Sales Excuse/Hurdles of the Day

Excuse: The prospect wouldn’t want to hear from me today

Excuse: I don’t want to bother this prospect

Excuse: It’s too early in the day to make a contact

Excuse: I’m too tired to make contacts

Excuse: It’s Monday, I don’t want to call on a prospect today

Excuse: It’s Friday, the prospect probably won’t want to hear from me today

Excuse: It’s close to lunch time

Excuse: I think my prospects are tired at this time of the day

Excuse: It’s summertime

Excuse: I will probably never get through anyway

Excuse: I called twice and there has been no return phone call

Excuse: It’s too late in the day to make a contact

Excuse: I really don’t want to bother people that have more money than me (or more power, more prestige, better education, etc.)

Excuse: I have so many other things to do

Excuse: I’m much better face to face than on the phone

Excuse: I’d better get these administrative reports done right away

Excuse: Sales are going so well, thank goodness I can now stop contacting prospects

Excuse: I’m going to be away next week. I shouldn’t call today just in case they call back

Excuse: I’m not in Sales – I’m an Account Manager (or better yet, I’m a Regional Client Relationship Manager)

Excuse: I don’t want to be known as a sales person

Excuse: I’m close friends with this prospect. I don’t want to call them and bother them

Excuse: Asking for referrals – that never works

Excuse: I can’t even stay on top of my current projects, why should I try to take on more?

Excuse: My current clients love me, they’re not going anywhere – I don’t need to prospect

Excuse: I work in a niche market.  If I prospect outside of that, I’ll lose credibility with my current clients

Excuse: My competitors have better websites and fancy brochures.  I need to spend time upgrading those

Excuse: I need to spend the balance of the day studying Redmond Group’s Sales Excuse(s) of the Day

666: Excuse: The devil is preventing me from making outbound contacts

Excuse: I’m having a bad hair day

 

 


 

 

 

The prospect wouldn’t want to hear from me today

Solution: This is a very common tendency among salespeople - reading the mind of the prospect. The reality is that we have no idea if the prospect wants to hear from us today or not. What we’re hearing and listening to is our own internal voice, our own dialogue that we probably learned from someone else. The good news is that it has no basis in reality. Here’s a word based remedy: “My family likes to eat regularly, so I’d better make this call”.


I don’t want to bother this prospect

Solution: This is a very common and effective technique on how to not sell, how not to create prospecting opportunities and how not to develop referrals and lead sources. In the language of call reluctance it’s called “yielding”. You do not want to appear pushy or intrusive. The solution we use is to go out to the lobby of our office and check to see how many prospects are waiting to do business with us. We’ve yet to find one. We’d better go get some.


 

It’s too early in the day to make a contact

Solution: Use the Redmond Rules of Prospecting
Q. When is the best time to contact a prospect?
A. When you’re conscious.


 

I’m too tired to make contacts

Solution: This can be a serious issue – be mindful of your energy levels. It takes energy, stamina, resilience, consistency to be successful in sales.  We heard this somewhere: “Energy, physical energy is the currency of business”.  What’s behind the fatigue? Are you ill; was the baby up all night, not enough exercise, too much exercise, depression, wrong diet, too much alcohol? While you’re at it, how’s your sense of humor?

Some of the solutions we hear during our workshops and webcasts:

    Coffee

    Red Bull

    Sleep

    Exercise

    Better Diet

    Take Breaks

    Your Children, Spouse, Significant Other!

    Yoga

    Meditation

    Focus on one task, limit “multi-tasking”

    Mini-vacations / retreats

Check your energy level – are you more energetic in the morning, in the afternoon?  Take some action, almost anything will help - then go ahead and make a call, just one – you will feel more energized immediately.  And then on to the next contact.


 

It’s Monday, I don’t want to call on a prospect today

Solution: What’s the real driver behind this? Is it your own fatigue? You don’t do weekends well?  How do I know that I’m bothering them? They may be delighted to hear from us! Is there something else behind the reason for not calling them today? Perhaps I don’t feel I’m well enough prepared? Stop for a moment and ask “What’s really behind this? I don’t want to call them on Monday because they think I’m bothering them, they’re not there, they don’t want to hear from me, what makes Tuesday different from Monday? There are a variety of remedies for this. The one that we like to use is to have a picture of your family, loved ones, particularly children, on our desks. As we look at the pictures, we can hear their voices saying “(Dad/Mom), we’re relying on you to make that next call”. 


 

It’s Friday, the prospect probably won’t want to hear from me today

Solution: This was a very common excuse that the founder of Redmond Group used regularly. I our minds, Friday was not a good time to contact a prospect. Well, we started calling on Friday and our hit ratios went up. Many prospects would like to get the items settled before the weekend. Call them late on Friday; maybe you can actually reach the decision maker, they may be the only ones still around. They want to solve it, they want to get it over with, or maybe set up a time for the following Monday to call them (see Sales Excuse: It’s Monday, I don’t want to call on a prospect today).


 

It’s close to lunch time

Solution: How close? Fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, one hour, five minutes? If you’re looking at this excuse as legitimate, well you probably would not want to call them after lunch because they just got back from lunch! There is something else going on here. Perhaps you don’t want to bother them, you don’t feel quite ready, your goals are too low, you’re energy level is out of whack, you have too many conflicting or competing goals. Is this the reason you are not making the next contact?  And oh, yes, many of us have prospects in other time zones.

Use the Redmond Rules of Prospecting
Q. When is the best time to contact a prospect?
A. When you’re conscious.


 

I think my prospects are tired at this time of the day

Solution: Yeah, that’s a good one – we’re talking about people you haven’t met; haven’t spoken to and you know that they’re tired!  It’s likely that you are tired. Go take a refreshment break, walk outside (please come back), take a deep breath and rest a little bit. It’s amazing what this can do. If you can manage it, lie down on the floor, you deserve it, you’ve been calling prospects all day.  Don’t forget to get back up!


 

It’s summertime

Solution: “Summertime and the LIvin’ is Easy “by Ira Gershwin
The Top 10 True / False Thoughts for Summertime Prospecting
1. False: It’s summer, nobody’s around. Why prospect?
    True: Who takes a three-month vacation?
2. False: It’s summer.  All of my prospects are out of town.
    True: All prospects vacation at the same time?
3. False: It’s summer.  Who can prospect in this heat?
    True: Your prospects are probably in their air-conditioned offices waiting for your call.
4. False: It’s Friday afternoon.  Prospects close early.
    True: The employees leave early.  The boss stays and answers the phone.
5. False: It’s Monday morning.  Prospects don’t want me to bother them now.
    True: How do you know what your prospects want?  You haven’t met them yet.
6. False: I’m going away next week.  I can’t make appointments.
    True: In other words, you’re taking a two week vacation.
7. False: I’m just back from my trip.  I need to catch up.  I’ll prospect next week.
    True: See # 6.  Now it’s a three week vacation.
8. False: My assistant is away.  I need to stick around.
    True: Great! Make some contacts while you stick around.
9. False: My assistant is just back from vacation.  We need to catch up.
    True: See # 6.  Now you’re up to a four-week vacation.
10. False: Last two weeks in August.  It’s vacation time. I’ll get going after Labor Day.
      True: See # 6, 7 & 9.  You’re up to a six-week vacation.  58% of the summer is gone.
Some additional coaching tips: 

This is RADICAL - for the summer – check your email only 5 times per day and that also includes your Blackberry, iPhone and your other personal communication devices.  Your productivity will skyrocket.

Your competitors are probably not making calls or new contacts for several of the reasons stated above.

Your job is to relieve your competition of the burden of their accounts so they can take more time off in the summer!

Your prospect’s gatekeeper may be out of town.  This is a perfect time to turn this possible advantage into an even greater advantage.

Have you noticed that as major summer holidays approach like Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day that your prospects offer the objection “call me right after the holiday”?  A particularly great time to call is on the Monday and Tuesday after a holiday – they have no appointments and are in waiting for your call.

Have a great summer and do take some time for yourself, family and community (and keep your prospect appointments up to your standards!)


 

I will probably never get through anyway

Solution: This you will never know unless you attempt to make the contact. We typically think in terms of the telephone as an important contacting tool. There are lots of training resources and many books available on making the call, getting through, leaving a proper voicemail and so forth. Our recommendation is to always obtain the name of the gatekeeper (for future use), leave a voicemail – your name, company, time of day, day of week, why you are calling and leave your phone number twice. You may also want to suggest another time when you will be calling. Be very careful with the pace of your leaving the phone number – go slow and even slower than that. Be professional at all times.
Some statistics:

(Brace yourself.)  Studies indicate that 86% of our outbound calls go to voice mail!  So, we better be good at it.  Voice mail is here to stay and instead of lamenting this fact, how can we turn this seeming disadvantage to our advantage?

Remember this number: 1:51.  On average, it takes 1 minute and 51 seconds to leave a voice mail.  This is calculated from the time their phone rings through to the completion of your message.

When calling cold, it usually takes 7 calls to get to the wrong person!  Check this out for yourself as you track your calling activity.

On referrals, the actual contact statistic drops to something like one or two calls to get to the right person live and an appointment is usually the result.

(Brace yourself again.)  Only 2% of cold calls are returned – and both of them are unqualified prospects in heaps of payment troubles!  “We’re broke; does your company have liberal payment terms?”

Some recommendations:

Always leave a voice mail.  We got out of the debating society “to leave a message or not.”  Just leave it.  A call that isn’t recorded has no chance of being returned.  Voice mail is a tool to be used.  Set a goal to be the best voice mailer on the planet.

Begin your voice mail dialogue with something that you actually know:

    Your name, your company, the date and time, then move on to a brief description of why you are calling.  There is a fair amount written about voice mail techniques but the basic rule of thumb is that it has to be natural for you.  Use your own dialogue, not someone else’s script or technique.  We wholeheartedly disagree with using any “tricks” to get people to call you back.  This is just a really poor way to start a business relationship.

    Think about how you feel when listening to inbound voice mail messages.  How often are you waving your hand around in the air wishing the person would get to the point?  Be clear, concise and to the point about your message.

Always leave your phone number.  Please, please speak slowly and leave your number twice.  In spite of the fact that the chances of receiving a return call are almost non-existent, leave the phone number anyway.  This is the start of building your relationship with the prospective client.

Remember that you are calling for a job.  Aren’t we usually more focused and more “in the zone”, when we are calling a prospective employer?  Are we not looking for a job with the prospective account?  So keep the call at the highest professional level because you really are looking for a job.

Don’t take it personally.  Several years ago we realized that we have absolutely no emotional attachment that anyone will call us back ever (even friends and family).  How did this happen?  Our guess is that this is the result of (who knows) 100,000 unreturned phone calls over the past 40 years?  After the first 100,000, you’re ready!  So, leave your emotions aside for this important aspect of your sales career.

Maintain a sense of humor.  When you actually reach someone, have you ever said, “Please switch me over to voice mail, I don’t know what to say.”  We assure you that the other person will get it!  They can’t reach anyone either.

Every voice mail is the opportunity to get on, and stay on your prospect’s radar.  You may want to advise them that you will be calling again or even make a leap and tell them when you will call next, “I’m going to make a leap here and actually schedule a call to you…on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.”  And, of course, call precisely at that time and refer to the promise of your call.

OK, we admit it; we’ve tried sales by telepathy.  Sounds like a great title for a sales book:   “Sales by Telepathy – you’ll never have to make an outbound call again!”

What about regular mail a/k/a snail mail? – we’re not opposed to regular mail - give it a try – at least we know the mail gets through but you must follow your mailing up immediately with a call or an email – you need to contact them as they are opening the envelope.

“This is my attempt to get on your list of important people to talk to.”

“Would it put more joy in your life if you were to meet with (insert your name)?” Our thinking is “How can anyone say “no” to that?  We’re not kidding, we use all these methods regularly.

And now the answers to your burning questions:
Use the Redmond Rules of Prospecting
Q. When is the best time to contact a prospect?
A. When you’re conscious.

Q: How often should I call, make contact?  How often should I leave a message?
A: Until they surrender!

Q: What is the best sales book ever written?
A: Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham – check it out – the message is inspiring.


 

I called twice and there has been no return phone call

Solutions: Depending on the nature of the prospective ccount, it could typically take seven calls to get to the wrong person! The rule of thumb is that two or maybe three prospects out of a hundred call back. The rule of thumb that we use is that no one will call back.

Of course, the frequency of contact is a gut feeling, so use your best professional judgment.
Some statistics:

(Brace yourself.)  Studies indicate that 86% of our outbound calls go to voice mail!  So, we better be good at it.  Voice mail is here to stay and instead of lamenting this fact, how can we turn this seeming disadvantage to our advantage?

Remember this number: 1:51.  On average, it takes 1 minute and 51 seconds to leave a voice mail.  This is calculated from the time their phone rings through to the completion of your message.

When calling cold, it usually takes 7 calls to get to the wrong person!  Check this out for yourself as you track your calling activity.

On referrals, the actual contact statistic drops to something like one or two calls to get to the right person live and an appointment is usually the result.

(Brace yourself again.)  Only 2% of cold calls are returned – and both of them are unqualified prospects in heaps of payment troubles!  “We’re broke; does your company have liberal payment terms?”

Some recommendations:

Always leave a voice mail.  We got out of the debating society “to leave a message or not.”  Just leave it.  A call that isn’t recorded has no chance of being returned.  Voice mail is a tool to be used.  Set a goal to be the best voice mailer on the planet.

Begin your voice mail dialogue with something that you actually know:

    Your name, your company, the date and time, then move on to a brief description of why you are calling.  There is a fair amount written about voice mail techniques but the basic rule of thumb is that it has to be natural for you.  Use your own dialogue, not someone else’s script or technique.  We wholeheartedly disagree with using any “tricks” to get people to call you back.  This is just a really poor way to start a business relationship.

    Think about how you feel when listening to inbound voice mail messages.  How often are you waving your hand around in the air wishing the person would get to the point?  Be clear, concise and to the point about your message.

Always leave your phone number.  Please, please speak slowly and leave your number twice.  In spite of the fact that the chances of receiving a return call are almost non-existent, leave the phone number anyway.  This is the start of building your relationship with the prospective client.

Remember that you are calling for a job.  Aren’t we usually more focused and more “in the zone”, when we are calling a prospective employer?  Are we not looking for a job with the prospective account?  So keep the call at the highest professional level because you really are looking for a job.

Don’t take it personally.  Several years ago we realized that we have absolutely no emotional attachment that anyone will call us back ever (even friends and family).  How did this happen?  Our guess is that this is the result of (who knows) 100,000 unreturned phone calls over the past 40 years?  After the first 100,000, you’re ready!  So, leave your emotions aside for this important aspect of your sales career.

Maintain a sense of humor.  When you actually reach someone, have you ever said, “Please switch me over to voice mail, I don’t know what to say.”  We assure you that the other person will get it!  They can’t reach anyone either.

Every voice mail is the opportunity to get on, and stay on your prospect’s radar.  You may want to advise them that you will be calling again or even make a leap and tell them when you will call next, “I’m going to make a leap here and actually schedule a call to you…on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.”  And, of course, call precisely at that time and refer to the promise of your call.

OK, we admit it; we’ve tried sales by telepathy.  Sounds like a great title for a sales book:   “Sales by Telepathy – you’ll never have to make an outbound call again!”

What about regular mail a/k/a snail mail? – we’re not opposed to regular mail - give it a try – at least we know the mail gets through but you must follow your mailing up immediately with a call or an email – you need to contact them as they are opening the envelope.

“This is my attempt to get on your list of important people to talk to.”

“Would it put more joy in your life if you were to meet with (insert your name)?” Our thinking is “How can anyone say “no” to that?  We’re not kidding, we use all these methods regularly.

And now the answers to your burning questions:
Use the Redmond Rules of Prospecting
Q. When is the best time to contact a prospect?
A. When you’re conscious.

Q: How often should I call, make contact?  How often should I leave a message?
A: Until they surrender!

Q: What is the best sales book ever written?
A: Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham – check it out – the message is inspiring.


 

It’s too late in the day to make a contact

Solution: Like we haven’t heard that before.  …and don’t forget the cousin of this excuse – it’s too early in the day to make a contact.  We think that the answer here is to forget about the time of the day – just go ahead and make the contact. One of our recommendations is to alter the times of your contact since your prospect, the decision maker, may be the only one at their place of business when everyone else has left or may be there before everyone else has gotten in. You may be able to get by the gatekeeper. So just forget about the time, make the call, make the contact.


 

I really don’t want to bother people that have more money than me (or more power, more prestige, better education, etc.)

Solution: This is running away from the decision makers, running away from prospecting. We don’t want to make light of this particular type of call reluctance as penned by George Dudley and Shannon Goodson, this is called Social Self-Conscious Call Reluctance. It can be crippling, since you might find yourself calling on the assistant to the assistant treasurer. You’ll get lots of opportunities to provide a proposal and no opportunities to close the deal. Typically, prior to making the call, your mind may be chattering away regarding the prestige of this target prospect and how “I am not worthy”. Our quick answer is to stop that thinking immediately and make that call. Get connected with your body in the present moment. Your body is not afraid of this but your mind is wandering off as you imagine how these people might treat you.


 

I have so many other things to do

Solution: Yes, we understand there are conflicting priorities, competing goals and so forth. The primary solution we have for this is very practical - calendar management. Notice, we’re not calling it Time Management – you can’t manage time, you can mange your calendar. Check your calendar for the next couple of weeks, block out time for yourself to make your prospecting contacts. Literally, put your name on the calendar - Tuesday 10:00-12:00; Wednesday 4:15-5:45 or 2:30-4:00, something like that.
Another time and energy killer is email. WARNING – these are RADICAL ideas:

We learned this from a client – do not even open email until 11:00 a.m. each day. Incidentally, we tried this at World Headquarters and we failed, couldn’t do it.  So, we started from what we thought might be possible – how about one day a week, like Thursday?  This we could do.

We learned this from Seth Godin – check out his book – Linchpin: Check your email only 5 times per day and that includes your Blackberry, iPhone and any other personal communication device.  We can assure you that your productivity will skyrocket.

Multi-tasking is crap – it does not work and the studies have shown that productivity actually decreases by 40% which leads to more multi-taking and a shorter life.


 

I’d better get these administrative reports done right away

Solution: We’ve never seen an administrative report that leads to sales and we have done many!  We even got good at it.  In fact, the administrative report that leads to sales cannot be an administrative report.  Administrative reports kill sales. As best you can, don’t do them at all, cancel them, delegate them, get rid of them, etc. Rid your life of these reports and their time and energy wasting cousins - meetings. They are sapping your energy, competing for your time, competing for your creativity and quite frankly, it’s very easy to hide out behind them: “I can’t make the contact because I have to get these reports done”. Alternatively, limit the time allocated- I will spend one hour a week, two hours a week, whatever it is, (how about off hours) in getting these reports done. We have another simple solution – create a sign with the following words on it – “Is It Sales?” If what you are working on is not sales related, stop working on it.


 

Sales are going so well, thank goodness I can now stop contacting prospects

Solution: This is a very dangerous position to take because building the prospect pipeline takes time. That’s why prospecting has to be a disciplined every day kind of activity. How many prospects can I contact before noon today? Can I carve an hour or two today to make additional contacts.  How about 5x5 – can I contact five prospects by five p.m.?

Redmond Rules of Prospecting:
Your job, as a salesperson, is to relieve your competition of the burden of their accounts.  This is a community service.


 

I’m much better face to face than on the phone

Solution: Yes, aren’t we all? However, many of the contacts you’ll be making and much of the relationship building will be done on the phone or possibly via email.  We’re still fans of making outbound telephone calls but have liberalized our thinking with the use of email as well.  Develop the skill of effective dialog, effective inflection, effective working through the phone with your prospects and clients.  Likewise, develop effective written communication via email.  (See sales Excuse: I will probably never get through anyway).


 

I’m going to be away next week. I shouldn’t call today just in case they call back

Solution: We’ve heard that one before. And when you get back, you’ll have all the things to do that you didn’t do while you were away so you can’t call then, so that will be two weeks with out calling. Just get on with it – make a call today.  Better yet, contact five prospects by 5:00 p.m. - you’ll feel better.
Some statistics:

(Brace yourself.)  Studies indicate that 86% of our outbound calls go to voice mail!  So, we better be good at it.  Voice mail is here to stay and instead of lamenting this fact, how can we turn this seeming disadvantage to our advantage?

Remember this number: 1:51.  On average, it takes 1 minute and 51 seconds to leave a voice mail.  This is calculated from the time their phone rings through to the completion of your message.

When cold calling, it usually takes 7 calls to get to the wrong person!  Check this out for yourself as you track your calling activity.

On referrals, the actual contact statistic drops to something like one or two calls to get to the right person live and an appointment is usually the result.

(Brace yourself again.)  Only 2% of cold calls are returned – and both of them are unqualified prospects in heaps of payment troubles!  “We’re broke; does your company have liberal payment terms?”


 

I’m not in Sales – I’m an Account Manager (or better yet, I’m a Regional Client Relationship Manager)

Solution: We are all in sales.  OK, if you don’t like the term “Sales” let’s change it to “Harvesting”. We are all in the business of “Harvesting” new clients.  Building your Account Management relationship – your client relationship is and will always be part of the sales process. Are your customers “dating” your competitors? How do you convince them not to? What about that referral that you can generate from a client? Referrals are the quickest way of getting new business in the door. First of all, a referral is just about an automatic appointment. One contact equals an appointment instead of seven calls to get to the wrong person and your hit ratio probably starts at a 50% minimum. As an account manager (or Regional Client Relationship Manager) there is an extraordinary opportunity to develop stronger relationships through referral harvesting. And here’s an intended unintended consequence of asking for a referral: You’ll also be able to infer from your client’s reaction whether or not your account is in jeopardy and where the relationship can be improved.


 

I have so many other things to do

Solution: We’ve heard that before - that slick, sleazy sales person. This is truly a stereotype. This is also a great excuse to not make a call – Hey, I’m not a sales person anyway and I don’t have to make that next contact. Do you believe in the products that you have to offer? Are your products and services really providing a benefit for your customers?

Also, be honest with yourself, if selling is not the place for you; if you cannot create, maintain and sustain the energy required in a sales career – take action and make one more sale – prospect for a career opportunity that is more to your liking, your passion, your skills, your strengths and your ultimate happiness.


 

I’m close friends with this prospect. I don’t want to call them and bother them

Solution: Another very common excuse - when we become friends with our prospects or clients, we could have a hesitancy to call on them. However, if this is really uncomfortable for you, don’t worry; you have an unlimited supply of people who are not your friends. Contact them.


 

Asking for referrals – that never works

Solution: Surveys have shown over and over again that 90+% of people will be happy to give referrals. Unfortunately, only 3% are actually asked for referrals. Sometimes, we simple expect that a satisfied client will naturally offer business contacts - stop that thinking immediately!  You need to ask.

Set yourself a short term reasonable goal like: during the next 30 days, I will ask for (pick a number like three, five, ten, etc.) referrals. Start in a safe place – your best client, your best relationship – they trust you, you trust them. You could say to them something like”…you’ve been struggling asking for referrals and I need to practice on you”. We can practically guarantee that you will get a referral on the spot. Of course, we want you to make sure that your referral source knows the type of accounts you want, where your strengths are and so forth.

Here's what we know:

Referrals are the best way to generate new business and expand your prospecting network.  We estimate that hit ratios from referred prospects start at 50% and go up from there.

Set referral goals - how many referrals can be generated for the balance of this year?  OK, how about for the next 30, 60 or 90 days?  Your assignment is to pick a number and write it down.

Target your referral sources - You know that your products and services are terrific.  Where is the greatest level of personal trust between you and your client?  Which customers are the safest to ask?  Think of those clients who have actually experienced and recognized your outstanding service.  Who comes to mind?  This is where to begin. Start from the possible and move gradually towards the impossible.

Ask.  Yes, that's all there is to it, just ask.  We recommend that you even set goals with your referral sources.  Here's a dialogue example: "I'm trying to build my business and would value your assistance.  Is it possible to obtain ten referrals/introductions from you over the next ninety days?"  Your assignment is to develop and practice your own dialogue.

Be specific as to the types of referrals you are seeking.  Targeting specific accounts, individuals or industry niches will be helpful to your referral source.  Ask for and discuss specific strategies for reaching each referral.

Explain the process - how you will communicate, offer outstanding value and gracefully walk away if you are not the right fit or the best solution.

Upon conclusion of the activity with the referred account, thank your referral source again (and ask for another!)

We always feel good about ourselves when we refer business contacts to others.  Let your clients and referral sources feel good about themselves.

Why not ask for a referral today?  How about 1 by 5:00 p.m.?


 

I can’t even stay on top of my current projects, why should I try to take on more?

Solution: Yes, we understand there are conflicting priorities, competing goals and so forth. The primary solution we have for this is very practical - calendar management. Notice, we’re not calling it Time Management – you can’t manage time, you can mange your calendar. Check your calendar for the next couple of weeks, block out time for yourself to make your prospecting contacts. Literally, put your name on the calendar - Tuesday 10:00-12:00; Wednesday 4:15-5:45 or 2:30-4:00, something like that.
Another time and energy killer is email. WARNING – these are RADICAL ideas:

We’ve heard this one a zillion times – “limit email interruptions”.  Our clients have offered a variety of ideas like “Don’t even open your email until 11:00 a.m. each day”.  We tried this and couldn’t do it!  So we started from the possible – could we do this just one day a week?  Our day at Redmond Group is Thursday.  Another client (a sales rep) set up an automatic response on her email that she “…reads and responds to email at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day”.  What might work for you? What’s reasonable?  What’s possible?

We learned this from Seth Godin – check out his book – Linchpin: Check your email only 5 times per day and that includes your Blackberry, iPhone and any other personal communication device.  We can assure you that your productivity will skyrocket.

Multi-tasking is crap – it does not work and the studies have shown that productivity actually decreases by 40% which leads to more multi-taking and a shorter life.

Go get Stephen Covey’s book First Things First.  We have found this bestseller to be immensely helpful.  The genius of Covey is that he asks the important question: Are you working on the “Big Rocks”, the high payoff activities?  Then he offers specific recommendations.  Our personal favorite is Chapter 9 – “Integrity in the Moment of Choice”.

Plan your activities: Make a list of all of the things that you need to do between now and, for example, January 1st.  Don’t edit.  Put it all down.  This includes business activities (including prospecting, presenting, networking, etc.) as well as holiday preparations and parties.  When complete, go through the list and cross out anything that you don’t have to do.  Can you fire yourself from an activity or two?  Go through the list again and highlight things that you can delegate.  Go through the list again and choose things that you can complete in a more efficient manner than usual (like shopping on-line). Now you’ve got your real to-do list.  Get into the habit of doing this on a regularly scheduled basis (like every Sunday evening).

Calendar Management:  Make appointments with yourself for each of the activities.  Block your calendar and don’t cancel that appointment!  Be especially careful to schedule your daily sales activities.  It is much more likely that you will skip sales activities rather than the company party. Stay flexible but focused.

Limit interruptions from colleagues - this can be a difficult one.  Is this meeting really critical?  Is my calendar, and therefore my time, controlled by someone else?  One of the responses that worked well for us in a former life is to say something like: “I’m pretty busy right now, can we meet on Friday at 5:30?”  Oh, the humanity!

And keep in mind…a sense of humor is helpful!


 

My current clients love me, they’re not going anywhere – I don’t need to prospect

Solution:  When we hear this from sales professionals or account managers, our alarms go off.  First of all, the excuse indicates that you are no longer in the sales business. You are in the Account Management business.  We don’t want to sound like a naysayer, but “it’s not if you will lose the account, it’s when”.  We know this from personal experience.  As sales people, we really control nothing when it comes to retaining clients – even those who love us.  Things change – count on this – something has changed within your client in the last 60 days that could have a negative effect on keeping the business.  On the other hand, some changes could have a positive effect.

Building your client relationship is and will always be part of the sales process. Are your customers “dating” your competitors? How do you convince them not to? What about that referral that you can generate from a client? Referrals are the quickest way of getting new business in the door and are a terrific and enormously effective prospecting activity.  As an account manager there is an extraordinary opportunity to develop stronger client relationships through referral harvesting. And here’s an intended unintended consequence of asking for a referral: You’ll also be able to infer from your client’s reaction whether or not your account is in jeopardy and where the relationship can be improved.


 

I work in a niche market.  If I prospect outside of that, I’ll lose credibility with my current clients

Solution: A niche market is terrific – you become the subject matter expert, a spokesperson for the industry niche, the expert in the field.  The challenge is, in the capitalist system, there is a phenomenon known as Creative Destruction.  What technological, economic, logistical or population change could have a negative effect on your niche?  The Great Recession made us shine light on the imperfections of our business models – including the industry niche(s) where we are spending our resources.

An honest evaluation of your niche makes good sense. Our bias is having a niche but two or maybe three could even be better.


 

My competitors have better websites and fancy brochures.  I need to spend time upgrading those

Solution:  Let’s face it; you have to have a decent website as a basic tool.  We’re less convinced on the brochure front – we suggest to clients that they get out of the brochure business - or have something on-line that interested parties could have access to.  Unless you are in the Internet business, we remain quite certain that you do not get business because you have a cool website (we hope ours is cool, since you’re on it right now!).  But, we doubt that you would buy our terrific services because we have a cool website.

If you need to upgrade your site – hire someone to do it – and while they’re doing it – make some prospect contacts.


 

I need to spend the balance of the day studying Redmond Group’s Sales Excuse(s) of the Day

Solution:  Call Tom at 732-957-0005 right now for some serious sales counseling!!


 

The devil is preventing me from making outbound contacts

Solution:  Call Tom at 732-957-0005 right now for some serious sales counseling!!


 

I’m having a bad hair day

Solution:  Call Tom at 732-957-0005 right now for some serious sales counseling!!

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