Where did the time go?

New Year’s Day … Martin Luther King Jr. Day … Valentine’s Day … Super Bowl … President’s Day … St. Patrick’s Day … Passover … Easter … Kentucky Derby … Mother’s Day … Indy 500 … Memorial Day … Father’s Day (tick, tick, tick …).  If you’re like some of us, you’re wondering where has the first half of the year gone?

If you, and your company, are having a successful year, the good news is that you are well-positioned to ride the momentum and continue the behaviors, and best practices, that got you here. Further good news: if that doesn’t describe you, there’s plenty of time to pivot, adjust and get back on a winning track. To do so, here are seven action items you can implement to increase your performance in the second half of the year:

Establish and track your goals. Whether you did so at the start of the year and simply got off track, or never got on track, now is a good time to start. How much new business will you close? How many accounts will it take? How many new conversations, meetings, proposals or demonstrations will you need to conduct? Work backwards and track those activities on a monthly, weekly and daily basis to ensure you get there.

Reexamine and refine your sales process. Sometimes, we get lazy and take shortcuts, either when business is flowing or, quite often, when it’s not. Do you have a well-defined, step-by-step sales process and are you sticking to it? How effectively are you qualifying (or disqualifying) your prospects before you spend too much time chasing deals that aren’t likely to happen? (Note:  Pre-planning for customer/prospect meetings and debriefing those meetings after the call go a long way in determining if you and your people are following that process.)

Hone in on your target market. How accurately can you define your ideal customer profile and how effectively are you targeting those potential opportunities with meaningful content marketing, social media, events and networking? How effectively are you using Linkedin to reach your target market and how well does your profile enhance potential opportunities?

Ask for referrals and introductions. Make it a point to plant the seed with referral sources and centers of influence. Much of the success of your business is dependent upon quality referrals and introductions. Concurrently, make it a point to reciprocate with those sources and identify those who, perhaps, offer complementary products or services. Collaborate with them on joint marketing programs, or cross-promotions, to tap into new prospects or verticals. 

Make better use of your customer relationship management system (assuming you are currently employing one). If properly used, your CRM can dramatically enhance your prospecting and closing efforts, better manage your pipeline, track customer interactions and automate your sales process. Many sellers do not understand, or are negligent in using their CRM to its fullest potential. But a good CRM system affords you a better opportunity to do what you do best—build relationships and close business. 

Focus on client/customer satisfaction. The customer you worked so diligently to secure is your competition’s best prospect. Continuously solicit feedback from your customers to fully understand their issues, challenges, needs and “pain points.” Then, act on that feedback to super serve their needs with improved products and services.

Invest in sales training and coaching. Top-performing professionals in any field—business, technology, sports, the arts, etc.—continuously invest in themselves to retain their competitive edge and enhance their skills and knowledge. How often do you attend workshops, engage in roleplaying or seek out a mentor to improve your sales techniques, ability to handle objections, negotiate more successfully and communicate more effectively?

If your year-to-date selling and business development efforts are on track to attain, and supersede, your goals, congratulations—keep it up.  If not, implement the steps that will enable you to exclaim—six months from now—“that was a heckuva year!”

Jim Marshall is owner, and president, of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact 

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