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Sales Acceleration: The 80/20 Rule Divided by Two

By Dan Coughlin

Imagine you’re an NFL head coach and you have one week to prepare for a playoff game. You don’t have time to focus on player development or installing a new offensive or defensive system. You can do that during training camp, but not the week of the playoffs.

You do have time to study a lot of film and identify the other team’s greatest strength, develop a plan to remove that strength, and force the other team to find another way to beat you. You also have time to identify the other team’s greatest weakness, and determine how you will exploit it. You can then focus all of your practice time on those two items. Notice: intense focus on two areas.

The Reality of Sales Performance Demands: Imagine you have to dramatically ramp up sales in the next 45 days. You don’t have time to analyze market trends, your competition’s latest offerings, or your entire database. You have to win right now. What do you do?

It’s Time for Sales Acceleration: First, write down the three easiest sales you could make in the next ten days if you focused your energy on closing those sales. These are “pay the overhead” sales. What’s going to get money coming in as opposed to time, money, and effort going out. These aren’t going to be the biggest sales you’ve ever made nor are they going to necessarily lead to more business. They are sales on the books where money can actually go into the bank.

Second, write down the two most important prospects you can think of. Identify two buyers who could significantly ramp up your sales for the short-term and the long-term. Admittedly, these two people will require a lot of attention and sustained focused effort to gain their business, but if you get either one of them you will be dramatically better off.

Sales Increases Require Activity Decreases: Ever heard the saying about “throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks”? I want you to throw that saying out the window. You need sales now, not in six months. You need to win this game. For the next 45 days, just do two things: focus on the three lowest-hanging pieces of sales fruit available and the two highest payoff possibilities.

Essentially, I’m preaching the power of The 80/20 Rule Divided By Two. Put the vast majority of your time and effort behind a very few prospects at the top and bottom of your prospect list.

Close some deals: It’s good for your self-confidence, good for your momentum, and good for your boss, your spouse, your children, and your sleep. Grab the lowest hanging fruit. Even the most patient fisherman needs to catch a few small fish to keep his head in the game in order to catch the really big fish.

And then aspire big:

  • Who’s the great prospect you want as a customer more than anyone else?

  • What does that prospect want or need to achieve that you can help him or her to achieve?

  • How can you help this prospect?

  • How can you explain the value you can offer to this person?

  • How can you prove to this person that you can add that value?

  • Get your references, your testimonials, and your proven track record in order so the prospect can see it when they ask for it.

  • Create a plan for getting 25 minutes with that prospect.

  • Stay calm. This is your playoff game. You need to win this game. This isn’t one of 50 people you’re going to call on today. This is the one. You want to win this game at this moment. Stay focused.

  • Think only of this person’s best interest. Don’t think about yourself, your spouse, your mortgage, your car, your kids, or your vacations. Just focus on improving this customer’s desired outcomes.

  • Be patient. The sale doesn’t have to happen at this moment, just within the next 45 days.

Recall Your Past Victories: When the NFL playoff game begins, it’s interesting to see how often players who were successful in the past are successful again, and players who choked in the past choke again. Why does that happen? When you listen to their quotes after the game, you hear the winners say they were focused on past wins and the losers say they were focused on past losses.

Grab your mental state and hold firmly on to it. Focus on the times you were successful in the past. Review the obstacles you faced, how you persevered through those obstacles, how you felt when you won, and the lessons you learned. Now apply that exact same mindset to the next 45 days. Focus only on winning and on doing what it takes to win.

Advanced Course on Adjustments: Not even the most scripted coach in NFL history sticks to a plan blindly. If the lowest hanging fruit is glued to the tree, then reach for a different piece. If your highest desired customer starts the meeting by not showing up, then move on. Be intelligently flexible and flexibly mobile. Accelerated selling is an art, not a science. You need to make the call as to when to shift your focus from high priority customer A to high priority customer B. That doesn’t mean you have to suddenly start chasing every prospect from A-Z. Go high and go low. That’s it. If you have to step over five feet to get to a better prospect, then do that. But don’t run fifty miles to chase down prospect after prospect. That’s exhausting with no payoff in the short term.

Sales Hall of Fame:

Question: Which players and coaches get into the NFL’s Hall of Fame?

Answer: The ones who win during the playoffs.

Stop listing every possible prospect and creating profiles on each of them. Go high and go low. Find the greatest opportunity for sales success and the easiest opportunity for sales success. And go after those two areas. Leave the stuff in the middle for the mediocre performers. You’re going to go high and hard and low and fast. Win the game right in front of you.

Read other articles and learn more about Dan Coughlin.

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