Most of us in selling do not spend enough talk time with prospective buyers. The studies we have seen show that sellers spend, on average, 35% of their time actually selling - having conversations with prospective buyers.
That means many of us are wasting time doing other things, because after all, isn't our job to sell? What if you were in that 35% and just wanted to get 5% MORE conversations in each day - what would you do?
We use a 3 step plan to help those with sales quotas be more productive and it works like a charm to get you to the point that you are increasing your talk time with prospects, referrers, and strategic partners. Give it a try, along with one pre-step, and I assure you that you'll have more time with buyers if you follow it. We certainly can assist if you have questions about it.
Audit How You Spend Your Time Now (pre-step)
For one week, jot down on a piece of paper how you are spending your time. Just like keeping a food diary, you might be more conscientious the first day or two, but after that really watch what eats up your time. Know that what you are tracking won't show that you're doing things right or wrong - it just will help you actually see what prevents you from more talk time.
Plan (step 1)
I've written many times about the value of planning -
- Blocking and Tackling for Sales
- Put Planning Time in Your Sales Schedule
- Maintain Sales Momentum with a 60 Day Plan
The most successful sales reps have a plan - whether it is written down or not - for some it is ingrained in their mind. Consciously decide what hours are for calling, and what time you have for emailing and In-Mailing. Block those in your calendar and honor them. What that means is that you can't put buyer "talk time" in your calendar and disregard it if your boss wants to meet with you. Let people around you know that you're busy focused on identifying more prospective buyers during certain times. Once you get in the swing of this new schedule, it will change your business life. Ask anyone who has regular prospecting hours in their calendar because it really works. Don't dismiss it until you've tried it for 60-90 days.
Do (step 2)
This is the step that separates average reps from top reps. Top reps who are the most successful year in and year out take actions to make things happen. There are no excuses, only actions, and it moves them in a forward direction all the time. Extraordinary reps know that talk is cheap, and they leave that for the under-performing reps who have issues about how things are done (or not done), and how bad the marketing materials are, and what service problem happened. These reps tell the same stories over and over - do you know who I am talking about? Most offices have one or two (or more) of these reps. They tend to be short-timers and end up running out of excuses one day then move on.
The doing part of selling means that you have to work to increase actual talk time with the most probable prospective buyers for your products and services. Once good planning,which is the foundation is done, having valuable conversations with those who not only can buy your services but can recommend them or refer them is where you focus most of your energy and become a star seller.
Review (step 3)
At the end of every day, have a talk with yourself about what went well and what you need to tweak. I suggest "with yourself" because usually we have no one around us who is as committed to our success as we are. If you are lucky enough to have a great sales leader then most likely they will ask you and interact with you about your activity successes. Most of us do not though, so you must do it yourself.
I know you can read this and think how simple minded it is - but in my experience, it is one of the very basics we don't see enough of with sellers today. Forget all your tools for a minute and focus in on what and how much activity you are doing that is leading you to more revenues - I submit THAT is the fundamental issue at hand.
Post your thoughts - how do you stay focused and productive in your sales position, or if you are a sales leader, what do you do or say to your reps to help them?
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals. email: firstname.lastname@example.org