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.

Field Sales 101: Follow These 10 Solid Tips for Success

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If you’re new to field sales, there’s no sense wasting time. You have people to see and sales to make.

But there’s a learning curve. Being a field sales representative is tough work. You’re out of the office more than you’re in it — meeting people, building relationships, and trying to remember who said what so you know how to follow up.

So, as you navigate the obstacles, try these 10 tips and tools to take your field sales to the next level.

#1: Have a Sales Process Before You Meet With Prospects

Every sales representative needs a solid process before they meet a new prospect. When you have a process, you stay in control of the results. A plan keeps you on track and establishes a call to action. Then you know the possible outcomes and can be prepared to guide the prospect through their responses.

In doing so, you’ll show them you’re organized, and they’ll know they’re in good hands.

#2: Stay Organized

Have a plan for dealing with people at every stage of the sales process. Always know your action. And have a system for everything. Then, no matter where a prospect is in the funnel, you know the next touchpoint.

Moreover, don’t over-complicate your touchpoints. They’re molehills, not mountains. It’s easy for a new field sales representative to think of making contact as a giant task when it only takes a few minutes. Make sure you realize the simplicity of the task so you don’t put it off.

#3: Don’t Keep Anything in Your Head

As you work your system, use tools to keep you on track. That way you won’t overlook something (or someone) by accident. It’s a little easier to keep track of things mentally when you’re younger, but the older you get, the more difficult it becomes to mentally track it all.

So trust your calendar. Trust your CRM. Even if your memory is great, you cloud your judgment by mentally trying to keep track of everything. Instead, use a reliable CRM to track your data so you can stay focused on what you’re doing. A clear mind frees you up to be more strategic.

#4: Tell Your Story

Qualify your prospects before you meet with them. Then focus on your story. Work on telling the story of why your company exists and what your business brings to the table. It will allow you to see how that applies to your customers.

When you meet with customers, center your conversation on the story. Tell your story and listen to theirs. Customers need time, trust, and money before they buy. So build that into your story. How does your product bring value to their company?

Related Post: Sell the Value of Your Product, Not the Price

Once you hear their story and tell them yours, you’ll know if their needs align with your product. When you have conversations with the right people (people who want to buy now, not those who may want to buy “one day”), your stories will match up.

#5: Admit If You’re Not a Good Fit

If you’re not the right fit, be the first to admit it. There’s no problem in saying, “Hey, I can’t help you, and here’s why.”

But even if your product won’t solve their problem, point them in the right direction. Give them a recommendation of a person or company who will meet their needs. Then ask for a referral. I usually say, “I know I’m not the right person for you, but if you know someone else…” They almost always refer. And I almost always make a sale by telling them no.

#6: Balance Your Goals With the Customer’s Goals

Before you take on a customer, make sure it’s a win for both sides. You have a responsibility to your customers, employees, and vendors to make good decisions that benefit everyone involved.

To keep that balance, you need a direct line of sight to success. So figure out what “success” is to each person involved. As you sell to new clients or adjust to current customers’ needs, ask them what they need to be successful. Then see how you can help meet those needs. When your clients are successful, you are too.

#7: Keep the Price Fair

Price your product accordingly. You’re working with customers, not against them. So don’t gouge people. But also, don’t cheapen your product. Instead, charge a fair price where you can explain why you charge what you do.

When you’re offering a product that helps clients be successful at a fair price, you’ll see good results. Why? You’re working towards the same goal. With a fair price, the customer gets good value, and you make enough for it to be worthwhile.

#8: Take a Team Approach With Vendors

If you use vendors, don’t forget to consider their success. In the past, I didn’t want to hear about the vendors at all. I just wanted the results. Worst idea ever.

Vendors should be treated as part of the team. You have a responsibility to make sure the customer gets a good product. So everyone involved needs to be on the same page — including vendors.

Vendors are good at what they do. They’re experts — you just don’t need them full-time. Even if they only work for you temporarily, make your efforts collaborative. When you do, you’ll see better results for everyone involved.

#9: Communicate During Onboarding

You want new clients to become lifelong customers. Good onboarding sets the stage for a long-term working relationship. Onboarding is all about communication. Make sure you know what pieces need to be in place to make it successful. You’ve onboarded customers before. You have experience. They don’t. So guide them down the path and make them feel comfortable with the process.

Communicate every step of the way. It’s just like the sales process. In sales, you close a call with, “Here’s what’s going to happen next…” The onboarding process should work the same way. Make sure there’s no question about what comes next.

#10: Quote Quickly

Quotes need to be prompt. Don’t say, “I’ll get it to you soon.” Instead, tell them exactly when you’ll send it. Leads and deals are like fish. The older they get, the more they start to stink. So move fast — the more touches you make in a short time (especially during the quoting phase), the faster you’ll build trust in the relationship.

Your product is not their world. They don’t spend days thinking about your solution. That’s just something they did once and don’t want to deal with again. So get started, pull off the band-aid, show them what they need, tell them what’s going to happen, and deliver.

I typically leave a meeting, send a handwritten thank-you note, email the proposal, call them to make sure they received it, then give them their next steps. The goal is to meet their needs quickly.

These 10 tips are no great secret. The real secret to success is doing them. So don’t be one of those people who know what to do but fail to follow through. Instead, let these time-proven practices change your work.