How much time do sales people actually spend selling? 6 steps to make sales time more effective

Here’s a really scary sales fact

According to one study (Go-Iko) the average sales person only spends 5% of their time on the phone. So what do sales people actually spend their time doing?

Well, according to this study, 59% of their time is spent in non-sales activity. 25% of their time is spent on internal meetings and administration. 18% of their time is spent generating leads and researching prospects. 15% of their time is spent on service calls and training.

Now it’s time for some more bad news

On average, a sales person needs to make 8.4 cold calls to achieve a meeting. But 48% of sales never follow up after the first call!

When you do get through a prospect you have just 20 seconds to generate some interest. If you can’t create the prospect’s interest in these first 20 seconds, you have lost them. They will put the phone down on you as soon as possible.

It is vital to make your sales time count! Given all the other pressures on a sales person, their sales time needs to be profitable. And given the lack of interest from the average prospect, it is important to make sure that you have a proven sales approach that maximizes your chances of bringing in results from your calling activity.

Here are six things every sales person should be doing to create profitable activity

The average sales person only spends 5% of thei time on the phone

The average sales person only spends 5% of thei time on the phone

1. Create a good prospect list

If you want to get results from your calling activity, you better be trying to make contact with the right people. Googling potential prospects is no longer enough. Consider spending some money on a proven data list. Equally, use the advanced search function on LinkedIn to come up with a highly-focused list of prospects.

In order to create the right lists, you have to know who is the right client for your company. That is something that many companies have never considered seriously enough. Even if there is an ideal type of client, this often hasn’t ben communicated to sales people.

2. Create a killer elevator pitch

Ringing me up as a buyer and trying to tell me about your great service, excellent quality and competitive prices means you sound exactly the same as the majority of your competitors. It also means you are a lazy sales person who hasn’t bothered to work out why your company and your products or services should matter to me as a buyer.

I recommend creating an elevator pitch based on the TPD Principle. TPD stands for Target Audience, Pain and Difference. In order to find out more about this, read this article.

3. Create sales time

It is very easy for a sales person to find that their whole day has been taken up with servicing current clients, dealing with internal issues and researching prospects. In fact, I suspect many sales people actually prefer doing this to actually selling!

A good sales person will create slots in their diary that are as important as client meetings. They cannot be interrupted or moved. They are reserved for sales calls. I have known some sales people that actually carry out all their calls from inside a parked car. It means that their sales activity cannot be derailed by other people in the office!

4. Qualify your prospect quickly

A good elevator pitch allows a prospect to state that they are interested or not. I’m being controversial, but I recommend asking prospects questions to find out more about whether they are the right fit for you. Are you talking to a decision maker or an influencer? Does your prospect have a budget or can they influence one? Does the company have a good credit rating?

Don’t be afraid to turn a prospect down. Not all business is good business.

5. Keep a good sales diary

Earlier in this article I stated that 48% of sales calls were never followed up on. As a buyer I was always surprised at the lack of persistence of many sales people. I would tell sales people when I was reviewing my spend on the products they wanted to produce for me. But I rarely had sales people following up when I told them too.

I keep a sales diary that lists when I am due to ring all my prospects. You can do this with any free task software. Each prospect is listed as a task. Every time I complete a call I make a quick note and move the task to the next calling date. I only ever remove a prospect/task if they are converted to a client or if I decide that I no longer wish to pursue their business.

6. Move on to new leads

Far too many sales people keep pursuing prospects who are never going to become clients. They have raised insurmountable issues that are deal breakers, but the sales person keeps trying to solve these issues. The prospects have displayed a stunning lack of interest but the sales person keeps trying to interest them.

At times like these it is far more profitable to drop the prospect. Your time is better spent moving on to new prospects that have a better chance of converting. (However, this advice does depend on you having followed step one and created a good prospect list.)

It’s time to make your sales time count!

Here are three things that you can do instantly to improve your sales results:

  1. Spend five minutes on LinkedIn. Use the advanced search feature (this is a free feature) to create a list of ideal prospects.
  2. Block out three 60-minute spaces in your diary over the next week. Reserve this for calling time.
  3. Enter your next set of calls into a task list. This means that you have a constant reminder of when calls are due and whether you have made them or not.

Do you only spend 5% of your time selling on the phone?

Step 2 will more than double this percentage straight away. This is your chance to perform better than these statistics. This is your opportunity to become an above average sales-person!
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