books and millions of articles.  I personally think they are needed as they not only appeal to different men and women, the same message in one book or article may not resonate with a reader whereas the same message in a bit different format in another book might really communicate.

But in the end, as much as we sometimes like to intellectualize our profession, we’re not dealing with rocket science.

And in the end, there are still a few actions that if done and done religiously will virtually guarantee success.

Let me suggest a four hour daily routine that if carried out will produce a pipeline bursting with top prospects—and sales.

In fact, if you implement this four hour daily routine you’ll soon find yourself trying to figure out how to maintain it as you’ll be so busy with the business of selling that you’ll struggle to keep feeding the pipeline.

Hour One: Research
Spend one hour a day researching prospects.  Most sellers know little to nothing about the prospects they contact.  They don’t know much about the prospect company or its niche, much less much about the prospect himself or herself.  Most of the time, they don’t even know if the targeted prospect is really the individual they need to be speaking with.

The more you know about your prospect, the better chance you have of making a meaningful contact.  When connecting with a prospect you have only a few seconds to make an impression and to capture their interest.  If you can’t do that within a few seconds, your chances of moving them along to an eventual sale are cut by more than half.

Know your prospect.  Know who they are, what they do, what’s important to them, what their successes have been—and their failures.  Know where they are going and where they’ve been.  Know what kinds of companies they work with.  Know who they are and who they want to be.

To do this takes research.  Fortunately there are wonderful research tools on the internet and a great many of them are free starting with Google and Bing and then moving on to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and many other sites that can provide a massive amount of pertinent information.

Hours Two and Three: Make Calls
Two hours a day of speaking to new prospects is far more than most sellers spend—but in reality still barely enough.

Let’s clarify the word “calls.”  By calls I don’t necessarily mean cold calls or even phone calls.  Calls can be calls to referred prospects or could be cold walking or could be warm calls to people you’ve met in a social setting.  Calls are simply contacts with prospects, no matter how you find those prospects or how you connect with them.

Even though the how of connecting isn’t important, how the two hours are spent is extremely important.  Sitting at your desk and dialing the phone every 7 to 10 minutes with lots of shuffling of prospect cards or flipping through CRM records in-between doesn’t qualify as two hours of making calls.

Two hours is exactly that—a solid two hours of making contact.  You make a call and don’t get anyone, don’t put the phone down but instead make the next dial.  You walk into an office and there’s no one to talk to, walk out the door and right into the next door.

Many of us fool ourselves into thinking we spent time prospecting because we were at the desk for two or three hours when in fact we only made a few dials and only spoke to two people. 

That’s not prospecting, that’s wasting a morning or an afternoon.

Hour Four: Follow-up
What do you do with all those people you’ve spoken to but who aren’t really moving along the pipeline?  You don’t do what most sellers do—you don’t drop them and let them die from inactivity.  You follow up.

During your initial conversation with a prospect, try to find an area or reason for follow-up.  Maybe you need to supply more information, find an answer to a question, or research a competitor.  Maybe there has been a recent trigger event that provides for a follow-up call.  Maybe your research uncovers new information that your prospect should know about.

Spend at least one hour a day following up with those prospects in your database that are good prospects that you haven’t been able to move along.  Every prospect should be contacted at least quarterly if possible.

Spending four hours a day prospecting will fill your pipeline.  Yes, for many it isn’t the most pleasant four hours of the day–but it is the most important four hours.  You cannot make a sale without prospects and since they aren’t beating your door down to talk to you they won’t become clients unless you take the initiative and contact them and then make the follow-up contacts to eventually bring them into the fold.

I encourage you to buy and read all the great books on selling (and, of course, in particular my books), as well as the many tremendous articles that are published daily.  But in the end, remember that your success is really based on finding and connecting with great prospects—and you have to invest daily in doing exactly that. 

Take four hours a day to build your business and you’ll find that magically you’ll be successful.

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May 18, 2012

It’s Time We Get Right with Our Words

Filed under: career development,Communication,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 11:35 am
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Almost every sales seminar or workshop I go to and the majority of sales books I read at some point talk about the need to address the prospect’s or client’s emotional side; that sales, all sales, are at their heart emotion based decisions.  And with that statement, for many the doors to manipulating the prospect are flung wide open.

Language and emotion are so important in sales yet we seem to take them so lightly.  Most sales books, seminars, and courses spend little to no time addressing language and how to use it ethically.

Most of us pick up our use of words and language on the fly, not really understanding the forces behind it.  If we discover something that seems to work we use it, never asking whether it is a legitimate use of language or whether it is nothing more than a cheap way to manipulate.

I suggest that every seller take the time to head back to your local community college or the university in town and take three courses that will help you clarify how you are using the words you use–and in addition will give you some powerful new tools to use when putting together your prospect solutions, not to mention the advantages you’ll gain in terms of constructing your presentations.

The first course would be a good course in Rhetoric.  Many schools call their basic composition class a rhetoric class.  That isn’t the class I’m speaking of here.  Rhetoric is the study of the art of argumentation and discourse with the aim of improving one’s ability to persuade, influence, and motivate–ethically.  You’ll acquire tools that will help you become a better communicator and you’ll be able to recognize some of the flim flam manipulation strategies used in marketing (and heaven forbid, by sellers also).

Next I would suggest an Introduction to Logic course.  Although it is true that emotion plays a strong part in the sales process, so does logic, especially in more sophisticated sales environments.  A course in logic can help attune you to how easy it is to go awry when constructing an argument.  You will learn about deductive and inductive reasoning along with consistency, validity, and completeness, as well as learning about logical fallacies of which there are a ton.  And to your delight, you’ll have the joy (sarcasm here) of analyzing syllogism after syllogism after syllogism. The important thing is you’ll learn how to recognize logical inconsistencies and how to construct an argument that holds together and leads to a logical conclusion.

After your introductory course I’d advise you go one step further and take a symbolic logic course.  You’ll get further immersed in the rules of logic and go well beyond the syllogism.  After this class you should be able to recognize logical fallacies and be able to knock those false arguments down.  (And if you’re not good at or are afraid of math you need not know that this is a course taught in conjunction with the math department and is usually a senior level math class.)

Of course none of these courses are necessary to be a seller–or to be a top seller.  But I guarantee they will make you a better seller.  Take a look at your local college or university’s offerings and register for a class next fall.  You will be glad you did (but maybe not until after the semester).

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