In this episode, Paul shares three tips to help salespeople focus their time on the right opportunities.
For salespeople, time is the currency they invest. How salespeople spend their time will determine whether they are successful or not.
Sales leaders are frustrated that sellers are going after the wrong slice of the market, yet these same sales leaders fail to define what the right slice of the market. Create a profile for your salespeople.
Time block the critical selling hours and remove any barriers.
Remove time wasters. Let your salespeople do what they are made to do, drive sales. Remove time wasters that create less value than driving sales.
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How do I get salespeople to focus their time on the right opportunities?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we are going to answer a question submitted to the website. Today, we are going to answer Chris’s question. Chris owns a fastening company in the distribution industry. I do a lot of work in that industry. This is a common question. He wants to know: What is the best way to communicate to the salesperson how to chase the dollar rather than be worried about the pennies? Another way of saying that is: How do we let the salesperson know that it’s okay to lose some sales if they’re not the right type of sales for the company?
When we boil this question down to its most basic elements, what we’re trying to do here is help a salesperson find the right opportunities. So that’s what we’re going to focus on in today’s show: How do I focus my sales team’s effort on the right opportunities? If you’re a salesperson, a better way to ask that question would be: How do I focus on the right opportunities? So that’s what we’re going to answer on today’s show.
Before we get into that, a big shout-out to our sponsor. Andrea, at The Creative Impostor Studios, is doing a great job. Again, the podcast now has been downloaded in 48 countries. I think that’s a testament to the work that Andrea and her team do. So if you’re thinking of starting a podcast, if you have a message, you want to get it out there, you want to connect with your audience, reach out to her. She can definitely help. There are going to be links to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also make sure you pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. We have a whole chapter in the book called “High-Value Target Selection,” and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So again, this is your go-to guide for how to sell on value and not price. Pick it up. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.
So getting back to that question: How do I focus salespeople and their time and energy and effort on the right opportunities? We have to remember, for salespeople, time is the currency that they’re investing. It’s the great equalizer. Each salesperson is given the same amount of time every single week. And it’s up to us how we use it. It’s up to us as a salesperson to make sure we’re focusing our time and energy and effort on the most viable sales opportunities. Let’s go over three tips—three ideas—that will help you help your salespeople focus their time on the right opportunities.
This first one, it sounds pretty obvious but it’s worth mentioning. Educate your salespeople on what the right opportunity actually looks like. I’m amazed when I work with sales leaders and they tell me, “Our salespeople are just not focusing on the right business. They’re not bringing in the type of business that we really want. There’s this certain slice of the market that we’re trying to go after.” And I always ask them, “What is that slice of the market? What does it look like? What’s the profile for the ideal prospect?” And I’m amazed at how often they aren’t able to answer that question.
Our research shows that only 17 percent of salespeople strongly agreed that they actually have a profile for what the ideal opportunity looks like. So if you’re a sales leader, or you’re a salesperson, the first thing you need to do is you need to create a profile. So Chris, in this case for your business, you need to ask yourself, “What is good business for our company?” What is fundamentally good business? What does it look like? What are the quantitative and qualitative features? Everything from the look and the feel of the business, to actual metrics. Things like employee size. Think about private versus public ownership. You have to be able to create a crystal-clear profile. Yet, too many organizations don’t do it. And when they don’t do it… I’m always reminded of Zig Ziglar’s famous quote. He says, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every single time.” Well, too many sellers are out there aiming for nothing. So the key is you have to create a profile for what the ideal opportunity looks like.
Next thing if to build on this point… Rather than just creating a profile, if you’re a sales leader, give your salespeople a list of high-value targets. Explain to them, “These are the high-value targets that we want you to focus on.” Give them a list of 15-20 high-value targets that they should focus their time and energy and effort on. Make it easy for them. But as you give them this list, explain to them why these high-value targets are on the list. Explain to them what good business looks like. And you should tell that salesperson, “We want 80 percent of your time focused on pursuing these ideal opportunities. Eighty percent of your time. That means four days out of a five day work week is purely focusing on driving business in these high-value targets.” That’s the first tip. You have to create that profile.
Let’s get to tip number two. We’ll talk about time blocking. We just touched on it a little bit where I mentioned 80 percent of the seller’s time should be focused on these high-value target opportunities. It’s critical that your salespeople time block: when, where, how they’re going to go out there and pursue these opportunities. That’s one thing that we know about top-achieving salespeople is they will guard their time. They know their time is the greatest currency, so they’re going to protect it. They protect their peak hours where they should be out there selling and meeting with customers. You have to encourage your salesperson to do the same thing. Talk to them. Ask them, “When is your most productive time of the day? Are you a morning person, a mid-afternoon person?” whatever it is, and explain to them, “We need to block out time so that the only thing you are doing during these critical hours is driving business with your high-value targets.”
That means, as a sales leader, you don’t bother them during these times. It means, as a sales leader, you don’t schedule conference calls with them to update them, to talk about their numbers. You don’t plan their performance review during these times. We don’t bombard them with non-selling related activities. Talk with your salespeople. Identify when their peak time is for selling—when they’re the most productive—and those are critical times that are blocked off that nobody can come in and say, “I need ten minutes of your time.” Unless, of course, it’s one of the high-value targets. That’s where they’re spending the time. You’ve got to be ruthless with your time.
And finally, the third thing… We talked about identifying what those high-value targets really look like. We also need to identify time-wasters. When you look at salespeople and how they spend their time… So let’s think about where we’re at. We’re talking about high-value targets. You give them a list and you say, “We want 80 percent of your time spent on these opportunities.” And if you get a little pushback and they say, “I don’t know if I can make that happen,” ask them, “What’s getting in the way of making that happen?” And hear them out. Listen to them. They might say things like, “We’re constantly having to update our CRM,” or, “I have non-sales related activities that are required that eat into that peak selling time.” Whatever time-wasters that are within your control, remove them. Remove those time-wasters. Don’t inundate your salespeople with non-selling related activities. Identify what those time-wasters are then remove them. If you think about what we’re doing here, we’re eliminating any excuse for not pursuing the right opportunities the right way, during the right time. That’s critical. I know that sounds simple and it sounds basic, but that’s the first place you need to start.
Chris, that’s my recommendation for you.
Make it a big day.