I spent 6 months spinning my wheels and wasting time when I started in sales. It was not until Don Peck became my mentor and helped me develop a sales plan that I started to get results. I had excellent presentation skills, but I had no idea how to get in front of the right people.
Sound familiar? It is easy to feel lost when you are just starting out in sales. Let me help! Here is how you can make a sales plan that will set you up for long term success:
Ask for help and offer to help.
A great place to start is by asking successful people what works for them. Keep in mind that your path may not be the same, but you are sure to get a few ideas as you speak with them. Ask if you can shadow them for a week. Offer to help them with cold calls, follow up appointments, etc. They will appreciate the extra help and you will learn valuable skills. If you help enough successful people, you will pick up on what works so you can incorporate it into your strategy.
Do you have a mentor yet? Ask them for help. Don helped me get in front of my first few clients. He listened in on my phone calls and offered coaching. He reviewed my outreach emails and helped me make them more effective. My presentation skills improved as he watched me present and offered invaluable feedback. He even invited me to speak at conferences and get my name out there. Having a good mentor is one of the most important predictors of your level of success.
Having the right mentor is one of the most important predictors of your level of success. Click To Tweet
Identify your best prospects.
Notice that I did not say your biggest prospects. Look for clients who can be long term partners. Do not dilute your efforts by chasing anything and everything, but focus on where you are strong. Do you have experience or connections in a particular industry? Is there a certain company size you should focus on? Concentrating on your strengths accomplishes two things: 1. You will make fewer mistakes and generate more references, and 2. You will begin to build your brand.
A word of caution: Avoid the trap of using your closest friends and family as guinea pigs. It is never appropriate to view these important relationships with dollar signs. This is short sighted and a poor man’s strategy. Remember that you are just beginning your career and you will make mistakes. Wait until you are established in your trade to help these important people. If a manager is pushing for you to only use this strategy, politely thank them for their help and find someone else to give you advice.
Set up a productive schedule.
Here is the schedule my mentor set up for me:
- Monday: make phone calls and schedule meetings two weeks out
- Tuesday through Thursday: travel, keep notes in one place and keep track of follow up tasks
- Friday: review the week, update notes, and complete follow up tasks
- Fill in dead space by hosting webinars, taking training courses, attending events, and of course more phone calls
He also helped me set up a point system that helped me generate enough activity. Every day I had to get 5 points. Here is how it worked: I earned one point for a meeting with a broker, one point for scheduling a meeting, one point for presenting a case, one point for a sale, and one point for a referral. This pushed me to make a lot of phone calls in the beginning, and helped me to keep pushing myself and not become complacent.
Keep this up and you will be so busy that you will not need to make phone calls- people will be calling you.
Review your sales plan periodically and seek feedback.
Review your sales plan periodically with your manager and/or mentor. Keep track of what is and is not working so you can make adjustments. Actively seek feedback from your clients, manager, and mentor. Remember to ask for referrals when you receive positive feedback. Ask for written referrals from your best clients to include in a few case studies you can hand out to prospects.91% of customers are willing to give referrals, but only 11% of salespeople ask. (Source: Dale Carnegie) Click To Tweet
Develop your team.
Find reliable people on your team and build relationships with them. Even with the best sales plan, you are guaranteed to fail if you cannot depend on your team to support your accounts. You will lose your best clients, miss out on referrals, and destroy your reputation. Remember that you can train someone to learn new skills, but no amount of training can fix a bad attitude. If you have a helpful team player who just needs more training, invest in them and help them develop into a stronger professional. Good people will go to the moon for those who have invested in them.
Already have a mentor? Click here to learn how to build your network.
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