In sales, results matter more than anything else. Even if you are the hardest worker in the room, if you don’t show results, a lazier but more effective coworker will be viewed as more valuable, not to mention better-paid.
That’s why working smarter is one of the keys to sales success. If you don’t know what to focus on, then you’ll never become a top performer. Effective salespeople maximize time spent doing things that move the needle and minimize time spent on everything else.
In order to make the best use of your time, you need to understand what moves the needle and what doesn’t, so we’ve put together a high-level list to better explain which activities belong in each category.
Here’s what works:
The key to closing a lot of deals is to always have a pipeline filled with opportunities. And the only way to accomplish that is through consistent prospecting, day in and day out. Searching for new business is difficult, but it’s what salespeople get paid to do. The more time you devote to prospecting, the higher on the board you’ll be.
Frequent touch-points correlate with higher close rates, so it’s critical that you stay in touch with prospects you’ve pitched, lest they forget about you or decide work with someone who followed up at the right time. Devoting time every day specifically to follow-up will pay dividends, especially if you’ve filled your pipeline with qualified prospects.
Not all prospects are created equal, but far too many salespeople believe the opposite is true. Spending hours talking to a prospect who isn’t qualified leads to the same outcome as spending hours staring at the ceiling. You need to qualify prospects out as quickly as possible, so you can move onto people who actually have the means and willingness to buy.
4. Building relationships
Since we only have a certain number of hours each day, it’s tempting to try to keep conversations short and sweet. But sometimes, slowing down can help you speed up. Taking the time to build rapport with qualified prospects can put you in the driver’s seat for the rest of the sales process, so don’t eschew a long, drawn-out conversation just because the clock keeps ticking.
5. Moving deals through the process
In an ideal world, a salesperson will have an effective sales support team that can guide deals through the pipeline and ensure all issues are handled quickly and properly. In reality, no one is going to care as much about a deal as the sales rep, so it’s incumbent on them to stay on top of it as it moves toward closing. While this might be a frustrating use of valuable time, it’s frequently necessary in order to win.
Here’s what doesn’t work:
1. Getting ready to get ready
Preparation is great, but there are plenty of salespeople who take it too far, spending more time on research and personal development than on doing the actual work. Get organized, read what you have to, but don’t forget that only action will get results. Someone who is less prepared but willing to throw themselves into the work is likely to succeed more than the planner who spends all their time planning.
2. Chasing the wrong prospects
On the flip side, working hard for the sake of working can backfire too, especially when you spend time talking to (and chasing) people who have no ability or intention of buying from you. This is why qualifying is so important: if you don’t identify whether someone has the need or ability to buy what you’re selling, you’re rolling the dice with your time instead of ensuring that it’s likely to have a payoff.
3. Administrative work
Unfortunately, most of us can’t control how much administrative work an employer requires, whether it’s expense reports, HR paperwork, or simply run of the mill office correspondence. But it’s in every company’s best interests to lighten the load of their salespeople when it comes to non-sales activity. Time spent filling out paperwork and responding to emails is time spent not selling.
4. Updating the CRM
The bane of many salespeople’s existence, CRM is also a notorious time-suck. Sure, it’s important to stay organized, but most CRMs have a negative return on time investment, offering nothing while asking for a lot. Spiro, of course, can eliminate this distraction, offering a proactive relationship management platform that does the work for you. Otherwise, you spend hours on data entry that won’t move the needle one bit.
As much effort as it requires to succeed in sales, it’s also a mind game. Positivity is a must, and there’s nothing that can take the wind out of a salesperson’s sails as quickly as self-doubt. When we start to question our abilities, and whether or not we have what it takes, we’re wasting time that could be better spent overcoming the very obstacles that are driving us nuts. Instead of brooding and worrying, take the next step and work your way out of it.