As spring approaches, potential home buyers are emerging from the long, cold winter and their thoughts are turning to the search for a new home. For many builders, this is the busiest time of year, with a flurry of leads, meetings, and appointments.
When leads and traffic are up, salespeople gain more prospects, which ultimately translates to more sales. That's a great thing but it also means a lot more work. Think about all of the things a salesperson has to do to create that sale and hold it together. Never underestimate the effort that goes into a single sale and cultivating the happy customer.
As sales professionals, we love the rush of refreshed activity. But can it also have a negative effect on the activities that lead to a sale? Absolutely. More often than not, prospecting is buried under the weight of all these sales. With the heightened potential of selling more and more, prospecting seems like a waste of time at the moment.
Picture a pendulum swaying toward prospecting during the quieter months. On this side, we have, “Oh no! I don't have any sales. I need to call everyone in my database, and email everyone to drum up business!” So we get busy with prospecting, calling, emailing, texting and following up with all of our leads. We are operating on one side of the pendulum.
And then, as often happens when we push forward with effective prospecting, those leads start responding. Like buds in the spring, they blossom into prospects and those prospects bloom into customers.
At this point, the pendulum swings from prospecting to selling. The influx of leads sparks our selling passion. We rationalize the lack of follow-up by saying, “I’m just too busy right now.”
My advice is to get off that swinging pendulum and find a balance in your sales process. Successful sales pros don't fluctuate in their level of activity, they maintain a balanced workflow year-round because they have a plan to generate and cultivate business, keeping a steady flow of both prospects and sales.
I’ve worked with top sales professionals all around the country. Here is the pattern that is consistent among those who don’t let the pendulum effect hinder their work:
1) They commit 20% of their time to active prospecting. Notice I didn't say, “selling.” They conduct true outreach to generate leads and to cultivate those prospects that have not yet taken action. The best of the best do this on a daily basis. So, if you are working 50 hours a week, you should be committing at least two hours every day to proactive outreach.
2) They leverage a system. Most successful sales pros don’t list “detail oriented” as one of their top skills. (I don’t mean that as a knock, because I have the same DNA). So, without that natural attention to detail, you have to implement a system for follow-up—and, luckily, that’s what a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system will do for you. All leads are not created equal. Sales pros use a CRM not only tell them what to say (via email, phone, or text), but also when to say it. Do your future self a favor and invest time now creating a process that you can replicate and duplicate with little effort.
3) They stand out. How do you get that customer to engage, take action, and actually call you back? Well, what compels you to respond to someone? If a person bores you, are you motivated and interested, or just dreading the exchange? Great sales pros create engaging messages. They have learned how to polish drab communications into something intriguing and inviting. They send videos, pictures, custom postcards—anything to cut through the clutter of a prospect’s crowded world
4) They never give up. Recent surveys show that only 3% of new home sales professionals make more than two calls and send more than three e-mails to a lead. Join this successful minority. When you are making your 20th call to a prospect, or sending your 18th e-mail, you might feel “task fatigue” setting in. Make it your quest to push onward and be the last one standing.
Proactive prospecting swings to the far side of the pendulum, especially when the market is good. Don’t let your success fall prey to the extreme ends of the spectrum—from frantically busy with selling to frantically busy with prospecting. Better balance gives you better control over your success in both prospecting and selling. Throw out that pendulum, and spring forward with a better process.