You can’t get lists out of your life – we depend on them. Before writing this I did a bit of research on the history of lists. Belle Beth Cooper in her wonderful article on lists says, “We pack all the madness and ambiguity of life into a structured form of writing. In short, making lists is a great way to increase our overall happiness and feel less overwhelmed.”
Beth’s was the first piece I turned up in my research and it drew me in so deeply I didn’t bother to go any further. She has some very excellent tips for those of us that are always searching for ways to pack more productive time into our lives. But, back to the post—I’m interested in the list as it applies to salespeople.
There is a big list that salespeople focus on daily, and if they don’t, they could be in a lot of trouble. The list of sales opportunities that are currently being worked on drives everything salespeople need to do. The list is there, whether it is imprinted in their brains or residing on a white board in the conference room. Usually the list is in a computer and on paper—most salespeople don’t rely on their head as the sole storage medium for the mission-critical part of their professional lives (but some still do, and are proud of it).
The thing with the opportunity list, or the portfolio as I like to call it, is that it’s forever changing. That’s why it’s vital to pay attention to it. Opportunities get won or lost. Sometimes something that was planned to take six months to sell takes a year. The list is only as good as it is maintained. An outdated, inaccurate opportunity portfolio is almost worse than useless.
So the rule is first log it, then maintain it. Log the opportunity as soon as it is recognized as being one (Identified Business Opportunity or IBO), give it a unique number in your list and then update the essential information (the IBO Essentials) as the dynamics of the opportunity unfold in the sales cycle.
The unique way the list pays off is that it allows you to prioritize. Prioritizing is the only way to squeeze in more useful time. In sales it is so simple to fall into the trap of working on the wrong opportunity. It’s easy to spend time on deals that you are most comfortable with, and these may not represent the best use of your time. This is faulty prioritization.
So, getting a list out of your head and into one place where you can focus on it is a good start. Then it has to be reviewed and maintained. How often? Every time something important happens in the sales cycle of any opportunity in the list.
Now comes the point of No. 2 in our list of Twenty Reasons to share . . . .
Store the opportunity portfolio on a computer, it doesn’t matter which kind, your phablet or your desktop. Computers were designed to manage the most complicated lists imaginable. But also use a sales automation app that defines the absolute best way to prioritize those opportunities. You need to comfortably work the list from top to bottom, high priority to low, confident that this is the best way to use your time. Not every sales app does that. In fact, most don’t.
ASPEC does, and there is lots of information about it on the SalesWays website. ASPEC is sales method fused with technology, a fancy way of saying that ASPEC enables your computer to manage your opportunity portfolio, your list, like nothing you’ve seen before. I know it will free up at least 25% of your time to do what’s the most important in sales, working with the customer.
More on that in the 18 reasons that are coming . . .
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- 20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process with Your ComputerReason No 1 – Because It’s CoolIn a 20-part series, Keith Thompson explains why the computer (or any smart device) can do much more than keep list and appointments and create reports. It can be your partner in navigating the sales process.
- Forecasting Analytics: The Sales Cycle LengthLinkedIn is a good indicator of what sales professionals have on their minds. In a thread about the most important sales analytic, Keith Thompson doubts anyone will have this answer - the sales cycle length.
- Sales Effectiveness and Sales Efficiency: A Thought ExperimentWhen I write about selling I wince every time I have to use one of the two E words — Efficiency and Effectiveness. These occur so much in sales language that we’ve become complacent about their impact and meaning. All salespeople want to sell more — and they can creating more opportunities (Efficiency) or by winning more opportunities (Effectiveness).
- Effective Team Selling – The Culture of Sharing InformationTeam selling is a powerful tool that many sales teams fail to effectively implement. Sharing of information plays a big role in the effectiveness in CRM, and it begins with the culture of “sharing”.