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Watch Your Language

Watch Your Language


“Watch your thoughts,” wrote Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu, “for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions.” 

It’s good advice if your sales have plateaued. If you hear yourself or others making statements like these, it’s time to refine your sales process.

“Who’s our target? Any company that/ anyone who…”

A few years ago, I met the owner of multiple small businesses. He gave me his business card, printed with a deer’s head and the initials A.F.A.B. I asked what the initials stood for, and he answered with a smile, “Anything for a Buck.” I don’t remember his name or the services he provided. All I remember is his card, and that it did not inspire a business dialogue between us.

The A.F.A.B. approach won’t build brand awareness, your pipeline or a sustainable reputation for your company. It doesn’t allow you to play to your strengths and, worse, prospects sense your lack of focus and interpret it as desperation. If your description of your target customer begins with “any,” take the time to review your best customers and frame your target profile.

“Where’s the low-hanging fruit?”

A variation on this question is, “What can we do in the next 30 days?” If you’re looking for low-hanging fruit, you’re looking for an easy, short-term fix. In most cases, the results are scattershot execution and wasted efforts. The sales you close are often are not a good fit; your new customers have skewed expectations of your product, service and brand. Your time is better spent examining and refining your prospect qualification process.

“That prospect is still in process—it’s about 50 percent toward close.”

Are the majority of your sales activities estimated at 50 to 65 percent toward close? It’s a sign that you need to take a closer look at defining the steps in the purchase process.

Percentage-to-close can be a helpful metric for projecting the likelihood of future sales and gauging their financial impact on your company. Whether you use sales management software to track lead-to-close progress or have an internal system, make sure that you are tying specific prospect activities to a specific stage in the buying process. It’s easy to approximate percentage-to-close based on sales activities, such as sending a proposal or meeting with a prospect. Fifty percent toward close is only meaningful based on the behaviors of your prospect, and their answers to specific, probing questions that move the purchase process forward.

By the way, Lao Tsu didn’t stop with a caution about thoughts becoming words and words becoming actions. Here’s the rest of his advice: “Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Take control of your business destiny and your sales process. It starts with watching your language.

Elizabeth Usovicz

Written by

Elizabeth Usovicz is principal of WhiteSpace Consulting®, specializing in top-line revenue strategies, business development coaching, qualitative research and strategy session facilitation. She can be reached at elizabeth@whitespacerevenue.com or (913) 638-8693.

Categories: Sales


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