Quickly think of your favorite restaurant. Whether that restaurant is an upscale steak establishment or your local hole-in-the-wall Tex-Mex joint, it doesn’t matter. Just think for a second.
Okay. Now, how often do you fill up on the bread sticks or chips and queso before your meal even gets to the table? How often do you tell the others at the table, “I shouldn’t have eaten so much of the appetizers.”
That, in essence, is essentially the same big mistake that many sales professionals make when prospecting for new business. Often, a salesman’s energy is wasted on menial tasks like compiling lists, composing the perfect spiel or lining up their CRM database so that he can ‘easily’ conduct his business. Just pick up the phone. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Remember, that the person on the other end of the phone has received more sales calls than you have made. That potential customer doesn’t want to hear your pitch anymore than you want to give it. Sure, rehearse the obstacles to overcoming objections, but don’t waste your time on the fine details. While a good map is good to have, the only way you’ll ever get where you’re going is to step on the gas and GO!
Now, back to the meal. When your meal does finally arrive, don’t goof around with the potatoes or broccoli while your steak gets cold. The steak is what you paid for, not the side dishes. The steak will never taste as good as right when the plate hits the table. Eat it now. Another way to look at it is an old blacksmith saying, “Strike while the iron is hot.” This is just a simple lesson in understanding your priorities. There’s plenty of ‘tire kickers’ out there and, if you’re not careful, they’ll consume every minute of your time. Of course, be nice to every customer, but learn to differentiate the buyers from the liars. Three types of answers are “Yes”, “No” and “Maybe”. Unless the “No” and “Maybe” comes from your target customer, move on without looking back. A “maybe” might lead to something down the line, but don’t get bogged down in dealing with this vague and indecisive customer. If you have a good product, are knowledgable, have good marketing and believe in yourself, then you shouldn’t have any problems finding business elsewhere. Don’t let your steak go cold. And, please, don’t settle for “low-hanging fruit.” If you want to look more deeply into that adage, remember that the fruit at the bottom of the tree might be easier to get, but it also doesn’t get the sunshine. Work to get to the top of the tree and you’re pipeline will reward you with tastier results. Wow, I just realized I crammed a dozen cliches into one paragraph.
Oh, and always leave room for dessert. Often, salesmen are so caught up in finding the next big deal that they rarely take time to reward themselves for the success they’ve had. I’ve done it and, chances are, you’ve done it too. Maintaining a steady pipeline doesn’t necessarily mean to keep cranking until you burn out. We work to live, not live to work. End of the month and you’ve met your quota? Great! It all starts over again on the 1st. This isn’t a plea for anyone to let up or coast, but realize that even the best starting pitchers in the major leagues operate on a 5-day rotation. Your sales manager will probably disagree with my philosophy on this. I’ve been a salesman in both types of companies. I had one manager yell at us until close of business when we were 120% above quota, while another rewarded the entire staff with a last Friday party at noon every month. A happy employee is a productive employee and we worked hard to get that party.
In summary, enjoy your life as a salesman. Without you, your company wouldn’t have revenue. Without revenue, there wouldn’t be a company. Control your daily actions, don’t get bogged down in non-essential duties, plan your day to maximize your efforts and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
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