Off to a Good Start

By Cindy Waxer

Resolving to make more sales calls should be the first New Year’s resolution that you break, according to Ellen Bristol, founder and president of Bristol Strategy Group. She says the best sales resolution for the New Year is to stop measuring activity and start focusing on improving the process. Bristol offers this advice for getting your sales year off to a good start.

Take a deep breath.
Pause to analyze, think and plan. Map out a strategy for the year before you jump in. Bristol says, “It’s not uncommon for salespeople to start the year with a kind of pep rally mentality. Before you hold your pep rally, figure out what you’re going to do afterwards – what game you’re going to play, what’s your strategy to win and after you win what’s going to happen.”

Make mistakes.
Knowledge comes from action. Make lots of mistakes, but don’t make the same ones twice. How? Keep track of your results. Change activities to produce better results.

Focus on results.
Getting prospects to reveal needs or ask for proposals means more than making phone calls. Build your plan around the results you want to accomplish and the steps needed to get there.

Watch the ratios.
Ratios reveal productivity – or the lack of it. Call on fewer prospects and close more of them and you will be using your time more wisely. Create an ideal customer profile by determining which buyers provide the most profit, the most referrals and the most benefits to your company. According to Bristol, “If you know what your ideal customer profile is then your prospecting becomes a more surgical instrument because you’re going to compare the prospects that you come up against to that profile and reject more quickly the ones that don’t match.”

Follow the process, not the plan.
Watch trends, not raw numbers. How are things moving from month to month? Learn from results. Repeat what’s working; improve – or delete – what isn’t. That’s what it takes to work smarter, not harder.