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The Million Dollar Question Part 1
I’ve been in sales for 26 years now and I no matter how hard I try, there are just some things that do not and will not change. Do you, like me find yourself asking questions like; “Is there an easier way to do this?” or “Why is my productivity not where it should be?”. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of self-evaluation and score-keeping. We need to be aware of these things BUT as I stated in my opening sentence, no matter how hard we try to “tweak” the process, the only way to impact our practice is to accept the fact that the process to great selling has never and will never change. Because of this, there is one question, that we as professional sales people need to ask ourselves everyday.

I remember when the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” first aired and seeing individual after individual fall short or reaching the opportunity to hear the million dollar question. They never got the chance to try. Then one day, someone made it; the million dollar question. After a brief pause and a correct answer BOOM Instant millionaire! That one question changed their life.

Okay, enough of the introduction. I think you get the point. So here it is, the question that if given the opportunity to answer and answered correctly with evidence to support your answer, will change your selling life. Ask yourself everyday…

“What must I do today, to see enough people favorably to share my story, convince them to do business with me, then tell others about their experience”.

That’s it; the million dollar question. Before you make judgments, hear me out. Let’s break this question down.

First of all, the word must is critical. This means it is not an option. It does not need to go through committee. It does not mean try or attempt. Must means it has to happen if it is going to get done.

The next critical word is today. Successful selling is a result of consistent processes. It can be very easy to justify putting off the necessary things until tomorrow, but this mentality will create a hole you might not be able to climb out of. What must I do today means the critical things to do now and everyday of your work week.

What is a “must” thing? Glad you asked. One of the most important things you must do every day is prospect. You know this. Prospecting is a result of your activity. You know this too. But is there more to it than just activity? Yes there is!

Efficient activity is the process of contacting prospects the right way. It is utilizing your resources to determine the most efficient use of your time that creates the most opportunities to gain prospects. Is the personal approach or the telephone the best method to gain a favorable introduction? Do introductory letters or emails open the door more successfully? The key to efficient activity is to determine what works best and focus your time here. This allows more time for the other “must” do part of your day, seeing enough people favorably.

To see enough people favorably…this is the most difficult task at times, getting in front of enough people that are open minded to hear what you have to say. One of the most frustrating things I deal with to this day is not having the opportunity to share my story with more prospects. I believe passionately that what I have to offer provides great value. And to my surprise not everyone feels the same way. Sound familiar? The beauty is that I have the power to do something about it in answering the part of this question “enough people”. To get to whatever this number is, I simply keep doing the right activity everyday and “go figure” more times than not “enough people” seems to take care of itself.

Favorably is a big word. Have you ever heard someone say “You’ll just be wasting your time” Well…don’t waste your time! Favorably means they are ready to learn about what you have to say and listen to your story. Favorable appointments are out there, you just have to know where to find them!

Seeing people favorably is a direct result of efficient activity but it also is impacted by who we are prospecting. Effective prospecting is the key. Answer this: What does your customer look like? Who can benefit the most from hearing your story? This is a critical part selling. This answer comes in many different forms. You may be a generalist that offers services to a wide variety of prospects. For you, your customer takes on many different looks and this is fine as long as you know what you are looking for. A specialist however, may have a more limited marketplace and therefore must really be attentive to where they are and how to approach them. Regardless of where you are, the key is to know who you can help, where you can find them and spend your time here.

Several years ago I met a man with great potential and character. He aspired to be a successful financial services agent. After a few months in the business, he was packing up shop and headed to another adventure. The interesting thing about this is that each week when the new agents shared their numbers, his activity and appointments were through the roof. The problem was that all the folks he was prospecting did not have the need for what he offered nor the wherewithal to pay for it. As a result, his prospecting efforts though valiant, led to the demise of his sales practice. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we should not help people in need, but from a business perspective, you must be working in markets that have a need for what you offer, have the ability to pay and will see you on a favorable basis. This is the definition of effective prospecting. Spending time outside this scope can cost you time and money and even your career.

So there you have the first part of the million dollar question. In my next blog, we will look at “share my story and convince them to do business with me and tell others about their experience”. Didn’t want to give you all of it at one time, you might not read it all and besides…I want you to come back.

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