Between emails, text messages, the internet, Slack, and other interruptions, it is easy to be distracted by the overwhelming incoming communications you receive each day. Because most of these communications are related to your work, it can feel like reading them is part of your job, but in reality, they are more likely to distract you from what you should be doing. The job description of a salesperson does not prioritize internal communications and interruptions.
The cost of inaction in sales is one reason salespeople fail to reach their sales goals and miss their quotas. This is true for a salesperson with a high level of sales effectiveness and the effects are even worse for a salesperson with low sales effectiveness. You pay a high price for your inaction.
Lost Time in B2B Sales
B2B sales is a game of four quarters, and you need to put up a fight in each one. When you don’t do the work in one quarter, you make it certain that you will face a negative event in the near future.
For example, if you have a 90-day sales cycle, closing a deal in April means you need to create that opportunity in January. When you postpone your prospecting work until February, the deals you create get pushed into May. This pattern will devastate your results.
The number-one rule for success in business and in life is to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Any refusal to follow this rule will cost you dearly.
When salespeople ask how they create urgency in their clients, they are missing the root cause of the problem. They would not need to speed up deals had they created the opportunities earlier. When you look at the sales cycle time, add in the time the contact record wasn’t being pursued. Inaction over months or longer means the opportunity could have been created—and captured—sooner.
Time is our only finite, non-renewable resource. When gone, it’s gone forever. Treat your time as your most important asset. Use it wisely.
Unaddressed Client Issues
The longer a client experiences a problem that your sales organization cannot resolve, the sooner they will take a sales meeting with your competitor. Maybe you don’t believe that the client’s problem is your responsibility, or maybe you are apathetic and unconcerned about it. You may believe your contract is enough to retain the client’s business. When a client needs your help, inaction can cause you to lose them and the revenue you were counting on.
This is how you open the door for your competitor to displace you and your company. Remember how you won the client’s business in the first place. It was because your client had a problem and needed help improving their results. If you don’t help your client solve that problem and other related issues they encounter, they will find someone who will. See Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition.
Sales Managers and the Cost of Inaction
When a sales manager has low standards and inaction from their sales force, all kinds of bad things happen. The sales manager who believes they can’t require their team to spend 90 minutes prospecting every day will have an inadequate pipeline. The manager who does not ensure their salespeople use the appropriate sales methodology allows their sales force to prioritize their own comfort over the results the organization needs.
The question here is do you want to be liked or do you want to be respected? When you allow your team to avoid doing the work they are responsible for, they may like you. When you raise your standards and help your team succeed, they respect you. Sales managers need to ensure their sales teams are doing the right work in the right way at the right time.
Who Is Harmed by Inaction?
Inaction causes salespeople to fail to reach their goals and generate the income they can produce. This is bad enough, but inaction also deprives the salesperson’s family of the income that would provide them with a better life.
Inaction will also harm your prospective clients because they bought from a competitor that will not produce as good an outcome as your company would have, had you won the deal. When your team loses a deal because of inaction, your company loses the revenue that would have helped it reach its goals.
The High Cost of Inaction In Sales
It doesn’t matter how many hours you are at work. What matters is how you spend those hours. You should not count the hours you feel like you are working. Count your outcomes. The only way to create an outcome is by acting.
Keep a legal pad next to you and write down the time and what you did with it. No one lies to you more than you, so be honest with yourself. If you spent 30 minutes on the internet, document it. If you spent 45 minutes calling your strategic prospective clients, note the time you spent and the outcomes you created. The patterns you discover might motivate you to use your time well.
The goal here isn’t to be perfect. It is to get better at prioritizing your work and devoting your time to what creates the results you are responsible for in your sales role. You can avoid the high cost of inaction in sales by doing the things you need to do at the times you need to do them.
When people say they need more time, what they often mean is that they are not doing the work they need to do when they need to do it. Each of us has the same 24 hours. Some will use the 24 hours wisely and find success. Others will avoid their work, and through inaction harm themselves and others.
This is the nature of our life on planet Earth. You must take action to produce the results and the life you want.