What are the three most important letters in sales?
A.B.L. — Always Be Looking…for opportunities.
For some salespeople, these letters are magic, and we all know at least one of them. They are the salespeople who are constantly looking for new opportunities. The might be enjoying a cup of coffee or buying hardware, yet they are always prospecting. As a result, their pipeline never runs dry. These salespeople rarely deal with peaks and valleys.
Most salespeople, however, work on what we call the “hope and wish” system — “I hope something will happen” or “I wish something will happen.” When sales are strong and customers are motivated to come to their businesses, they stop looking. They go through the prospects at hand until they realize there are only a few left or they’ve completely run out. By then, it’s too late.
Does one of these describe your approach? Do you always look for opportunities, or do you wait for something to happen? Do you work smarter or harder?
Why don’t salespeople prospect? One reason is the long-term nature of prospecting. It lacks instant gratification. Or perhaps it’s the belief that it’s someone else’s job — the manufacturer, perhaps — to have not only the best product, but incentives that bring people in. Some are afraid of rejection.
It you aren’t prospecting, who is talking to your customers?
Another reason may be that you rely on management to bring in their traffic. While management should provide 30 first-time customers to each salesperson monthly, salespeople have a responsibility to bring in a minimum of 10 additional, requested cultivated customers through prospecting. This then, creates a pool of 40 opportunities to draw from. If salespeople bring back 50 percent of those unsold customers as be-backs, this increases their total opportunities to 56. Combining the be-backs and prospects, the potential to close increases without any increase in expenses.
Prospecting has three primary results: an appointment for an immediate sale, referrals to new prospects actively looking to buy and creating future prospects. Successful prospectors know that while there are many approaches, the best methods are in-person (personal), over the telephone and through written communication.
Adopt a mindset so that every individual who comes into the showroom is not only a potential client but a potential treasure chest of referrals — friends, relatives, colleagues, etc.
Change is the one constant everyone will experience. How each of us deals with it varies from person to person and from situation to situation. Many will strive to stick to the status quo, constantly on the lookout for impending change and working to avoid it. Others choose to ignore the world around them and don’t notice problems until it’s too late. Only then will some reluctantly move on leaving others behind to hope that things go back to “normal.” Those who move on have an opportunity to find a new comfort zone while those that remain behind are doomed to failure. These scenarios, addressed in the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson, are exactly what happens in the sales industry.
The bottom line is A.B.L. Always Be Looking – every single day, not just when the business is bad or down. Prospecting needs to become an automatic reflex, like breathing, an act that happens successfully and continuously. With a positive mindset, a view toward the future, and the right training, salespeople will understand the need and will continue to Always Be Looking for opportunities and loyal clientele, regardless of how business is doing.