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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Can the “7 or Higher” Rule Drive You to Greater Success in Sales?

Success in SalesAnyone who has ever brought a first baby home from the hospital knows how it changes your life. The days of being a childless couple suddenly seem distant, almost alien. You may have thought you were busy back then, but with a new baby in your life, you have discovered what busy really is!

The "7 or Higher" Rule

This very scenario popped on a TV show I was watching recently. The new parents were finding themselves pulled in a thousand directions and unable to give as much attention to their friends as in the past. To try and explain this to their friends, they would tell them about their “7 or higher” rule. If something wasn’t a 7 or higher (on a 10-point scale), they probably wouldn’t even consider carving out time for it. And if a friend were to approach one of them wanting to discuss something or seek some of their wise counsel, that friend was likely to be greeted with the “7 or higher” question: My time is really limited these days, but if you tell me this is important, that it’s a 7 or higher for you, I’ll make time for it.

The Rule Applied to Sales

I love the simplicity and strength of this “7 or higher” rule. It’s kinda visual and it sets a clear standard. And it’s flexible, too—when you need to crank the standard even higher, just change the 7 to an 8. That TV-show couple used this standard for their social interactions and obligations, but I started wondering how salespeople could use the “7 or higher” rule.

Choosing prospects: It takes time to nurture a prospect, and even more time to develop that prospect into a client. You need a good return on your investment of time, so shouldn’t you be asking yourself, Is this prospect a 7 or higher? If not, maybe you should invest that time in one that is.

Getting appointments: It’s tougher than ever to grab a slot on the prospect’s calendar, especially for that very first appointment. How well have you positioned yourself before asking? 7 or higher? Does it need to be need to be 9 or higher? And when it’s time to ask, first ask yourself, Is my Valid Business Reason a 7 or higher?

Prepping yourself: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and you rarely get a do-over when a first appointment goes poorly. So before heading out for any important appointment, ask yourself, Is my preparation truly a 7 or higher?

Unlocking budgets: Clients spend a lot more money to solve big problems than small ones, so why go to the trouble of proposing a solution to a small problem? When you hear a prospect relate a problem, ask yourself (maybe even asking the prospect), Is this problem a 7 or higher?

Delivering value: Strong solutions that zero right in on a problem or opportunity deliver greater value set you up for a continuing relationship with that client. So ask yourself, Is this problem or opportunity a 7 or higher in terms of my ability to deliver a solution? And once you’re assembling that solution, ask yourself if it’s a 7 or higher, or if the solution needs further fine-tuning.

What other ways can you think of to apply the “7 or higher” rule or standard to your work? Share it with all our readers in the Comments section below.

30 provocative questions

Topics: time management Sales