Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Three Biggest Killers of Sales Productivity

This post courtesy of The Sales Blog by Anthony Iannarino, (my favourite sales blogger).

I work in B2B sales and if you're about to read this because you do too then I invite you to hook up with me on a few sites and resources that I find useful. You can connect with me at The Fox Den. The Fox Den is a newish community for alumni of Holden Power Base Selling or for anyone that enjoyed the book. If you haven't read Power Base Selling then you can read mine and others reviews and buy the book on Amazon; I also reviewed it on the Goodreads website where it's on my recommended books list. If you haven't read it then I think anyone in B2B sales, (particularly major account sales) will get something from it.

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Sometimes you are the real obstacles to producing greater results.

We can easily get bogged down in doing things that make no impact on our sales results, even though these tasks feel like they are important to our sales efforts. Some of the tasks are necessary but can steal time, some are unnecessary but feel important, and some indicate deeper avoidance issues.

Identify and determine which of these three productivity killers destroy your results, and take action to reclaim your time—and produce better results.

Tasks On the Periphery of Sales

There are tasks that are close to sales, but that really aren’t selling. Some of these tasks may be necessary, but if you over invest in these areas, you destroy your ability to be productive and to produce results.

You need to do some research before prospecting. But too much research can result in too little prospecting. You need to send some follow up emails and respond to some emails. But too much time in the inbox means too little time face-to-face with your clients and dream clients.

You need to do some call planning and some reporting; both of these are important tasks. But spending more time than is absolutely necessary on these tasks means that you have less time for producing real results, the results that are only produced by selling.

All of these tasks may be necessary, but they are on the periphery of selling. They aren’t selling. To protect your time for real sales activities, you have to invest only the time that is necessary on these sales-related tasks that aren’t really selling.

Block out time for these tasks at the end of the sales day, and protect your sales time for the real work of sales, like prospecting and face-to-face sales meetings.

Tasks Belonging to Others

There are tasks that feel like they belong to you, but that really belong to someone else in the organization.

When your client calls and needs information, are you the right person to get them what they need? Or is there someone else on your team who is responsible for providing them with the information? Is there someone who, by having the responsibility, would do a better job getting information to your client?

When your client has a service issue, you should make sure that they are heard and that their issue is resolved. You might be the right person to listen and to express that you care, but are really the right person to manage the service problem? Or, is there someone else on your team who is both responsible and better prepared to get them the result they need?

Sales isn’t an operation role (I know that there is always some gray area here).

Learn to turn over the tasks to their rightful owners. If you need to give better guidance on how to serve your clients, invest your time developing the internal relationships that will let you to do so with confidence that the people handling the issues will not only complete the task, but will do so better and faster than you would have.

Tasks That Don’t Belong At All

If you spend your time creating documents, creating forms, creating your own internal paperwork, you are destroying your ability to be productive and to create results. Period.

If you setting up filing systems, cleaning your desk, or organizing and reorganizing your email you are spending time where no sales result can or will ever be produced. Period.

You can rationalize away the wasted time if your wish, but it still won’t move the needle.

The trouble with the tasks listed above is that they have some alluring qualities: your intentions are good in that you believe they will make you more productive. They make you feel like you are busy accomplishing something.

The sad and brutal truth is that you are most likely avoiding the real work of sales because of some deeper and more nefarious reason, like you lack confidence or you don’t believe in what you are doing. Worst of all, it may be that you lack the primary attribute of all successful people: self-discipline, the ability to make and keep commitments to one’s self.

What you believe is the greatest driver of your sales results and the actions that you take. Take some time to reflect on why you are avoiding doing the real work of sales, and get some help finding your way out the wilderness. The sooner you stop wasting time, the sooner you are really productive.

Questions

What are the biggest killers of your productivity that you control?

Have you done a time survey to understand how much time you spend on sales-related but non-selling tasks?

What tasks do you spend too much time on that really belong to someone else? Are you able to give the operations tasks to the operations team without a second thought? What you would have to do to be able to do so?

What are the tasks that you sometimes spend on time that really have nothing whatsoever to do with selling? Do you undertake these tasks to avoid doing something that you really don’t want to do? What is at the heart of that issue?

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Other posts on a similar theme:

An article I wrote about Presales Qualification
Sales Tips Article courtesy of The New York Times
9 of the Best Sales Tips for Hight Performing Sales People
How to be Interesting and Useful to C Level Executives
What I Love about Sales and Selling
Introducing The Fox Den