Change is hard for most people, but only through change can we grow. The New Year is the perfect time to take a hard look at what worked in your sales approach and what didn’t deliver for you in 2017, to break ineffective sales habits, and to resolve to adjust your approach. Consider these four resolutions for 2018 to ensure you start the year ahead of the pack. While seemingly fundamental on the surface, mastering these sales skills will transform your sales performance.
Stop winging it. I don’t care how good you think you are, you are always better with preparation – from the initial call with a prospect, to the first meeting, to the formal presentation. Research the prospect and his business. Prepare the high-impact questions that will demonstrate your value as a business partner.
Anticipate the objections and the questions each prospect will ask, and practice your response. Any prospect worth calling on is worth the prep.
Be militant with your follow through. It is baffling why any sales rep would work hard to secure a meeting and then drop the ball. If you tell a prospect they will hear back in two days, that doesn’t mean three. If you say you will send a piece of follow-up material, send it the first moment you have available, preferably within 24 hours. Your lack of follow through sends a message to your prospect that they don’t matter to you, regardless of your real intention.
Earn the right not to prospect. Many a salesperson puts off prospecting, preferring instead to focus on easier tasks. It is understandable, as prospecting is a tough business where only the disciplined survive. Perhaps the single most impactful change you could make to your sales routine in 2018 is to make prospecting – or lead generation – the first task you tackle at the top of every day. You will likely find yourself with extra time on your hands, as you may have been unknowingly stretching out your other activities to fill your day, leaving limited time for prospecting. In 2018, earn the right to focus on non-lead-generating activities by ensuring you first meet your daily targets before any additional work commences.
Recognize that the real journey isn’t closing. The old sales adage “always be closing” should be banned from sales training. See your job as that of consultant, where your life’s work is to identify prospect challenges and overcome them, even when the solution is not your own. Not every prospect can truly benefit from what you are selling, and not every prospect will make a future ideal customer for you. Recognizing that you are not walking into each prospect meeting to necessarily land a sale can be freeing, and it’s the right thing to do.
Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.