My previous blog in this series, Change How You Think, provided some helpful tools and tips for salespeople dealing with a lack of motivation to cold call, an unhealthy attitude towards their role in a cold call conversation, and the unfortunate plague that is call anxiety. Change How You Act will address how to leverage day planning, account blueprinting, and CRM use for every sales professional looking to increase success in prospecting. I think it is important to remember that Action precedes motivation.
As part of a sales consulting firm, I know that most sales professionals have a routine, and that changing your sales process can be difficult, but rewarding. Every person and industry is different, but if you’re looking to build a winning sales process, I would encourage you to consider changing a few little things that will give you more efficient use of your time so you can sell better.
Chances are, your current process includes tips and tricks that help you be successful in how you sell to your customers. If you are trying to get better, which everyone should be, there are some habits you should consider leveraging more effectively. These habits should fit into your current sales process; if you don’t have a defined sales process, I highly suggest getting one. The first habit I encourage you to adopt keeping track of when your prospects answer the phone, then calling them at those times. Secondly, limit the amount of time you spend blueprinting a particular account and you’ll be amazed at your time savings. Lastly, if you don’t use a CRM system to track your activities and progress, start.
Set Your Meetings With Prospects
Chances are that you plan your day, look at your calendar, and make it to scheduled meetings on time. What about your unscheduled meetings? Your meetings with prospects. By timing your calls to prospects around their schedules, you are much more likely to get them to pick up the phone. Keep track of when you get through to your prospects, and you will notice that patterns emerge. One pattern I’ve noticed, consulting across a breadth of industries, is that decision makers are more likely to answer their own phones just before or after regular business hours. Decision makers tend to work longer hours than their secretaries, meaning they have to screen their own calls outside of business hours. Setting a meeting with yourself to call during these times can greatly impact ability to have a good conversation with a decision maker. The window of optimal calling can be different for every niche, so find what works best with your prospects, and use it!
When you call at these optimal times, don’t make just one call. If you have truly isolated an optimal time for calling, do your blueprinting during the slow times, and save your outbound prospecting for times you know you are more likely to get someone to pick up the phone. I find this to be a common mistake made by inside sales professionals make because they get caught up in the story they create for the lead, but be patient. Having the discipline to blueprint a stack of leads when your prospects are busy so that you can be most effective when your prospects are free will have a positive impact on your number of good conversations.
Blueprint. Don’t Write A Novel
How much time are you spending on blueprinting? It’s really easy to start blueprinting and lose an hour or more working on an obscure account. It’s easy to think that you’re working really hard with all that research too. Here’s a newsflash: In most cases, you only need about 10 minutes to blueprint a new account before calling them. What? 10 minutes? That’s right.
Remember the goal of blueprinting: understand enough about the prospect that you can tailor your message to them. As long as you know a few of the basics like where they are located, a few of their lines of business, maybe a contact you have there, it shows the prospect that you’re engaged with them. That’s the goal. The goal is not to unload trivia about their company’s history, so you don’t need it. Never be unprepared, but realize what you really need in order to bring value to a conversation.
CRM Helps You Get The Most From Your Efforts
Most prospectors quit calling after 3 attempts, while it usually takes 5-7 calls to speak to a prospect. How do you keep track of your attempts? How do you stay motivated to call the same prospect 7 times? You record your calls in your CRM system, and don’t stop until you hit your goal. The CRM system will not make the calls for you, but it can keep you accountable to the goals you set for yourself. You wouldn’t be in sales if you didn’t like setting goals, and getting into the habit of recording your activity in CRM can help you meet more of those goals. Setting and meeting goals will be covered in more detail in my next blog, Change How You Think.
Another excellent reason to record your activities and account status in CRM is so you and your team have a record of the account history. If you come back to an account after a year, or the account is transitioned to someone else, your notes and recorded activity provide a huge advantage over starting from scratch. Because of the collaborative nature of a social CRM, management can see your hard work, and can provide coaching and kudos because of the available information.
Every person and every industry are different, but there are habits that are universally beneficial to outbound prospectors. Adapting when you contact your prospects to when they are most likely to take your calls will dramatically improve how often you have good conversations with them. By placing a time limit on your blueprinting process, you force yourself out of procrastination and into efficiency so you can spend more time prospecting and selling. Logging your daily activity and account status into CRM improves your personal performance, your team’s performance, and your management’s visibility. By practicing and implementing these habits, you will be able to watch your prospecting and sales performance improve right before your eyes.