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.

3 Ways Sales Reps Can Maximize Time Between Meetings

time management for salespeople

After twenty five years of sales, I’ve noticed one thing: sales people do a terrible job of scheduling client meetings. They waste time scheduling back-to-back clients across town from each other or trying to get to meeting at peak traffic time, and lose valuable time in the process.

Selling is all about time management, and being in the right place at the right time is key. The salespeople who are on top every month are doing so much prospecting they accidentally fall into prospects laps. Learning how to maximize your time puts the odds in your favor for finding the right clients. Here are three ways to maximize your time between meetings and become a top salesperson in the process.

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1. Propose a Meeting Time

When you call a client, you should already have a time in mind to meet. This is a confidence issue as much as it is a scheduling one. If you give a customer a wide-open schedule, you are basically telling them you have no one else to meet with.

If I call a potential customer and say, “I’ve got this brand new widget I’d love for you to see. I’d like to come by your office and show it to you. When are you available?” I’ve asked, “When is the most convenient time for you?” I automatically imply that I, the salesperson, am unimportant. Nobody wants to see me.

Always have a time to propose. If I were to cold call you, knowing I was going to be near you on Tuesday at 2:00, I’m going to base our meeting time around that. Even if there is nothing else on your schedule, still pick a time. Don’t let the customer control your schedule.

If the customer perceives that you’re important and that people want to see you, your sell will be much more attractive to him. And confidence will inevitably follow.

2. Take Advantage of Your Surroundings

Know surrounding areas and where other potential clients are located. An effective salesperson finds opportunities that may be nearby to visit between meetings.

All too often, I’ve seen sales people get in their car, drive 30 ­minutes away, go visit one client, and get back in a car go back to the office. Why would you not take the time and energy to find two or three businesses where you could pop in and say hello to someone?

One of the most popular Callproof features is the ability to see your closest customer or prospect. This could potentially be someone on your call list that you’ve been unable to reach. A quick stop to say hi could easily be met with, “You know what? I’ve been meaning to call you back. I’m glad you’re here.” Again, the more clients you see, the more likely you are to be in the right place at the right time to make the sale.

3. Schedule Your Next Steps ASAP

Before you even leave to go to the next meeting, plan your next steps. Write your follow up e­mail between meetings. Connect with the prospect via Linkedin. Make personal notes or calendar events of future things you need to do.

It’s rare to walk out of a meeting without having made some kind of promise to the client. You likely said you’d call back later, send a proposal, find out some new information, or do some research. Make notes of these promises, and even act on them, while the information is fresh in your mind. The follow up system in Callproof allows you create those reminders, but your Google Calendar will work just as well.

Don’t Forget to Do This On Your Way Out the Door

When leaving an appointment, use the last minute to generate a new lead. As you walk out the door, ask the client if they know the office manager next door and if they could make an introduction. Even if your current sale doesn’t go through, you now have a future connection to a potential client.

Remember, the top salespeople are the ones doing so much prospecting, they accidentally find new clients. Maximizing your time between sales meetings is the best way to continually find new clients and become a top salesperson along the way.