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How to Better Manage Your Sales Process

Get your priorities in order, and watch sales roll in.
May 17, 2004

Q: I am feeling more than inadequate in my ability to manage my prospects and sales activities to effectively complete my sales process. I seem to have lots of opportunity in the pipeline, but too little in the way of sales to show for it. Help!

A: First of all, don't feel like you're the only one with this problem. Truth be told, all entrepreneurs eventually face this kind of situation. It's taken me 28 years to come up with a foolproof process to take control and manage any sales process-no matter how many steps it has. So get yourself a big piece of paper, a pencil and an eraser, and let's get started.

Take Control of Your Sales Process

I'm not suggesting you attempt to run power trips during your sales calls. I am suggesting that you take personal responsibility for ensuring that each step of your sales process unfolds in a timely fashion. At the very least, you must know which step of the process you are in with any given prospect. The essence of any process is that it is predictable and yields a certain result when followed. When any step of your sales process is forgotten or not completed on time, according to plan, the result changes. So establish the right plan and then follow it. By doing so, you'll feel like you're maintaining control.

Turning Prospects Into Customers

You must know the total elapsed time of how long it takes you to move an enterprise or individual from prospect to customer. Take a moment now and divide your total sales cycle time into the following three priorities:

Clearly, with everything that's going on, everything that's at stake, your first priority has to be to take all the steps necessary to make the sale happen with each prospect that sits in this area. We have to make turning these folks into customers, making sure their experience with our organization is superb, a top priority.

If you're not sure who falls in this area, use the following rules of thumb:


Three Steps to Close

Work your sales process by first closing all the opportunities that are "ripe." Next, go out and qualify each new opportunity. Finally, move each qualified opportunity into the final stages of your sale. Follow those three steps each and every working day, and don't tackle any administrative or other duties until you've addressed these three priorities in this order. You'll find that your ability to manage and control the sales process will take care of itself.Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer . For additional information on his speeches and his newest book, CEOs Who Sell, call (800) 777-VITO or visit Selling to VITO .

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.