Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

Giving a deadline to receive signed paperwork on Friday? Think again my friend. Contrary to sales professional legend, Friday is NOT National Contract Signing Day for sales professionals and customers. It’s not even a hallmark holiday! Plus, most businesses are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and AH YES…Friday. So why narrow your window on getting back a signed contract to the last day of the work week? This also falls in line with giving deadlines at the end of the month. Why do it? Did you know that of the 260 work days in 2013, there are only 53 Fridays? That’s 20% of the work week and it’s the bottom of the work week. That narrow time frame often leads to customers leaving the office early, not coming in the office at all, increase procrastination, and easy avoidance from sales professionals. This all adds up to miss forecasts, zero weeks, and your ticket into the Chasing Customer For Signed Paperwork Marathon. Want to increase your success and take your game to the next level?

Start by setting up close appointments on Monday. Who doesn’t walk around proudly with a huge smile when they start the week off with a signed contract? It just feels good! It takes the pressure off, and gives you momentum.

Secondly, set proper expectations up front and get the customer’s buy in. Be specific and spell out when you will meet and what the purpose of the meeting will be. This puts you in a position of power and it is up to you to make sure the meeting is not on one of those 53 Fridays – keep in mind we want to avoid those days if we can. Remember, you have 80% of the work week (M – TH) that you can use to schedule a close meeting. If your service or solution involves training of any sort, provide your customer with an implementation plan with set dates and times. Doing this helps you move the sale along the funnel, and keeps your customer engaged in the sales process. In addition, it is a great strategy to show customers that you will aid them in their transition from previous solution to the new solution and that helps you find new issues that will create new opportunities for your business – it’s a continuous cycle with endless commission awaiting you.

Lastly, make a rule that you will not conduct closing appointments on Friday, unless it is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that you take every Friday off. It means that you take control of two things. The first is take control of your calendar and remain discipline to your weekly objectives. To be specific, your calendar is not always open. Plan your activity and work your closing meetings into that schedule with the agreed consensus of your customer. Don’t be foolish, if the customer can only meet you on a certain date and time, and you can make it work, then make it work. What I am stressing is managing your activity in a manner that yields the best results for your time and business. Said differently, as you are closing a deal, you will need to replace it with 2 – 3 opportunities so you must continue to move deals along and grow your funnel. It is not a one for one ratio where you close one deal and you add one new opportunity. Most opportunities to close ratios are several opportunities to one closed contract.

Here’s to getting out of the gate fast in Q2 and no longer observing every Friday as National Contract Signing Day.

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Next post coming up… state capitals and sales metrics…huh? You’ll get the connection in seven days.

Happy selling my friends.

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H.A.A.N.D OVER YOUR FORECAST

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

CJ Webster @insidesalemagic

If you are a sales professional, I can bet my commission check that you forecast to your leadership team. Depending on the average number of transactions in your industry, you may roll up forecast quarterly, or monthly. Forecasts are used as an indicator to predict future performance of the business to the executive team and shareholders. This critical insight exceeds beyond sales. Forecasts often determine the amount of investment, risk, and capacity that a business can manage successfully without compromising their position in their respected market. Yes, as you can see, your forecast is IMPORTANT. One of the best mentors I ever had said to me, “Your forecast is a contract between, you, me and the company. It is your word, and your promise in writing to perform.”

How do you forecast? I’m talking beyond your CRM computed percentages and sale methodology ratios. (Note, I do agree with sales methodologies, cadences, and breaking down contract values into percentages. An example that I have seen at many companies is taking 90% of the contract value if the opportunity is in the contract stage of the sales funnel.) Are you a conservative forecaster, overly opportunistic sales forecaster, or just plain hate rolling up forecasts? If you identify with one of these scenarios, this is for you. I have found in my experience that the key to forecasting is Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines. This is your H.A.A.N.D. and you have total control of your forecast.

Recall that your forecast is your word. So your forecast needs HONESTY in your assessment of where and how you will make your quota. Take a true self examination of your level of activity, number of created opportunities, and agreed next steps with you and your prospects. That’s why you have to start with HONESTY. Do you honestly have enough first appointments, opportunities, and agreed next steps to make your number? If you don’t, stop, adjust, and jump on the activity bandwagon.

Keep your ACTIVITY constant, continuous, and strategic. When you examine your activity level, begin by looking at your first appointments. Are you getting enough of them weekly to grow your sales funnel? If you are having issues getting first appointments, I recommend reading and acting on some of the blog post using social media to sell. Sales professionals such as Ken Krogue, Trish Bertuzzi, Craig Rosenberg, Jamie Shanks, and Schon Messier have written about using social media to secure first appointments. Check out their blogs! Activity is the life blood of your sales funnel and you have to know your success ratios to ensure that you are on target to maintaining a healthy funnel. This is why most sales professionals drive to have 2.5X or 3X size sales funnels in their negotiated and contract stages. High activity is their insurance policy to ensure they will deliver their number and they have backup opportunities to move forward in the event a deal goes wayside. Keep your activity high and know your first appointment ratios.

Agreed Negotiated Deadlines is where the “dollars runs with the bulls!” If you have agreed negotiated deadlines with your prospects, your bucks won’t stop here. You will find yourself closing business frequently and beating your quota regularly. The best practice in the industry on this subject is to always have a next step in your sales cycle for you and the customer to agree on. It can be your next follow up appointment, meeting to receive completed paperwork, and meeting to set up implementation processes. Each meeting must have 1) a purpose and 2) a next step. Doing this will not only improve your overall sales success, but it will positively impact your ability to accurately forecast your business.

In closing, Honesty, Activity, and Agreed Negotiated Deadlines will give you the upper h.a.a.n.d forecasting to your company.

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