Making your number means working against the clock. One of the primary factors in making quota is the great and unrelenting constraint of time. Time can be an ally in your pursuit of quota if you invest it wisely. But time can also be the enemy if you choose to spend it where little or no return can be had.

Making your number also requires that you consider another factor: the size of the deal you pursue. Time spent pursuing too small opportunities is time that cannot be invested in pursuing the larger opportunities you really need to win in order to make your number.

Too Much Time on Too Small Opportunities

Unless your company has built a model around capturing and serving smaller transactional clients it’s difficult to make your number by winning them.

Let’s pretend your number is $2,000,000 in revenue. To get to that number with an average sale of $50,000, you need to win 40 new clients. This would require that you win a new client every 6.25 working days. That probably works for some business somewhere. But for most B2B sales organizations, it doesn’t work. Many salespeople can easily win transactional clients, but still struggle to win enough of them to make their number.

Investing your time on too small opportunities doesn’t provide a great return. Even when you do everything well, they still take time, often more time than you’d expect, and sometimes as much time as winning a larger client. Time is something that, once spent, cannot be recovered. So the time you spend on too small opportunities is time that you cannot invest in winning your larger dream clients, the clients that will allow you to make your number.

Why do we spend too much time here? Because they are live opportunities that fill up the pipeline and prove that we have activity. They provide us with work to do that makes us look busy, and for many people, allows them to avoid prospecting and nurturing the accounts that they really need.

Too Little Time on Dream Client Opportunities

Your dream clients can be discouraging. It’s easy to lose faith in the pursuit and to move your efforts downstream to smaller yet more receptive prospects. Instead of investing time pursuing the client that already has a partner and that will take time to nurture and win, we spend it elsewhere, investing too little where it really counts.

This underinvesting makes it take a lot longer to be known and to be known as a value creator. It gives the clients the appearance that you aren’t serious about them or their business when you call and “check in” once every quarter, disappearing for 89 days only to return with nothing new or valuable to share.

The return on time invested in your larger, quota-making dream clients is enormous. For most of us in B2B sales, because these are our dream clients, we retain them for years. Winning a client that spends $2,000,000 and retaining them for 7 years is a $14,000,000 win, and provides a massive return on the time invested to pursue and win it.

When you say “yes” to pursuing some opportunities, you are saying “no” to pursuing others.


Why do transactional clients tend to dominate your time?

Are some transactional clients every bit as time-consuming and needy as a larger client?

How do you ensure that you pursue the opportunities that are going to allow you to succeed and make your number?

Why do we tend to avoid putting the effort it takes to open an opportunity with a larger client?

How do you choose where to invest your time?

Sales 2012
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 29, 2012
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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