Each and every day, I learn so much from our team here at Planswell, from our leaders, and from our sales processes. It occurred to me the most important lessons I’ve learned may also be helpful for the advisors we serve, so I put this article together to share with you.
The first lesson comes from my colleague Corey Small, an account executive at Planswell. If you’ve ever wondered what everyone else is getting out of LinkedIn, take in Corey’s advice. You may have a profile and accept requests to connect, but perhaps you don’t really understand the benefit. Here’s how Corey leverages the platform to help him in sales:
"LinkedIn has allowed me to connect with people prior to our initial meeting. It gives me the ability to learn about their career history, where they're from, where they went to school, and even what their passions and hobbies are. These can all be great icebreakers to use in that initial conversation to truly build rapport. We all know initial impressions can be the difference in the sale and will drive the tone of the conversation moving forward."
(If, in fact, you don't know how crucial the initial impression is in sales, Eric Arnold's free ebook is a must-read, How To Close at 95%: Sales Wisdom from the Front Lines of a Thrive-or-Die Culture.)
If you’re anything like me, you can get easily lost going down rabbit holes on social media platforms like LinkedIn. I always have good intentions to make the most out of these resources, but it’s so easy to lose a chunk of time that could have been used on the phone. I have a fix for that.
When possible, consider this type of work—whether it’s researching a prospect on LinkedIn, updating your CRM, or responding to non-urgent email—to be administrative work and schedule yourself to do it outside of prime calling hours.
Self-scheduling admin work will safeguard your prime time. More productive time on the phone equals more deals closed, so consider your calling hours to be sacred.
My sales colleague Neima Mohebiany offers this advice to stay productive:
“Improving your awareness of how much screen time you have every day can improve your productivity. When I first checked mine, I was shocked by how much time I was spending looking at my phone. Utilize your phone’s screen time tracking feature to see how you're spending your time and commit to limitations. Set notifications to alert you when you’ve crossed your threshold. Before you know it, you'll find yourself with a few extra hours to be productive in your day.”
Back to your CRM — please don't cut corners here. One of the most important things I’ve learned as an account executive with Planswell is how crucial it is to know where my opportunities are in our CRM. There are few things more frustrating in the sales business than coming up empty only to realize later you had a deal waiting for you in your CRM. I compare it to knocking on a door, ringing the bell, waiting for somebody to come open the door, then realizing it was wide open all along.
Investing time into updating, understanding, and leveraging your CRM is definitely worthwhile—make a plan to conquer your CRM before or after calling hours. Properly managing your opportunities is a foolproof way to keep new business from slipping through the cracks, and a sure way for you to get the most out of your day.
Try dedicating each day of the week to following up with a specific segment of your leads. You can categorize them in any way that makes sense to you as long as you’re periodically doing a full sweep. For example, categorize them by marketing channel, by last contact made, by stage of your pipeline, etc. Chances are high that there are more than a couple deals patiently waiting for you somewhere amongst your existing contacts.
In any sales role, organization and structure are your best friends. You can’t really be prepared unless you take action to prepare. Have you ever rolled out of bed and had to immediately rush to your first call of the day? It doesn’t go so well and the rest of the day feels like a runaway train, right? By the end of the day, you’re exhausted and disappointed in yourself.
Here’s my trick: plan your next day at the end of the current day. A simple to-do list of emails you need to send and calls you need to make will ensure you feel prepared for the day ahead. If you want to take it to the next level, schedule your to-do’s into your calendar for tomorrow, or even a day or two out for less-urgent tasks so they don’t seep into your prime calling hours. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll hit the ground running in the morning with laser-sharp focus.
The more control we take over our day, the less rushed we feel and the better our performance. It’s important to avoid the frantic rush because your prospective client will sense it and you’ll miss key steps in the sales process. (Side note: if you haven’t attended a session of our hugely popular free webinar, Closing the Deal in 7 Repeatable Steps, run—don’t walk—to the registration button). Even when you have calls booked back to back or the prospect says they’re in a hurry, avoid the urge to rush the sales conversation.
When presenting to a potential client, really commit your attention to them and take your time. Be patient with their questions. Eliminate distractions. Love the one you're with. You owe it to them to not cut corners because your service can change their lives—and don’t underestimate the trickle down effect on their families either. A lot of people are counting on you in this moment! If you’re distracted and don’t communicate effectively, you’ve failed them.
Let’s be honest: sometimes when we’re cold calling, we get on the phone with a prospect who is less than kind. We so desperately want to take shortcuts and just get it over. The prospect’s demeanor may even start to convince us we don’t have value to give to them. That nervousness, self-doubt, or voice in our head saying “I’ll just skip over this part“ is not going to help you change their lives. Don’t lose sight of your purpose. This prospect needs you as much as all of the others.
When you’re confident in your value and your purpose, you’re convincing. That’s just what you need to seal any deal. The next time you hear pushback like, ‘“I’m going to take a couple of days to mull it over,“ remember you’re on a mission with a winning team providing a winning service. You should be so confident in your offer that you ask yourself, “What on Earth could they possibly need to think about?!”
Stand proud, not just as an advisor but as a person in general. You are helping people and that is noble work.
TLDR: To recap, here are the best tricks of the trade I've learned as a member of the high-performance sales team at Planswell:
- Build rapport
- Consider your prime calling hours to be sacred
- Schedule your administrative work outside of peak hours
- Reduce screen time
- Systematize your approach to existing contacts
- Prepare for tomorrow
- Never rush sales conversations
- Love the one you’re with
- Value your offering
- Be confident in your purpose