Power Selling: Seven Strategies for Cracking the Sales Code
Chapter 5: The Power of Resource Management: Utilize Your Primary Tools to Score More Sales
Building a sales strategy
Table of contents:
Creating a strategic business plan
The power of resource management
Kyle W., who sold diagnostic imaging equipment in the hospital market, was frustrated in his attempts to meet a particular CEO at one of the nation's largest teaching hospitals. This guy had boxed him out of a large order and made himself completely unavailable to all salespeople. Instead of giving up, Kyle turned to his creativity and wit and developed a new approach. He dropped off a leading business book at the CEO's office in which he had highlighted passages that pertained to a particular leadership challenge the hospital was facing. In addition, he got three other area hospital leaders to write letters to this executive touting Kyle's reputation, character, and integrity.
Several days later, Kyle received a call from the CEO's assistant requesting a meeting to learn more about him, his company, and his products. Bingo! Kyle's creative ideas were so novel and compelling that they had gained him access to an intimidating, C-level executive. His application of the Power of Resource Management led to closing more than $22 million in sales revenue from that account alone and helped him finish number one that year. Kyle W.'s creativity scored a sales touchdown.
Great football coaches achieve great success by managing their resources wisely. They often must take the team that's been given them and figure out how to develop it into a powerhouse. To accomplish this, they use four primary tools. First, they develop a game plan that strategically builds on their team's strengths and targets opponents' weaknesses. In addition, they must always watch the clock to be aware of how much time is left. Then, they must be creative with new offensive and defensive approaches, constantly adapting their lineup to changing situations. Finally, in front of the cameras at postgame press conferences and interviews, great coaches must know how to present themselves as winners. Outstanding coaches use these four resources to score one touchdown after another.
Sales superstars excel in their management of the same four resources. They know that a strategic game plan that covers every aspect of their business for the year, the quarter, the month, the week, and even the day is indispensable for achieving success. Top pros are creative in their approach to every facet of selling, from marketing themselves to securing referrals to presenting their products. They also know that the most precious resource they have to trade is their time and that how they present their solution to the buyer can make or break a sale.
These tools are overriding cardinal resources, because they contain the ability to ignite the other six Power Selling strategies. Your game plan, watching the clock, creativity, and presenting to win leverage all of your sales efforts to drive you into the end zone for a sales TD. There you'll experience the thrill of victory, not the agony of defeat.
YOUR GAME PLAN -- THE KEY TO WINNING
Imagine an NFL coach gathering his team for a pregame meeting and giving instructions like, "Don't forget to wear your helmet! Make sure to pass the ball only to the blue-and-orange jerseys. And remember, only 11 of you guys out there on the field at one time!" What would that team's chances for success be with that kind of game plan? Zero! NFL coaches and their staff develop a strategic game plan for every single game, whether it's the preseason opener or the Super Bowl. They watch miles of game film of the opposing team, and they analyze their own players' assets and liabilities. They pore over statistics and then pull all their analysis together into a strategic game plan. This plan includes player choices, play selections, offensive and defensive formations, and even contingency options if the original plan doesn't pan out. The specific initiatives and tactical maneuvers spring from the strategic game plan.
Fortune 100 CEOs never run onto the business playing field without a thoroughly thought-out business plan, and neither do the selling elite. The concept of strategy (strategos) originated in ancient Greece and meant preparing and setting up forces before the battle commences; the tactics (tacktikos) used during the battle came from this plan. Likewise, to be successful in sales, strategic planning must precede tactical maneuvering. Sales masters know that a great strategic business plan, which comes before the actual selling, will position them in front of the right buyers at the right time with the right business solution.
Research confirms that fewer than 10 percent of salespeople have a business plan to follow and an established sales process as their daily guide. What do you think happens when you have no business plan and no proven process to implement that plan? With no clear sense of direction, you may end up heading off in all directions at once, which will definitely not get you closer to success.
Just as specific tactics come from a strategic plan, a strong business plan flows from an overall life plan. Sales success happens when your life is consistently directed by your purpose and core values. The well-defined sense of purpose we discuss in Chapter 2 does more than build a strong psychological foundation; it also directs every business decision you make. To be productive in selling, you also need to be productive when you're not selling. Problems in your personal life will eventually sabotage your sales results, too. As Zig Ziglar always said, "If you're hurting anywhere, you're hurting everywhere!"
Entire books have been written about how to develop a life plan, and it's beyond the scope of this book to tackle the specifics. I do want to stress the importance, though, of having something written down that defines your purpose. (See my example in Appendix A.) Commit to following some kind of life-planning, time-management system, such as FranklinCovey, Microsoft Outlook, or Anthony Robbins's Rapid Planning Method. You can also study several systems and create your own customized program. This kind of life planning, as described by Covey, helps you focus more consistently on what's truly important, as opposed to just what's urgent. Life planning and life balance lead to long-term sales success and happiness.
Strategic Business Plan
Average salespeople don't plan to fail; they just fail to plan. An NFL coach's number-one goal for the season is to win the Super Bowl. From that visionary goal, they set a goal for each game, which is simply to win that game. From this goal springs a strategic plan for each game. The top selling pros develop strategic business plans by identifying where they want their business to be at the end of a specific time frame. They start with their visionary big goals, then plan their strategic initiatives. With those initiatives in place, they set their short-range and mid-range goals and then, most importantly, plan their time.
Big goals must be simple and prioritized. You can have many sales goals, but they all should fall under a couple of big goals. For the auto salesperson, it might simply be the number of units sold or gross dollar volume. For the real estate salesperson, it might be the total dollar volume sold or total dollar volume listed, or both. For the corporate salesperson, it might be exceeding the company's quota or reaching a certain income level. No matter what the specific major business goals are, they must be clear and obvious.
Your business plan should also be married to a specific time frame that's relevant for your business. A three-year window often is an ideal long-term time frame to consider for vision-planning purposes. Most salespeople never look beyond one year, but if you don't know where you want to be in three to five years, how will you get there? For specific initiatives, the one-year business plan is the primary blueprint. From a oneyear plan, you can easily formulate your quarterly plans, monthly plans, and weekly scheduling.
Strategic business plans vary greatly, depending on the company you work for and the clientele you serve, but every plan must include a market position assessment, sales volume goals, filling the sales funnel, sales funnel management, client retention, and administrative duties.
Market position assessment. A sales-driven business plan must take into account the market position of any product or service. While the fundamentals of selling are the same across all industries, a product's position in terms of its life cycle, market superiority, and market momentum influences the premises upon which your business plan is founded.
When you have a clearly superior market position, your business plan should call for frontal tactics. Geoffrey Moore's book, Inside the Tornado, points out that in this situation, you must show the product as often and as early as possible to as many prospects as possible. Pfizer employed this strategy with phenomenal success in 1998 when they introduced Viagra® for erectile dysfunction. With no competition, they promoted their product relentlessly, until it became part of household daily language and sold millions of units.
Conversely, when your product or service doesn't enjoy such an advantage, you must formulate a different business plan. Maybe your plan can focus on selling your product to a small, specific niche, to gain a foothold where your competitors are absent. One of Betco's (Jan-San supplies) sales reps focused primarily on selling to school systems, because in his territory, the competitor dominated all other arenas. By zeroing in on school systems first, he was able to penetrate his territory successfully, gain a foothold of satisfied references, and then have enough presence to take on the more established competitor head-to-head in other arenas. In either case, a realistic market position assessment drives the plan. Sales volume goals. Remember from Chapter 2 that focusing on your goals activates the RAS of the brain and helps create the conviction to reach the goals. Your sales volume goals direct your mental focus and form the core of your business plan.
Several elements make up your sales volume goals, the first of which is identifying your company's sales quota for you. Is it realistic, or is it too high or too low? It's better to change that number at the beginning of the fiscal year than one month before year's end. If your current market position assessment suggests that your quota is unrealistic, document your opinion objectively—don't emotionally cry that your number is just too high.
The second element is identifying your income goal. How much money do you want to make?
The third element is identifying the sales volume necessary to exceed your company's sales quota and/or your income goal. These sales volume goals should be established for the year, quarter, month, and even week, if appropriate. Sales volume goals can also be broken down by product, market, or other meaningful segment.
Filling the sales funnel. The pipeline that contains all of the prospects and buyers you currently pursue can be conceptualized best as a giant funnel. Floating above the funnel are all those prospects with whom you've never made contact. The potential buyers you've had direct contact with are just inside the big, wide top of the funnel. As the funnel narrows, the family history you've collected reduces the number of prospects. These leads are further reduced when you diagnose—you effectively weed out prospects to whom you're not likely to sell. Finally, down at the narrow bottom of the funnel, you have just the hot ones, those best few buyers whose orders are imminent. The sales funnel will be examined closely in the next section as a primary tool for managing your time, but for now, simply recognize that your overall sales success depends on how many quality leads (ideal buyers) you drop into your funnel.
Your business plan must include a detailed strategy for generating enough leads to fill your funnel and reach your sales volume goals. You know from Chapter 3 that you must first identify your ideal buyer, develop a target list of ideal buyers, and determine the appropriate strategy to reach them. For most industries, setting appointments by telephone, covered in Chapter 4, is the primary prospecting method and keeps the funnel full. Your personal marketing strategy (which may include advance marketing, in-person marketing, or Headliner marketing tactics) and
your referral, networking (using your advocate list), and cold-calling initiatives should also be included in your plan.
All your initiatives should be written down and tied to specific, measurable milestones. For example, you might track the number of telephone prospecting calls attempted, referrals secured, direct-mail pieces sent out, or networking functions attended. These specific milestones, when attained, provide a high level of confidence that your sales volume goals will be reached.
Sales funnel management. Your strategic business plan must also include specific guidelines to prioritize and handle each potential buyer at every level of your sales funnel. Determine who gets the highest priority and what steps are needed to progress to the next stage in the funnel. Managing your sales funnel also helps you forecast—most companies are sticklers for forecasting—and successfully predict future business. When you establish key milestones at each level of the sales process, you can more easily balance short-term prospecting activity to fill the funnel with long-term management. This helps eliminate giving your sales manager "blue sky" forecasts at the end of each quarter or month.
Client retention. This part of your business plan addresses how you will retain your clients. How will you not only meet, but exceed, their expectations? Remember from Chapter 1 that focusing on serving builds a strong reputation and that selling to a new buyer is seven times more expensive than selling to an existing one. Part of your business plan must include the strategies for turning clients into long-term collaborative partners. Because this is absolutely mandatory for joining the ranks of the selling elite, we have devoted Chapter 7, "The Power of Relationships," to addressing it.
Administrative duties. This is a small but important part of any effective business plan. You must include your expense budget, paperwork requirements, forecasting reports, and any other helpful tactics that your company requires or you believe are necessary. Great NFL coaches and sales superstars alike know that winning requires developing and following a strategic game plan. Here are a couple of Power Boosters to help you develop your business plan.
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This was first published in September 2008