Sales Coaching Series, Part 7: Knowing how and where to spend your time and energy in sales

I recall attending one of Brian Tracy's great talks on sales, a number of years ago. If you don't know who Brian is, you should visit his website and take up one of his online courses or read one of his excellent books.

What I vividly remember from that seminar was the lesson on the proportion of time and effort that I should put into the various aspects of the selling process. In summary what I came away with was a ratio, namely 4:3:2:1. In other words, roughly 4/10, 3/10, 2/10 and 1/10 of my time should be invested in key activities.

In last week's blog, I touched on six areas where I asked you to score yourself in terms of your abilities and to identify what you needed to work on. Let's apply a more simple formula now using the 4:3:2:1 Brian Tracy proportion as this will form the basis for my future blogs.

So what is this 4:3:2:1? Allow me to summarise:

1.      4/10ths of your time in the sales process, should be spent in meeting prospective clients, getting out among them, building trust and relationships with them.


2.      3/10ths of your time involves identifying needs and the only way, quite honestly, you can do this is by listening to what the prospects are saying and asking incisive questions about where they pains are and what they would ideally love. In other words you spend time, like every good medical practitioner, diagnosing before you think about prescriptions.

3.      2/10ths of your time should involve presenting your solution, transferring the enthusiasm for your product or service to the prospect and matching what that prospect needs, wants, can use and can afford.


4.      1/10th of your time should be invested in trying to close the deal. In other words, if you follow steps one, two and three above and use your time in that proportion, the amount of effort and energy that you need to invest in bringing the deal over the line is far reduced.

I'm sure you have witnessed yourself, people trying to sell to you. They immediately jump into what they are selling, and invariably, you are switched off because neither have they got to know you and diagnosed your needs and your wants, nor paid much attention to the benefits. They will inevitably start focusing on the features of what they are selling...a disaster from start to finish!

Have you fallen into the trap of taking this approach? If you have, stop it, right now! It sound counterintuitive and you may have developed bad habits in the way that you approach new prospects. If you have, accept it, change and let's move on.

TIP: I was once told that as I have two eyes, two ears, one nose and one mouth, that I should use them in that proportion when selling anything. I guarantee you that this has stood to me in very good stead and I try to apply it all the time.

Very often the prospect may derail you and get you straight into telling them about you and your company/product/service. Avoid it at all costs!

In fact I would go as far as to say to the prospect that you would much rather hear about their business, first, as to do it the other way round, will only waste time and energy. This takes courage… so, stick to your guns and follow the process of 4:3:2:1 by spending a great proportion of your time at the start getting to know the prospect.

As I referred to above, prospects must:

  1. want
  2. need
  3. use
  4. and afford... whatever service or product you are attempting to convince them to buy.

In fact, you should set out a series of diagnostic questions for use in the future when you are approaching prospects. I like to call them my "killer questions", as they often stop people in their tracks and get them really thinking about the gap in their existing suppliers that you hope to fill.

You are a doctor, a consultant! How can you find out where the pain is unless you prod and poke and see the reaction?


As an exercise for next week, why don't you pull together 5 to 7 questions that will really unearth and reveal if you're prospect wants, needs, can use and afford your product or service.

Finally, if you have not seen this already, let me introduce you to Stratgeyser's Business Model Canvas. It is simply excellent! Once you go through this, you really need to download their accompanying Value Proposition video. Google images for their "value proposition" and you will be amazed at the creative juices that this will generate in your head about your product and service.

This is a great starting point if you want to be serious about matching your clients want that you can deliver.

So, best of luck with this and look forward to next week's blog!


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