When your sales people say they are making sales calls, what are they actually doing? The assumption here is that your people are in fact putting in the road hours (are they?). Even if they are on the road and visiting customers, many sales people tend to set (if any) vague call objectives. Nowadays it is becoming crucial, wherever this is not endangering the sale and of course without becoming pushy fridge to Eskimo type sales people, to reduce the closing time of our sales. We simply can’t afford to wait as long as we could four years ago for the prospect to sign. The key phrase here is “efficient planning”. This requires sales persons to set targets for each sales call. Just booking an appointment and playing it as it comes once we sit down in front of the customer to be, was never a best demonstrated practice but under today’s circumstances it is criminal. Time is a resource and this is no time to be wasting resources. Customer facing time is a valuable commodity and not a minute of it should be squandered. On the sales person’s side, their company has probably made cut backs so that they are doing more with less. Maybe sales support has been trimmed; maybe some of the lagging sales reps have gone the way of the dodo. Whatever the case, time is money. The same applies on the other side of the desk so prospective clients will appreciate professionals who don’t waste their time.
Make sure that your sales people, especially the less experienced, can rate the success of a sales call. According to one school of thought a sales call always results in a sale: Either you sell them a product or they sell you bull. The more scientific approach is that, barring an outright rejection and the equivalent of a kick in the proverbial, there are two possible outcomes: A continuance or an advancement. In the first case the customer may comment favorably on the presentation, the sales pitch, the excellent brand name and so on, but doesn’t commit to anything. The rookie sales rep feels good leaving the customer’s premises and is satisfied with a job well done. The seasoned sales person recognizes the continuance. The whole process has been pushed to some vague point in the future. What the rep should be aiming for is the advancement. Some deliverable that brings the closing phase that little bit closer. This could be a meeting with the CFO, a request for specific prices or referrals etc.When planning their calls, your sales people should have in mind what kind of advancement they are aiming for, and then go out and get it.
So, are you selling or being sold?