Flip Your Focus

What can I do differently this year to bring my sales to the next level?One pattern I’ve noticed from interacting with business and sales people over my last 15 years in sales is that they tend to be better at the end of the sales cycle than at the beginning.

Most of the people I meet (both formally in sales and not) do reasonably well once they are in a sales meeting. But most of them are unable to execute a successful prospecting/lead generation program (some of this is through a lack of knowledge and some of it from loathing of the prospecting process itself).

One element that really distinguishes “Sales 2.0” in my eyes from “old school selling” is the focus on the front end of the sales process not the back end. The “old school” sales books always focused on closing techniques and said very little about prospecting. “Sales 2.0” flips this approach and puts most of a sales person’s time and energy into research and prospecting.

Why focus on the front end of the sales process?

The change in focus is driven by the changes in the business environment over the last 15 years, or so. Business people are so bombarded by information and so stressed out with huge workloads that they have zero tolerance for anything but the most relevant and well-delivered messages. If your research and prospecting techniques are not world class in the year 2008, don’t expect any prospects to listen.

If the front end of your sales process is not working, then the back end of your sales process has nothing much to do. Your sales pipeline will be empty or full of unqualified leads that will never close.

Consider taking a “Sales 2.0” perspective to your selling in 2008. Focus your learning and energy on the front end of the sales process: research and prospecting. Flipping your process may give you a whole new view of your sales quota this year.

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