Do you think you are a proactive sales leader?
Many of my coaching clients do. But there’s a bit of a paradox we have to consider first.
If you are successful in sales, your time can be spent reacting to inquiries.
Particularly after you’ve been in the trenches for a while.
Prospects reaching out on account of some past interaction or discussion is often a positive sign that your efforts are starting to pay off.
But there’s a problem.
When prospects begin reaching out regularly, it can start to eat up much of our prospecting time.
Time spent on business development activities can be replaced with follow-ups, quoting, and internal dialogues.
To be effective, we need to become (and remain) a proactive sales leader.
What Is Proactive Selling?
Proactive selling is as simple as it sounds.
It’s maintaining a proactive approach to selling, rather than shifting to a reactive approach.
Consider all of the activities you engaged in during the early days of your career.
Many of those were proactive.
Reaching out to potential customers, rather than waiting for them to reach out to you.
Predicting and in turn preparing for objections, rather than using the “wait and see” method.
Working with your sales manager to create a strategy before approaching a new prospect, rather than after.
But success, although wonderful, can also be a curse.
We can get lazy.
There, I said it. Lazy.
We need to find methods (that work for us) to remain hungry and proactive in our selling.
How Can a Sales Leader Be Proactive?
You might be wondering exactly how you can become (or remain) proactive.
Simply put, you need to “stay hungry.”
We’ve all been faced with sales slumps at one time or another.
Being proactive dramatically reduces the chances of our reaching a slump.
We are always being proactive, reaching out, making plans, and acting on them.
Proactive sales leaders are busy.
They never rest. Most importantly, they never take reactive opportunities for granted.
They know that moving to a reactive approach to selling will mean a slump will come sooner, rather than later.
Proactive Sales Leaders have the right mindset backed up with the right activities.
Proactive Sales Leader Techniques
Here are some common and effective proactive sales techniques.
Consider which of these would work best for you, then implement today.
A.B.R. (Always Be Ready)
Don’t take any call or meeting for granted. Do some up-front research and know who you are meeting with and what their company is about. Prepare a few questions that will help you clarify their priorities and how you can help.
Have a Plan
After you spend a few minutes doing some preliminary research, make a plan as to how you will approach the meeting. Sure, some of the circumstances might be unknown, but by having a plan, you at least have a direction for the meeting (and will avoid wasting your time).
Block Your Time
You can’t be proactive if you don’t have time. The most proactive sales leaders I know block time in their calendars to ensure they can be proactive. Book 15 minutes before a prospect call to prepare. Set 30 minutes at the end of the day to ensure you follow up on the day’s calls.
Be Bold in Your Outreach
Don’t wait for the big fish to come to you. Always reach out and engage with any customer that you deem as having high potential. Set a weekly target of number of high-potential customers you want to connect with, then make it so.
Bring Value First
If you want to build trust and rapport quickly, you need to provide value. Don’t try to sell to everyone, but first provide something of value. A tip, trick, introduction, sample—the sky’s the limit. The more value you provide upfront, the faster your prospect will trust you.
Data-Driven Decision Making
If you are successful at selling, you’ll be busy. Being busy can sometimes mean we rush to make a decision. Wrong approach. If you want to be proactive in sales, you need to use the data and information around you to support decisions. From recognizing your average closing rate, to understanding the DNB of your prospect, data can support making better quality decisions.
Be an Active Listener
You can’t learn how to best serve or sell to a prospect if you are talking. Most salespeople are blessed with the gift of gab, and the relationships anyone can build are just one of the many reasons sales can be so rewarding. Unfortunately, however, you have to ask questions and stop talking if you want to learn more about your prospect. Be active in your listening, and you’ll be more valuable to your prospect. Even if you are cold-calling.
We’ve all faced objections. If you aren’t prepared with a response to the most common objections, then you aren’t being proactive. Identify what the five most common objections you receive are, then prepare a response and practice it.
Solicit Feedback on Lost Sales
We can’t win them all. When you don’t get the sale, be proactive enough to ask why. Use language like, “I’m curious for my own learning. Can you tell me why we didn’t get the sale?” The more you know, the better you can be prepared for the next sales opportunity.
Use Success and Failure as Fuel
Take time to reflect on both your successes and your failures. They can leave clues as to how you can improve. Most importantly, they can identify trends around what’s working, which in turn can help you sell more!
How to Become More Proactive
Being proactive does come at a cost.
It requires that you invest some time in the activities above.
But in the long run, any time you spend becoming more proactive is an investment.
How will you be more proactive in your selling?
© Shawn Casemore 2021. All Rights Reserved.