"December's a dead month to sell."
If you subscribe to this theory, I invite you to join me in taking action before the end of this year to guarantee that next year will be the best year for you and your business.
It's no longer a secret. I've written about this particular pre-sales process in five of my best-selling books. Why? Because it's worked for me during many of my 28 years of being an entrepreneur and coaching other entrepreneurs. I invite you to use it right now, while just about everyone else is shifting focus to the holidays.
A Brief Look Into Next Year
You and I will have less time than ever to sell, more competition, more pressure on lowering our prices, more meetings to conduct, more people to manage, more of just about everything--except time. So here's my thought: Why waste any time at all trying to sell to any prospect who isn't predisposed to buy from you?
That's exactly why I created and perfected what I call the "Template of Ideal Prospects," or TIP. Your TIP will accurately and quickly direct you to all the organizations that are very likely to buy from you. Finding such organizations doesn't require you to recruit a mystic or tarot card reader; what it will take however, is a bit of pick-and-shovel work on your part.
Do It Sooner Rather Than Later
Just before you start the new calendar year is a great time to do this exercise, which typically takes me about five to eight hours to complete. I know that sounds like a lot of time, but so does trying to sell to the not-such-a-good-fit, beat-a-dead-horse "opportunities."
Step #1: Grab your current customer list and a notebook, or perhaps a small personal tape recorder. Put aside your laptop, BlackBerry, PDA and cell phone. You'll have no need for these "time savers." Not yet, anyway.
Step #2: Grab the keys to your car. No, you're not going to make a sales call or take a friend to lunch. You're bound for the library--the biggest one in your area--one with a business research department worthy of the name. Are you asking, "What's wrong with the internet?" I have one word for you: Everything. For starters, everyone else including your competition is looking at the internet. Let's just stop there, shall we? Trust me, the library is where you need to be. Ok, as you're sitting in the business section of the library looking at your customer list, it's time to move to the next step.
Step #3: Start asking yourself the following questions:
- What do my best current customers have in common? (Hint: Get as specific as possible! You may find it necessary to break down your customer list into subgroups or industries; for example: banking, finance, manufacturing, etc.)
- What products, services and or solutions have they purchased?
- What specific needs did they have that I helped them solve?
- What specific results have I helped deliver?
- What specific characteristics does this organization have? (Hint: number of employees, locations, annual revenue, etc. The more you can list, the more accurate your TIP will be and the more time you'll save.)
- What titles did the individuals have who were involved in the decision to use your products, services and or solutions?
Keep asking and keep writing!
Step #4: Have the librarian help you find every single business directory that covers your geographic area and copy the names of all prospects' that fit the TIP you just created.
Step #5: (optional) Before you leave the library, take a slow walk thru the personal development isles and check out a couple of books to read.
Now that you've created the perfect TIP, how do you use it? Here's the way I use mine:
Before I write my initial letter or make my first phone call to any new prospect, I make sure they fit all of the criteria on my TIP. The operative word here is all. The more matches the new prospect has to my existing customers the more pre-disposed they'll be to buy from me. If a prospect doesn't fit, I won't approach them. Period. Once I've put in the time creating my TIP, I can quickly determine who I should sell to first and avoid the time-sucking prospects who weren't willing to buy in the first place.
Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.