If you were to outline the ideal sales week, what would it look like? That’s a question S. Anthony Iannarino, president and chief sales officer of Solutions Staffing, tackled on his sales blog, and his insights were wonderful. Iannarino’s suggestions all center around the idea of blocking out time for the various activities that makes for sales success. When you work these activities into your week is up to your priorities and unique business model, but the ideas apply universally.
Here are eight activities to make time for in your ideal sales week, in order of priority:
- Prospecting – Opening relationships that open opportunities is the most important activity a salesperson can undertake. Consequently, it deserves a high priority and requires proactive planning and scheduling. Where will you turn to meet prospects? Be sure to go beyond the obvious, easy sources. Know your target audience and then think of where they would congregate – both online and in person.
- Face-to-Face Sales Calls – There is no substituting good old-fashioned face time, especially when it comes to developing a clientele. In-person interaction provides the greatest opportunity for value creation and advancing your sales opportunity. “The quality of your results is the quality of your calendar as it pertains to appointments with your dream clients and clients,” Iannarino said. Start scheduling these meetings in advance, and keep at least a few scheduled a week or two out at a time.
- Nurturing Activity – “The best opportunities for producing killer sales results lie with your coldest non-opportunities, your dream clients who are presently using a competitor,” Iannarino said. Place your focus on a dream client whose business would put you to the top of the leader board.
- Sales Call Preparation – Sales calls are not a time to “wing it” or play things by ear! Do your homework first, researching the client’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What can you offer to them that will solve their problems? Remember, focusing on benefits is far more effective than drilling into your product’s features. Make solving their pain points your top pitch.
- Follow-up Activities – The trust that underlies all relationships (especially in business) is built on a foundation of commitments kept. Even the most effective sales calls may fall flat with results if no follow-up work is done, so be sure to do what you say you’ll do, from emailing along an article that would be a value-add for your client to checking the stock of their favorite product. As you’re drumming up new business, don’t neglect to reach out to current clients and contacts with phone calls or thank-you cards.
- Voicemail and Email Responses – In today’s always-connected communications climate, responding to emails and voicemails can be a never-ending task. Iannarino suggests blocking out a couple of set times (i.e. 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) to respond to incoming communications, rather than breaking to do so constantly throughout the day.
- Update Sales Force Automation – Customer relationship management is critical, and a number of automation software options can make it a breeze – as long as you use it. Don’t let too much time pass between updates, or else important information can fall through the cracks. “The best time to do this is with the last half hour of the day, while the conversations and ideas are fresh in your mind,” Iannarino said. He recommends spending a half hour each day to input notes from sales calls, new contact information, action items, and pipeline progress.
- Personal Improvement – Of all the investments you can make, investing time in yourself pays off the most long-lasting dividends. Make an effort to always be honing your abilities and advancing education, whether it be listening to an audiobook while driving between sales calls or reading a chapter a night of a book that will help your professional development. Remember to expand beyond “sales” titles, too. That professional development can come most effectively in strengthening people skills, not just sales techniques.