Yesterday I wrote a post about the difference between show horses and plow horses. The show horse believes the sale is made during the final presentation. The plow horse knows that the sale is won before there ever is a final presentation—and much of the time when there is only one presentation: the plow horse’s.
Show horses believe the life’s blood of the sales organization is closing. Plow horses know that the life’s blood of the sales organization is prospecting. Predicting your results in sales is more easily determined by looking at your ability to open relationships than by looking at your ability to close deals.
Your 90-Day Prospecting Plan
If you want to improve your sales, improve your prospecting. For the next 90 days, double—or triple—the time you spend prospecting. Instead of using the one prospecting method you use because you are comfortable with it, stretch out and use all of the prospecting means available to you.
- Start by writing down how many hours per week you prospect now. Multiply that number by two. If you would be audacious in your goals, multiply it by three. If the result is not double digits, you did not multiply by a high enough number.
- Make an appointment with yourself to prospect each day. Write the time on your calendar at the beginning of the week, and keep your commitment to yourself. Remove all of the distractions, and seriously exercise your self-discipline; this is the master key to sales effectiveness.
- Spend that time cold calling your best dream clients and your coldest non-opportunities. Start with the list of opportunities that you lost; those old dream clients are still your dream.
Spend that time calling and asking your best and most loyal customers for referrals.
Reach out through LinkedIn to make connections and find your way into your dream client’s company.
Go to networking events and do more than sit at your table and swap business cards. Find a way to help others make the connections that they need, and ask for help making the connections that you need.
Attend an industry conference or two. If it isn’t in the budget, sell inside and get what you need.
- Write a twelve-month nurturing plan for your top 100 dream clients. Start by making a list of the clients who, were you win them, would have the greatest impact on your sales—and for whom your work would make all of the difference in their world.
- Get together with a group of like-minded colleagues, friends, your sales team, or your networking buddies and make a list of 26 ways that you can communicate, touch, or create value for these clients before you ever claim any value.
Maybe you can introduce them to their dream client. Maybe you have a white paper that will help them think through an issue that you know they are struggling with. Maybe you and your team can come onsite to give them a presentation on your area of expertise (without the sales pitch—your business acumen and situational knowledge is your sales pitch). Maybe you have industry-specific knowledge that you can share with them, and that they would have trouble acquiring on their own.
Nothing is off limits. Nothing.
- Write a schedule outlining when and how you will execute each one of the ideas on your nurture list. Put them on the calendar. With your 26 ideas, you have something to do every two weeks. Whatever happens, whether your offers are accepted or refused, whether they are responded to or not, stay the course and nurture these relationships.
If you double, triple, or quadruple the time you spend prospecting, you will generate greater performance on the all-important front end of your pipeline. If you add to the methods that you choose to use for prospecting, and if you vary your approach to finding a way into some of your dream clients, you will greatly improve your sales pipeline where it really counts.
Nothing that isn’t opened ever closes.
Your 12-Month Nurturing Plan
Getting in with your dream clients requires a dedicated campaign and consistent effort over time. The goal of every contact and communication should be to schedule that appointment, but you must be prepared to go the distance. Your nurture toolkit is the key.
Take the 90/12 challenge; if you do so for the 90 days, you will see results and you will set yourself up for a rocking New Year. If you nurture for the next 12 months, you’ll bust your way out of the bottom 80%.
For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.
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