By Dan Bernoske, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)
Of the 365 days in a year, you can spend 232 of them selling (See Exhibit A). At 8 hours per day, that’s 1,856 hours per year you can somehow monetize.
A field Sales Rep should be spending around 64% of those available hours selling. What if you spent an hour or two more per week selling? You would close a few more deals per year. How do you achieve that? Without getting too deep into the weeds, below are 5 steps to sell smarter.
1. Record and analyze your time. For two weeks, stalk yourself. Account for every hour of every work day. It’s incredibly easy and provides a unique baseline of how you spend your time. This critical first step enables you to implement the next steps.
2. Identify the time killers. Trying to beat your high score in Angry Birds? Walking Fluffy the poodle during conference calls? Those are definite wasters. But the time studies SBI has conducted have revealed more noble culprits (See Exhibit B). The biggest time killer: “travel” soaks up 17.4% of a seller’s time. A close second is “post-sale support” clocking in at 16.4%. Finally, “Sales Specific Admin” typically steals 8.9% of a rep’s time. Your time killers could be different. Analyze your time study results to pinpoint yours.
3. Let others do the work for you. No direct reports? No good leads coming from marketing? No problem. You can delegate lead generation to your ambitious network. It’s worth your time. “84% of B2B Decision Makers Begin their Buying Process with a Referral.” (Edelman Trust Barometer)
- Turn post-sales support and client consulting into referral opportunities. Happy customers make for excellent referral sources. Provide value and your clients are more likely to introduce you to others.
- Use your LinkedIn network. Social Selling is no longer nice to have, it is critical to your success. By utilizing your online connections, offline opportunities emerge.
- Utilize event floor time for networking. Trade shows and local community events can be a grind. But make the most of them with thoughtful planning. Before you attend, research and identify the people you want to meet. Then find them. Start and nurture these new relationships into customers or sources for referrals.
4. Develop a consistent, weekly plan. This is a pretty big deal. In fact, the concept of planning has spawned an entire industry. Just ask Franklin Covey or Tony Robbins. For a Sales Rep, this means developing a plan on three levels.
- Plan for the long term. Dust off the “what you want to be when you grow up” question. Write it down. Keep it fresh and top of mind. Every day and week should lead you toward your lifetime objective.
- Plan your week. Dedicate time on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to organize the approaching week. Break your long term goals into bite sized ones. Think of it as boiling the ocean one cup at a time.
- Finally, plan your day. Each morning write down your list of action items. Check them off one by one. Seems like a no brainer, but easy to overlook.
5. Hold yourself accountable. A plan is worthless without implementation. Since this is the most difficult part, rely on others to help. Scuba Divers have a buddy system for a reason. If there is ever an underwater failure, your “buddy” is there to help. Don’t be tripped up by thinking it has to be your manager. It can be a fellow sales rep, support person or a trusted friend in sales.
Sometimes you need someone to keep you going the right direction. Every Sales Rep wants to work smarter and not harder. They want to sell more and hit their number. Implementing a well-constructed plan will get you there.