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This is the single biggest thing you can do to improve sales…

What’s the single biggest thing I can do to improve sales?  That’s the question a recent client asked me.  As the author of a best-selling book on closing sales you might imagine that my answer to this question would be closing – but it isn’t.  Knowing how to advance the sale in a simple, zero-pressure and non-confrontational way is indeed very important – but it’s not “the single biggest thing you can do to improve sales”.

The Biggest Lever In Sales

The single most effective thing you can do in sales is to sell to only ideal candidates.  The reason for this is because everything else is downstream from there.  No amount of brilliant messaging, computer automation or brute force effort can compensate for selling to the wrong prospect.  Because with the wrong prospect all your efforts will fall on deaf ears.

“No amount of brilliant messaging, automation or brute force effort can compensate for selling to the wrong prospect.”

One of The Biggest Crimes in Selling

One of the biggest crimes in all of selling is to sell to the wrong prospect.  It’s the biggest waste of time ever.  And as sales professionals time is the only resource we have.

The Pareto Principle dictates that 20% of our opportunities will consume 80% of our time.  So it is important that we make sure that those 20% are ideal candidates with a high-probability of closing.  Not doing so guarantees diminished performance.

A Tough Choice

You’re better off finding an ideal prospect rather than continuing to waste time with non-ideal customers

Let that sink in for a minute because I know it’s tough medicine.

Even if you have an engaged prospect on the line – if it’s not an ideal prospect – you’re better off making them a low priority and investing your time in going out and finding an ideal prospect.  That means shifting your effort from engaging (which is easier and more fun) to prospecting. (which most salespeople consider less fun)

Stop Watching This Bad Re-run Episode

As a manager and coach I see the same bad episode replay itself over and over.  A rep engages anything that moves – good or bad.  Bad opportunities don’t close but the rep continues to pour their valuable time into these weak prospects.  This is especially true for new reps that are not as aware of what an ideal customer is and are desperate to get anything into their pipeline to prove their were a good hire.

Then what happens is they get towards the end of their sales cycles and these weak opportunities have all stalled out.  Then they call me hoping I can share with them some magic thing they can do or some miraculous thing they can say that will turn their bad prospect into a good one.

It wont happen.  There are no magic things you can say or do that will convert an account you shouldn’t have been selling in the first place.

Only Sell to Ideal Customers


I realize it can be challenging at times, but the solution is to apply discipline at the very beginning of the process to protect your precious time.

Only work with good prospects.  Refuse to work with weak prospects.  Instead, invest that time finding and engaging ideal targets.

If you allow yourself to work on garbage targets you’ll get garbage results.  No amount of brilliant messaging, automation, or brute force effort can compensate.

Getting this one principle right – all by itself – can make you massively successful because focusing on ideal, high-probability prospects is the highest leverage strategy you can employ.  All other strategies are downstream from this one.  They are all dependent on it.  Embrace it and succeed.

Closing Secret:  The highest leverage of your time is to focus on ideal, high-probability prospects to begin with.

Until next time!


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