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Cast Your Vote for 2013 Growth

So…Election Day has past. Did you vote? Did you cast your ballot for what it is that you believe in? Did you put in the effort to understand the issues, the politics, and the possible outcomes of your vote? Did you go out of your way and stand in line to exercise one of the biggest honors and responsibilities that you have as an American? Do you understand that we have people fighting every day in foreign lands so that you can exercise this right? And now that the votes are all in and the results are all in place, are you happy with the outcome? Will you now take a stand to facilitate change that is necessary or will you complain about circumstances that are present?
As an entrepreneur, a leader/manager, or a sales professional you get up each and every day to cast your ballot. You make a choice every day (many times a day) to ELECT to do what is necessary to get the results that you desire. There are many people that every day follow the lead of others and ELECT to be told what they are due in this world…but not you! YOU decide the vote you will cast to make those extra calls. YOU decide the ballot spot you will mark in your preparation efforts before every meeting, sales call, or decision you make. YOU decide your strategy, your approach, and your follow through. Therefore, this election season, I offer to you, regardless of your party or politician of choice, a FIVE POINT PLAN for your the growth of your company, your team, and/or your personal book of business for the future:

1-Define it-Design it!
Right now, I ELECT to decide what my 2013 will look like. I will set my company, team, and personal goals by defining my VISION for results this year. My VISION will determine my mission and thus, the changes that I must make to accomplish that VISION. No longer will I suffer the dysfunction of the masses by letting things and circumstances decide my results. I will decide

2-Preparation Before Execution

Today I begin to start down the path of strategic thought before committed action.  I will spend at least 5 minutes prior to each sales call or each meeting deciding, in advance, what I have in mind for an ideal outcome of the meeting.  I will declare (and write-down) targeted take-aways prior to the meeting, forcing me to THINK from all perspectives and take into account all those involved in the sales call or the meeting.  I will always have a plan before I get into the battle.

3-Growth
I realize I cannot accomplish more than I have without becoming more than I am.  I commit to my professional growth this year by increasing my exposure to new ideas, new strategies, and new actions.  I must learn more than I know today and I must take paths that I have previously not taken.  The marketplace demands more from every sales professional.  Every sales team can grow sales and profits on the wisdom, guidance, and coaching of their leader.  And the marketplace certainly demands more from every sales professional.  This year, I will rise to meet those demands. I will read more, write more, speak more, seek more coaching, more mentorship, and never cease.

4-Visibility

In order for my organization, my team and/or my marketplace to engage more with me and thus, do more business with and/or for me, I must become more visible.  If I am not visible to those with whom I choose to grow, I am, in fact, IN-visible.  I will learn ways to network better and more often.  I will schedule specific visibility both physically and online every week.  I will add value though all of these efforts.  I will connect, engage, and offer assistance everywhere.  I will become known for these things and create a brand of excellence that is known to the masses.  I will become more than I am currently to all of those who know me and many that do not as of yet know me.  And I will define my brand.

5-Action

The greatest secret all accomplishment is ACTION.  With the focus of the Four points above, ACTION is the secret to ignite them all.  I realize that I do not have to be great to start, but in order to be great, I must START!  Every day, I will take a bit more action.  I will make 5 more sales calls, meet with 1 more employee (and listen to them), or offer a bit more coaching to my people.  I will not only plan my work but I will put more effort into working my plan!  I will get up earlier, stay a little later and truly be present as I morph myself and my team/organization into World-Class results.

As a professional today, you need to ELECT to follow a plan for a better future, if only for the upcoming year.  Cast your vote now to unseat the complacent, comfortable incumbent that resides in your office!  GO—BE—DO!

How to use your to-do list to be more successful

The to-do list is more than just a good idea. It’s a necessity.

So how do you make a list that will accommodate all the stuff that gets thrown at you, and still enable you to stay on track?

At the end of the day, you plan for the next day. You prioritize and get your A items listed out. Those are the must-do items.

Your B items are your should-do items.

Your C items are your nice-to-do items. Now this is where most sales people fall into a trap, and  focus too much time on their nice-to-do’s .

The nice-to-do’s might be lunch with a colleague, running an errand. Let’s face it. When you’re doing this stuff, you’re not working on the clock. You’re not necessarily punching a clock You don’t have a manager looking over your shoulder, asking “Where are you? What are you doing?”

And you’re in the field. So you can run those errands. You can stop home. Pick up the dry cleaning. Things like that. Nice-to-do’s. But the nice-to-do’s can eat up your day. Be careful with the nice-to-do’s. I’m not saying always avoid them. Nice-to-do’s can also be disguised as “Well this is important,” like visiting an existing customer.

If you don’t have a purpose for your call, visiting the existing customer is just visiting. And visiting is nice to do. Visiting with a plan takes it up a notch, and it’s more efficient use of your time. So your C items, be careful with what you’re doing.

You move to your D items, the ones that should be delegated to somebody else.

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Want to get more done? Add two hours to your day

It turns out you can’t really manage time, after all.

But it is possible to accomplish more things during a certain amount of time, if you have a plan.

Let’s take it down to the micro-view: When you have a to-do list, every day, then chances are you’ve got a road map on which to run.

Now, we all know that more stuff comes up during the day. A customer calls with their hair on fire, and you’ve got to take care of something. Something got left out the truck, and you’ve got to run a two-hour round trip out to their place of business.

How do we prepare to accomplish the things that we want to accomplish each day, even as all these other things are coming up?

Say I need to accomplish two ½ days worth of work on Tuesday. It’s going to be sales-related, administrative-related, strategic as well as tactical. On top of that, I’ve got a two-year old at home who I want to spend some time with. And I’d still like to get that workout in the morning. And walk my daughter to school.

There are things that are going to have to get accomplished, so I need to prepare by making a list.

The best and most efficient time managers are those people who plan every day the night before. Every day, you need to have a list of everything that you got to accomplish the next day. And it needs to be ranked in order of importance: A, B, C, D and E.

The A items are the must-do’s. They are of heavy importance and there will be major consequences if you don’t get them accomplished. Those are the things with serious deadlines. They have heavy priorities attached, your priorities or your manager’s priorities.

But there are several of them, too often, during the day that we have to accomplish. Now those are the first things that we work on, the most important things. Now, typically if they’re big, nasty, hairy projects that are going to take a couple of hours of our time we have a tendency to kind of put those off and say, “OK, I’m going to schedule some time in the day, my quiet time…”

No. First thing every day you need to attack those. Now, you’ve got the Golden 120 in the morning, from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m.

You want to get more done? Get up early. From seven, eight o’clock in the morning until five, six o’clock at night you’re at the mercy of everybody else’s priorities. Everybody else’s screaming and jumping up and down complaining. You’re at the mercy of your manager. You’re at the mercy of your family. You’re at the mercy of your customers and so forth.

You want to be a winner? If you want to get more done with your time, give yourself more time. Get up early. Get in the five o’clock club and stop complaining that you never have any time for yourself because from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. is your time — 120 minutes of uninterrupted  time to advance your most critical priorities and goals. Just do it.

Next week we’ll look closer at how to create a prioritized list that will keep you on track.

Photo by dicktay2000, via Creative Commons 2.o.

Are you selling smart?

If you’re a sales professional, you probably woke up one day and said, “How do I make $250,000?”

I’m sure you didn’t wake up and say, “I can’t wait to do an email marketing campaign.” You didn’t wake up and say, “I can’t wait to do some more paperwork.”

You could wake up and say, “I’m a sales professional. I rock. I am awesome when I’m in front of customers. They like me. They like my products. They like my prices. The more time I can spend out there with them, the more time I’m going to spend at the bank making deposits.”

Whether you’re going to define success monetarily like I just did, or you’re going to define it by saying, “I have more success because I can make the money that I’m making today and work about 60 percent of the time on the right things instead of having to work these 70 and 80 hour weeks doing at least 30 hours of those doing non sales work.”

What’s your highest and best use? Where do you thrive? For most of us it’s not banging the phones, not on paperwork or filling out reports, not the Excel spreadsheets. For the majority of us in sales, that’s working smart to get deals moving down the field.

Working smart means doing the things that are going to grow the relationship and add value to those people who are doing business with us today.

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The three keys to success in sales

There are three main things that as a sales professional you need to focus on every day.

Here’s the first thing:

Doing the things necessary to get in front of qualified prospective buyers.

Most people say, “Well, he means picking up the phone and prospecting.”
Well, that could be a small part of it, but cold calling into a marketplace that doesn’t know you is a lesson in frustration. If you’re doing that, you need to identify the companies or people you want to go after. Identify them, profile them, find out what they would be willing to pay for, find out what they find valuable and then write blog posts about that and make sure they see them.

I’m talking about doing the things necessary to get in front of prospective buyers and  becoming visible in that marketplace. That’s prospecting to me.

Here’s the second thing:

Understand your sales cycle.

When you’re prospecting, let’s get down to a defined set of potential customers. Let’s define them in advance and let’s dial or let’s walk in the door. Let’s not do it without a purpose. Let’s make sure that we’re clear on our purpose on every single call.

If we’re going to be leaving voicemails, let’s make sure that we’re prepared with the voicemails that we’re going to leave. One of the biggest errors in sales is not necessarily the things you’re doing, it’s the things you’re doing half assed.

Like dialing and smiling and winging it until voicemail picks up and leaving a 10-minute message. Or leaving a voicemail message that says “Ma’am, I’d like to take a moment of your time and… ”

Those calls don’t get returned.

Or when a live voice picks up, hell we’re not even expecting that because 83 out of 100 calls that we make ends up with a voice mail. We hem and haw our way through there. We need to get very focused on the things that we need to do to get in front of customers.
Now, speaking of voice mail for a second, the only purpose of leaving a voice mail is to get a call back. You’re not selling jack over the phone on a voice mail.

So, on a voice mail, leave just enough to get them to call you back. Don’t worry about giving information. I like to use a simple rule, the Michael Jordan rule: 23 seconds, no more. In that 23 seconds, you’ve got to leave your name and your phone number twice, once at the beginning and once at the end, slowly.

When you get them on the phone live, the purpose is not to sell your product or service; it’s to sell the appointment. And then, when you get there, go sell your product or service.

Stop worrying about selling on the phone. Tell them just enough, using the old AIDA theory from marketing:
•    Grab their Attention
•    Get their Interest
•    Create Desire
•    Have a call to Action (and that’s to set the appointment).

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In sales? Two things you must guard with your life

You know what’s amazing? Most businesses achieve more sales at the end the quarter, or the pay period, or at the end of a contest, or a fiscal year.

Why is that? Because the urgency level is higher, of course. The focus is on getting things done. But why wait until the end to get it done? Customers sure don’t buy differently at the end of your quarter. Their buying cycle trumps your selling cycle all day long. But we have the tendency to focus on the right things when our backs are against the wall.

Here’s the thing: What kind of results could we achieve if we focused on doing the most productive work all the time, versus the busy work we get caught up?

You see, there are two things that you as a sales person must guard with your life: your time and your attitude.

These are your two most valuable assets, more so today than ever, because we are in this “got to have it now” world.

There’s overnight shipping, the Internet, and access to all sorts of information 24/7, so our customers want us to be able to provide the same thing. And like it or not, we’ve got to be there.

Now, because of that, we find ourselves putting put a lot of fires. We find ourselves not being sales professionals, but being firefighters. We’re jumping from task to task. But it’s important not to confuse activity with productivity.

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