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6 Oct, 2014 By: Troy Harrison, Salesforce Solutions

What’s your most precious asset as a salesperson?  Most people would suggest that their most precious asset is their skills or their experience, their relationships, their customer base, or something else along those lines. Some might even list their products or their company. And all of those salespeople would be wrong.

Your most precious asset as a salesperson is actually your TIME.  More specifically - that window of time where, during the week, you are able to call on your customers face-to-face or voice-to-voice. Hours wasted or simply spent inappropriately aren’t the kind of hours that are turning into revenue, profits or commissions for you or your company.  The problem is that many salespeople do things each day that waste a lot of their time. Let’s discuss the three most common.

  1. Working junk business.  This is the most common time-waster for salespeople. Last week, I visited a client whose sales calls were inappropriately slanted toward tiny, marginally profitable accounts.  For any company, there’s a ‘sweet spot’ of accounts that have stability, profitability, and ‘sell-ability.’  If these accounts represent the top of the bell curve, there are accounts smaller than your sweet spot AND bigger than your sweet spot that represent the unprofitable zone.

    In this case, not only were the salespeople calling on tiny businesses – they were chasing the tiny business, sometimes making five, six, or even seven calls to win business that barely justified one call.  Chasing business too far above or below the sweet spot can be just as bad. Increased competition and price pressure can also make the largest accounts in your territory unprofitable and/or low-commissioned for you – besides wasting a lot of time and effort trying to sell these-type accounts.

    Working junk business typically has two causes – fear and emotional involvement. Salespeople sometimes work small business because they have a fear of working larger accounts. That’s bad.  Worse can be the emotional involvement that says, “I have to win all the business in my territory because I hate seeing my competitor there.” Get over it.  You’ll never get 100% market share; in most cases you really don’t want 100% market share. It’s always okay with me if my competitors are selling the “bad business.”

  2. Artificially Extending the Sales Cycle.  Too many salespeople unwittingly extend the sales cycle themselves. They do so through fear, lack of training, and lack of preparation.

    Fear comes into play because salespeople are scared of the process to close business or feel inadequate to overcome any objections. Many salespeople believe that if they ask closing questions that the customer will be off-put and they will miss key opportunities. Don’t be that guy or gal. If you’re unsure of where you stand with the customer, ASK. Never be afraid to ask a closing question. In fact, customers and prospects expect a good salesperson to ask questions.

    Lack of Training impacts the sales process because salespeople don’t know or understand how to expedite the process. For instance, every appointment should end with a firm commitment for the next appointment or activity, with times and places. It’s never easier to set the next appointment than when you are on the current appointment. Use that opportunity wisely. The ‘chase cycle’ happens when you have to call the customer back to set the next action.

    Lack of Preparation is tied with lack of training, but occurs when salespeople simply don’t take the tools of the sale in with them. Salespeople should always be prepared to take the call as far as it can possibly be taken. If you have the tools to quote price on the spot, bring them into the call. Same with order forms, credit applications, and other tools.  When you have to go back to the ‘bat cave,’ you become the obstacle. Always let the customer be the one putting the brakes on – not you.

  3. Chasing Customers Who Opt Out. Here’s the hardest thing for salespeople to realize: Customers can and will opt out of your sales process.  From the time that they do, any time you spend on them is time now wasted. Here’s a perfect example: Recently, a prospect didn’t keep a phone appointment with me, regardless we had a prescheduled appointment that was on both of our calendars. I called, and she didn’t answer. Nor did she return a call or an e-mail.

Once upon a time, I would have gotten very upset, but no more. I called and emailed once, in case there was a misunderstanding, of if we could reschedule. With no response, I simply moved on. It happens. Thankfully, not very often, and there are too many other prospects out there that I don’t have to chase.She opted out of my sales process. Why?Who knows. Maybe it wasn’t a priority or the funding to move forward wasn’t there after all.Yet too many salespeople treat situations like this like a dog treats a bone. Don’t.There are other prospects out there who will want to work with you.

Noticeably, all of these problems are characterized by an emotional response rather than an intellectual one. Back in the days when I did chase, and chase again, customers, I actually knew, intellectually, that they had opted out. Yet my pride wouldn’t let me admit that so I told myself that the sale was “just around the corner.”  Time and effort wasted; lesson now learned.

When you’re up against any of these situations, try to respond intellectually rather than emotionally. Realize that you’ll be more successful that way. I promise.


Troy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!” and a Speaker, Consultant, and Sales Navigator, helping companies build more profitable, productive sales forces with his cutting-edge sales training & methodologies. For info on speaking/training engagements, consulting, or weekly E-zine, call 913-645-3603 e-mail http://Troy@TroyHarrison.com or visit http://www.TroyHarrison.com 

About the Author: Troy Harrison

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