Using a Prospect Board

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A prospect board is a powerful tool that can help you track prospects and manage your time. It is basically a way of showing where each prospect is in the sales process at any given point in time. It allows the salesperson to see where more work is needed, where a sale is near to completion, and how many sales are currently on the agenda. 

By using a prospect board it is easy to monitor at a glance where work is needed and how you can best utilize your time in the sales field.

Setting up a prospect board is not dissimilar to having a stats board in the office detailing every salesperson’s performance. From a glance at the board it is possible to not only read the current state of play but also to gain some sense of motivation from seeing the work that needs done. 

If you can see that one deal is near to being closed, then it can be an encouraging document of how much has already been done and a reminder that there is only a small amount remaining to be done – an encouragement to get that work done today. If there is quite a lot of work still to do to get a sale, it can encourage the salesperson to ensure that that work gets done as soon as possible.

The Layout of a Prospect Board

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To use the prospect board, create a card for each prospect. Begin by placing the card in the left column and then move it to the right as the sales process moves forward.

Prospect Board Layout 

O (Opportunities)FA (First Appointments)25%50%90%
Lead or referrals yet to be calledAppointment set but prospect has not yet been metMet at least once. 25% chance of closing deal within a month or two50% chance of closing deal within a month or so90% chance of closing within one or two weeks

Column descriptions:

  • O (Opportunities): People you are about to call, or people you have tried to call but haven’t spoken to.
  • FA (First Appointments): People with whom you have made appointments. You should set a goal for always having at least a certain number of cards in this column.
  • 25%: People you have met once and have a 25% chance of buying within a month or two. These people have expressed some interest in your product, but you haven’t made a formal presentation to them.
  • 50%: People who have a 50% chance of buying within a month or so. These people are interested in your product but may need approval or may need to check out other vendors.
  • 90%: People who have a 90% chance of buying within a week or so. These people want to buy, but they may be waiting for money to be available or for their delivery schedule to be compatible with yours.

As the card moves across the columns, it provides a document of how well the sales force is doing. From the beginning you can see how much work needs to be done. If there are a lot of cards in the left-hand column it is certainly not a sign that work has not been done. 

Rather it is a demonstration of how many opportunities there are to be taken advantage of. Then in the First Appointment column you should always have a certain number of cards, demonstrating that calls have been made and encouraging early feedback has been gained. For any salesperson or sales-force, the important thing to look out for is a lack of movement. If a card stays for too long in one of the middle columns, it is a sign that not enough is being done to bring a sale to its conclusion.

All sales forces will be keen to move the cards to the right as efficiently as possible, and by looking at the board they can see what they have to do. Just like with any stats board, the prospects board will alert both the sales force and the management to what needs to be the area of focus for a given week. 

If sales are in the pipeline but yet to be completed, the prospects board will give a clue as to what the next step should be in order to advance things further. The prospects board encourages competition among the sales force, and allows individuals to motivate themselves. When you can move a card to the right, it will show you that you have made significant progress in a deal. 

Just as in sport, when a competitor has had difficulty in scoring, winning or doing what they need to do, a bit of positive news can inspire them towards putting good results together. The same thing is true of sales prospects – if you have found that there has been some difficulty in advancing prospects, and then when you get one positive result you will find that others follow on from it due to the boost in confidence.

How to Use Your Prospect Board

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To use the prospect board, create a card for each prospect. Begin by placing the card in the left column and then move it to the right as the sales process moves forward. There will be fewer cards as you move from left to right across the board. To keep the board active, you have to keep adding cards to the left (Opportunities) column.

O (Opportunities)FA (First Appointments)25%50%90%
Lead or referrals yet to be calledAppointment set but prospect has not yet been metMet at least once. 25% chance of closing deal within a month or two50% chance of closing deal within a month or so90% chance of closing within one or two weeks

Every card should be dated, and the status of each card should be reviewed on a daily basis.

If a prospect makes it clear that they are not going to buy your product, remove their card from the board. To be effective, the prospect board must reflect realistic chances of making a sale. 

The reason that the prospect board works is because it gives a live demonstration of where the chances of a sale are. Therefore there should be traffic through the different stages of the board on a more or less daily basis. As sales are made, their cards are taken off the board. As sales are missed, those cards are also taken off the board. These cards should, in any successful sales office, be replaced with new prospects.

When new cards are added to the left-hand column, there should be a lot of effort made to get them into the neighboring column as soon as possible. The traffic through the board will be monitored on a daily basis, and if there is any sign that a card has remained too long in its present column it will be the source of questions from management. The message for salespeople with regard to the board needs to be “keep the cards moving”.

Salespeople watching the prospects board know which prospects belong to them, and what is required of them to get the cards to move from left to right. It is a way of knowing how much has been done and how much remains to do, and prevents them from forgetting about a prospect who may have gone slightly “cold”. Sales is a process that requires constant effort, and with the financial rewards available to a good salesperson it is important to maintain your concentration on every live lead you have. 

A Day in the Life of Your Board

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Events that will lead to changes on the prospect board:

  • Phone call to a client setting a date for a meeting.
  • Meeting with a prospect.
  • Email from a client indicating they are ready to go ahead with a purchase.
  • Indication from a client that they are not interested in your product.

Each card should have a date indicating the next appointment or the next action you will be taking. These dates should be stuck to religiously, and updated if any changes occur. Although this may seem somewhat laborious, it allows you to know at any given time what the situation is with a certain client and to access any information that you need. The more conscientious you are when updating information, the less work you will have to do “on the spot”. 

Speaking to customers is a lot easier when you are fully up to date on the situation.

Updating the information you have also prevents you from chasing dead leads and going over old ground with customers who have already declared an interest. Doing either of these things will frequently lead to a customer becoming frustrated, causing you to need to carry out remedial action if you want to keep control of the sales process, or turning someone who is currently reluctant to become a customer into someone who would rather do business with any of your competitors.

Maintaining your prospect board information will ensure that this never needs to be the case.

Finally, the prospect board should move smoothly day by day as you look at it. It forms a vital part of the record-keeping in any company where sales are a major part of the business, and allows you to maintain information which could be required at short notice. As a way of maintaining information and generating enthusiasm within the sales force, a well-updated sales prospect board is absolutely invaluable to any sales force.

Case Study

Tina lay buried under a mountain of trash in her cubicle that looked like the city dump. Tina had no organizational method in place for all the papers she collected. Tina’s boss, Dee, stood floored by the circus that Tina’s mess became and informed Tina that the millions of paper she collected belonged out with the trash or on a prospect board. Tina’s curiosity piqued and she raised a curious eyebrow and thought about the idea of shiny new board in her cubicle. Tina decided a board to be the next best thing since sliced bread; Tina agreed to use a prospect board for her mega collection of scraps. Together, Tina and Dee shoveled all the papers to one side and studied them piece by piece until they decided which ones to keep and place on the new clean board. Tina became a reformed office hoarder.