Protect Sales Team Prospecting Times
Ronan, we are doing well. Sales are growing. We are ahead of target.
So, you are a happy person?
Well, sort of. I am concerned that we are falling into a trap we fell into in 2008 and 2009.
What do you mean?
Well, the sales started to roll in over the years preceding 2009. We were enjoying double-digit growth. Just like now. But, it was all inbound. Our phones were ringing.
And then silence. The phones stopped ringing. And we had lost our way too. We had lost the skill of selling. We didn’t know how to hunt any longer. We had a team of processors. Order Takers. And it hurt us when we needed the real selling skills.
You weren’t alone. And why the concern now?
We are back to Order Taking mostly. Our phones aren’t ringing. Times have changed. But we are getting inbound enquiries on our website and via email. We do not have to work hard for the business. And although I am delighted about that. I am also conflicted. I don’t want to fall into a complacency trap. Too much of our current growth is “surprise growth”.
Yes, we hadn’t planned for it. We didn’t forecast it. It is just happening. Now I know what you are going to say. We have a clear strategy. We spent a lot of time and worked on the sales plans. We have executed well on implementing the new Sales Process. We do have our CRM in place, and it is working well for us.
But, we are not actively prospecting.
Ah, yes the success trap. We get full sales pipelines, and we are so busy focused on closing what we have. We forget about what we need in 3 months, 6 months or 12 months.
Yes. And as you know our focus is not on a major new client acquisition drive. We want to grow business with existing clients. And we are not actively prospecting for new sales opportunities with existing clients.
So prospecting for your team is NOT a non-negotiable.
And you do not measure levels of prospecting activity weekly, or monthly?
So why not look at your sales team’s week. And make it a non-negotiable to spend just two hours every week prospecting?
I know what they will say, Ronan. Where are we going to get two hours from? We are busy now.
Yes, everyone is. But, the reality is that salespeople spend as little as 23% of their week selling. That is a whopping 77% NOT selling. Doing administration mostly and attending unnecessary meetings.
Wow, I knew it was a problem, but I wouldn’t have known just how severe.
And remember, what gets measured and reported grows exponentially. So if you start to set it as a non-negotiable and measure activity levels. You will begin to see results. But as always there is a caveat.
You need to get buy-in from the team. Simply enforcing a new non-negotiable won’t work.
That’s exactly what I was thinking. They are a great team. They work hard, and I don’t want to place an unnecessary burden on them.
So what do you suggest? What options do you have?
Stage one for me is a no-brainer. I need to identify first how we are managing our week. We are too reactive as a team. It has been a result of the extra business. But, we are stretched, and it is rooted in poor focus and time management. I need to analyse what we are doing. How we spend our time and how we can eliminate unnecessary tasks, meetings and interruptions in our week. If I can see what we do. I’ll be able to uncover where the bottlenecks lie.
Sounds like a plan to me. Analyse what we do, then look for the bottlenecks. And then?
Then we can get together as a team and figure as a unit, how we can free up a minimum of 2 hours every week to prospect. I’ll know the bottlenecks. They will know how best to eliminate them. And if I involve them, hopefully, they will feel a part of the solution too.
When do you plan to do this?
I’m going to give myself a month to study how we spend time. And then we can book a team session off-site. It will be better if we are out of the office. And we can thrash it out there.
Great. Oh, by the way. What impact do you think 2 hours every week of prospecting time would have on the business?
You know what, Ronan. I can’t answer that off the top of my head. But I’m certain it could have a huge impact. I’m going to look at the numbers and come back to you with a figure. It will really focus my mind.
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