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5 Steps to Prepare for Sales Success

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Written by Dave Shaby
Chief Operating Officer, RAIN Group

Sales success doesn't just happen. Sales winners aren't born with special knowledge or abilities that others don't have. Maybe it looks that way when you watch top performers from the outside, but they've worked to hone their skills, constantly learning and improving.

And guess what? The secret to sales success isn't, as Blake says in Glengarry Glen Ross, to "Always be closing."

The secret to success is all in the preparation.

In reality, the best sellers aren't any different than anyone else, but they do follow a specific plan to prepare for sales success before diving in.

Even star athletes still stretch before a game. Likewise, there are things you can do before you face a closable opportunity that will set you up for success.

5 Steps to Prepare for Sales Success

  1. Set sales goals
  2. Plan a course of action
  3. Manage time to execute on action plans
  4. Create a prospecting campaign to fill the pipeline
  5. Build sales skills and knowledge over time

Essential Sales Prep List

  1. Set Sales Goals

    Did you know there's a science to setting sales goals?

    If you set your goals too low, you'll blow past them. It feels great to crush your goals, but it's also demotivating. Setting more challenging goals increases your motivation; the greater your expectation, the better you'll perform.

    Our research shows Top Performers have more challenging sales goals and are more than twice as likely to meet them.

  2. Create an Action Plan

    Once you have your goals in place, you need a plan to get there. Here at RAIN Group, we live and die by our Extreme Productivity action plans. Each seller has a to-do list that includes every sales meeting, follow-up call, sales call, etc. they need to attend to.

    But true success lies in reducing that list to the three to five central activities that will most contribute to achieving your goals. These are often not the easiest activities. It may include setting aside time each day to prospect, proactively reaching out to an existing customer with a new idea, or win-labbing an important sale.

    Importantly, these are the activities that'll yield the greatest ROI if you do them to the best of your ability.

    To turbo-charge your results, recruit an accountability partner. This is a person with whom you share your weekly priorities and who follows up to make sure you achieve them.

    Read this article to learn more about action planning.

  3. Manage Time and Execution

    We all have 24 hours in a day, yet some people get much more done in that time. How we use those hours makes the difference between success and failure.

    Our research shows that 76% of Extremely Productive people hold themselves accountable for their actions compared to only 34% of The Rest.

    Top sellers also make the most of their time by getting in the zone. The zone, which you often hear top athletes talking about, refers to a state of intense focus and attention that produces better performance.

    Nearly half of Extremely Productive people say they get in the zone regularly when they’re working. And if they get distracted, they're more likely to re-focus and get back in the zone quickly.

    Whether you’re writing a proposal or creating a presentation, your work will feel effortless when you’re in the zone. Once you come out of the zone, you’ll sit back and say, "Wow! Did I really get all of that done?"

  4. Create a Prospecting Campaign

    If you’re struggling with sales success, you could be stumbling at the fourth step in our prep list: prospecting. Without a full pipeline, you have nowhere to go and no buyers to pursue.

    Many prospecting myths make prospecting sound harder than it needs to be. Experts proclaim: "Cold calling is dead." "Buyers don’t want to hear about your capabilities." "Most of the buying journey is complete before buyers talk to sellers."

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

    Prospecting is crucial, and knowing what works in prospecting sets you up for sales success.

    Sellers who are most successful at filling their pipelines offer buyers something of value in exchange for setting up a meeting. According to our research, buyers are most likely to respond to an offer to discuss "primary research data relevant to [their] business." Uncover this research, provide a customized walk-through to prospects, and you'll fill your pipeline with qualified leads.

    Want to dive deeper into prospecting? Read 6 Keys to Prospecting Success.

  5. Build Better Sales Skills and Knowledge

    Top Performers not only follow our plan for success, but also have better sales skills.

    Top Sales Skills by Performance Group

    Although building skills and knowledge sits as number five on our list, it starts before you set sales goals and continues until you've come full circle. For Top Performers, learning never ends, and their capabilities shine because of it.

Are You Ready for Sales Success?

Top sellers develop their skills over time. They learn from people better than they are, set attainable but challenging goals, create action plans and hold themselves accountable to them, work to fill their pipeline, and execute with great focus.

Ready for more? We've got 10 more ways to boost your sales success right here.

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Topics: Sales Process