Failing to focus salespeople’s activity reduces efficiency and consequently reduces results because there isn’t a salesperson alive that believes they have enough time in their working week to complete all the activities they want to achieve! Time is a huge constraint on salespeople’s activities so that when their manager asks them for more, it’s no wonder that they are overwhelmed.
In his book Fundamentals of Selling, Charles Futrell identifies careful use of selling time as perhaps the distinguishing characteristic of the successful salesperson. Frequently there are two main pitfalls that even experienced salespeople can fall into in terms of activities. First, they simply aren’t doing enough. What’s enough? Enough telephone calls to make appointments, enough face-to-face calls, enough calls that involve or influence the decision-makers. In general, the more focused sales activity salespeople generate, the greater the number of sales opportunities they can create.
Poor Quality Activity
Second, but equally important, salespeople often aren’t clear about how to identify the prospects most likely to have a genuine need for their product or service. Without an objective way to prioritise which prospects to contact first and/or an efficient strategy for contacting them, salespeople are doomed to waste a large percentage of their time. Another huge dilemma for many salespeople is how to divide their time between servicing existing clients and generating new business from new prospects. Existing clients frequently make requests for service that could be dealt with by support staff. But salespeople who lack a disciplined, future-orientated plan for generating new contacts and sales often find themselves spending more time attending to “urgent” tasks for existing accounts instead. A common approach among salespeople can be summarised in the saying “If you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it is bound to stick”. This approach is exhausting, demoralising, extremely unproductive, and very expensive in the long term.
Speed Of Relaying Customer Information
The Sales Director provides another interesting dimension to activity management. Apart from product or service knowledge, salespeople require knowledge about prospects, clients, and market trends. Therefore, if the information those salespeople require isn’t relayed in an efficient manner, their “face-to-face” selling activities are dramatically reduced.
Harder Rather Than Smarter
In the book Emerson’s Essays, there is a section on “Law of Compensation”, which can be summarized simply as “give more, get more.” This is what most salespeople try to do, so they end up working harder when they could be working smarter. This begs the question, are your sales activities deciding your strategy or is your strategy deciding your sales activities?
Managing Existing Customers
A vitally important sales activity is that of managing existing customer accounts to consolidate and grow the relationship. Yet, unfortunately, when compared over time, the customers’ interest levels increase while salespeople’s interest levels tend to decrease. This creates a “relationship gap”.
In essence, without a sustained approach to ongoing servicing and support activities, customers that took months to win are ultimately lost because there was a lack of interest from their supplier.
To-days clients/customers are looking for vendors who can be business-partners, who are willing and able to share risks and who are able to properly manage the entire sales process.
Traditional commercial methods are being relegated to the annals of history. The new, more discerning customers of today have seen to that. They now wield greater bargaining power, demand more value for money and have become more knowledgeable and professional when it comes to decision-making. Essentially they are crying out ‘‘understand me first, then sell to me ’’ this is precisely why we need a new type of approach for a new type of customer.
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