The Simple Sales Tool That Increases Everyone's Sales

May 20, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

This post is part of a series that began with A Small Business Trend That Needs To Stop.  The series is about five essential business foundations that every business needs.  The first follow-up post was Do You Manage Your Time or Does It Manage You. Today is the second follow-up posts.  Check back next week for the last three!


I wanted to own my own business.  I wanted to get out of the corporate rat race.  I had a vision.  I had plans.

God opened doors.

What else did I need?

Oh yeah, sales!

If I own my own business I have to sell something right?

But I don’t do sales.  I am not a sales person.  I can manage sales.  I love marketing.

The idea of actually selling my services myself……

I might prefer the dentist.

Don’t get me wrong.  I can sell your services.  I can be a spokesperson for the latest new Apple product or inspiring book.

If you call me I can sell!

Okay, I have to get a grip….

I want my own business.

I have to sell.

How do I do it?

As a sales manager I used to require information from my team.  I never wanted them to just do reports for reports sake.  I hate paperwork and I hate bureaucracy.

I would tell my team that I only wanted them to do what would help them to manage their sales process and that same information would work for me.

Every Sales Person’s Tool

The most important tool we used was a Top 10 Prospect list.

I don’t see how to sell or manage sales without it.

Talking to many small business owners today, most don’t have a Top Prospects list.  They aren’t necessarily like me though.  Some actually like to sell their own products or services.  They just don’t have a system.

Start With A System

I think a system helps both the fearful sales person and the natural sales person.

Let’s first define a prospects list.  My simple definition:

People or business that are among my target audience.  People who can use my services.

Of course, this could be a huge list.  To narrow it down to a Top Prospects list I have to add some criteria.  I ask a series of questions.

  1. Do I know them?  Are they already familiar with me and my services?
  2. Have I done business with them before?
  3. Do they have a significant need for my services?
  4. Based on what I know about them, would we be a good fit?

Then the criteria may filter to geography, type of business for me, and do we have any mutual connections.

Rank Prospects to See Who Are The Hottest

Because I have this crazy analytical side, I usually pick a few criteria and rank each prospect based on these.  Then I sort and the one with the highest average ranking moves to the top.

Voila!  I have a Top Prospects List!

Now I set up an electronic space for each of these.  (A manilla folder will do!)  I start out by making a list of what strategies to use to sell them on my services.

Call our mutual friend and ask for an introduction?

Invite them to connect on social media to get to know them better?

Call them!  I know…..the dreaded cold call!

Follow up, follow up, follow up!!!

Match Strategies to Your Selling Style

I have a pretty slow prospecting process personally.  I use more passive techniques than active, but I follow the process.  And, I check them off the list.

Although a prospect may stay on my list a year, by following up on this list, my track record has been to eventually work with these prospects.

If you are a small business owner and you love to sell.  You need this list even more.

Top Prospects List = Prioritization = Time Effectiveness

Without it you wake up each day and just go with what pops into your mind for the day. You may have some huge opportunities sitting right there but you haven’t evaluated them or followed up with them consistently.

These days out of sight, out of mind is even more true.  If you aren’t following up, someone else will be.  And when the prospect is ready to pull the trigger on buying, it will be the company that is top of mind.  Follow-up speaks service!

There is much to do in a sales process and many strategies of sales and marketing to employ, but regardless, a Top Prospects list is essential!

Do you have one?

Reader Interactions


  1. Bradley J. Moore says

    I am the same way – I need the process, the analytics, the rating and ranking to get some kind of picture of how to prioritize. I can attest to the benefits of using tools such as these for maintaining a focus. Even just checking something off the list can feel invigorating!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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