CHATS that Improve Sales Success

Are your sales team’s prospecting efforts up and down like the Melbourne weather – hot and 37 degrees one day then cold and 18 degrees the next?

If so, judging by the response I got to my last blog “The Lost Art of Prospecting,” you’re not alone. Many of the sales leaders we’ve spoken with recently tell us that their sales teams are struggling to bring in new business from new customers.

Yes, times are tough in some sectors but there are good sales people who continue to bring in the business, year after year, in good times and bad. Those disciplined, well trained ‘hunters’ are very hard to find and keep. Something they have in common is that they continue to prospect, regularly and relentlessly. The good news is that with some structure, simple routines and coaching, sales managers can help the rest of their sales team to perform like the best.

Here’s a simple but useful tool that you can apply to improve results. We developed the CHATS framework to help segment prospective customers so you can keep track of your prospecting progress.

CHATS Prospect Segments

C Customer
H Hot
A Active
T Targeted
S Stop


The idea is that you start with a well-researched, carefully selected, manageable, targeted list of prospects you’d like to become customers. As you conduct various activities, find ways to make contact and have initial discussions they become active. At this point you can segment your active prospects further, maybe based on value, or industry. Of course some prospects won’t be interested or there is not a good fit – they move into the stop category so you don't waste your time.

As you work through your sales process a percentage of your active prospects will become hot, they see value in your offerings, believe you can help them be more successful and have agreed to (or are likely to) move to the proposal stage. If you've selected your targets well and done a good job throughout the sales process, a high percentage of your hot prospects will choose to buy and become customers.

The key to success is to do the maths.  Track how many prospective customers are at each stage, work out your success ratios, and figure out how many targeted prospects you need to reach your sales goals.

Using this framework allows you to see movement between the segments and highlights potential problems. For example, too few targets moving to active probably means there’s not enough proactive sales activity happening, like networking. Too few moving from hot to customer might mean that your salespeople aren't asking for the business.

The goal with this prospecting pipeline is not to provide an accurate sales forecast. It’s a simple approach that enables you to see the big picture, highlight areas that need attention and focus the salespersons prospecting efforts where it matters most. Most importantly it provides an opportunity to have a chat and a coaching conversation.

If you’re a sales leader, instead of asking the typical question “how many deals have you closed this week?” I suggest you try using the CHATS framework and asking your sales people “how can I help you to be more successful this week?” See the difference it makes to their enthusiasm, confidence, effectiveness and ultimately their results.

Contact us if you want your sales team to prospect more effectively so they bring in more new business from new customers.


Posted: Sunday 9 December 2012

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