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“I didn’t have time last week to call my Referral Source.” That’s a direct quote from an advisor who made the commitment to referral selling. Or so she said.

What do you mean you don’t have time? Make the time.

You make time to meet with your clients, conduct seminars, invite prospects and clients to lunch or to dinner. But you don’t have time to nurture your referral sources or proactively ask your network for referrals? That’s an excuse, not a reason.

Multiple priorities consume our time — too much time. We complain that our days get away from us, hour by hour. We never find enough time to complete everything on our list. Want to get your life in order? Start by ordering your life.

Establish priority. That’s priority, singular. Decide what’s most important

See also: Take Back Your Time

Priority No. 1: What’s closest to cash?

How can you choose only one priority when many tasks loom urgent?  Here’s how: Act on “closest to cash” activities the first thing every day. What does “closest to cash” mean?

Closest to cash activities include:

  • Call a client to advise him on his portfolio
  • Contact prospects to arrange a personal meeting
  • Ask for referrals from your circle of influence
  • Obtain quotes and prepare a tailored presentation
  • Meet with a referred prospect

Activities that move your sales process forward count. Nothing else matters. If you neglect other activities on your to-do list, they don’t matter. Another day dawns tomorrow, and with it, another priority. So make your list, set your priority, and do it.

See also: Time is Money

Define your sales process

Can’t figure out how to get everything accomplished? Do you follow a step-by-step process to attract new clients and stay in touch with existing clients? I’m not talking about a complicated, multipage, exhaustive, must-apply-to-everyone process. I’m talking about an intelligent, flexible, simple process to save you time. Trust me, I am the first person to run screaming when people start talking about “process.” As a salesperson, all I want to do is to be with my clients. Please don’t make me memorize a process that doesn’t fit with my clients. Don’t make me fill out a lot of paperwork. Just let me do my job.

That said, I have great respect for a strategic process. I’m willing to agree that there are certain essential steps that, when I stick to them, greatly enhance my chances for continued success.

A typical sales process consists of the following steps, which you can easily modify for your own use. But keep it simple. One client sent me a three-page sales process — too long. If I worked for that company, I would throw it in the trash. There’s no way I would find the patience or time to follow along.

Whatever you decide, keep it simple.

  1. Plan and conduct meetings: Meet with prospects and clients in your office, in their home, or conduct a seminar and invite others. Set goals around the number of meetings you will conduct each and every week.
  2. Ask the right questions: Determine the questions to ask to uncover the needs of your prospect. Keep questioning until you get to the real issues. We call this “peeling the onion.” Ask a lot of “what” and “why” questions. Let the other person talk 80 percent of the time. 
  3. Present with the prospect in mind: Discuss options and solutions that address the issues of your prospect. People respond to options. It shows you have given thought to their situation. 
  4. Learn how to close: Get their signature and a check. If they put you off, take a careful look at earlier steps in your sales process—questions you forgot to ask, or a discussion you missed. It’s never about closing. 
  5. Follow up: Initiate a process to stay in touch with your prospects and clients. Send them information regularly with interesting snippets, or advise them of legislation that may affect their lives and investments.
  6. Penetrate your accounts: Find out others they know that you should meet. Ask your great clients to introduce you to your ideal client.

Make the time

A simple, smart sales process saves you time. Built into this process is your No. 1 business-development and sales time-saver: referrals.

Think about it: when a client comes to you through a referral, you are credible the minute you answer the phone or when the client walks through your door. You engage in the kind of robust conversation that you love — learning about your client and ways you can help. When you receive a referral, you know that the client is qualified, because you asked for the introduction to your ideal client. This is a time saver.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of your business came from referrals? Wouldn’t you rather take a sales call than make a sales call? You’ll save time, work with people you like, close deals faster and, above all, enjoy yourself.

That kind of selling is fun. It allows you to care for your clients and always propose the best solution for them.

Your new sales process will guide you to ask for referrals, do what’s closest to cash and stay in touch with your network. You’ll have a roadmap for success and, finally, more time.

For more from Joanne Black, see:

You Are the Ultimate Sales Technology

Doesn’t Anyone Have a Conversation Anymore?

Referrals: Avoid That Awkward First Date