The Leading Edge- Taking Care of Business
Prospecting- Make it a Habit
Most of us put off the things we least like doing, that's just human nature. But if you own a business, the one thing you can't ignore is generating new leads and prospecting. You've probably heard of the sales funnel, or sales hopper – that thing we're supposed to fill with leads? If you haven't, now would be a good time to do an internet search and become acquainted with the concept. Basically, the more leads you put into the funnel the more prospects you will get and the more sales you will have – simple math.
Often companies become a little blasé about their businesses and feel they have enough customers and don't see a big need for prospecting. The problem with this thinking is that customers leave, or find their way to competitors, or even close down. Attrition is inevitable, so constantly generating new leads is vital to the long-term security of your company.
So, how can you get over a reticence to prospect, whether yours, or your salespeople's? Here are a few tips that should help you start filling that sales funnel.
- Make time for lead generation – specifically set one hour a day for prospecting; every day without fail. If you are freaking out that you don't have time, try 20-minutes. Some time is better than none, but you have to do it every day. If daily is a problem, set aside a morning or an afternoon once a week. When, is not the issue commitment is!
- Set a target number of contacts weekly and never do less. You will not be rewarded for good intentions, only results.
- Prepare a database of contacts before you start calling. Preparation is the key to good prospecting and it's easy to waste the time you have set aside, playing with paper rather than actually making calls.
- Keep calls short – the objective is to get an appointment not start making a sales pitch that could lose you the chance of a face-to-face meeting.
- Ensure your staff and colleagues know you are not to be disturbed during prospecting time. If you are using a landline, turn your cell phone to vibrate, or better still turn it off completely so you can focus.
- Think about the best time to call leads. If you have a long commute, perhaps you could input all the numbers you need to call into your hands-free device and call them while your driving? Of course, you will have to memorize your calendar, so you know when to book all those appointments you are going to arrange. Think about the best time for calling in your day and fit in extra calls when you are having to wait for something like having your car repaired, or you are several minutes early for an appointment.
- Vary the time of day, and day of the week you call people. People start and leave work at various times. Often, calling before or after normal office hours can bring results.
- Track all your calls and note the time of call and what occurred. Where necessary, schedule callbacks. It is important to be strict about calling back; did you know it takes an average of eight calls before you reach a contact? Patience and perseverance are the name of the game when generating leads and prospecting.
- As with sales, lead generation and prospecting are all about the numbers. Figure out how many prospects you want to reach out to and note how many of these prospects turn into customers. Once you know that ratio, you will know how many calls you need to make every month to achieve the number of new customers you desire.
- Remember, one sale does not necessarily mean a long-term customer. Follow-up is important and don't forget to ask for referrals; new customers can be a great source of new lead generation.
In business we often have to buckle down and do the hard stuff, and prospecting is hard work; the thing is the more you do it the easier and more productive it becomes. Keep your sales funnel full and watch your company grow.
The Thief of Time
Yes, we're talking about procrastination, that awful thief that steals our ability to focus and tempts us to distraction. We all suffer from it from time to time; it often starts innocently enough with a day where we feel lazy and can't get around to the jobs we know are urgent but that we just don't want to do – those days where we do all the jobs we like to do, rather than those we need to do. There are always good excuses but if it gets out of control it can paralyze our business. The problem is that the more we put things off, the less get around to taking action. How can you take preventive action? What can you do to thwart the procrastination time thief? Here are seven ways you can at least give it a good run for its money.
Think about those who count on you
If you own a company and have employees, these people rely on you to keep the company on track. You have a responsibility to them to step up to the plate, regardless of how you feel. The same is true of your family. If you take a moment and think about the effect your procrastination will have on others, it may be enough to stir you into action.
Remind yourself of why you do what you do
Sometimes we get a little lost in the minutiae and lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a few moments and compile a list of your goals and objectives – make it both personal and professional. Put it somewhere you can easily see it; regularly take a look at why you are doing what you're doing and consider what you need to achieve today to move closer to those goals. The time thief hates motivation.
Read something inspiring every day
Gain motivation from others. There's a reason why one of the most prevalent things on the internet are quotes. The time thief loves nothing more than an unmotivated soul; take a few minutes out of your day to read something that inspires you. This could be anything from the bible to the autobiography or memoir of someone you admire, or a simple motivational quote that inspires you. There's a reason why the book Chicken Soup for the Soul has sold 500 million copies, in 100 countries.
Remember your accomplishments
Sometimes stepping back and remembering your greatest accomplishments can be enough to get you back on track. Often procrastination is as much about self-doubt as it is about not wanting to do a specific job, activity, chore. "I can do this" is a good mantra to adopt.
Visualize yourself doing things
Try imagining yourself actually doing the thing you are avoiding – live through the experience – imagine successfully completing the task. How does that feel? Visualizing success can often send the time thief packing. Another tack is to close your eyes and think about what you would say to an employee, close friend, sibling or whomever who was having difficulty getting down to work on a project. Helping them find a way forward will help you move through your lack of forward motion.
It's strange, but when we're passionate about something we never delay doing it, so try to find a way to become passionate about the things you procrastinate around. If you can't do that, reward yourself for doing a task you dislike by following it with a reward activity; something that excites you. One thing that is guaranteed is the feeling of achievement we get after we have completed something we didn't want to do – use that as the reward for not letting the time thief have its evil way.
Realizing there is no good without bad, no bad without good, and accepting the fact there will always be things we like to do and things we dislike doing, can help us get on with life. Thich Nhat Hanh talks of there being two way to do the dishes; the first is to think of it as a chore just to get them clean, the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes. The point being; if can we focus completely on the task at hand and not think about all the other things we would prefer to be doing, then we can learn to actually enjoy doing the dishes.
Coach's Corner- Creating an Engaging Workplace
"Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it." Timothy R. Clark, Founder CEO of LeaderFactor
Engagement of our employees should be a goal for us as leaders. How do we create a work environment where employees feel engaged and respected? Here are five ideas that may help us move towards that goal for a more engaged workplace.
Aligning goals and having clear expectations
As leaders it is important for us to clearly define the goals of our company or department. We need to clarify the importance of what we are trying to achieve and outline expectations that lead to fulfilling these goals. How clear are we about our goals and expectations? Can all of our team members—new and old—articulate these expectations and goals?
Build trust: Both trust of the team and of the leader is crucial to engagement. When people do not trust either their team members or their boss, the engagement factor is partially or wholly negated. Trust is earned and very much a reciprocal relationship. A leader who trusts their team, as well as individuals of the team, will certainly earn that trust back. We need to ask ourselves, what are we doing to build the trust of our team members?
Model desired behaviours: An engaged staff person takes their cues from both their colleagues and their leaders. Similarly, a disengaged person is following the lead of other staff or maybe the leader. Often disengaged people will be in a work environment that exhibits a "do as I say" mentality. The adage, "Actions speak louder than words," is very apt for the work environment. When leaders take responsibility for their actions, employees will follow.
"Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability." Anne Mulcahey, Former CEO & Chairwoman of Xerox
Celebrate contributions: When we celebrate employee contributions, we are recognizing the importance of the individual or the team. Engaged team members will feel that what they do is important and valued. How can we ensure that everyone is recognized in an authentic way?
Job satisfaction: How do we ensure that people are satisfied in what they do for the department or company? How do we infuse a love of coming to work as opposed to the dread of the workplace?
"Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” Zig Ziglar, Author & Motivational Speaker
What are we doing that engages our employees and colleagues?
Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching
Beaver River Community Futures Development Corporation
PO Box 2678, 106 1st Street East, Meadow Lake, SK, S9X1Z6
Phone: 306-236-4422 | Fax: 306-236-5818