Whitey Kollmeier, my friend and greatest center of influence, told me a story about Coach Scolinos. In January of 1996 he was a speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association. His topic: Stay at 17 Inches. He approached the stage with a home plate hanging from his neck. The short version of his message was this:
- What do you do with a pitcher that can’t throw the ball over the plate?
- What do you do with your best athlete that breaks the rules (outside the plate)?
- What is happening inside our schools, businesses, and government institutions when people are breaking the rules (widening the plate)?
This message alone is powerful and one that you should read, digest and think about as you build and lead your company, sales team, family, or community organization. I’m taking the concept of ‘staying at 17 inches’ and applying it to your sales process to help you and your company achieve your sales growth objective by closing more business, more quickly and at higher margins. Sound good? If you respond with a yes then I’ve thrown a strike! Hitting it is up to you.
Solution #4: create a “strike zone” to help you select the right prospects to target and attract to your business
The “strike zone” is a list of criteria you establish to identify what type of prospect is right down the middle, a little inside and a little outside of your core target market profile. The criteria for the type of business you want might look something like this:
In addition to that checklist, you also need a process to determine if the potential prospect qualifies to do business with you within your framework of how you do business. For example, asking yourself questions like:
- Is the decision maker involved and invested in the process?
- Are they willing to provide all needed information in a timely fashion?
- Have they agreed to make a decision in timely manner?
With this approach – staying within your ‘home plate’ you can now:
- Focus your attention more specifically on the needs/problems/challenges of your target market and build your lead generation efforts to attract the right prospects
- Build a reputation as the ‘go to’ source for your services within your target market
- Build better solutions and relationships with partner providers as well as make better decisions on what opportunities to work
Also as a producer/manager, you must pay close attention to what is actually going into the pipeline and be courageous enough to not swing at those pitches that are low, inside, high or outside. This is where your CRM system comes into play. Not only should your CRM system have your mapped sales process but beneath each step in your sales process there should be further qualifying points that need to be checked or clicked. Here is an example for ABC Company.
Step 1: Qualified Appointment – Prospect has a compelling issue to address or an opportunity to leverage:
- Met with decision maker and they have a significant risk management problem
- Company fits our profile for sales revenue and potential revenue
- We will have access to all information in a timely basis
- Prospect has acknowledged a ‘have to fix’ problem
Step 2: Qualified Prospect- Prospect has determined capacity to invest time, money and resources to ‘fix’ the have to fix problem
- Have discussed and monetized the existing or potential problem
- Prospect has confirmed that price is important but solving compelling issues within a monetary range is more critical
- Prospect has agreed that a change in current relationship will happen providing we can solve the problem per specs within budget
These are just two examples of how your CRM process has to support staying within the strike zone. If you, as a producer, or your salespeople cannot ‘check the boxes’ then this begins to help you see the pitch more clearly and identify if this prospect is ‘over the plate’.