Sales is an amazing career and an incredible skill set to have. However, it can feel overwhelming as to what to focus on. We all know the ultimate goal is to sell something or to get a signed contract. But, to get from point a (starting the conversation) to point z (signing a contract) there are a few key things that must be non-negotiables in your business.
There is a reason salespeople are well-paid and that business owners with a repeatable sales process are successful. It’s because sales is hard. There are few other jobs where you’re consistently rejected, ignored, or worse – hung up on…all day long. It can make it really hard to get back out there; to send another email, make another phone call, or attend another networking event.
The difference between good and great in sales is the discipline to put yourself out there over and over and over again. It’s the discipline to put time on your calendar to prospect, follow up, and start conversations with new people – and actually keep the appointment with yourself. It’s the discipline to attend the next networking event that you don’t feel like going to. It’s the discipline to ask your current, happy clients for referrals.
If you truly believe in what you’re selling – it’s imperative that you are consistent in your outreach. Letting more than one or two days go by without any new opportunities to your sales pipeline or funnel, can quickly lead to no pipeline, and in the end, no sales or signed contracts. That is why discipline is one of the most important pieces to your sales efforts and ultimately the success of your business.
I recently heard someone say, “if it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done.” And in sales, this couldn’t be more true. If you don’t have a standing, daily appointment with yourself where you work on adding new opportunities to your business – you need to start immediately. Schedule time on your calendar every single day. And keep the appointment.
If you have existing customers and clients, schedule time on your calendar to reach out to those people. Not to sell them anything. Not to ask for anything, but to see how they’re doing. Ask how what you sold them is working for them. Ask them if you can help them with anything or make an introduction. Stay in front of your customers, it will set you apart from your competition.
These two things alone, and being diligent in your efforts, will make a tremendous difference in your business. The key is the discipline to get it done and make it part of your daily routine.
I mentioned prospecting several times when discussing discipline. I feel so strongly about prospecting, that I felt that it was the second key to success in sales and growing your business. There are a lot of different definitions of descriptions of prospecting.
When I refer to it, I mean the act of adding new people or opportunities to your sales funnel or pipeline. Prospecting can be a few different activities. It could be doing research on the people you want to reach out to. It can mean making cold call or sending emails to new people. It can mean attending a networking event and meeting new people. It can mean going to a trade show and discussing your services with new businesses.
At the end of the day, the health of your business is tied directly to your prospecting efforts. This is typically everyone’s least favorite part of the sales process, and it’s because it can be daunting. It can be time consuming. And it almost always comes with a lot of rejection and or no response at all.
This is why a lot of people give up. This is why a lot of people say they don’t like sales. This is where they blame the market, the company they work for, or their marketing and advertising efforts. But the tried and true success of a sales person comes down to their ability to have conversations with new people, and turn those conversations into sales conversations.
This is why prospecting is one of the three keys to success in your sales efforts. Better yet, it ties directly into discipline, because it takes discipline to continue to handle the rejection. The business people that show up every day and start conversations with new people, are the ones that win in the end.
How many times have you heard that people buy from people that they know, like, and trust? Do you feel like it’s overused or a bit of a cliche? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s true. In order to truly grow the book of business you desire, you have to build relationships that go beyond business.
This is a tough pill to swallow when you’re counting on your next sale to feed your family. Sometimes it feels like you don’t have time to build relationships and meet with someone over and over again to see if you’re a fit to work together. It can often feel like you’re wasting time and that you’re never going to get a signed agreement, despite the work you’ve put in.
Spoiler alert – you’re not going to win every piece of business and every opportunity you chase. However, you will never, ever win if you don’t start each sales opportunity by building a relationship with your prospect. Even if they don’t wind up doing business with you right now, they might be a great referral source. Or, when the time is right, they may reach out to work with you. This is why building a relationship from the beginning is so important.
The relationship building ties back into discipline and prospecting. The relationship begins with the first touch point. Whatever prompted you to reach out to that person – that’s your “common ground.” If you reached out because you follow them on LinkedIn and you love their content – lead with that in your message. If you reached out to someone you saw them running Facebook ads – let them know that’s how you saw them/found them and why you thought they fit the mold of your dream client. Coming from a place of serving, helping, and relationship building will yield exponentially more sales opportunities than coming from a place of selfishness or being self-serving in your messaging.
I’m not implying that you will be best friends with everyone you do business with. But they do have to like you and trust in order for your working relationship to begin. From there, you can move into learning more about them personally, their family, their goals and why they chose you as a partner. Set yourself apart and really strive to build relationships and begin more than a business partnership. You will be shocked at how quickly your business grows.
Putting It Into Practice
Discipline, prospecting, and relationships aren’t the only keys to success, but they should be the foundation of your sales efforts. Putting in the work every single day, starting conversations with new prospects, and starting a relationship from your first touch point will set you apart from the competition and set you up for long-term success in your sales efforts.