How do we find the time to look and hunt for new business in today’s digitally driven business world? With so many distractions with technology, it is absolutely vital there are coordinated and focused efforts to find new business. In order to do this effectively, salespeople have to have more discipline and thought behind how they are best utilizing their time effectively to prospect and find new clients. This article will provide some suggestions and tips to help salespeople stay out in front of this difficult, but extremely important task.
Today’s business world is full of distractions more now than anytime I can remember. There are so many different types of distractions, but the one that always come to mind is the technology that we all have. Whether it is our cell phone, tablet, computer or even fitness device, we are constantly being interrupted by calls, texts, or notifications.
Salespeople more than any other role in most businesses are the ones who are tasked with constant communication. Whether it is calling a new customer, responding to a customer demand, communicating with the inside team to get a proposal done, providing feedback to leadership on things they are working on or even communicating with different departments at the client’s office for things like payments, communication is happening constantly throughout the day.
In my years of working with CEOs and businesses, one of the primary frustrations they tend to voice is they don’t feel their salespeople are doing enough prospecting. That is something I have been hearing and seeing for the last 20 years, long before the technology distractions were at the level they are now.
There are many different strategies and tactics that salespeople could employ to help stay in front of this, but in my experience, there are three things that stand out that help the most.
- Manage notifications and distractions
- Target prospects
- Have more discipline around travel time
Manage Notifications and Distractions
Many salespeople, particularly those in mature industries like manufacturing, were taught to always respond quickly to any request from a client. While showing good customer service is important, if the relationship between the salesperson and client is healthy, the client will respect the fact that the salesperson is busy as well and cannot always respond immediately. When you combine all the notifications from cell phones and other devices now with their default mindset on how to respond to customers, salespeople are more reactive than ever before. In order to have any type of focused time to do the behaviors necessary to find new clients, salespeople must minimize these distractions and have a mutual respect not only for the client’s time, but also their own.
Try shutting off notifications on all devices. If you are driving in the car, in the middle of an appointment or task, there is no benefit to having these on. In fact, if you see them, they only create distraction and stress and are not something you could handle anyway. In addition, think of responding to these emails and texts as just another task in your day, rather than something that you drop everything for to respond to when they come in. Doing this frees up your mind to focus on other important activities in a salesperson’s day, like prospecting.
When salespeople have precious few moments to have time to reach out to new prospects, too often the mindset is if they have a list of 20 potential prospects, they just blindly start calling. The problem with this is, unless the list was vetted by some internal research to help determine ideal fit, many of the 20 may not even be the right prospect. They may have no need or interest in your product or service. This leads to a lack of success for the effort and frustration on the part of the salesperson.
Instead of that approach, review the common characteristics of your top 20-30 best clients. Determine if there are some common themes, like the size of the company, the industry they are in, or the method used to get in there (like referral versus cold call). You will almost always find commonalities. Once you do, take a little bit of time to find other prospects with those same characteristics.
Next take a few minutes to look at social media like LinkedIn to determine if there might be some common connection that could help you get introduced into the new prospect rather than cold calling. Using just a few of these key strategies will help your success rate and shorten the time frame to convert them from a prospect to a customer.
Have More Discipline Around Travel
Salespeople in most businesses are required to travel to see prospects and customers. The attitude most salespeople and many business owners have around the expense of travel is, “if you are going to go to a certain city to see a customer, why not try to fill the week with appointments and see as many prospects as you can.” However, here is typically what happens. The salesperson books one qualified appointment, then starts calling other prospects in the same area, with the line, “could I take 10 minutes while I am in the area to stop by and introduce myself.” A lot of buyers are willing to allow that, but invariably the salesperson wastes a week and the only person they do business with is the one they initially booked the trip to go see.
A smarter practice today is once travel is committed, call other potential prospects in that area, if they fit within your ideal target. Have a conversation with someone there to determine if there is a real need for your product or service. If you can get another meeting that is qualified appropriately, then go on the meeting. If not, cut your trip short and come home, freeing up significant time.
Salespeople today have to be more disciplined than ever with their time and these three tips are just a few ways to get some of that precious time back.
Ken Guest, co-author with Mike Jones of SELLING IN MANUFACTURING AND LOGISTICS, is a Sandler trainer who advises organizations and individuals to help them discover their true potential and develop innovative solutions that create sustainable change. Along with Jones, he currently heads Sandler Training consultancies in Columbus and Akron, Ohio.
For more information, please visit https://www.sandler.com/resources/sandler-books/selling-manufacturing-and-logistics.