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To Do Lists Are Evil?

To Do Lists Are Evil?

Some days the to-do list seems bottomless. Just looking at it is exhausting.

We all want to know how to stop being lazy and get more done. I certainly wanted the answer.

So after some research I came across this article of someone who is insanely productive which was first posted in Time.com

Cal Newport impresses the heck out of me. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. He’s insanelyproductive:productivity

  1. He has a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes and meeting with students.
  2. He writes 6 (or more) peer-reviewed academic journal papers per year.
  3. He’s the author of 4 books including the wonderful “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” And he’s at work on a fifth.
  4. He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
  5. He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.

And yet he finishes work at 5:30PM every day and rarely works weekends.

No, he does not have superpowers or a staff of 15. Okay, let’s you and I both stop being jealous of his productivity for a second and learn something.

Below you’ll get Cal’s secrets on how you can better manage your time, stop being lazy, get more done — and be finished by 5:30. Let’s get to work.

1) To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.

To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?

It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.

Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.

Here’s Cal:

Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.

Experts agree that if you don’t consider how long things take, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I can hear what some of you are thinking: But I get interrupted. Things get thrown at me last minute.

Great — build that into your schedule. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Things will change. But you need to have a plan, otherwise you’ll waste time.

Want to stop procrastinating? Schedule. Here’s Cal:

Assigning work to times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.

Does this sound too mechanical? Overly structured and not much fun? Wrong.

Research shows that it’s even a good idea to schedule what you do with your free time. It increases quality of life:

This study was designed to identify the relationship between free time management and quality of life, exploring whether the amount of free time or the way people using their free time relates to their quality of life… The result has found a positive relationship between free time management and quality of life.

(For more on the schedule the most productive people use, click here.)

Okay, the to-do list is in the trash and things are going on the calendar. How do you prioritize so you’re not at work forever?

2) Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards

Work will fill the space it’s given. Give it 24/7 and guess what happens?

You need boundaries if you want work/life balance. But this also helps you work better because it forces you to be efficient.

By setting a deadline of 5:30 and then scheduling tasks you can get control over that hurricane of duties.

Cal calls it “fixed schedule productivity”:

Fix your ideal schedule, then work backwards to make everything fit — ruthlessly culling obligations, turning people down, becoming hard to reach, and shedding marginally useful tasks along the way. My experience in trying to make that fixed schedule a reality forces any number of really smart and useful in-the-moment productivity decisions.

What does research say prevents you from getting burned out at work? Feeling in control of your schedule.

Anything that increases your perception of control over a situation — whether it actually increases your control or not — can decrease your stress level.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Over and over, scientists see that the perception of control over a stressor alters the stressor’s impact.

(For more on how to achieve work/life balance, click here.)

You’ve drawn a line in the sand and worked backward, giving all your tasks hours in your day. But how do you handle longer term projects?

3) Make A Plan For The Entire Week

I think you’ll agree that the last thing this world needs is more short term thinking.

You’ll never get ahead of the game by only looking at today and never thinking about tomorrow.

How do you write books, teach classes, meet with students, do research papers and be a good parent consistently? Plan the week.

Here’s Cal:

People don’t look at the larger picture with their time and schedule. I know each day what I’m doing with each hour of the day. I know each week what I’m doing with each day of the week and I know each month what I’m doing with each week of the month.

Are you rolling your eyes? Does this sound overbearing? It’s simpler than you think. What’s really necessary?

Just one hour every Monday morning. Here’s Cal:

Every Monday I lay out a plan for the week. I go through my inbox, I go through my task list, I go through my calendar and try to come away with the best thing to do with each day this week. I write it in an email and I send it to myself and leave it in my inbox because that’s a place I know I will see it every day and I’ll be reminded of it multiple times throughout the day.

And he’s right. Research shows you spend your time more wisely when you follow a plan.

Via What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:

Preliminary analysis from CEOs in India found that a firm’s sales increased as the CEO worked more hours. But more intriguingly, the correlation between CEO time use and output was driven entirely by hours spent in planned activities. Planning doesn’t have to mean that the hours are spent in meetings, though meetings with employees were correlated with higher sales; it’s just that CEO time is a limited and valuable resource, and planning how it should be allocated increases the chances that it’s spent in productive ways.

Maybe you think it’s enough to run down the week’s duties in your head. Nope.

Studies show writing things down makes you more likely to follow through.

(For more on how the most productive people get things done, click here.)

So you’ve got a fixed schedule and a weekly plan — but the math doesn’t add up. There’s just too much stuff. Cal has an answer for that too.

4) Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them

Maybe you’re thinking: I just have too many things to do. I could never get it all done in that amount of time.

And Cal concedes that you might be right. But the answer isn’t throwing up your arms and working until 10PM.

You need to do fewer things. Everything is not essential. You say “yes” to more than you need to.

Ask “What’s creating real value in my life?” And theneliminate as much of the rest as you can.

Here’s Cal:

You’re judged on what you do best so if you want to have as much success as possible you’re always better off doing fewer things but doing those things better. People say yes to too much. I say no to most things. I’m ruthless about avoiding or purging tasks if I realize they’re just not providing much value.

You feel like you have no time but John Robinson, the leading researcher on time use, disagrees. We may have more free time than ever.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

He insists that although most Americans feel they’re working harder than ever, they aren’t. The time diaries he studies show that average hours on the job, not only in the United States but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody, he says, has more time for leisure.

So what gives? It feels like you have no time because it’s so fragmented with little annoying tasks that drain the life out of you.

So do less. And be amazing at those things.

(For more on what the most successful people do, click here.)

Your plans are in order and by doing less, it all fits on the schedule. But one question remains: what exactly should you be doing with your time?

5) Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff

All work is not created equal. Cal says knowledge workers deal with two fundamentally different types of work, Shallow and Deep:

Shallow work is little stuff like email, meetings, moving information around. Things that are not really using your talents. Deep work pushes your current abilities to their limits. It produces high value results and improves your skills.

And what’s the problem? Most of us are “drowning in the shallows”:

People who are the most busy often are getting a lot less done of significance than the people who are able to stop by 5PM every day. That’s because the whole reason they need to work at night and on the weekends is because their work life has become full of just shallows. They’re responding to messages, moving information around and being a human network router. These things are very time consuming and very low value.

Nobody in the history of the universe ever became CEO because they responded to more email or went to more meetings. No way, Bubba.

Cal has it right: Shallow work stops you from getting fired — but deep work is what gets you promoted.

Give yourself big blocks of uninterrupted time to make things of value. What’s the best first step?

Stop checking email first thing in the morning. Tim Ferriss, author of the international bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, explains:

…whenever possible, do not check email for the first hour or two of the day. It’s difficult for some people to imagine. “How can I do that? I need to check email to get the information I need to work on my most important one or two to-dos?”

You would be surprised how often that is not the case. You might need to get into your email to finish 100% of your most important to-dos. But can you get 80 or 90% done before you go into Gmail and have your rat brain explode with freak-out, dopamine excitement and cortisol panic? Yes.

(For more on how to motivate yourself, click here.)

So how do we tie all this together?

Sum Up

Cal’s five big tips:

  1. To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
  2. Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
  3. Make A Plan For The Entire Week
  4. Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them
  5. Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff823

Schedules and plans sound cold and clinical but the end result couldn’t be farther from that.

You’ll be less stressed, create more time for friends and family, and make things you can be proud of.

Here’s Cal:

Knowledge work is really just craftsmanship. It’s just that what you’re crafting is information and not carved wood. You’re crafting ideas. You’re crafting knowledge out of raw material and the more you think about it like a craftsman, the happier and more satisfied you’ll be, not to mention more successful.

The offices of the world could use a few less cubicle drones and a few more proud craftsmen.

Advice

Advice

worst-marketing-advice-e1421185020620

Advice:

Sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt.

Have you ever had someone give you their professional opinion or worst yet, paid for professional advice only to walk away with an uneasy feeling?

Here are some examples of advice perhaps better off ignored. BTW, my favorite is the example from Avinash Kaushik.

 


 

Julie Fleischer
Director, Data + Content + Media, Kraft Foods Group
@jfly
Julie FleischerHands down the worst advice I’ve received is to religiously input past results into forecasts of future ones and then build plans accordingly. Consumers and the communications landscape are changing too fast to keep doing what you’ve always done and expecting the same (or better!) returns.

Success requires knowing your consumer today (not yesterday), open-mindedness to new ideas, media experimentation and innovation.

 


 

Avinash Kaushik
Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google
@avinash
Avinash KaushikAnything that starts with “All you need is to rock SEO!” The bit at the end could be Email, Social, Site Experience, Paid Search, Affiliate, anything really. That advice is a demonstration of I’m a one-trick pony and so let me do the one dance I know.

It takes a complex mix of marketing strategies by companies to win. We’ve grown up with silos. Any advice related to optimizing one silo falls in the category of “worst marketing advice.”

The best employees/consultants obsess about optimizing for a Marketing Portfolio and possess the incredible capacity to understand each channel’s purpose, are able to recommend content matches in response to the customer need, and finally measure success of that portfolio strategy. [I call this the See-Think-Do-Care framework.]

You know you have great marketing advice if it represents clear thought for the entire marketing portfolio and the advice’s role in it.


 

Michelle Lapierre
Senior Director, Customer Experience & Social Media at Marriott Rewards
@mmlap
Michelle LapierreHere’s the brand style guide – don’t deviate”. As if:
* What worked in print and email channels would magically transfer to social channels.
* Talking about ourselves – with the right font and color palette – was the priority. * Giving no regard to the social conversation, and adapting to that conversation, was the norm.
* The command-and-control method of brand marketing still existed.

 


 

Mei Lee
VP, Marketing – Digital at Conde Nast Entertainment
@himelee
Mei LeeThe worst marketing advice I’ve heard recently is to use the same ad creative across all social media platforms because you want your campaign message to be consistent everywhere.

Customers behave differently on each social media platform. Their need states vary from Facebook to Instagram to Vine. Your ad copy and call-to-action should be customized to meet specific need states. 

 


 

Rebecca Lieb
Industry Analyst, The Altimeter Group
@lieblink
Rebecca Lieb
I recall getting a call from a junior-level marketing person at a major publishing house. A big-brand, very conservative, financial publication. Her boss had numbers to meet, so instructed her to buy a shady piece of software (from Russia) off the web that scraped email addresses. He needed bigger email marketing lists. Her desperate query to me was, “I know this is wrong. Could you please help me to explain to him why this is wrong?”

 


 

Matt McGowan
Strategy at Google (COO of Americas Ad Agency Business)
@matt_mcgowan
Matt McGowan

“Do it for the for the award shows!”

 

 

 



Jennifer Mesenbrink

Senior Manager, Digital and Social Content Strategy Motorola Solutions
@EditorThink

Jennifer MesenbrinkMy personal pet peeve with managing social media is that people assume you can just delete negative comments or ignore them. Yes, you can choose that path with your personal social media accounts, but when you’re managing a business account, that is literally the exact opposite way to handle those interactions via social media. Social media is about entering into a conversation with those vocal dissenters – answering their questions, solving problems, addressing their concerns in a legitimate way — so you can change that customer’s opinion. It’s not a problem – it’s a social opportunity.


 

Joe Pulizzi
Founder, Content Marketing Institute and Author, “Epic Content Marketing”
@JoePulizzi

Joe PulizziOne thing that has really bothered me is how many times I hear these two words – Have to.
* You “have to” be on Facebook.
* You “have to” blog.
* You “have to” do Google Adwords.

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to literally dozens of marketing speeches where so-called experts have said these two words. Not once have I ever agreed with that. Marketing is both art and science.

There is no “one way” to do things. If you ever hear someone say that there is something you MUST do…that there is no other way…my advice is…run.


 

Mark Schaefer
Consultant, Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, Adjunct Marketing Professor, Rutgers University
@markwschaefer
Mark SchaeferThere is a lot of bad advice out there but one mantra that sticks in my head is to “be controversial” to get traffic to your site.

To me, this is like playing with fire. I can’t imagine convincing my boss that a company and a carefully-groomed brand should mindfully be associated with forced negativity. If the thing blows up in a bad way, you’re into damage control and even if it works, can you really sustain “controversy” as a strategy? This is different than holding a legitimate opinion or taking a stand in an authentic way.

What is the worst marketing advice that you have ever received or heard? Share with our readers in the comments below.

Top image: Shutterstock  

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EveryOne Loves Referrals

EveryOne Loves Referrals

Use These 10 Steps to Get Referral Business from Your Clients

10 Steps to Get Referral Business from Your Clients

Everyone loves referral business! Unfortunately, not everyone takes an active interest in generating referral leads. Consider the following statistic: 91 percent of consumers are willing to give referrals, yet only 11 percent of people ask for them. It doesn’t take a math wiz to see there’s a gold mine of referral dollars being left on the table.

Despite what you may have heard, referral business won’t take care of itself. In fact, drumming up referrals can be quite a challenge. You not only have to lead the horse to water, but you also have to make the water worth drinking—and that means being proactive and providing exceptional value.

Take an active interest in your clients’ happiness and they’ll be more likely to return the favor. With that in mind, try our 10-point proactive approach to earning (and increasing) referral business long-term.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 1

Think about your past experiences—your greatest successes and your most dismal failures. See any patterns? Timing is everything, and finding the right time to ask for referral business can be a matter of trial, error and strategic adjustment.

Consider your best successes, determine when you made the initial referral request and base future inquiries on the same timeframe. If you’ve found that asking for referrals too early in the transaction puts relatively unfamiliar clients on the defensive, implement a more patient approach. Speaking of patience…

How to Get Referral Business - Step 2

While asking for referrals in the early stages of the transaction may not yield the best results, that doesn’t mean you can’t drop a few hints along the way. As Paul Simon once said, “you don’t need to be coy, Roy.” After all, 85 percent of small businesses say word-of-mouth referrals are the number one way new prospects discover their businesses.

Let clients know that your business thrives on word-of-mouth and referral leads, and that means you’re willing to do everything within your power to make sure they’re satisfied with the transaction and willing to tell their friends about it. Planting this seed early will make the actual referral request that much easier later on.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 3

It should go without saying, but everything we’re talking about hinges on a job well done. Anything less and you can kiss those referral leads goodbye! Pay close attention to the feedback you receive directly from customers or through online reviews and use that information to improve your services. By delivering the best experience possible, you’ll make your customers happy, and happy customers tell their friends!

How to Get Referral Business - Step 4

Once the transaction is complete, many people pat themselves on the back and prepare to move on. This is a huge mistake. Consider the following:

A recent survey by AutoTrader.com found that 69 percent of consumers have experienced buyer’s remorse after purchasing a car.

The Washington Post reports that one in four homeowners experience buyer’s remorse after buying a new home.

Buyer’s remorse is very real, and it’s NOT industry specific. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling insurance, real estate or beauty products, your clients will likely experience a period of self doubt and regret just following their purchase.

Here’s a hot tip: It’s never a good idea to request referrals from a client in the throes of buyer’s remorse. You might not receive the response you were hoping for!

Instead of worrying about referrals at this stage, focus on keeping your client 100 percent satisfied and happy with the transaction. Following up with a customer shows them you care about their well-being and you’re available if they need you. This solidifies your relationship, builds customer loyalty and gently reinforces the client’s purchasing decision.

This is also a great time to request feedback and offer useful content such as how-to videos and articles that will further enhance the client’s experience with your product. By being there for your clients when they need you most, you increase your chances of receiving referral business later on.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 5

Once you’ve delivered your client to their happy place, you can turn your attention to the business of asking for referrals. But don’t jump the gun! First, take the time to decide exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Traditional word-of-mouth and referral leads are a good place to start, especially when you consider that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

Meanwhile, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, making reviews on third-party sites such as Yelp, Facebook and Google invaluable.

Finally, 68 percent of consumers trust opinions posted online, which makes client testimonials valuable additions to your website and marketing campaigns.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 6

Now that you’re in the sweet spot, it’s time to make your move. Stop dropping hints and cash in on the trust you’ve earned through hard work and dedication. Let them know how much you appreciate their business and how important they are to you. You’re happy to see them happy and you’d like to spread that same joy to their friends, family and business colleagues. Just remember to be direct, polite and humble.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 7

Once your client agrees to help you out, it’s impolite to leave them hanging – and the longer you wait, the more likely they are to lose interest. Have a process in place to accommodate eager clients. Have business cards at the ready for face-to-face interactions. If you’re asking for an online testimonial or review, make the process easy. Send them interview questions or links to sites like Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Anything you can do to make the referral or review process simple and convenient will improve your chances of success.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 8

So you’ve gotten what you want and it’s time to move on, right? Wrong! You’re in this for the long haul. You never know when and where a referral opportunity will occur, so it’s important that you nurture client relationships to maintain trust, encourage customer loyalty and earn ongoing referral business.

This is where content marketing is critical to the referral process. Instead of simply promoting yourself, focus on providing content that will be valuable to your clients. For example, a client who’s just purchased a home doesn’t want to be inundated with new listings and mortgage rates.

Instead, send something of interest, such as helpful home maintenance tips or information on DIY upgrades that will enhance their home’s value. This type of content not only shows you’re interested in maintaining a relationship, but it also paints you as an industry expert and trusted professional.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 9

Building your reputation through great content is only half the battle. You also need to remain top of mind so that clients will remember your name months or years down the road and continue to recommend your services. This is where email marketing and social media come into play. The numbers speak for themselves:

By giving past clients multiple opportunities to engage with your brand and content in their inboxes and social feeds, you stay top of mind when referral opportunities arise.

How to Get Referral Business - Step 10

Quality business referrals are born out of customer loyalty, which has to be earned over time. By maintaining contact with past clients and continuing to provide them with valuable content, you strengthen your relationship and build a solid, mutual sense of trust. This earns you the right to occasionally ask for a favor, and ensures your clients will be happy to oblige!

What kind of experiences have you had with referral business? If you have an interesting success story – or an educational story of hard-fought failure – share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! And be sure to sign up for our Sunday Edition.

Click here for more great info on Referral Marketing
Great Real Estate Apps For 2015

Great Real Estate Apps For 2015

Good real estate agents are invariably always on the go. And they’re usually short of time.

So any new app or other tool that helps them stay organised, be more effective or lets them monitor client responses is always more than welcome.RealEstate Agent Using SmartPhone

Some such apps that will be particularly helpful in 2015 include:

  • Mailtracker. Ideal for testing the effectiveness of your DM campaign or the receptiveness of your emails. The analytics of this app allow you to see when someone has opened your emails, how long they viewed it, the recipient’s location and their own device details.
  • Genius scan. Effectively a portable scanner, this app is a great help when you need to send photos of signboards, copies of sales or lease agreements or other contracts when you are out and about. You can scan and export documents as JPEG or multi-page PDF files from your mobile device.
  • Pro-HDR. This helps turn the photos that you take with the camera on your mobile device into high resolution (up to 12 megapixel) shots; considering that listing quality photos are one of the key marketing aids for any broker, Pro-HDR can be invaluable.
  • Waze. Time is often money in the real estate industry and Waze helps you save valuable time by letting you know where there are traffic jams, road closures or even accidents. You can get real-time traffic data directly on your mobile phone or laptop.
  • Storehouse. Getting the right visual message across to a prospective purchaser is essential. Storehouse delivers the ability to combine photos, videos and text into a great article which can be shared with the Storehouse community—and, in turn, potential homebuyers.
  • Commute time widget. A great help for prospective buyers to work out the commute time from a property to their home, office or even school for their children; this app can be embedded into your site as a useful aid to selling.
  • Carrot. At last an app for the less organised or maybe that should be for the busiest amongst us. This talking app not only keeps a “to-do list” tracked, but it has its own way of rewarding you for getting things done – but be warned, it also berates you for not doing them!

The aim of all of these apps is to help you work smarter (not harder!) and they are ideal for brokers and agents seeking to maximise their marketing and productivity efforts.

Get some or all of them and have a great selling 2015!

Medical Drones On Maui

Medical Drones On Maui

Drones On Maui,

You may have seen them down at the Lahaina Harbor annoying the surfers and paddle boarders by videoing them in action. The general feeling is that they are annoying and bothersome to those that may be the target of their affections. Drones are also getting popular with real estate agents who want to show a birds eye view of a property they want to sell. Annoying the neighbors in the process.Medic Drones On Maui

While these usages of drones may be a little mundane and not very useful (except to the realtor perhaps.) There may be some use for these mosquito sized helicopters.

What if you could turn these drones into a flying doctors bag? Hmmm. Think about that for a second. What if someone was on a boat trip and was having a heart attack? How long would it take to get help? With these ambulance drones which fly at 100 kl/hr it would take only minutes to get out there.

How long does it take to get an ambulance out to the Pali after an accident with all of that traffic and only a two lane road. With one of these drones, it would only be a matter of minutes for it to get there. With it’s onboard camera and audio systems a trained medical professional can talk you thru a life saving procedure such as defibrillating a heart that is in cardiac arrest.

The possibilities are endless. Cool factor 10 – Annoying factor 0.

CrimmCo

Sell More In Less Time

Sell More In Less Time

Everyone, whether a buyer, seller, marketer or manager, is crunched for time. No one has time to waste when doing business, and as a seller, you certainly do not want to waste hours on a project or a prospect unlikely to score returns.

Here are a few simple tips to incorporate into your daily routine that can help you sell more in less time.

1. Make the first move.

Some believe that the sooner you get in touch with a prospect, the greater the likelihood he or she will convert into a customer. Attention spans are short these days, so you need to move as quickly as possible.Fotolia_7821976_M

Gauge the person’s level of engagement and see how far along he or she has moved. Has the person just signed up for more information? Or has the prospect viewed your products and pricing page?

Understand how and why the person came to interact with you. When you make a call, put things in context. By making the first call relevant and timely, you will have a more meaningful conversation.

2. Don’t sell to the unmotivated.

But don’t approach those who are not ready. You are the best judge of who is really ready to make a commitment and who is just shopping around. If you feel that someone has little or no intention of buying anything, move that person to your marketing list. If the person shows genuine interest later, you can then get back in touch.

3. Make use of the prospect’s best time.

Traditionalists will tell you that calling someone after 5 p.m. is inappropriate and calling someone before 10 a.m. is rude. But is there a strict 9-to-5 code in today’s business world?

Once you begin interacting with a prospect, you’ll get an idea of when he or she is free to speak and in the best frame of mind to have a conversation that will make an impact.

Schedule your calls to the person’s convenience. He or she will appreciate if you call at a convenient time and then you’ll have the person’s attention for sharing more before you move to a close.

4. Qualify your leads.

Just because a person shared contact details with you does not mean he or she qualifies as a sales lead. Be careful before taking the bait. Jumping at any chance to sell will result in wasted time, resources and energy. Try the classic qualification BANT method and ask the following questions:1ecf85b

Budget: Does the lead have enough money to purchase your product?

Authority: Does this person have the authority to make a purchase decision?

Need: Does he or she have a genuine need for your product or a problem that your product can fix?

Timeline: Has he or she specified a desired time frame for making a purchase?

Ask other questions to determine if a person qualifies as a real lead. Assess the overall mood of his or her company or any internal relationships that might influence a purchase decision. The BANT method usually helps determine whether the lead is worth pursuing from the start.

5. Plan for tomorrow.

You won’t close any deals without following up. Since following up will be part of your daily routine, why not plan ahead? The worst way to start your day (and the best way to waste time) is arriving at work in the morning and trying to figure out whom to call and what to say.

By planning which people to call back and scheduling automated follow-ups, you can erase the headache of scrambling for numbers and information. And if you log your calls and make a quick note about what has been discussed, you’ll know exactly where you left off so you can avoid repetition and focus on only what will move the deal forward.

6. Make it personal.Make-It-Personal-1

Strive to forge a personal connection and genuinely relate to your prospect and his or her situation. But don’t force the conversation. Did the customer just get married, have a baby or move to a new city? Talk about this before you dive into business. The initial interaction may need to be formal and professional, but you can break down some of the barriers as conversation progresses.

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