Busy Street. FreePhotosBank.com
Busyness is dangerous for business. I’ve heard repeatedly in the past 60 days that things have opened up. When so many businesses have gone as long as they have without being busy, this sudden surge seems overwhelming and distracting. Sales reps get bogged down, the now lean operations department gets stressed, and everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief that the worst is over. This is a big mistake. I’m about to spout some heresy so hang on.
It’s nearly October so you have only three months left to finish strong in 2009 and only three months to start feeding the 2010 pipeline. If you are experiencing a sudden uptick in business, that’s great and I’m happy for you. Now, work longer hours and keep selling. Forget about breathing easy and forget about smiling at how all your networking has paid off.
Right now you should be having two kinds of meetings: prospects who are prospects right now and prospects who are prospects for 2010. If someone is not a prospect, take them off your calendar. You don’t have time for fence sitters and wishy-washy people who “might do something” in a month or two, or who are “thinking it over,” or who are “looking to see if it’s in the budget.”
Your time is incredibly valuable and you owe it to yourself and to your family to be efficient and productive. Learn how to spot a true prospect from someone who has no chance of buying from you. Think about what those who became clients said during your meetings and compare it to what was said by those who never signed. As you meet new people, listen carefully and objectively but not optimistically. If you hear a fence-sitter, be polite but be specific. Find out if they are serious and if not, stop wasting time on them.
I’m not saying that networking is not still part of the mix. You need to network. But networking meetings are different from prospect meetings in that networking meetings end with referrals and introductions. Prospect meetings end with either an order or a decision not to go forward. Either is fine; something in between is not.
You network to fill your calendar with prospect meetings. You meet prospects to fill your sales column. If someone does not fit either column, you’re too busy to meet and you need to focus on the sale right in front of you.