There is an infinite number of challenges that may prevent one from producing the sales results they desire. You might break them down into four primary categories, like too little activity, too little effectiveness, or poor leadership. Another view might be that an individual or a team lacks the mindset, or character traits, to sell effectively. It could also be a gap in their skills, especially now that effectiveness requires business acumen, the ability to compel and manage change, and no small amount of leadership (all concepts covered in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need).
If you look across a sales organization, you will find all of the obstacles to success in individuals, in teams, and occasionally visible in the entire sales force. But more often than not, there is one reason above all else that prevents salespeople and sales organizations from making more sales: they don’t spend very much time selling.
We can break selling into two primary outcomes under which you can fit all kinds of tasks, responsibilities, processes, and methodologies: 1) opportunity creation, and 2) opportunity capture. Everything else is a commentary on these two activities, and even though everything is important, not everything can be most important.
There are a few activities that allow one to create a new opportunity. The first and primary activity is prospecting using whatever method that works for the sales organization or salesperson. The second prerequisite for creating opportunities is sales meetings, where the salesperson is face to face or ear to ear with a prospective client (or a client, where creating opportunities is necessary).
There are dozens of activities around prospecting and meetings, including things like research, nurturing relationships, planning sales calls, and a host of other valuable and necessary actions. There is a good reason to do all of these tasks, but not without paying careful attention to the primary outcome that is creating a new opportunity.
How much time do you spend prospecting or sitting across from a prospective client exploring change?
Like opportunity creation, there are countless tangential activities one might engage in throughout the day that are all necessary to winning opportunities, but there is one that dominates: sales meetings. The time spent with prospective clients and clients is a useful metric to determine how much work is being done to capture opportunities.
It’s possible that salespeople spend more time in their inbox than in their client’s office or on their telephone. Screen time exceeds the time most salespeople spend on the phone or in meetings. The countless initiatives and make-work that salespeople are tasked with indicate that there are higher priorities than creating opportunities and capturing them.
Reverse Your Time Blocks
Instead of carving out small segments of time to complete the ancillary work around sales, many (too many, maybe most) salespeople and sales organizations block time for sales activities.
If one were to decide that they were a salesperson or their company a sales organization, improving their results would be a matter of reversing the way we block time. Instead of blocking time to make calls, making calls would be primary, with a 90-minute block to do the necessary administrative tasks and other miscellanies at the end of the day.
If you want to increase your sales, spend more time selling.
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Filed under: Effectiveness