Have you noticed the changing buying patterns in business these past few months?  The economy is forcing everyone to re-evaluate how business is conducted and who business is conducted with.  The smart sales pros know changes in buying patterns means we have to change too.  One way to maximize your sales productivity is to re-evaluate the prospects in your pipeline.

Recently I took a hard look at the l-o-n-g list of prospects for our company.  At first glance, I thought “Wow, we have a lot of potential business!”  (Whew!)   But then I started looking closer.

And I realized…

These aren’t all prospects anymore!!  The likelihood of doing business with some of these people and companies in the next year was extremely low!

I don’t know about you, but we have limits to our time, energy and resources to invest in our sales efforts.  Our priorities had been pulled out of whack these last 6 months.  The anticipation of what the recession might bring caused some of our clients to postpone scheduled services.  Yet there were other prospects that wanted to reconnect and reconsider our expertise in how to increase sales!

Now the big question, “Where are we spending our time, efforts and energy?”

I challenged our team to consider some tough questions for each name on the prospect list.  In light of what is going on with the economy:

  1. What do you know about this person or company?  How might the economy be affecting them?  What does this do for their need for what we provide?  Do they need us now more than ever?
  2. When was our last contact and what happened?
  3. Where are you in the sales process?  Be realistic.  Are you in the beginning stages of building trust and a relationship?  Have you uncovered needs?  Are they open to a solution?  Is it time to tie WHAT you do to their needs?  Have you gone through the process and not asked them for a decision?
  4. What is the likelihood of them moving to the next step in the sales process in the next 60 days?  The next 6 months?
  5. Do they have money to spend on what you offer?
  6. Are you talking to the decision maker?
  7. What have you done to provide proof and validation of potential results?
  8. What value can we provide them today to demonstrate our expertise and to help them?

We learned that we need to realign our efforts. Some of our prospects needs had changed and so must our approach to earning their business.  We also found that some prospects who took a lot of our time and energy were never going to “buy”.  They were happy to have lots of free consulting and resources.  But no budget to spend.  This doesn’t mean we will ignore them, but they won’t take up so much of our time.

We’ve been working on the new approach for a month and are having very good results.  Recession or not, 2009 is looking bright because we are focusing on the right prospects!

What about you?  Is it time to re-evaluate your prospect list?  To identify your real opportunities in light of the current economic conditions and to realign your efforts to the highest likelihood of success?  How can making the time now ensure you have recession proofed your sales?