With Q4 upon us, it makes sense to start thinking carefully about what has worked – and what could be improved – in your prospecting plan this year. Here are three ideas to consider that have helped salespeople we’ve worked with to create better “cookbooks” (daily and weekly action plans) for effective prospecting. You may want to consider adopting all three of them as this year closes … and as the next year approaches.
- Look closely at your historical book of business. Take some time to track where your current base of business actually came from. It’s surprising how few salespeople and sales teams do this! Identify the top three or four sources that have delivered your best business leads this year … so you can maximize those channels going forward. For instance: If most of your business is coming from customer referrals, and you don’t have a proactive plan for generating referrals from your current customers, that may be something you want to prioritize in the coming year. Similarly, if you’ve gotten your best customer from an introduction you secured by asking a shared LinkedIn contact to arrange an introduction with a prospect, you may want to do more of that in the months ahead.
- Know what kinds of customers you want to target. Not all customers are the same. We ask salespeople to sit down with their sales managers and discuss yearly acquisition targets for four different types:
- Accounts you want to KEEP at roughly the same revenue level
- Accounts you want to ATTAIN
- Accounts you want to RECAPTURE
- Accounts you want to EXPAND
Don’t just look at customers as a single, undifferentiated group. Those are four very different categories, with four very different relationship challenges! No: Not all salespeople will have acquisition goals in all four categories. But it makes sense to identify what your personal quarterly and annual financial goals are in each of these areas (even if the target is zero), and to discuss those targets with your manager. The tactics for attaining your targets will vary, depending on which of the four categories you’re looking at. One thing is certain: If neither you nor your manager know what the targets are in each of these areas, you’re not very likely to hit the targets!
- Create a numerical activity goal that connects directly to your weekly, quarterly, and annual income goals for each category of customer. For instance: “Given the numbers I generated in 2018, I need to create X number of new initial conversations with decision makers per week in order to reach my goal of ATTAINING Y number of new customers this year … with each having an average value of Z.” This kind of activity target is the starting point of an effective cookbook. Set the preliminary numbers for your daily and weekly cookbook … share them with your manager so you can both do a reality check … revise them accordingly … then start executing the plan and monitoring its results!