On average sales people spend much less than 50% of their time with customers. The bigger the company, the less customer facing time they have. In fact, in a recent survey of Chief Sales Officers, the lowest recorded amount of customer facing time was a dismal 17%.
Apart from being extremely worrying it certainly identifies what great sales people never do. That is they never waste their time and they never waste their customers’ time. There are quite a few other things these people never do – like telling lies, blaming other people when things don’t go as expected and they do not, contrary to common opinion, focus on themselves. However, not wasting time is top of the list.
How do the best sales people do this? Well they plan for success. They use a systematic approach to their work based upon the three simple processes below all underpinned with a relentless attention to eliminating or minimising wasted time, not only their own but their customers’ time too.
The processes are:
Account Planning – what can I do to ensure that my customers and my company enjoy the mutual benefits of value creation? What do I have to do move the perception of my company from being a vendor to one of a valued partner and trusted advisor? How can I apply my knowledge of my customers’ business to the products and service we supply to help improve my customers’ business outcomes? Account planning is a structured process that identifies business opportunities that helps the best sales people achieve the objectives above.
Campaign Planning – Quite simply what is it that needs to be done, by whom and when, to win a particular sales campaign? It sounds simple, and it is, but it is also a thorough examination of a particular situation
Call Planning – How do you make the best use of your time in front of your customers? How do you make sure you ask the right questions, understand the issues and objections your customers may raise and make the most possible progress? Call planning helps sales people answer these questions, enhance their professionalism, reduces the sales cycle time and saves their own and their customers’ time.
The biggest, self inflicted waste of sales time is lack of, or poor, qualification. Chasing business that is not going to happen, or where your offering is not a good fit ,or where your competitors are well and truly entrenched really demonstrates poor sales and sales management skills. The best sales people ensure that they ask the right questions to minimise wasted time.
We call these processes planning for sales success because, if executed properly, success will follow, sales time will be maximised and wasted sales time minimised.  From the customer’s perspective the quality of interactions are improved and the customer experience enhanced.
If you would like to know more about the benefits of planning for sales success, please click here for details of our webinar series on this subject.
Remember the adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail“. It is old, it is well used but it is very, very true.