New business efforts are full steam ahead! As I am helping execute new business sales drives for different sales organizations from all over the country, I am uncovering a significant difference between how management feels this should be accomplished versus the salespeople charged with generating the revenue.
First, here's what management wants: to hit an aggressive new business goal in a specific amount of time from the very best prospects for their industry, which has been strategized to meet overall growth objectives. This is good; sales organizations need to think this way to grow and compete.
Now here's what salespeople want: to hit that number by calling on as many prospects as they can, so they hopefully get enough first appointments set, so they can complete the rest of the sales process, and hopefully close enough new business. This is NOT good because this philosophy leads to choosing and spinning your wheels on lousy prospects and hasty approaches to getting first appointments. Both of which will certainly impede any salesperson trying to hit their numbers.
So what should a salesperson do when looking to hit aggressive new business goals? First and foremost, PREPARE. Below are the four key areas where preparation is essential in the sales process.
1. Find & Select: Take the time to research and select the very best prospects. This can't be done with a simple Google search. It takes time, but it’s time well spent. By finding the best prospects to take advantage of the solutions you have to offer sooner versus later, you set yourself up for greater dollar potential in the near term.
2. Approach: If your prospect is deemed a top prospect by you, you can bet they are a top prospect for your competitor. There are numerous other salespeople trying to get the attention of YOUR prospect, too. If you can establish credibility, marketing expertise, and problem solving capabilities in your attempt to get a first appointment you'll stand out and also set yourself up for a great needs analysis meeting. Do this with a solid valid business reason as to why your prospect wants to meet with you; not why you want to meet with them.
3. Define: You'll need to be prepared to continue your efforts on building credibility, marketing expertise, and problem solving capabilities, showcasing this in your needs analysis meeting. By doing so, you'll position yourself as a trusted and valued provider. Being trusted and valued earns you the opportunity to ask more influential questions about problems your prospect is experiencing, where opportunities may lie and potential improvements that can be made. All of which you need in order to create a valuable solution.
You also need to uncover expectations on what success looks like, and what kind of ROI they desire to achieve, and that too can only be defined when you are trusted and valued. Preparing properly for your needs analysis will set you up for a solid presentation.
4. Present: If you don't prepare to present, you'll waste all of the preparation you just did in steps 1 through 4! Some people are better at presenting than others but regardless of how great, or not-so-great you are at presenting, you should always practice. Don't prepare your presentation the day of or the night before. You'll barely have time to digest the content you or a coworker has created and studies show confidence in presenting is key. It will help ensure the prospect believes you have come up with a great solution and can execute to meet their goals.
You should also rehearse your presentation with a third party, even if that's outside your comfort zone. They'll be able to provide valuable feedback you are unlikely to gather on your own.
You may have noticed that each step, when prepared, sets you up for the next… that's by design and hence why the sales process moves faster.
If you take the time to prepare utilizing these four steps of the sales process, you'll start by selecting better prospects, then that will lead into more productive meetings that generate valuable solutions and better presentations.
You'll ultimately spend LESS time trying to "get them to respond," "circle back," "uncover more needs," "set up another meeting to discuss…" etc. Overall, a salesperson will have a higher likelihood of closing better prospects and hitting new business goals that, you guessed it… set yourself up to earn renewals.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 17, 2013 and has been updated.