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There is only so much Selling Time

There is only so much Selling TimeTime. It’s finite and there is nothing you can do about it. As a sales person, it takes so much time to build a qualified pipeline and work those deals in order to make or exceed your quota. But there is only so much selling time. When I work with sales people, it is typical that not enough time is given to the early stages of the sales process. It’s more important to get to your 3x pipeline than ensure that your pipeline is qualified. Not enough time is spent in lead management, discovery and qualification. And then, to make matters worse – as David Brock states so well in his blog, “Your Sales Process Is Not A One Way Street!” – sometimes deals have to be requalified multiple times based on changes at your customer, even if you think you are at the end of the sales process and ready to close a deal. But there is only so much selling time. Lots of time is spent on proposals, presentations, solution refinement and contracts, but sales people believe this is a good way to spend their time. Most – including myself – would agree, but only if the proper discovery and qualification was done in advance. If we take the time to do more discovery and qualification, we’d have a much clearer idea as to where our deal stands in the minds and priorities of the customer. Proper discovery and qualification can lead to losing early, and that’s a good use of your time. So is not being able to do proper discovery and qualification because the customer will not give you the access or time. This tells you something, and, you need to understand what that is. Add to all of this the administrative part of the job:  internal meetings both prepping and attending, travel, sales training, emails, and the abundance of paperwork such as expenses and weekly/monthly reporting. And, the list goes on. But there is only so much selling time. Spend your time wisely. Continue to qualify and validate throughout the sales process, do it often, and do it when new stakeholders join the mix or when major events affect your industry or… you get the picture. Spend more time:
  • Early in the sales process – lead management, discovery and qualification
  • Prepping for any meeting with the customer – getting the team together to dry-run the meeting including role assignments, assessing key questions to ask to fill in gaps and who should ask them, and thinking of possible objections in advance and who/how they should be addressed
  • Thinking from the customer’s point of view – helping them to meet their goals with minimal risk to them personally or professionally
Spend less time:
  • Doing howdy calls where there is no purpose for your meeting, but just to say “hi”
  • Rushing to demo or proposal looking at these as sales events – do more discovery and qualification
  • In meetings where there is little to no value
As a sales person, you have to be relentless on where you spend your time. Don’t lose focus. Plan your day and week based on your and your customer’s priorities. Don’t get derailed by the constant stream of emails and instant messages. Block time off to get these things done. Spend your time on high-yield activities that may be a bit more difficult and take time, and not on those that take time and do not yield you the results you desire. Janice Mars, SalesLatitudeJanice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter     Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at

Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter


Janice Mars7 years ago

April 06 2015

I could not agree more Alice. It is a lot easier said than done so I hope my post provides some practical ways to keep your eye on the end goal.


Alice Heiman7 years ago

April 04 2015

Keeping salespeople focused on high payoff activities is critical. Thanks for all the great tips!


Janice Mars7 years ago

April 03 2015

Thanks Dave! Your posts are always so right on and practical. When I read your last post, it inspired me to discuss how hard it is for sales people to maximize their time with so much on their plates. Forget about the fact that there is so much non-selling time in a sales persons day, there are also the emails that constantly pop up and get addressed - squirrel!! - and then you need to spend quality time prepping for every client interaction. And, so much more. Thanks for the share!


Dave Brock7 years ago

April 02 2015

Awesome post Janice! Thanks for the shout out on my post. About the only thing sales people control is their time--how it's used. We must guard it viciously, because we can't recover it. We need to make sure each moment we spend with customers is impactful and creates value. We need to make sure the time we spend outside of meeting with customers is used as well as possible. Thanks for a great post!


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