Recently I was questioning a sales manager about the number of new sales interviews each of her sales team did each week.
Her answer was that a week probably wasn’t the right duration – more like a month.
When I asked how many they were doing a month the answer was that they would be lucky to average one a month each.
The explanation for this she said was that they were busy sorting customer problems, building the relationship, doing pricing/proposals, delivery services or installations.
My thoughts were she didn’t have salespeople; she had very expensive mobile customer service reps disguised as salespeople.
This is a problem I see in many businesses I work with – the sales teams getting bogged down in the admin and low payoff areas of the business.
There are two reasons for this –
Firstly the company is under resourced which means the salespeople must be “jacks of all trades”. While I understand not all businesses can afford to add adequate support staff to take on the extra duties that could be delegated by the sales team, the questions I asked the sales manager were –
1. What was an average client spend over 12 months Answer: $6000
2. What was the average conversion ratio of your salespeople? (Most businesses guess around 80%, in fact conversions for most companies run at around 35-45%, say we work on 50%)
3. How many extra appointments with new prospects could your sales team do if we took away one activity, say quoting? Answer: 5 new appointments per week
If they converted half of these that would be 2.5 extra sales per week or $15k if we translate these into dollars or $780k over 12 months
Quite a compelling argument for freeing up your sales teams time!
The second reason is a lack of confidence in the actual salespeople themselves usually due to a lack of sales skills/systems. Interestingly enough I often see this lack of confidence in very experienced salespeople who have fallen into the role of “farmers” over the years.
“Farmers” is the term given to salespeople who spend the majority of their selling time managing existing clients and selling to these clients and slowly get out of the habit of prospecting and selling to new clients.
These “farmers” have become busy looking after the relationships they originally gained through prospecting.
The lack of confidence to go out and prospect for new clients generally stems from a lack of a step by step plan on how to prospect.
The answer most sales managers and business owners offer on how to prospect is “go knock on enough doors and you will get the business”. This is known as “cold calling” which is defined as: “calling on a prospect who may not know you and isn’t expecting a call”.
Some companies believe sending a letter then ringing helps to warm the call up. In my opinion the only advantage of this type of approach is that it may save the salesperson a little time.
Cold calling is a punishment for not having a prospecting plan.
We will look at this in more depth in my next article.
There’s no magic to it, and you don’t need a lot of natural talent.
What you need is a disciplined organized approach to selling.
If you have that, you’ll outperform the great salesman
who doesn’t understand the process every time.
Selling can definitely be learned.
Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.