Make Yourself a Better Salesperson by Focusing on the Sales Activities That Matter

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Salespeople will do what they like to do, not what they need to do. If it’s uncomfortable to make cold calls, they’ll find a way to justify doing something else — like sending an email or writing up a proposal. But when you’re focusing on sales activities, you need to dedicate time to the activities that matter — even if you don’t like them.

Real, Severe Commitment

There’s a difference in scheduling time and severely committing to something. I’m working with my assistant on an issue right now. I told him, “I want you to spend one hour a day on this. You can pick the hour. But during that hour, do not stop. Short of a life safety issue, commit for the whole hour. If a customer shows up and is banging on the door, ignore them. If our biggest client calls and threatens to cancel their service, so what? I’ll deal with the fall-out — you do this task for one hour.”

The next day, I asked if he did it. Nope. “Life safety issue?” I asked. “Imminent death of everyone on earth?!” No. He just bailed. See, scheduling is easy, but we avoid actually doing the tasks we hate — even if they’re important tasks. It happens all the time. And the more uncomfortable it is, the more adamantly you need to commit to the activity.

“Productive” Distractions

So what do we do instead of the activities we hate? Anything else. And if it seems productive, we gravitate towards it. Here are just a few ways we occupy our time with deceitfully unproductive tasks.

Research

Research is one of the main activities that snowballs into unproductiveness. Of course, it’s good to an extent — you need to know the basics of a company before you call, but we tend to keep searching. We get interested in a topic and over-inform ourselves. Plus, we take rabbit trails and end up learning all sorts of info we don’t need.

Let’s say you’re about to make a cold call, so you start researching the company. For three hours, you read and figure out everything there is to know about them. You know their story, who founded it, where they’re located, and anything else you’d want to know. Then you call them and they say, “My brother-in-law handles this for us. We’ll never switch.” You just spent three hours researching to get a “no” in two minutes. You wasted 180 minutes on one dead-end client.

Instead, focus your research so you know what to look for before you start. Then set time limits to keep you on track. If you set a seven-minute time limit on your research for each prospect, then call them in two minutes, you contact 20 prospects in those 180 minutes instead of just one.

The more qualified the prospect, the more time you can spend on research. Maybe you spend 14 minutes researching someone who called you or a person you’re meeting for an appointment. Still, research doesn’t consume your day. Time spent researching dead-end prospects is wasted.

Here are some other ways we waste time:

  • Calling only your current customers
  • Not being organized
  • Not finishing to-do lists
  • Not putting to-dos on your calendar

We have to direct our time we can’t let our disorganization and procrastination derail us. The more intentional we become in our work day, the more sales we make.

Maximizing Your Time

Don’t let fruitless work fill your day. Instead, surround yourself with high-payoff people and do high-payoff activities. Meetings, calls, customer contacts, and prospect interactions all lead to sales. So spend your time doing those things — not the little stuff. It also pays off to figure out your process.

Related: How to Close More Deals by Mapping Your Sales Process

These activities fit into two categories — strategic and tactical. Give time to each. There can be high-payoff tactical activities and high-payoff strategic activities. There can also be low-payoff strategic and tactical activities. The goal is to be both strategic and tactical in your choice of high-payoff activities.

I do this with my phone calls — for every two customers I call, I call one prospect. Then I hold myself accountable to reaching out to new people and maintaining current relationships — both with high payoffs.

Be strategic about who is refilling your funnel and tactical about how you approach your current prospects. You’re only as good as your last sale so focus on the activities that help you to close.

The Most Successful Sales Teams Avoid These Time Management Mistakes

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As a salesperson, you have a say in how your day unfolds. But as you balance working in the office with prospecting and helping clients, are you really making the most of your time?

Below we’ve listed the most common time management mistakes that salespeople – and sales managers – make. If you want your sales team to run smoothly and effectively, avoid these mistakes and follow the steps listed for a more productive schedule.

The Biggest Time Management Mistakes That Sales Teams Make

Being busy doesn’t mean you’re effective. So look at how you spend your time and schedule your day to see if you’re maximizing your work hours.

Mistake #1: Spending Time on Software Updates and Data Entry

A salesperson’s day should be focused on talking to prospects. You have to work within the office hours of your potential clients. So spend your day making those connections. Other activities can be done other times. The CRM software can be updated anytime. It’s not bound to the 9-5 workday. So save it for a less valuable time of the day.

Mistake #2: Leaving the Schedule Open

Each night before you leave the office, figure out the best plan of action for the next day. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t accomplish as much. Make a schedule of when you’ll prospect and contact clients so you don’t spend your best hours figuring out what to do next.

Managers, help your team by setting clear goals for activity and creating a sample salesperson daily schedule. Then your salespeople have a model of how to structure their day to best use their time.

Follow These 3 Steps to Increase Your Sales Productivity

As you look to increase productivity every month, the key is knowing what works. So, after you set activity level goals for each individual and teach them to schedule their day, you need to check on what’s happening. It’s all about the plan, the reality, and looking for ways to improve.

1. Know the Plan

As a manager, I want to know how my salespeople schedule their day. I want to know who they plan to see and how they envision spending their time. For example, they’ll tell me, “These are the 10 people I’ll see today.”

2. Know What Actually Happened

Next, I need to know how the plan unfolds. What really happens? Do they see all 10 people? Maybe they only see 7 of 10 prospects on their list for the day. Now I can follow up.

3. Calculate the Difference and the Cost

What’s the difference between their plan and reality? In this case, they missed three of their planned contacts for the day. So I ask why. The salesperson says, “The expense report took up my time so I could only get to seven people.”

Now I know the expense report is costing us three visits. If we close 30% of our contacts, that expense report costs us $35K in potential earnings. If my salespeople have to do one expense report a month, it costs us $420K per year per salesperson. Sounds like I need to figure out how to eliminate the expense reports for my sales team. And with that amount of potential profit, I can afford to hire someone that handles expense reports for my team.

When you crunch the numbers and see the differentials, you’ll see what’s standing in the way of closing more sales. Don’t let the we’ve always done it this way mentality stand in your way. Instead, take an honest look at the numbers and eliminate the tasks that create unnecessary obstacles.

Time Management Tips for Sales Managers

Managers, with intentionality, you can teach each member of your team how to be a successful salesperson. Don’t leave it up for them to navigate on their own. Here’s how.

1. Figure Out What They Should and Shouldn’t Be Doing

What’s getting in their way of meeting prospects and closing sales? If you can eliminate unnecessary tasks, do it.

2. Find Solutions

Are expense reports getting in their way? Hire someone to handle those. Is CRM reporting taking up too much time? Find a CRM that automates activity reports. There are solutions out there for these time-consuming tasks — you just need to implement them.

3. Check Activity Levels

Work backwards with your numbers. How many average clients will they need to meet their sales goal? To close that many clients, how many people should they quote? In order to get that number of quotes, how many prospects should they see? How many prospects is that per day?

Then, if you can tell a salesperson exactly how many prospects they should see each day, you’ve taken out your guess work. With an automated CRM, you can hold them accountable to maintaining the activity level they need to meet their goals.

Time Management Tips for Salespeople

1. If It’s on Your Calendar, You HAVE to Do It

It’s easy to snooze a task for later. Don’t do it. Make your calendar sacred. If there’s a task on it, it’s not optional. If you get into a cycle of picking and choosing which tasks you’ll do, you’ll always avoid the most difficult (and maybe most lucrative) ones.

2. Focus on the Highest Payoff Activities

When you have the choice, pick the activities with the highest payoff. Sure, updating your data for the week is important, but what’s the payoff? Cold-calling prospects may be more taxing, but it holds the biggest potential return. So, when your list gets long, don’t start with the menial tasks that don’t make much difference. Instead, start with the ones that pay.

If you’re not using your flexible schedule to your advantage, it’s time to start. Choose activities that bring the most reward and delegate the tasks that don’t.

The Average Salesperson Wastes 2 Hours a Day — Here’s Why

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We’ve all experienced decision fatigue — when we’ve made so many decisions we can’t make one more. But we’re exhausting ourselves on the wrong decisions, namely, figuring out who to call.

If we eliminate all those choices about who to call, we’ll be able to focus our thinking on more important tasks during the day. So how do you get that decision off your plate?

First, you need a central place to store your previous contacts. Most people don’t have an easy place to store their data. Some just try to remember it. Others use a notebook. But sometimes they forget to take thorough notes. And even when they don’t forget, they have to go through each page to decipher and sort information.

The choice of whom to call becomes clear when you can see a chronological list of whom you last contacted. Then you simply go in order. So what’s the best way to gather all that info?

Don’t Collect Data — Make the CRM Do It for You

Any worthwhile CRM collects data automatically. Don’t rely on people to enter it. Some people think they can remember it all, but they just can’t. Can you remember whom you met with three days ago? There’s little chance you’ll be able to recall the details. (And even if you do, why use your brainpower to remember something an app can remember for you? Channel that effort towards sales!)

Each company cares about two things: existing customers and prospects. And every person you contact is a potential customer. An automated system makes sure no prospect (or client) goes unnoticed.

After storing the contact info for each person you see, an app like CallProof sorts the data. With a click, you can see whom you need to contact. The app has done all the sorting and filing for you.

Moreover, you can set reminders about how frequently to call your customers. We all know that it’s harder to get a new client than an existing customer to buy. So make sure to contact existing customers as regularly as they buy from you.

Identify Hunters and Farmers

You can also maximize effectiveness by making sure your salespeople work to their strengths. On your team, you have hunters and farmers. Farmers build relationships and take care of existing customers. They handle accounts and keep customers happy.

Hunters find new customers and close deals. But then they move on. The key is identifying the different types of salespeople you have. When you find hunters, keep them hunting! Once they close a deal, hand off the account to someone who will cultivate the relationship. Then you keep your hunters free to sell.

There’s a real danger to your profitability if you force your hunters to be customer service reps. Strong hunters grow your business. So eliminate anything that slows them down. You don’t want them bogged down by paperwork or dealing with customer service issues. Instead, keep them selling as much as possible.

3 Questions to Ask Your Salespeople About CRMs

Is it time for you to change CRMs? Your CRM should make everyone’s job easier — documenting data automatically, keeping salespeople on task, and preventing missed opportunities. If you think your CRM is lacking, ask your team these questions.

Does our CRM dis-incentivize you?

If each client requires manual documentation, you may be crippling your top salespeople. That means the more sales they close, the more updates and entries they’ll need to enter each week. Instead, automatic data entry logs their contacts without slowing them down.

Do you know how many calls you made yesterday?

When you do something repeatedly, it’s easy to lose count. You may think you called 40 clients yesterday when you actually talked to 20. If it’s not recorded automatically, these numbers are hard to track.

Have you every forgotten to follow up?

Let’s say I have a prospect I cold-called, met for an appointment, but forgot to follow up and document. Now, that sale goes away. So how many calls will it take to make up for that missed sale? Automatic entries and follow-up reminders keep prospects from falling through the cracks because of human error.

The right CRM eliminates wasted time — whether it’s time you spent deciding whom to call or logging a contact. A CRM like CallProof simplifies everyone’s job while making your business more successful.

7 Must-Have iPhone Apps For Salespeople

7 Must-Have iPhone Apps For Salespeople

Your iPhone: the one piece of technology you always have with you on the job.

No matter where life takes you, your iPhone lies within arms-reach. Why not equip this side-kick with a few more tools to make your job easier? Once you have these 7 apps, you won’t know how you worked without them.

FreeEbook

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Dropbox

Need easy access to your files? Dropbox ensures you have your files on the go. No matter where you are, you can quickly share documents with prospects and clients from this secure, easy to use folder. No need to worry about keeping up with flash drives and transferring files between systems now that you have this desktop and mobile-compatible system.

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CallProof

This all-in-one CRM helps keep track of your customers with both mapping and record keeping software. The mapping tools allow you to see your closest customers based on your location, easily “check in” to appointments , add new clients using Google Places Integration, and get directions from one appointment to the next. Additionally, it syncs with your email and Google Calendar, provides note taking options, advises you of customers who need follow-up, and loads your calls into the customer’s history. Customer relations just got much easier.

 

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LinkedIn

Ever spent your first 10 minutes at Starbucks asking everybody if their name is Bob? Avoid that completely by checking out your prospects’ profiles with the LinkedIn app. Read through their social data to better understand their role in the company and how you may be able to meet their needs with the product you offer.

 

 

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TurboScan

This app turns your phone into a scanner. If you ever need to quickly convert paper documents to PDF or images to send to prospects, TurboScan makes it easy to create multi-page PDF or JPEG files at the push of a button.

 

 

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TripIt

For the salesperson who travels, this app is a must. TripIt syncs with your email to give you all your travel arrangements (flights, car rentals, and reservations) in one easy-to-read itinerary. It also notifies you via email and push notifications if anything changes. It’s like having a personal assistant for travel.

 

 

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Evernote

This ultimate note taking app syncs across all your devices. It will allow you to take voice notes, photos, and text note. Then you can organize everything into notebooks and tags. Evernote also connects you with coworkers to share notes or chat without ever leaving the app. If you switch between devices, Evernote keeps you organized.

 

 

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Yesware Mobile

Yesware is longtime Gmail favorite, and now it’s come to the iPhone. With Yesware, you can track your emails to see if prospects have opened them, what device they used, and if they clicked on links or downloaded attachments. You can also create and insert templates for commonly used emails as well as set reminders and schedule emails to be sent automatically. These features and more contribute to an overall increase in productivity as you learn which efforts are reaping the best results.