Before airline pilots take off, they pre-flight the aircraft. They look over the fuselage for cracks, check that the gas tanks are full, and make sure the electronics are working. Inside the cockpit, they read down a printed list to ensure that the plane is ready for flight. If they miss any single one of these steps, they’ve put themselves and their passengers at risk. Your typical sales process isn’t usually a life or death matter, but you’ll have a greater chance of success if you use a checklist.
Writing for the RAIN Group, Mike Schultz explains his strong support for the sales checklist. Schultz says reps who want to excel should always use a checklist. His position makes sense. You may have ten to fifteen prospects at different stages in the sales funnel. Have you done a complete needs analysis for the prospect you met with last week? As you’re drinking your morning coffee and reviewing what happened on Monday, can you remember what you promised the prospect you talked with on the phone? If the details are a little fuzzy, don’t feel bad. Get organized instead.
Start creating your checklist now. You may be using your company’s CRM or you may have an Excel worksheet. The point is, you need to use it. List all your active prospects. Then, list specific actions you want to take with every prospect. Needs analysis should be on the list. You should be writing the names of everyone at every prospect site you need to connect with, too. Write down how your product or service can provide the most value to each prospect. Remember that these best-case value propositions will vary for each prospect.
The other important aspect of the checklist process is that you must use it if you plan to move your sales needle in the right direction. Promise yourself that you’ll allocate time every morning or evening to log exactly what you accomplished. In addition to keeping yourself on track, the logging process will motivate you to work harder tomorrow.