Prospecting is an essential aspect of sales success, but it’s one we too often let fall by the wayside. We tend to push prospecting aside to allow time for other things we think are productive, such as nurturing established relationships. Though we do it because we care, we end up floundering when we realize our pipeline is empty. When this happens, a salesperson has entered the “gap,” that dreaded purgatory between closed deals and future ones.
What happens when there aren’t enough deals in the pipeline? Salespeople can’t close deals – no deal is closed that wasn’t first in the pipeline. If your company requires salespeople to find their own leads, it’s imperative that you engage in regular prospecting activity, including qualifying and disqualifying, to maintain a healthy pipeline.
Luckily, great salespeople are hunters at heart, so it’s not too difficult to reverse this behavior. All it takes is meticulous attention to our actions and dedication to furthering our sales goals. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for common pitfalls.
Here are two time-sucks that contribute to putting prospecting on the backburner:
As a salesperson, you’re a client’s first point of contact with a company. That makes you someone they’ll turn to—even when you can’t fix their problem. Helping customers through service issues can be a days-long venture, and if you can’t fix their problem, it could even be a detriment to your relationship.
Stay focused on hunting, not “firefighting” and saving the day. Make sure you have a system in place for clients to contact the right person in your organization when they have questions or problems. Your client will value the consistency, and you won’t find yourself trapped in a black hole of non-selling activity.
NOTE: In certain cases where you double as the sales person and the service (the way we do here at CFS), things can get confusing, but if it’s confusing for you, think how confusing it must be for your client. Set boundaries and be open about the hats you’re wearing—the client should have a good understanding of your different responsibilities, and that understanding can come through communication.
2. Fiestas & Siestas
If you’ve had deals in the pipeline for months, you’ll probably want to either celebrate or relax when they finally close. It’s fine to bask in success for a moment, but be sure to keep your eyes on the prize—the pace of business is quick, and if you rest too long, your “gap” might start to show.
One way to keep fiestas and siestas from becoming time-sucks is to maintain an intimate relationship with your goals. Looking at them everyday will help remind you to use your momentum to propel yourself forward.
How to Stay on Track
At CFS, we have some tactics in place to help mind our gap. Our team has daily meetings to give us accountability and keep us on task, as well as weekly meetings to discuss the same topics on a deeper level. We review our quarterly goals on a daily basis. It’s the same principle we use when taking underground trains: To mind the gap, you have to watch where you’re going.
photo credit: chalo84