It’s exciting to identify a hot lead, but it’s also a process that requires a great deal of preparation, investment, and effort before you can consider the deal closed. Think about your favorite athletes crossing the finish line during the Olympics this summer. They didn’t merely wake up one day and enter the contest. Every last one of them has invested in themselves and prepared for their successes on the track. Though the race itself may be fleeting, years of hard work, dedication, and determination led them across the finish line.

With this thought in mind, here’s how you can adopt a similar approach to get your leads across the finish line.

 – Keep your eyes on the prize — It helps to know exactly what it is you’re working for. Not all athletes are going for Olympic gold. Some are going for their personal best or working to improve their health and stamina. From a sales standpoint, what are your goals? Are working to improve conversion rates? Going for volume? Seeking quality leads over quantity? Knowing what you’re working for will help you to choose an appropriate path and stay on track.

 – Invest in good running shoes — Can you imagine Usain Bolt winning the 100 meters wearing a beat-up pair of tennis shoes? His talent means he’d still be fast, but you can bet he wouldn’t perform at his best without a pair of good-fitting running shoes built for the task at hand. Your sales team needs purpose-built productivity tools like VanillaSoft’s CRM with auto-dialing, email, lead tracking, and a document library of mergeable forms, brochures and content.

 – Train and practice — Your sales people are likely talented and skilled, but they still need to hone their craft through continuous training, practice, and coaching. Just as coaches and athletes review performance by watching videos, you and your sales team can do the same by listening to call recordings.

 – Warm up — Now that you’ve determined what you want to accomplish, invested in your tools, and trained for the big event, it’s showtime! It’s almost time to race, but before you do, you need to warm up. It’s helpful for sales agents to get into the right frame of mind with a positive ritual before jumping on the phones. Stretching, music, and visualization can all be used to warm up before reaching out to leads.

 – Choose your best starting position — Next, place yourself in the best starting position possible. Make sure the best leads are queued up to call and you have the tools you need at your fingertips. For example, if you’re calling leads to set up appointments, but you don’t have an efficient scheduling tool in place, you could be setting yourself up for a false start.

 – Come out of the blocks fast — A slow start is demoralizing and can spell disaster. The same is true if you allow your freshest leads to go stale. Call your newest leads before anyone else does and you’ll have a much better chance of bringing them across the finish line with you. Wait too long, and they’ll either lose interest or buy from someone else.

 – Pace yourself — Don’t sprint in the beginning. Once you contact your leads, get to know them. Find out what their needs are and gain their trust before pushing a solution you think they want on them.

 – Stay focused on the sale — Ever wonder why racehorses wear blinders? It’s to minimize distractions. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted; stay focused on the sale. This means creating a calling environment where you can concentrate and pay attention to your prospects. Listen for buying signals and offer consultive solutions to their problems. Logical branch scripting is helpful for overcoming objections or offering alternatives based on the lead’s responses.

 – Realize it’s a fairly long race, and plan accordingly — Following up with leads is rarely a 100-yard dash; it’s more like a marathon. Formulate a plan. For example, figure out what your prospects’ hotspots are and send relevant emails and content.

 – Stay steady — You can’t just start and stop when you feel like it, or when a lead doesn’t respond initially. You must be persistent. 45 percent of all leads buy. Don’t throw away expensive leads.

 – Keep your eyes on the prize — We said this before the race even started, and we’re going to say it again now that you’re almost there. You’ve worked hard, you’re nearly out of breath, and you’re not sure you’re going to make it. But yet that finish line is so close. You can do this! Remain self-confident and ask for the sale.

 – Track your performance after the race — Finally, you’ve crossed the finish line. Whether your prospect converted or not, make sure to track your performance and set goals to set new sales records for yourself.

Talent alone will get you far, but if you want consistent performance and to work as efficiently as possible, you need the right CRM solution. VanillaSoft puts the tools you need at your fingertips, allowing you to quickly respond to your freshest leads, interact with them in the most meaningful way possible, follow up with relevant content, and stay focused on earning their trust as you move the relationship from the starting blocks to the finish line.