Bad sales habits: we all have them and they’re tough to break. Business development is a constant numbers game so it can be difficult to take a step back at times and analyze negative sales habits that we have picked up along the way. Think about your current sales practices and see if you share any of the bad sales habits I’ve listed below:
Go look at the Drafts folder in your email account. Go ahead, I’ll wait. If you are like me or many other sales reps out there, you will most likely find at least a few emails that have been started, but not finished and follow-up or prospecting emails left unsent. Why? Because salespeople have short attention spans!
Whenever the hottest email or phone call comes in, we drop everything to focus on what we think could be the next big thing. All the while we lose focus on the current task and run the risk of ignoring deals and prospects that are already in the pipeline.
For example, last week I spent about three hours preparing for a presentation and meeting with a prospect that ended up lasting two hours. Including previous calls and meetings, my time investment with this particular prospect was already at about seven hours in just two weeks. Needless to say my “deal fatigue” was at an all-time high by the time the final meeting concluded. The last thing I wanted to do was think about how to send a comprehensive follow-up and meeting recap immediately after the meeting. I was ready to move onto other deals.
Instead I sucked it up and blocked out all other tasks and distractions before moving on from the particular deal. Many of us think that we are being more productive by multitasking. However, being a successful sales rep hinges on the ability to thoroughly complete the task at hand before moving on to other opportunities. The next time you are tempted to open another email that pops up or shift your focus to another deal or prospect, make sure you have completed the task you are currently working on in a comprehensive and unrushed manner.
2. Not Prioritizing Opportunities
Think about your current sales pipeline as it is today. Can you instantly identify your 3-5 most pressing deals based on budget, the authority of your POC, the need for your services, and if the time is right for the prospect to move forward? If your answer is “no” or “give me a second to look through some notes”, you are most likely not prioritizing your deals. This also means that you are not prioritizing the time and effort that you are putting into each deal or prospect.
Develop a list of criteria that are the most important factors in your sales qualification process. Here at Brightlark, we qualify new opportunities based on three main factors: 1) Can we actually help? 2) Do the prospect’s goals align with our services? and 3) Does the prospect have a realistic budget to accomplish these goals? Assign a numeric value and rank your prospects and deals based on their alignment with your sales qualification factors. This way you can stay organized and on-task by making sure that you are responsive and attentive to your most pressing opportunities.
3. Preparation vs. Prospecting
A common dilemma I face on a daily basis is the trade off between prospecting for new opportunities or providing added value to the prospects currently in my pipeline. In other words, do I call someone new or do I try to win over someone I already know?
Typically this leads to me making a few calls, then checking emails, and then being pulled into a completely different task until I have forgotten about the rest of my prospecting calls for the day. No one likes cold calling or emailing so it’s easy to find other seemingly good reasons to focus on something else instead.
I have found that the most effective way to prospect for new business is to set aside a day or two out of the week to do nothing but focus on cold calling and emailing. Within these days I will set aside blocks of two hours at a time so that I am truly in a “cold calling zone” and can maintain the motivation to complete a significant amount of calls and emails. By quarantining your prospecting into a day of the week and a certain set of time increments, you will maintain the momentum to make a significant impact in your sales pipeline. Organize your prospecting activities in an efficient manner to stay hungry and make more connections.
4. The Valueless Follow Up
“Hey, just checking in.” or “Hi, I’m reaching out again as you didn’t reply to my earlier email.” Ever gotten an email that starts like this from someone trying to sell you something? I get them all the time and even worse, I’ve sent them myself! The problem here is that the sender is providing no actual value to the recipient as they try to create a relationship. Strong prospecting emails should be personalized and include a tip or something of value that is unique to the recipient.
Before sending another canned prospecting email, spend the extra five minutes to consider what unique benefit or value you are providing that will help the person with which you are seeking to establish a relationship. No one cares about your website or resources until you have proven that you care enough to learn who they are and how they can improve.
February 9, 2017