Most people start the day wading through email, searching for what they might do next and allowing other people’s priorities to drive their actions. Their work is not active but merely reactive, as they wait for some external force to move them.
By contrast, successful salespeople know what they want and what they need to do to produce those results. In B2B sales, the list of necessary actions is fairly short, but it must dominate your time, your energy, and your focus. The more consistently you do these six things each day, the better your results will be.
Prospecting— actively seeking prospective clients and scheduling meetings with them— is critical to sales success. Every day should include at least some prospecting! Because you have significant autonomy in professional sales, you need to match that freedom with discipline. Prospecting may seem optional, partly since there are no immediate repercussions from failing to prospect, but the longer you go without it, the further behind you fall.
Creating New Opportunities
Opportunity drives the two most critical outcomes in sales. Creating opportunities means meeting with prospective clients to explore change, identify the better results they need, discuss how you can help them, and plan ways to continue the conversation. Winning the deal is simply capturing that opportunity!
The more time and energy you put into creating new opportunities, the more opportunities you will create— and the more opportunities you pursue, the more certain you are to reach your goals.
Advancing Existing Opportunities
Pulling results forward in time helps you win deals sooner rather than later, so you can deliver the better outcomes your prospective clients need as quickly as you can. In B2B sales, advancing those opportunities requires having a number of conversations over some period of time. You can’t skip over these conversations without risking the opportunity, but you can control the process and consistently move them forward.
Doing so each day helps your prospective clients make and keep the commitments to the conversations they need to have with you— and their own team— while moving closer to the better results you are helping them achieve.
Nurturing Your Dream Clients
You often have to displace competitors to reach your dream clients: those clients who will benefit the most from what you do. Dream clients tend to be larger firms that recognize your products as both important and strategic. They also have a contract and a relationship with a competitor. Unless you are lucky enough to catch them at exactly the right moment, you are going to need to nurture relationships within the company, shaping their view of their challenges and staying alive in their minds, until there is an opportunity for a meeting.
Much like prospecting, there is no immediate penalty for failing to do this work. But the long-term consequences are deadly: missing the opportunity to compete for a great client’s business because they didn’t know you or because you gave up and disappeared. Selling effectively is a game of patient, professional persistence.
Following Up on Existing Clients
No matter what you sell, you are responsible for the outcomes you sold your clients. Your accountability for those results is one of the most important parts of professional selling. When you follow up to ensure your client’s success, you are honoring your responsibility and making it easier for your client to award you the next opportunity, because you treated them like a partner, not a transaction. That helps you earn their next project or initiative, not just because you supplied a good product but because you took care of them after they bought from you.
Planning Sales Calls and Meetings
It’s easy to undervalue the gift of a contact’s time. Time is a single, finite, and non-renewable asset. Your contacts expect you to use their time wisely, creating value for them even if they don’t buy from you (the Trading Value rule). The time you spend preparing for a meeting with a prospective client provides you with an agenda, a theory about the problems or challenges they are facing (or soon will face), so you can anticipate questions and prepare answers. Showing up unprepared wastes both their time and your opportunity.
Most salespeople can improve their results by eliminating distractions and non-sales work, focusing instead on creating the outcomes that lead to success in sales. Some days you will have more luck than others, which is why you have to consistently work on creating and winning new opportunities. Over time, the effort you put into these activities will enhance your results and boost your success.
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