After being on vacation for parts of the past three weeks, it's important for me to quickly determine what I need to focus on today, my first day back. Of course, my calendar and task list suggest that most of the day has been laid out prior to my vacation, but there is so much more to refocusing myself than what appears on the calendar and task list. As a matter of fact, most salespeople struggle with what to focus on even when they have not been away. And sales managers are often unable to help because they have the same problem. If they ask, their question is probably, "So, who will you be talking with today?"
Let's focus on the only tool more important than the calendar and task list - your pipeline management tool. Most salespeople, despite dozens of CRM applications from which to choose, still don't fully comprehend pipeline management. And if they don't get it, they probably aren't managing it!
Whether it's a return from vacation, start of a new year, beginning of a new quarter, the first day of a new month, or even a Sunday evening, the starting point should be a salesperson's pipeline. While sales processes have varying multiple steps, the pipeline must have exactly four stages. When we pay attention to the pipeline, we can narrow the focus even further and determine:
- How many opportunities must be added (to suspects)?
- Which opportunities (from prospects or qualified) need to be moved forward?
- Which opportunities (from closable) need to be closed?
Not part of today's topic, but worthy of its own discussion, is the fact that most pipelines are not accurately staged. Should you Restage Your Pipeline?
When salespeople begin with the calendar and task list, they can get through the current day, week or month. When salespeople begin with pipeline management, they can grow the business. So, rather than, "Who are you seeing today?", the sales manager should be asking, "After you review your pipeline, what must you do to grow the business?" And the answer must take the form of:
- I need to add n prospects.
- I need to get movement with the following opportunities.
- I need to get these opportunities closed.
Given the busy calendar and task list, the next question to be answered is how do your salepeople manage their time so that the requirements identified above are integrated rather than postponed until they have time?
Make sure that your salespeople schedule time - appointments with themselves - for completing all of the required calls, emails, and follow-up.
Refocus on the pipeline because the calendar and task list are already in place!
This is one of many important topics which we will discuss at my Fall Sales Leadership Intensive which is less than one month away. I believe that we have 2-3 seats left, so if you wish to attend, you should let me know ASAP.