Most of the activities around sales are necessary (some more than others) but don’t improve your sales results. Sales results are only generated by creating and winning new opportunities. You can easily spend too much time on things outside of opportunity creation and opportunity capture. Better sales results start with your spending more time selling.
- Research: You might need to research your prospective clients to find their contact information. You might need to research your client’s industry vertical to understand their world better and develop a theory as to why they should change. While things might be important, even critical, they are not selling. While you can call this work, it isn’t selling.
- Email: Email is one of the dominant mediums for communication. Because this is true, you are obligated to monitor that channel for incoming messages from your company and your clients. In B2B sales, you might use email to communicate with your clients and your prospective clients. Even if you are emailing your dream client the most interesting email they’ve ever read, this isn’t selling.
- Internal Meetings: Some sales organizations have way too many internal meetings, like the one who has a forecasting meeting every day, even though they have a long sales cycle and nothing much changes from day to day. Others have too few, neglecting to engage in conversations about their plans and their results. Meetings are necessary for good selling, but when you are in an internal meeting, you are not selling.
- Building Slide Decks and other nonsense: You can spend a large part of eternity working on a slide deck, adding slide after slide to prove that your dream client should buy from you. Even though no one buys because of the slide deck, they often buy despite your detrimental reliance on things external rather than the value you create for them. Building slide decks makes you a graphic designer. You can add to this any time you spend making or revising forms, or templates. None of these things are selling.
- Reading or Listening to a Book on Sales: Reading a book on your chosen profession is an excellent way to help improve your results. While you are driving to an office or a sales call, listening to an audiobook is an excellent way to spend the time you would otherwise spend on something with a lesser outcome, or even a negative outcome, like partisan news channels. Books can help you see things that were previously invisible to you, providing you with new strategies, tactics, and choices. Still, this is not selling.
- Updating Your CRM: When something is valuable to you now and the future, you are right to take care of that asset. In this case, the asset is your relationships with your clients and your prospective clients. The CRM is a record of that relationship and everything you have learned about the individuals who reside there. No matter how meticulous your record-keeping is in your CRM, updating those records is not selling.
We can leave the time you spend on the internet, talking to your peers at the water cooler, and the many distractions that interrupt you during the day. We can also add social media to the list of things that are not sales, even though you might pretend that it is selling.
The Only Time You Spend Selling
The only time you can count as actual selling is the time you spend in conversation with the contacts in your client account or your prospective client’s company. Even then, the only time you are selling is when you are discussing their future results, the changes they might need to make, how they should go about deciding what to do, and who to choose as a partner.
One of the best and fastest ways to improve your results and increase your sales is by spending more time selling.
Calling your client to ask them to meet with you is a conversation about their future and better results. Prospecting is selling, even if it is only selling the first commitment, the commitment for time. It’s also the prerequisite to all the other conversations and commitments your client needs to have to move forward towards their better future.
Spending time with your clients in meetings is time spent selling, even when those meetings are over the telephone, video conference, or, preferably, face-to-face at their location. Meetings are inherently difficult to obtain because you are asking someone for some part of their only non-renewable resource, time. Time is a precious gift, and you should treat it as such by not wasting yours or your clients’.
More Time Selling
Were one to read something like this and decide to act on the idea here, one way to start would be to the non-sales work of auditing the time they spent with clients and prospects in meetings, and dividing the number by the number of hours they worked (I am using the word “work” loosely, as many people believe work is a place). Time management means doing what’s most important, indicating priorities.
Let’s say you spent eight hours out of forty with your clients or prospective clients. You will have spent ten-percent of your time selling, provided you were working on helping them with some initiative around better results. Increasing the number of hours spent with your contacts to, say, eight hours a week, would certainly improve your results, all things being equal.
There are two adjustments here that are worth your time and your attention now. First, recognize that many tasks and responsibilities around sales have little to do with your results. You want to be efficient in all the non-sales work you have to do and minimize the time you spend there. Second, and most important, spend more time prospecting and scheduling meetings so you can spend more time with the people who can benefit from your help and your good counsel.
If you are looking for sales productivity, this is where you will find it.
More first meetings means more second meetings. Too few first meetings invariably results in too few second meetings and too little time spent selling.
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Five Controllable Elements of Time Management
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