While there are 365 days in a year, you may be surprised to learn there really are only about 215 days when sales representatives can sell. How you use your 215 will determine how much more you can sell.
In general, the following are the 150 days of the year you can’t sell:
- 104 weekend days
- 15 vacation and sick days
- 24 days for nonselling meetings (e.g., internal sales meetings and events), training, and travel time
- Seven holidays
That leaves 215, the number to focus on. That’s all you get. Want to be more productive in those 215? More time with customers equals good; more time on nonselling tasks equals bad.
It seems like it should be easy to simply focus more of your efforts on face time with prospects. But it’s difficult to spend more time on one thing without reducing the amount of time you spend on other tasks. You might have to follow up on a delivery, straighten out an invoicing mistake, help your clients resolve an issue, or perform any one of a list of nonselling but crucial tasks.
Further, in many companies salespeople are expected to find prospects (or sift through a “lead” list), determine how to contact them and attempt the contact, then keep attempting until they get through. But first you must learn a little about the prospect’s business in order to appear knowledgeable and credible. You need to close on an appointment, or at least draw the prospect’s interest, and determine when to call next. Then you have to remember to call and decide what to send via e-mail and achieve just the right amount of communication: not too little, not too much.
Once you have an appointment, you need to prepare the collateral, find and print directions, make sure you have all the hardware you need, and plan the objectives for the meeting. You may need to prepare a presentation, and it better not be too generic or the prospect will quickly lose interest.
Performing these tasks takes away from the precious 215 selling days. How much of the 215 will you have left for actual selling? The key here is inflection points where you can, and should, figure out how to protect your 215.
Ask yourself what you can do differently. Can some tasks be delegated? Can you deploy better systems or processes? For example, if you take the time upfront to create all the boilerplate phrases and documents you need, will it cut down on your overall follow-up time? What if there is a way to quickly find the right contact without searching the Web? How much time would you save if you could get an automated, customized view of all your key prospects’ news and updates? Learn about the tools available to help you be more productive.
Managers: Just demanding more from your sales reps is unfair, unreasonable, and unproductive unless you can preserve more of their 215 for selling. In order to sell more, they’ll have to spend more time with prospects; in order to spend more time with prospects something’s got to change. That “something” is the way they spend their time.
As Einstein reportedly said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If we ask sales reps to keep doing the same things but insist they get a different outcome (more sales), well, that’s just a little bit insane.
The good news is there are a lot of sales tools that can help change the way they do things. Investing in just a handful of these can dramatically change the amount of time your reps have to close sales. Make it a mission to protect the 215. It’s your job to eliminate barriers, to block and tackle so your reps are free to carry the ball across the end zone. It’s your job to increase sales productivity. Protect the 215 and get the job done.
Nancy Nardin is the founder of SmartSellingTools.com, where sales professionals find tools to sell more, faster, better. She is the author of a free guide on the path to sales productivity gains, with information on 70 sales tools.