Category Archives: Sales Management

Checklists – By Ciaran McGuigan

The next time you have your car serviced look at the bill. Usually there will be a complete inventory of all the tasks, inspections and repairs that the garage conducted on your car. These are not the same for every car, each car will have a different procedure dependent on the brand of the vehicle, its age and the mileage.

When your car is brought in, the mechanic does not just look at it, pop the hood and guess what needs to be done. They have a series of diagnostic tests which are tailored for that vehicle at that moment in its life. These are essentially checklists, the right person doing the right thing, in the right order in the right way.

The most experienced mechanic will use the same system the apprentice uses. Checklists are the way to streamline and co-ordinate your sales activity so that it is more productive and profitable.

So if you find yourself or your team arriving at the office, looking at your desks and then figuring out what you should be doing you need to start putting when and what you do down on paper. These checklists don’t have to be very complex. Simple and clear is the way to go.

For instance, a key philosophy of mine when running a sales campaign is 10 x 10, that is ten prospecting calls every day by 10 a.m. I also compound this by having 5 after 5, that is five sales letters after five p.m. These tasks are part of my daily activity management and I have a checklist to follow my progress.

If you don’t know where to start, find the top sales person in your business and ask if you can ‘shadow’ them for a day or two. Observe what they do and when and write it down. You can use this as the foundation for your own series of pro forma checklists which will give you the freedom to grow your business sales.


Tip #5 – A real and present opportunity

Large numbers of sales people make the error of trying to sell to everyone who seems interested rather than someone who has a real and present need. Think about this scenario, a sales rep picks up an incoming call and starts dealing with an inquiry from a fact-finding shopper. Thinking he has a ‘hot’ prospect he tries every which way and eventually persuades the caller to agree to an appointment where he can present his full range.

The rep is keen to do this because he has a quota of field sales calls to make and although this is a bit out of his way, every call counts. Ask yourself; is this a good use of sales time, energy and resources?

Almost certainly not. Worse still, the prospect may stay on the ‘maybe’ list for months, with lots of follow up calls and sales activity reports, but NO real sale.

The real sales champions detect and qualify who the REAL buyers are and manage / prioritize their time accordingly. Their technique and ability to engage etc can be exactly the same as ordinary performers, yet because they qualify EARLY they enjoy substantially larger sales success. Take a look at your next ‘opportunity’ is it real or is it just an opportunity for you to lose money?

Tip #4 – Voice mail

For most of us in sales, leaving messages on voice mail is a way of life. If you are trying to reach decision makers, (their time is valuable) you need to leave a message which gives them a REASON to call you back. A lot of the work that you put into creating a great opening statement (see page 1) can really help here. Here are a few tips for leaving an effective voicemail.

Make sure that you leave your phone number at the beginning and end of the message, you cannot be sure that your prospect will go back to the start to listen again to your pitch. Also, think of what you can say that will make them want to call you back as soon as they hear the message.

You have to make sure your tone is confident, well paced and has authority. The easiest way to do this is to start recording yourself. I have not met many executives who liked the way they sound, but that’s the reality of how you sound to prospects. Having done that, you can begin to start changing and controlling your tone for the better.

One more thing, try this; if you are leaving a voice mail message, flip the phone over and speak into the mouthpiece as if it were a microphone in your hand, you will be surprised at how much better you will sound.

Tip #3 – Trial closes

What is the difference between a trial close and an actual close? There is a lot of literature available on the ‘Net’ and in the local bookshop. The easiest and most useful definition I know is this; a trial close asks for an opinion, whereas an actual close asks for a decision.

Now, in my opinion, a lot of sales people make a fundamental mistake and believe that in order to be successful in sales they need to be hard closers. They equate this with asking for decisions and then push too early in the sales process. For the prospect the easiest answer is NO. Some of the best sales people I have ever worked with almost NEVER make the close themselves, they let the CLIENT close the deal.

They achieve this by using trial closes in the same way a chef uses seasoning, a lot sprinkled around. One of the best and most successful trial closing scripts is the following:

“…makes sense to me, what do you think?”

You can use this after running through the benefits of your product or service. Based on the answer from the prospect, you can move forward or go back and address their concern. Of course, after you deliver your trial close you need to use one of the best techniques of all:  SHUT UP and wait for their response.

Ciaran’s book can be bought from our website at

Don’t forget Ciaran is running a Sales Seminar on Thursday the 29th of September entitled “Fix Your Sales & Profit”.  Call us on +612 8080 3621 to reserve your seat.