Have you ever seen a reactive salesperson? They are generally fairly well out of control most of the time, and doing lots of things at the beckon of clients and management. At the end of the day they go home on the dot of 5pm because they have ‘had enough’ of other people. Most of the things that they wanted to do in the day they would not have achieved.
So we all have choices as to how we structure a working day in ‘sales’ and who we respond to as part of ‘doing the business’. Perhaps we have to respond to clients and management, but we should have and retain some flexibility in doing so. To be a top salesperson, your career just has to be under control and each day at least 50% of the things that you do should be proactive towards growing your market or your income.
Here is an interesting exercise for you. On a piece of paper, write down the key things that will bring you new business or increase your market share. In most cases the list would look something like this:
- Researching new and current clients
- Touching base with customers
- Presentations and pitches
- Placing orders or contracts
Now that you have done the list, think about yesterday and the events of the day. How many things in your short list or priorities did you get done? If you are like most salespeople, you will have got to less than 50% of the items on your list.
Perhaps we make our days and working weeks overly complicated, but the fact of the matter is that we are really in control and from that point we can make our ‘sales day’ quite proactive and productive.
When a salesperson tells me that they are getting nothing done or are losing market share, I usually say to them that the solution ‘lies within’. They are the problem and the solution in one. They have the key to resolving the challenges.
Every month I recommend that every sales person in a business team takes a serious look at their successes over the last month and where they are headed. If they truly want to be ‘proactive’ they can plan their way forward for even greater results in income and customer connections. They just need to commit.
So the message here is ‘don’t work harder, work smarter’.
When it comes to a professional sales career, it pays to understand the things that are truly important to your business and your sales progress in your market. I like to call it a constant focus on growth and service. The client is at the centre of the process and the assessment.
When you are really productive you tend to remove the ‘peaks and valleys’ from your sales year and your sales performance. Generally everything gets a lot easier from a results perspective, but you have to keep up the personal momentum.
So how do you get this productivity and systemisation into your business plan and sales focus for the year? Here are some tips that I have gathered from many years talking and working with sales teams in different industries:
- Use your time very well. Protect your time from the frustrations of servicing time wasting people. In professional selling you are totally accountable for the way you use your time and doing so with the right people. Some clients will take a lot of your time so you should understand the value of some clients over others. It might sound a bit selective but that is the way it must be.
- Know your priorities in the working day. Some things on a daily basis will have to be done over others. In normal sales markets and industries the prospecting process and client contact cycle should take priority over everything else. When you do this correctly you can keep the orders and sales coming in with little disruption. It also helps you see the changes to your clients needs before that has a major impact on your sales results and income.
- Make sure your key clients are treated differently than ordinary clients, and are contacted as part of a key account management program. You may choose to ‘coach’ them, ‘partner’ with them, or provide exceptional service to help with their bottom line. When the client knows the true value of your products and services, the ordering and sales process is quite easy.
- Note the ‘selling seasons’ that apply to your products and services. In most financial years you will have 2 or 3 ‘selling seasons’ where sales and orders are easier. You get to know these cycles by understanding your clients. How long does a selling season run for in your industry? When do they start, and why do they stop?
- Seek referral business leads from all of your good clients and prospects. It is easier to convert new business from a referral than it is in anything else you may choose to do in prospecting.
- Assess your clients for the repeat business opportunity they can give you. Also assess the size and frequency of the typical order that they place with you. Soon you will see some clients bring in most of your business annually. The Pareto Principle applies (80/20 rule) where about 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. You just need to know which clients are the best ones to work with.
Perhaps you can add to this list. The issue is that you really do need to understand your market and the sales and income you can build from it each year. Become a productive salesperson that works to a client contact system.