Time. 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, 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.
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