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How To A Follow A Checklist To Improve Sales

alt text image of a woman making a list as a metaphor for How To A Follow A Checklist To Improve Sales

One way to ensure your results is to use a checklist to ensure you have what you need to succeed, including the outcomes you need to achieve. The following list will help you improve your sales by making sure you have what you need, and that you obtain the results you need.

Target Checklist

  • Dream Clients: If you are going to succeed in sales, you need to pursue two major outcomes. The first outcome is opportunity creation, and the second is opportunity capture. You make it easier to acquire those opportunities when you have identified your dream clients, the people, and companies that will benefit from what you sell.
  • Multiple Contacts: If you are going to prospect effectively and efficiently, you need multiple contacts. A list of people with the titles and roles of those who care most about what you sell will increase the potential entry points available to you when you start prospecting.
  • An Effective Theory About Change: Before you start reaching out to contacts, it’s essential to have a theory as to why they should change what they are doing now. Without a compelling theory, you are left pitching your company and your product, an inferior approach.

Prospecting Checklist

  • Contact Names and Numbers: You need to do enough research in front of your prospecting to generate a list of contact names, email addresses, and phone numbers. By separating the work of building your contact list first, you increase your efficiency when you begin your outreach.
  • An Effective Prospecting Cadence or Cadences: You can expect it to take time and effort to obtain a meeting with your dream client. You can count on it requiring multiple touches over time. A prospecting cadence provides you with a series of communications that allow you to professionally persist over time, eventually succeeding in the acquisition of a meeting.
  • No-Ask Content to Nurture Relationships: Prospecting is a request for a meeting to potentially create a new opportunity for and with a prospective client. It requires that one ask for that meeting. But not all communications need to be an ask. A professional pursuit plan will include content your dream client will find valuable and allow you to capture mindshare. You need content you can send without asking for a meeting.
  • Value to Trade for Your Prospect’s Time: You need something of value to trade for your dream client’s time. You need something you can promise that will benefit the contacts you are meeting with–even if there is no next step for you. When you know you have something of value, your conviction makes it easier for your prospective client to agree to a meeting.
  • The Commitment to Explore and Change: You need the commitment to explore change at this stage. At some point, you have to ask your prospective client if it makes sense to do something about their challenges and if they are willing to commit to the process.

Discovery Checklist

  • Strong Market Insights and Ideas: You need the business acumen, the situational knowledge, and a keen interest in business to be valuable to your dream clients. Your knowledge needs to cover the gaps your dream client may have since they buy what you sell infrequently, and their experience is limited when compared to yours. If you can’t help them make sense of their world and understand why they should explore change, you will have limited effectiveness in discovery.
  • Deep Understanding of Their Implications: It is necessary that you possess a deep understanding of why your dream client should change. If there is nothing driving change, and if there are no negative consequences for maintaining the status quo, you will not struggle to help your client explore change, as they will lack the motivation.
  • Questions That Allow You to Help Your Client Discover Something About Themselves: Discovery has long been limited to the idea that you are there to learn about your client, and this is true, to an extent. It may also position you as an undifferentiated salesperson with little to offer. Modern discovery requires that you help your dream client discover something about themselves, including why and how they might think about change.
  • Questions That Deepen Your Understanding: Even though you need to help your dream client learn something about themselves, you still need to deepen your understanding of your client’s challenges, precisely the root cause of their problems, as well as what is going to be necessary for them to achieve the better results they need and why.
  • A Plan for Building Consensus: There is no longer a decision-maker. There are only decision-makers. Effective discovery requires an agreement to acquire meetings with stakeholders who need to be involved with the decision to do something different. Ignoring the reality of who makes the decision to buy will cause you to spend time on deals that aren’t likely to go anywhere.
  • The Commitment to Collaborate and Build Consensus: You need the commitments to collaborate on what the right answer might look like, as well as engaging the people who are going to decide to move forward with you.

Presentation and Proposal Checklist

  • An Understanding of the Client’s Current State: Before you present and provide a proposal to your dream client, you need to ensure you can adequately describe their current state and the implications of the status quo. You must be able to tell the story as to why their goals need to change.
  • A Clear View of the Client’s Desired Future State: You also need a clear view of the better future outcomes you are going to help enable. As the person guiding them on this journey, you need to be able to describe that future and the positive consequences of change.
  • An Agreement on What the Right Solution Looks Like: The first time your client sees your solution should not be your presentation or proposal. You should already have an agreement on what the right solution looks like, with the presentation and proposal codifying what you have previously agreed to do together with your dream client.
  • A Plan and Path to the Desired Future State: How are you going to execute this plan together? What are the critical projects and tasks to reach the future state? What are the milestones you’ll use as markers on your way to better outcomes?
  • The Right Investment for the Outcomes: You also don’t want your dream client to discover the investment you are asking them to make during your presentation and proposal. You want an agreement on what the investment is going to be before you ever provide it to your dream client. You want to make sure your final answer is correct.
  • The Commitment to Invest, Review, and Resolve Concerns: By this point, you need to have had a conversation about the necessary investment, reviewed the solution, and to have resolved any concerns that might have caused your client to hesitate moving forward.

Acquisition Checklist

  • A List of Items You Need from Your Prospective Client: There is a sort of no man’s land between proposal and negotiation that doesn’t get much attention. You need your dream client to provide you with the things you need to move forward, like contact lists, data, information, or a meeting with their legal team to review contracts. You need a list of what is necessary and an agreement to acquire the things on this list.
  • A List of Things Your Client Needs From You: Your client is going to need you to provide them with the things they need to move forward. They may need your contact lists, your project plan, access to people on your team, or some other resource. As you bring on new clients, you will develop a list of things that help you execute.
  • An Agreement on Next Steps: You also need an agreement on the next steps.

Negotiation Checklist

  • An Agreement That You Have Been Chosen: You don’t want to negotiate if you haven’t been chosen. If your prospect has selected you, then you can begin negotiating.
  • An Agreement That You Are Negotiating: You don’t want to negotiate multiple times with multiple people. If you are negotiating, you need an agreement that a successful negotiation will end with you and your dream client signing a contract and putting your solution in place.
  • An Understanding of What Your Prospect Needs from You: You are always going to be asked to reduce your price; your client is trying to do right by their company in getting the best deal possible. You don’t want to negotiate without knowing what they want and why they want it, so you can ensure that they don’t underinvest in the better outcome they need.
  • An Agreement on What You Can Negotiate in Trade: You need to know what you want in trade for what you give in a negotiation. There are things that you may value enough to trade for what your dream client wants or needs from you. You improve your ability to negotiate when you know what you want before negotiating.

Execution Checklist

  • A Signed Contract and Client Forms: You cannot start executing without a contract and without acquiring all the things you need to set up a client in your systems.
  • A List of What Your Operations Team Needs from You: You need to set your team up for success in taking care of your new client. You need to know what they need to flawlessly execute and help set up the next opportunity for your client. The more you help enable your team, the better the result they will produce for you.
  • An Internal Kickoff Meeting to Align Your Teams: Your operations team may not have been part of your meetings with your new client. An internal kickoff meeting provides you with an opportunity to share the outcomes you promised your new client, as well as the reasons they changed. You don’t want your team to make the same mistake that caused your new client to remove their previous partner.
  • A Timeline for Accountability Meetings: There is no reason to wait until you have a problem to engage with your client or your team. You perform better when you review your performance at the thirty-day mark to make sure you are progressing towards better outcomes. You may eventually settle on quarterly business reviews, but by establishing a higher frequency early in the relationship, you ensure your success.

If you want to professionalize your approach, a good checklist can keep you on track, and it can ensure you obtain the outcomes you need to ensure success in sales.

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