Friday, June 20, 2008

Four Ways to Avoid the Gas Station and Still Make the Sale

With gas prices in the U.S. hitting all-time highs and continuing to climb, it seems like each time you get in you get in your car you can actually feel you wallet getting lighter. I know I do!

The rising gas prices are a burden for all, particularly sales professionals who travel to meet with clients and close the deal. You can't exactly stop seeing customers, so what do you do to maintain your income without the cost of gas taking a huge chunk of your paycheck?

"There is good news," says Jeb Blount, author of PowerPriniciples. "The silver lining to the fuel crisis is the high cost of fuel is teaching us to use our resources wisely, to plan better, and to become more efficient and effective with out most precious resource, our time."

"Driving around for a weekend showing houses to a client only to find out that they can't qualify for a loan is too expensive," continues Blount. "Driving two hours to meet with a customer who is a no-show is no longer acceptable. Making a call on one side of your territory and then driving to the other side of your territory to close a "sure thing" isn't worth filling up for twice a day. Setting appointments with prospects who are not in the buying window costs too much. And jumping through hoops for low margin customers has become intolerable."

Four PowerPrinciples for using precious resources wisely:

Qualify the Ability to Buy: One of my mentors taught me to only spend time with prospects and customers who have "the ability to buy." He said you must be willing to ask the right questions up front to make sure that you are spending your time with the right people and the right companies at the right time. Ask the hard questions first, then spend your gas money.

Territory Planning: Few things are more inefficient and expensive than driving (or flying) from one side of your territory to another. One of the sure fire ways to maximize your income is to develop a territory plan and stick to it. First grid your territory by geography and day of the week. Next, only set appointments in each geographic grid on the days you will be there. Finally, schedule all other activities around those appointments in that area of your territory.

Technology: Use technology to reduce drive time. There are dozens of new services on the market that allow you to spend time with your customers without being face to face. From video conferencing to webinars, you can complete many of your sales process tasks without ever leaving your office.

Prioritize: You can only do so many things in a day. You can choose to spend your time (and gas money) on high value tasks that make you money or low value tasks that waste your resources. The most successful people and top sales professionals take 10-15 minutes every evening to make a list of the top three to five tasks that must be accomplished the next day. This process ensures that when they wake up the next morning they are focused, energized, and using all of their resources wisely.

Jeb Blount, author of PowerPrinciples and CEO of Sales Gravy, has over 20 years experience in sales and marketing. Jeb is a sought after seminar leader and keynote speaker known for his ability to inspire his audiences to action. Learn more by visiting his profile at www.salesgravy.com
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