Sales Bullpen Sales Newsletter - April 2004

Good time for a mid-course correction !

One of my branch managers at IBM was an avid sailor and was always talking about making a 'mid-course correction'. What this meant was that just like driving a car, you don't just hold the steering wheel in one position in order to go straight. You learn that you are constantly having to give the steering wheel slight adjustments to the left or the right in order to keep the car going in the direction you want. In fact, if you try to just keep your hands fixed you will find that due to the bumps and imperfections in the road, you will actually end up going out of your lane and right into a tree!

Sales is the same way! The first quarter of the calendar year is over. How did you do against your plan? How did you do against your internal goals that you set for yourself? What did you learn? What is working and what is not working? This is a good time to ask yourself some hard questions:

  • What were your goals for January, for February and for March?
  • What were your goals for the first quarter?
  • How did you do against those goals?
  • What worked and what didn't ?
  • Did you make 20-30 prospect calls everyday like you said you would?
  • What was your close ratio?
  • Did you identify a profile of a good, qualified prospect or account?
  • Did you seek help in identifying and closing business?
  • Did you leverage other people, organizations or resources to help identify good prospects ?

The list can go on and on depending on your industry and what you are selling. In my book, Accelerate Your Sales, I talk about how you need to track your own efforts just like you have to track the efforts of your prospects in order to measure your progress and your success.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, 'sales is a game of numbers' What that really means, is that you have to put in the work (ie. make the number of prospecting calls) in order to get out the desired result (sales). If for example, you aren't making 10, 20 or 30 cold calls every morning looking for prospects, then how do you expect to schedule appointments which can lead to sales?

Review your Initial Benefit Statement (IBS)

When you make those prospect calls, how strong is your initial benefit statement? For example if you are selling printers do you say something like this?

"Hello, my name is John Smith. I am with XYZ Printing Solutions. We help companies like yours with their printing requirements. What kind of printing requirements do you have? I'd like to schedule an appointment to meet with you to review your requirements. How does next Tuesday or Wednesday look for you?"

This is a straight-forward IBS. It doesn't promise any unrealistic savings or productivity gains, yet it opens the door to gather more information by asking about their requirements.

What would be even stronger is if you had done some homework and identified the some of the types of applications that this prospect was using. (this information is available from the right prospecting resources such as their annual report, company webpage, etc.) Then you could call with more knowledge and information so that you could craft a more specific IBS.

For example,

"Hi, Ms. Sweeney. My name is Jim Johnson with BCA printing solutions. We help companies like yours with their color printing applications. I see from your company annual report on your webpage that your focus for this year is on producing everything in high quality color. What kind of projects are you printing out this quarter? I'd like to schedule an appointment with you to see if we can help you get the most from your color production projects. Can you check your calendar to see what days and times you are available next week? "

Is there room to improve your IBS or is there a way to make it more specific for your prospect? The whole idea is that sales is not a fixed, rigid process! You have to be willing to make slight changes in your approach until you find something that works better than what you were doing last week, last month or last quarter.

Don't be afraid to make some mid-course corrections to your sales approach. Your best sales ideas might be just around the corner.

Hope you find these thoughts helpful.

Good Selling,


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