Diets are pervasive to the U.S. culture. There seems to be a diet of every sort for just about everything. My recent favorite is the "digital diet" that limits the number of minutes you spend on digital activities in a day--not a bad idea in this time of hyper-connectedness. All of these diets promise to create a positive improvement in your life by changing what you take in as well as what you do. They are frequently aimed at solving the issue of excess.
I see the same with sales programs--too many calls, tracking documents, reports, CRM entries, and customer visits. Wasteful excess. I want you to consider a diet from the things that are actually killing some of your productivity. Slim down to a more effective and energized sales effort.
Like any program to improve yourself, you should make certain you are ready for the change. Here are a few qualifying questions:
Check your company first before engaging in any diet:
1) Are your people really sales reps? They have to be spending more than 40 percent of their time seeking out NEW customers or selling NEW products to current customers. If they are monitoring and replacing inventory, providing quotes on current products, providing in-service training or installation assistance, or handling transaction processing, they are not in fact sales people. They are important, valuable and all of the other disclaimers, but they are not sales people. If they are not, this diet won't help them.
2) Are your sales one-time transactions or ongoing customer relationships? If your business is built on one-time sales--and many are--this is not a good program for you. Transaction-based sales is truly a numbers game and rewards activity as much as it rewards strategy. If your company is based on transactions, crack the bull-whip and run the contests to get more activity. If your business is about landing ongoing customers, read on.
If you are ready for some trimming up, then let's talk about a diet.
Here's the diet plan that I know will work for improving your sales
- Reduce the number of sales visits to customers--Customers want to see you when they need something. If your people are sales reps, not stockers or price quoters, then they should be visiting prospects, not customers unless they have something new to talk about.
- Move less, plan more--People often substitute activity for thought. The number one way to improve the sales performance of sales people is to spend time with them helping them plan their work and their strategies. No, they should not be able to do this on their own. They need help for the 10 percent of the choices that make the most difference--where they are spending their time.
- Increase intensity of activity rather than frequency--There has to be a purpose to every call, meeting, email, and text. Get your people to focus on what they are trying to change with a prospect or customer, not just checking in.
- Automate so that there is no more than a maximum of 15 percent of ANYONE's time on the sales team on documentation, tracking, and processing
One of the key principles of a healthy diet is efficiency. Less input, more output. There is a reason that more diets are started in January than at any other time of the year. It's that annual life-assessment as we begin a new year. Often the ideas are not new, but the commitment to improve is stronger. Of course, many diets and resolutions are broken, but for those who take inventory, change their behaviors and make a commitment, their next year is much better.