The most important trait of great salespeople is their understanding that time — both theirs and their client's — is a precious, non-renewable resource. To have a great sales year, then, you first must make the best possible use of your time by getting organized, being disciplined and finishing the way you started.
Great sales pros are highly organized. Whether you are the "farmer" of an established territory, a "hunter" of new business or something in between, you should budget your time against potential outcomes. The most common method is to divide your accounts into A, B and C categories, with high-potential "A" clients getting the most attention and low-potenial "Cs" receiving the least. Assess the potential of each account using a standard set of relevant dimensions. Revenue or sales targets will probably top the list; but industry, geography, account size and projected lead time to sale are also likely to play a role in your budgeting process.
Once you have this road map, you need to follow it with discipline. Don't let it sit on the shelf to collect dust. That usually means reviewing your status at least once every two weeks and making the required adjustments. Some sales professionals find it useful to review their progress in concert with their sales manager, mentor or coach.
A disciplined review process can also reveal other opportunities or help overcome problems. Remember, this is a living plan. You should expect and be willing to make changes along the way. Document when significant adjustments are made so that you have a point of comparison for subsequent results.
Last, keep the momentum going. Commit to the process and set mini-goals along the way to keep yourself motivated. This will prevent you from "joining the gym, only to end up on the couch two weeks later."
Just remember that time is precious. If that becomes your mantra, you won't forget to stay organized, be disciplined and finish the way you started.
More columns by Harvey Copeman