Mark Burrall's TEC Blog

Friday, May 20, 2011

Take Control of Your Calendar
When we’re coaching salespeople, they often tell us “I just never seem to have enough time.” Sales managers complain that their sales team members don’t spend enough time selling; they spend too much time in the office. Salespeople complain about being asked to do so many administrative duties that they don’t have time to sell.

One of the first things we look for on a new coaching assignment is whether the sales pro uses some semblance of a plan on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. It astounds us to find people calling themselves professionals who don’t effectively use a calendar (paper or electronic) or don’t have written goals.

Let’s start with the easy one. Use a calendar, not just to keep track of appointments but also as a planning device. You know you need some “office time” each week to catch up on quotes, attend sales meetings, meet with your manager, and so on. Plan it! Put that on your calendar each week.

Next, you know the prime selling time is somewhere between 8:30 and 4:30. Don’t plan personal activities then unless absolutely necessary. Getting a haircut in the middle of the day makes no sense.

Slot your appointments with travel time built in. If you know an average call lasts 30 minutes and you need 15 minutes to travel between calls, allow 1 hour for each call. You should be able to schedule seven or eight per day.

Plan three weeks in advance. Your current week should be 80 to 100% confirmed with appointments and activities. The next week should be 50 to 60% confirmed with appointments, and the third week out should be 20 to 30% confirmed.

If you use Outlook, color code appointments on your calendar to make the important ones jump out. If you use an electronic calendar (Blackberry, iPhone, PDA), sync it with your Outlook program every day.

Finally: there is life beyond selling. Put your vacations on your calendar at the beginning of every year. Thinking you are going to squeeze vacation in somewhere almost guarantees an unhappy home life.

“Plan your work and work your plan” is one easy step to success. If you are a sales manager, ask your team members to review their calendars with you on a regular basis.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Closing the Deal

Too many sales professionals think closing the deal is the final effort. In reality, you begin closing the deal in the beginning of your sales effort. Opening your call well is more important than how you close it; you have only a few minutes to establish yourself as a credible resource.

Customers today know much more about the sales process than customers of 10 or 15 years ago. When you walk in their door they have a pretty good idea what they want to buy, who sells it and approximately how much they should spend. The internet also brings them all of the information they need to make an informed decision about you. So during that personal meeting, you must start building your credibility early on. The best way to do that is to demonstrate that you have their best interests in mind.

Ask a few probing questions, and listen more than you talk. Your sales process should be a series of small closings. Confirming that you understand your prospect’s problems and asking to move the process along to the next step or meeting are both “closes.” Closing the deal should not be a big event but rather one of a series of smaller events that lead to a longer commitment. Signing the order, inking the contract, closing the deal are all natural extensions of your sales process. It is not the final action that you force on the prospect. To use a football analogy: you move the ball a few yards at a time. The 85-yard pass play will not work every time you throw it.

Think about it: the concept of closing the deal makes the process sound all about you, the salesperson, and implies reaching closure on the sales process. Instead, closing should be the continuation of a longer commitment and an ongoing relationship.

When you’re focused on committing to the relationship, the way to “close the deal” is to:

1.Build credibility and gain your prospect's trust by showing that you have their interest in mind.
2. Always think in terms of “mini-closes” as you move from stage to stage of your process.
3. Seek the commitment, not the close.

Finally, have your prospect agree to a picture of success as you move through your process. Describe that point in the future when your prospect enjoys the results of employing your solution. Two things then happen.

First, you will confirm that you and your prospect are in sync on what the long-term result should be, giving you a road map you can refer to frequently as you stay on track.

Second, it will set your solution firmly in their mind. You are now creating a future for your prospect, not just selling a service or solution. You are establishing another differentiator for yourself and giving them yet another reason to commit to you and not to your competitors.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Who is Mark Burrall?

Mark has over 35 years of sales management and general management experience driving results in a variety of industries including material handling, transportation, commercial office furniture and contract manufacturing.
Visit my website.


  • Developed and directed OEM, rep and distributor sales channels, marketing plans and compensation programs.

  • Tripled the sales volume of companies through a mixture of internal, international and acquisition based growth strategies.

  • Led a variety of sales organizations including several privately owned and operated firms including Maysteel, Spacesaver, Superior Jamestown and Autoquip Corporation.


  • Introduce new products to market, as well as revitalize existing product lines.
  • Identifying new distribution channels

  • Developing internal sales forces

  • Developing independent rep networks

  • Refining existing sales organizations

  • Territory management
  • Strategic alliance development

Mark has a thorough understanding of the dynamics of working in closely held businesses and has repeatedly increased client’s market share and position.