It’s hot and steamy here in Atlanta…in the nineties with high humidity just about every day. Summertime is a great time, with longer days and fun in the sun. With the hot weather comes challenges in our sales world. Kids being out of school means more vacations and people have more hectic schedules overall.
This season can cause meeting resistance and stalls in our pipelines. We need to guard against thinking we are prospecting enough during these months. Do you have solid evidence that the prospects you add to your pipeline are really interested in what you have to offer them? We could just be smoking hopium.
So what is this hopium thing? Hopium is counting on and forecasting sales that are out of our control. But how do we know when we have lost control of the sale? It’s very easy to figure out. Hopium is when the prospect has control and we are relying on them to take the next step instead of doing it ourselves.
What can we do to avoid hopium? We must make sure that we end every meeting or conversation with a potential customer with a mutually agreed upon “Next Set Time.” This is a date and time to meet or speak again.
What do we mean by a Next Set Time? It is a very common practice for salespeople to suggest a date (or several dates) and then let the prospect pick the time. In blunt terms, this practice can actually be considered sales suicide. This is a very reactive way of running your business compared to the proactive approach. We need a Next Set Time, which is a mutually agreed upon date and time on your prospect’s calendar and yours, to talk or meet again in order to move the sale forward.
We are the ones asking for a meeting or conversation on a specific date and time because it is convenient for us. It shows prospects we are very interested in doing business with them. People like to feel wanted. Plus it shows our time is just as valuable as the prospects’ time. What happens is it changes from just gut feel to evidence our prospect is playing ball with us. This is being proactive in sales.
Without a Next Set Time, we cannot rely on that prospect for income. We don’t get paid on wishes and hope, but we do get paid on what becomes reality. Being overly optimistic about the business we expect to come in leads to not prospecting enough. We become comfortable and reactive.
Think about the following:
What are proactive activities?
- Prospecting over the phone (gaining new accounts and growing existing accounts)
- Spending face to face time with prospects and customers (looking for new business)
- Strategizing your next call and planning how you will win the business, including getting that critical Next Set Time
- Networking and attending new events
- Closing sales!
What are reactive activities?
- Answering emails to serve customers
- Servicing existing accounts, without upselling or cross-selling
- Administrative duties, cleaning out your office during prime selling hours
- Busywork that is not a high impact activity
In the end, when we snuff out hopium, we have a real grasp on what is truly in our pipelines. We can structure these summer days and be better forecasters of what business is coming in. Structure without chaos equals more dollars in our pockets. And we can all use those…FOR REAL!