I'm going to make a bold prediction: First quarter is going to be lighter than the rest and it's going to be harder to get your fair share with all the competition out there.
I?m confident in making that prediction because I've heard it every year. Salespeople make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You could have the best first quarter and year you've ever had. Some will, some won't. The difference? Preparation.
Let's start with a definition of preparedness:
Preparedness refers to a very concrete research-based set of actions that are taken as precautionary measures in the face of potential disasters. These actions can include both physical preparations (such as emergency supplies depots, adapting buildings to survive earthquakes and so on) and trainings for emergency action. Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes.
According to the definition, preparedness includes both physical and mental readiness to face whatever is ahead of you. The one sentence that really resonated with me from the definition is: "Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes." Wow, it's that important.
In sales, and in less complex terminology, preparedness involves having the right attitudes and behaviors.
If your attitude is wrong, the behaviors won't matter much. So let's start with the right attitude. Here are the three vibes you should have with your clients:
1. I'm happy to be here
2. I know what I'm talking about
3. I love what I'm doing
The second component of sales preparedness is behavioral. Are you doing enough of the behaviors necessary to set yourself up for a great first quarter and 2015? Those behaviors can be broken down in to three categories:
1. Prospecting/New Business Development
2. Pipeline Management
3. Current Customer Maximization
The end of the year is a great time for "clean-up" and getting organized. With respect to each of those behaviors, let?s look at the types of things you can do right now.
Prospecting/New Business Development: We have a tool called the "Ten Most Wanted" list. It allows you to track the progress of 10 prospects through the 16-step sales process. I'm happy to send you the tool if you request it by email. At least 10-15 percent of your time each week should be devoted exclusively to prospecting and new-business development. This tool can help you stay focused.
Pipeline Management: Don't get "hooked on hopium." Clean out your pipeline of dead and dying deals. Research indicates that 90 percent of projected deals don't close when they are projected to close. Fifty-four percent of deals don't close at all. Is your pipeline filled with "hope?" Here is a good rule: If you are not on the calendar with a scheduled next appointment with your prospect or customer, then there shouldn't be any number in your pipeline for that client. Sound harsh? If you?re not important enough to be on their calendar, they aren?t close enough to be in your pipeline. Remove those clients and see how much you really have. Then you can adjust your prospecting or current customer maximization to meet your income goals.
Current Customer Maximization: Simple things you can do to ensure that you are providing unexpected service to your clients. The quickest way to increase your billing is to have your current clients increase their spending. Happy clients, clients getting results, spend more and renew without any issue.
As we end 2014, ask yourself:
? Am I happy to be here?
? Do I know what I'm talking about?
? Do I love what I'm doing?
? Am I devoting enough time each week to prospecting and new business development?
? Do I have enough real clients in my pipeline? (On the calendar for a next meeting)
? Are my current clients more than satisfied?
At the risk of sounding dramatic, the answers to those questions will reveal how prepared you are for 2015 and how much success you will enjoy in 2015. The beauty of a sales career is that you are single-handedly responsible for your preparation and readiness. The beast of a sales career is that you are single handedly responsible for your preparation and readiness.
Are you ready?
Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach Jeff at Jeff.Schmidt@Sparque.biz
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