Of all the things your dealership could do in the next year to grow sales, what could move the needle more than anything else?
In the book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink tells a story that rings true in our industry. The CEO of a pharmaceutical company had all kinds of new initiatives including:
- Buying additional locations
- Launching a new product line
- Educating managers
- Updating the website
- Improving the customer experience
- Creating an activity management plan for the sales team
Of all these items, Jocko asked a simple question: “Which one of these will have the biggest positive impact?”
The answer was simple: more consistent and measurable sales activity. The CEO’s response was simple: “That’s easy. The activity management of our sales force is the highest priority. We have to make sure our sales people are engaged in the right activities. If they aren’t getting in front of customers and selling our products, we will no longer be in business.”
Navy SEALS know the key to winning is simple: Prioritize and Execute.
If you want to grow your organization, you need to do the same in your sales team. We must prioritize prospecting. And, we must execute.
Even though prospecting is the one thing that can move the needle, how many sales teams make this a priority? The reality is that prospecting ends up being pushed to the bottom of the list. Then we wonder why sales funnels are empty and net-new results are anemic.
Recently I met with a company that had set a 5 year target to be at $25 million. They were well short of that number. Several reasons were given including the local economy and growing a new arm of the business. However, the reality is that prospecting was not a priority at the company. Sales reps lived off the base and only prospected sporadically. It made me wonder, “How big would this company be if they made prospecting the TOP priority for the sales team?”
Create a Process
To execute a plan you need a system. That system needs to be effective. It must be predictable and measurable. The participants need to be held accountable for their activity and be rewarded. Companies that run on EOS® know that processes, structure and accountability are the incremental growth elements that lead to a great, successful year when you look back on it. Why wouldn’t you also have a process for your sales team’s prospecting efforts?
Sadly, most organizations do not have a prospecting system. Even if the sales team has phone time blocked off, how effective are these calls–especially in a world where Salesforce.com research shows that it takes 6-8 touches with a prospect to get an appointment? What if you had a system that automatically created multiple touches using messaging that resonated with the specific buyer based on their position in the company or their vertical market?
Executing a plan means that it must be measurable. Is your prospecting measurable? Or, do you ask reps, “How many calls did you make this week?” and trust their answers? What is the ratio of sales prospecting calls to appointments for each rep and for your team? Is it improving?
Executing a plan also requires training. How much training do you do each month in prospecting strategies? Are your reps practicing? Are they improving?
A Strategic Prospecting System
With all of the changes happening today and trying to figure out what’s next, it’s easy to take our eye off of the ball. Most of us would not be here if we hadn’t prospected. What makes us think we’ll be here tomorrow if we don’t make prospecting a priority?