In part one of this two-part blog series, Max Ochoa will cover the activities that are distracting sales reps from spending their time with customers.
In my time in sales and sales management, I have noticed a common theme. Sales people spend a lot of time not selling. At first glance, this may be an alarming statement, but allow me to elaborate.
In order to treat customers as strategic partners, salespeople have to spend a lot of time researching their customers. Competitors, purchase history, etc. Before they even speak to the customer they have to know the products they might be interested in (depending on what industry you are in, it could be an impossible task just to memorize the product catalog), when and to whom those products are relevant and the price they should be charging in a given situation. And, of course, one of the main questions in sales is always, “who should I call on?” If you spend time in all of these areas covering every possible scenario, virtually all of your time would be spent in prep and no time actually selling.
Whether you are responsible for uncovering new business or you have a book of business that you own, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen sales people spend countless minutes or hours picking through CRM, or a report, or a stack of papers on their desk trying to figure out who to call. All of this analysis to answer one essential question: What is my best shot at getting some business? (Sales people – like all people – love to follow the path of least resistance.)
Just deciding who to call would be an enormous waste of time if every customer had the same potential, but they don’t. When deciding who to call sales people are trying to stack the deck in their favor. It’s not just who to call, but knowing which customers to call on that will provide the best opportunity. The question for sales managers then becomes: How can we remove that time spent deciding who to call and empower sales reps to make efficient decisions about who to spend time with?
Once they decide who to call, the next prep step is deciding what to talk to them about. Some sort through self-created reports and try to develop a perfect message. Some ignore the information available to them because it is not easy to access, they don’t have the time, and they’d prefer to rely on natural sales skills. The former approach is time consuming and not efficient. The latter is less effective for the individual customer. The greatest sales reps will plan their calls very quickly and efficiently.
This begs the question: In this age of information, why isn’t there an easy way to serve up talking points for a conversation? Can’t we help those great sales reps get there more quickly, or better yet, get the average sale rep performing at the level of the great ones?
In Tuesday’s post, Max will cover how it’s possible to make each and every sales rep more efficient and effective.