Add me to mailing list    |           |      Search

Sales Make it Happen

Focus On Results

A significant number of salespeople confuse activity with productivity, and in doing so are less productive than they might be. They believe, sometimes for their entire careers, that activity of almost any kind will lead to sales success. If ever that was true, it is no longer true today. More than ever, salespeople are evaluated and judged on the results they produce, and the competitive landscape isn't patient with underperformers.

Focusing on results, not work, provides the greatest opportunity for success in sales. To maximize success, a salesperson must avoid the myriad time traps that divert attention and rob precious selling hours. Too many salespeople get caught up in addressing customer complaints, solving internal operational problems, and schmoozing with their established customers. When a salesperson focuses on results, these and other time traps can be avoided.

First, if a salesperson continually handles customer complaints, it's time to talk with management about determining the legitimacy of the complaints. Where complaints are justified, suggestions should be offered to management on how the problems might be addressed and solved. As a guardians of their time, and productive members of the sales team, salespeople have an absolute right to explain, firmly and professionally, that they cannot perform at optimum levels if forced to take on the additional responsibility of customer problem solvers.

If salespeople experience customer dissatisfaction as a result of internal operational problems, they will again want to approach management with observations and suggestions for improvement. Spending any significant time on workarounds designed to overcome operational difficulties points to a systemic problem that will keep salespeople from performing to their full potential.

Now for the time trap in which salespeople waste the most time, and over which they have the most control - schmoozing with their customers. Far too many salespeople spend time with their customers under the guise of maintaining good relationships. In reality, spending too much time schmoozing customers keeps salespeople in a comfort zone where they avoid some of the difficult work of sales, like prospecting, qualifying and closing new business.

America's oldest exercise guru, Jack LaLanne, once said, "If it's not good for you, don't eat it; if it tastes good, spit it out!" Salespeople may not want this type of harsh advice when it comes to managing their time, but borrowing from Jack LaLanne's example, "If it doesn't help you prospect for new business, qualify opportunities, facilitate orders, close business, maintain customer relationships, report activities to management, or advance your sales education and training - don't do it!

--- from the desk of a retired, successful leasing company president.