There is no end to the number of technological tools designed to create efficiency for salespeople and sales organizations. As useful as some of these tools are, there are greater and more challenging inefficiencies that result in poor sales results. Leaving aside the countless things that steal a salesperson’s time and the distractions they allow to steal what’s left, an even larger problem is the inefficiencies in the way they sell. Here is a list of inefficiencies you must eliminate to produce better results.
Researching While Prospecting: If you have to research every prospective client before you dial their number, you are going to severely limit both the number of your calls and the quality. If it takes you one minute to call and leave a voicemail and five minutes to research, you can make ten calls in an hour. If you want to be efficient, then you will separate your research and your prospecting to create greater efficiency.
Calling Without a Prospecting Cadence: When you call a client in January and April and September, your strategy is inefficient. When you separate calls by ninety days or more, you are decreasing your chances of acquiring a meeting. Instead, you are training your prospects to ignore you. When you go away for long periods of time, you project that you aren’t really pursuing your dream client’s business.
Prospecting without a Targeted List of Dream Clients: Randomly calling contacts in companies because you have their phone numbers is not the best use of your time. If you want to succeed in sales, and if you want to help your clients produce better results, being efficient requires you to identify the companies and people who will most benefit from the outcomes you provide.
Waiting for Leads: Waiting means losing time on a clock that runs continually, knowing that you are going to be measured by your results at the end of a quarter or year. Waiting for marketing to produce leads is to allow someone else to control your results. The next lead isn’t better than the last lead, and there is no path to success in sales where you can be dependent on things outside your control.
First Visits with No Plan: Your dream client has provided you with the gift of their time. To waste it would make you ungrateful or a real rube. When you show up without a plan for the call, without a compelling agenda, and without being able to create value for your prospect, you not only waste their time, you also waste yours. A call that doesn’t end in a next step due to an unforced are means your effort was wasted.
No Theory: One of the most common ways one can waste their client’s time is by showing up without some theory as to why their dream client should explore change. Without a general theory about your client’s business, their challenges and their opportunities, you lack relevance. A specific theory would be even more powerful. Showing up without doing your homework is inefficient.
Poor Questions: Poor questions are weak. They limit the conversation to everything other than the big, systemic, compelling challenges that only truly consultative salespeople are willing to ask. Someone who is concerned about the outcome of the call wouldn’t waste time on trivialities.
Your First 8 Slides: Your first eight slides are a waste of time. I hope I am not wrong and the number is really twelve slides. All the proof-providing you have been taught to do at the beginning of the presentation assumes you are part of an RFP and you get a single hour with a prospect that has no idea who you are. The best way to prove you deserve to be in the room presenting is to have a framework that allows you to explain why your clients change, why you do things differently from your competitors, and how you produce better results, plus the point that follows this one.
Monologuing: If you leave no room for conversation, there will be none, and you will most likely be talking to yourself as people nod off. The inefficiency you create by not inviting a dialogue is that you eliminate time for questions and conversation, the two things your prospective client prefers a great deal more than being spoken at for ninety-minutes.
Linear Slide Decks: There is perhaps nothing that wastes more time than going through a slide deck from beginning to end. Starting at slide number one and ending at slide ninety-six with more than forty-seven being irrelevant and uninteresting isn’t a good use of anyone’s time.
Emailing Your Proposal: Here is one of the classic blunders. In an attempt to be more efficient, you send your pricing and proposal without walking your dream client through both. If you want to chase your client across time and space, choose a medium that allows your client to say not without you being able to have a conversation, make an adjustment, or resolve their concerns.
Providing Contracts without a Scheduled Meeting: If your contract is going to legal, you are likely adding weeks to your deal and your client’s receiving the better results they need from you and your solution. If you didn’t acquire time from your legal and ask your contacts to do the same, you have all but ensured it’s going to take weeks or months longer than was necessary.
Not Controlling the Process: The largest and most common inefficiency in sales is losing control of the process, skipping stages completely or allowing their clients to skip them. Here’s the thing. If you are going to put in all the effort to acquire a meeting, do killer discovery work, design the perfect solution, why wouldn’t you do everything necessary to ensure you win the business? Repeating this from one opportunity to the next is a pattern of wasting time. You are better off making your case for what you and your prospective client need next than accepting a loss and starting over.
If you are looking for greater efficiency, you might start by looking at the things you do that reduce your effectiveness. No matter how much work you do, if it doesn’t produce your desired outcome, it is inefficient.
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