Much has been written about today`s massive information overload. We are in constant “alert” mode due to the never ending influx of emails or calls. So it is pretty easy to get distracted from your really important and relevant tasks resulting in being a sales champion. In those days, to me, it is more important than ever remembering the 80/20 law of Pareto. Applied to your sales portfolio, it means that 20% of your customers (or less) account to 80% (or more) of your revenue. The relation could also be 10/90 or 25/75. You get the idea. It also means that during 20% of the time you spend working every day, you get 80% done.
Everyone falls under this rule, if we like to or not. The trick is to apply this to your daily sales routine by maximising your time on the 20% tasks leading to 80% of your results. Some of the best habits I adopted and which helped me exceeding my sales targets were based on the books of Steve Schiffmann (www.steveschiffman.com).
1. Call your prospective customers when no one else does
When I started off my career in sales, I would walk into the office, start with my emails first and then start calling, typically from around 9am. In many instances, I would not reach the decision maker because she would be in a meeting or I would talk to her secretary, commonly referred to as “gatekeeper”. How to get around them is a topic for another article.
Then, I tried to call from 8am to 8.45am or after 5pm. Most decision makers come in early and stay late. When I adopted that, I increased my success rate in securing appointments by 25% and reduced the time I would spend on the phone cold calling by 50%. To my experience, there is no bad day for calling a prospective customer, there are just bad excuses.
2. Know and measure your ratios
If you know how many calls you need in order to secure a meeting and measure how many different clients you need to see in order to close a deal, you can use those numbers as benchmark for your daily sales routine. Here`s an example. It took me on average 10 calls to get 1 appointment. I had a closing ratio of roughly 1 in 5 so with my daily cold calling routine I could obtain one customer per week. Allowing yourself 4 weeks of holiday p.a., it means that you can obtain 48 new customers p.a. If we are very conservative and cut this number in half this is still 2 dozen customers a year. Brand new ones. If each customer gives you an average revenue of EUR 50,000 this is EUR 1.2 Million p.a. Remember, this is a very conservative estimate.
3. Secure the second meeting at the end of the first meeting
This to me, is one of the most effective and yet “easiest to implement” tools to instantly shorten your sales cycle.
Over the course of my sales career I did that at the end of every first meeting I had with a prospective customer. This gave me 2 advantages.
First, I instantly got feedback whether I made a positive or negative impression to the buyer and second, I knew straight away on how much of a priority my services were to her. If a problem really concerns you and someone sits in front of you whom you can trust to possibly solve it, you naturally like to see the person again.
Not every first appointment leads to a deal of course. So this also helps to focus more on pursuing the “right” potential customers and not chasing “squirrels”.