• Are You Prospecting from a Feast or a Famine?

    We regularly hear from business owners and sales professionals “we haven’t got time for prospecting, we’re too busy delivering work to current clients” only to be followed a few months later with “we’re prospecting like mad at the minute because we’ve got nothing on right now”.

    Call it feast or famine … boom or bust … all or nothing. For some reason people attribute prospecting to the times when they’re desperately searching for business instead of doing it from a position of strength when they’re really busy.

    When you’re in need of the business you’re much more likely to visit a non-qualified prospect who’s shown a little interest or curiosity in your product/service. Only to find they haven’t got a budget. Or worse still, they just wanted to know your prices to beat down their current provider.

    As a direct result of prospecting when you’re not busy your diary fills up with appointments of non-qualified prospects who you wouldn’t normally even approach. You then end up ‘winning’ business that isn’t profitable. You then need to find even more business. Meaning you’re more desperate. Meaning you’ll see more non-qualified prospects with less money in their budget, resulting in … you guessed it … more non-profitable work you don’t really want!

    Imagine if you’d been prospecting when you were really busy. What’s your mind-set likely to be? Probably something like “I’m financially independent and don’t NEED this business”.

    When you’re not desperate you’re much more likely to question why your prospect is so keen to see you. Do they actually have a problem that needs solving? Have they got a budget to fix the problem? Are they able to make a decision based on what you show them?

    Buyers can smell desperation from a mile away.

    Successful sales professionals realise that the best time to do your prospecting is when you’re really busy delivering work.

    But most importantly they ask themselves “does this prospect DESERVE to be our client?”. And if they don’t, then they don’t. Shake hands and leave on good terms, instead of leaving with a deal you don’t even want!

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew is Managing Director for Sandler Training North East. A business development and sales coach with over 20 year’s practical experience giving advice to ambitious companies and individuals. Primarily Andrew has operated with owner-managed businesses who want to accelerate the growth of their business, or simply improve the results of their sales team. After a career selling everything from technology, financial services, logistics, recruitment and coaching Andrew is perfectly placed to help with your sales needs. Andrew is passionate about changing your attitudes to selling, allowing you to understand that a ‘no’ can be a good thing. He also plays an active role in increasing the employability of 16-24 year olds, attending a reception dinner at the House of Lords as recognition of his on-going work in this area.

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  • Courtship. Marriage. Divorce.

    Typically I hear from Business Owners that their problems are either ‘process’ or ‘people’ related. But a lot of time it’s their ‘process of attracting people’ that’s the real problem.

    What do I mean? Well, think of this. You want a business full of A-players. The people who get things done. Quickly, efficiently and effectively. These A-players excel and take responsibility for recruiting more staff into your business. But an A-player will only accept other A-players into the business. They won’t recruit B or C-players because their performance wouldn’t be up to scratch. But if your processes are wrong (or non-existent!) you might miss an A-player and recruit a B-player, but that’s OK right? Wrong. The B-player will never recruit an A-player into the business, because they’ll feel threatened. So B-players recruit C-players and the downward cycle continues.

    The cost of getting it wrong when recruiting isn’t just a few months’ wages to the person that didn’t work out. It’s the wages, recruitment fee’s, on-boarding, lost sales opportunities and so on.  So wouldn’t it be better to invest some time into getting the next hire right?

    So what to do? Well we all go on training courses – sales training, management training, tech training, communication training, presentation training etc etc – but we never go on ‘HIRING’ training!

    Traditional recruitment follows an all too familiar path; resignation of key member of staff, panic, quick job advert, interview applicants and take someone on because we can’t be without someone! Well firstly we need to consider attracting the A-players to our business even when we’re not recruiting. And so your management team needs to coach to a common process, giving you tangible results to evaluate current staff performance levels. This also allows you to see if you are happy (or not) with the performance of the team – most likely highlighting some skills-gaps that need addressing. If we see an A-player who we know can complement what we’ve already got and bring these skills – do we really need a vacancy to justify bringing them in?

    Before you hire anyone though you need to be clear about the behaviours you will measure and the tools to measure them. Utilising platforms such as Extended DISC and Devine allows you to take an objective view of a potential employee, not just throw caution to the wind because you liked them at interview!

    Talking about interviews … make sure you have a clear up-front contract with the interviewee about the agenda for the meeting; setting clearly defined objectives and outcomes at the start helps you to both decide if you want to pursue things at the end, and helps to eradicate the time-wasters. Use a mixture of direct, assumptive, situational and competency based questions to evaluate suitability and know exactly what behaviours and attitudes you’re looking for. Remember, no mind-reading and do not accept wishy-washy answers.

    If you were going to spend £100,000 on new capital equipment you’d be pretty sure to do your due diligence. Hiring a new employee is no different, take references! Hire slowly but fire quickly.

    But if it is going to end in divorce don’t forget the Exit Interview. This is the time to learn what went wrong so you can avoid the mistakes next time.

    So ask yourself this: “Are you and your management team following a process to attract A-players, or are you winging it and hoping for the best?”

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew is Managing Director for Sandler Training North East. A business development and sales coach with over 20 year’s practical experience giving advice to ambitious companies and individuals. Primarily Andrew has operated with owner-managed businesses who want to accelerate the growth of their business, or simply improve the results of their sales team. After a career selling everything from technology, financial services, logistics, recruitment and coaching Andrew is perfectly placed to help with your sales needs. Andrew is passionate about changing your attitudes to selling, allowing you to understand that a ‘no’ can be a good thing. He also plays an active role in increasing the employability of 16-24 year olds, attending a reception dinner at the House of Lords as recognition of his on-going work in this area.

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