Jeb Blount’s advice in Fanatical Prospecting is pointed and powerful. As our team at Convergo has started delivering Fanatical Prospecting training as part of our net-new business strategy, I continue to be inspired by this book in both my role as a salesperson (we are all salespeople!) and in my overall life.
“Every major failure in my life has been a direct result of a collapse in self-discipline to do the little things every day.”
Jeb goes on to say that failure is simply the cumulative impact of many poor decisions, slips in self discipline, and things put off until it is too late. I couldn’t agree more. Over and over again, failures in my sales career and personal life have shown this to be true.
As a salesperson or sales leader, what are some key areas of self discipline? Allow me to consider a few. I’m sure this won’t be an exhaustive list. If you’d like to add to it, put your ideas in the comments section below this article.
This is not an option. All of us need to spend time every day prospecting for new business. If you are rep and you don’t consistently prospect, you will find yourself with an empty funnel. You take desperation deals. You stress and worry. It’s not a fun place to be. Everyone has to prospect every day. This applies to you if you have 4 weeks, 4 years, or 4 decades of experience.
If you are a sales leader, you are responsible for coaching your reps and holding them accountable. You need to know their numbers and know when they are off. Problems need to be identified and fixed within days, not weeks or months. Also, as a sales leader you need to prospect–for new team members. Hold yourself accountable to do a minimum number of interviews each Friday. There is nothing worse than having an open territory, having an empty recruiting pipeline, and plugging in a desperation rep to fill the hole.
Mike Schultz told us on the Selling From the Heart Podcast that the biggest things buyers want from salespeople is insight. We need to bring ideas and insights to the table. Where do these come from? Learning. We have to continually learn about our products and our clients’ businesses. The more we understand their business, their goals, and business in general, the more valuable we become. This builds competitive advantage, profit, and loyalty. All of these things are the foundation of a successful sales career. Business acumen is developed over time as part of a daily habit. (More ideas on developing business acumen.)
Sales leaders need to ensure their reps are learning. Provide training, but also hold reps accountable for developing business acumen and sales skills. Lead the way yourself. “Leaders are readers.” Nurture your own leadership skills by developing a continuous learning regimen.
Nurturing Client Relationships Daily
In the industry I grew up in, the copier business, the #1 complaint of clients is that you only show up if there is a problem or it’s time to renew the lease. Not only does this not build customer loyalty, I believe it also creates low-level resentment. No wonder customers want to “keep you honest” when it’s time to renew.
Every day you need to nurture relationships in your current accounts. Stay in touch. Develop a strategy to make sure you touch each of your current clients (especially the key ones) on a regular interval. As you build this strategy, don’t forget that the average B2B buying process involves 6.8 decision makers according to research in The Challenger Customer. That means if you only have one or two relationships in a current account, you need to find more. Since you have a habit of learning every day, you’ll have no shortage of things to talk about when you reach out to your clients. They’ll love this. Maybe they won’t feel as much of a need to “keep you honest” next time renewal comes around. In fact, they might even give you some reference! (Nobody coaches reps to do this better than my friend Larry Levine. Check out his new Relational Selling Workshop!)
Schedule Your Habits
The best way to ensure these key things happen is to move them from your intentions list to your schedule. Create recurring meetings on your calendar to prospect every day, learn something every morning, and reach out to current clients.
Self discipline drives success. Make sure that you have disciplines in your sales career that will help you grow.