In general, salespeople (and I include in this group all small business owners who spend some of their time on sales) do not spend as much time selling as they think they do. I have described in previous blogs how lead generation is the most important task in most small businesses. The only reason I rank lead generation as more important than converting leads into sales (i.e. selling) is that without leads, even the best salesperson in the world will fail.
Selling is, without doubt, a critical process and, unless you are able to sell directly from your website, it will involve you and your colleagues talking to, meeting with and interacting with prospects.
Assuming your leads are all properly qualified, there will be a direct correlation between the number of leads you engage with and the volume of the resulting sales.
More leads will usually mean more sales.
All you need to do is to put the requisite effort into sales activities which convert your leads into sales. There are no shortcuts.
How much time do you and your sales staff (if you have them) actually spend selling? The answer will be a low number. In many cases, it is far too low.
There have been many studies over the past 30 years looking into this issue, with surprisingly consistent results. Studies in the USA that found salespeople spent no more than 2 hours a day engaged in tasks that might be described as selling were common. The performance of sales teams across Europe will be similar.
There is much to be gained by motivating salespeople to spend more of their time selling. It will require a change in the mind set of company managers, who will have to find additional staff to take on all the non-selling tasks currently performed by salespeople.
Keep a record of how much time you and your team spend in a month selling to qualified prospects. This excludes the time you spend travelling to meetings and the time you spend sending prospects emails and leaving voicemail messages. You are trying to focus on the number of hours spent engaging prospects in a two-way dialogue, nothing else.
Having done this, you might be embarrassed. You might think there has been some mistake in recording the time spent engaged in selling. Go ahead and repeat the exercise. Even in the second month, when you are subconsciously more tuned into maximising selling opportunities, the results will be similar.
How do you quickly double the size of your business? Spend twice as much time selling to qualified prospects. Find the time by cutting out all the unimportant tasks from your schedule and focus on the few tasks that are critically important to the ongoing success of your company.
You can double (sometimes triple) your revenues without any increase in sales resources by doing this. Your profitability will soar as the only additional costs you will incur are travel and subsistence spent visiting more prospects.
Why don’t more small business owners do this?
It is simply because they aren’t very good at organising and prioritising their time. They will gravitate towards tasks they feel comfortable doing. Their schedule begins to fill with less important (but more interesting) jobs and they suddenly become “too busy” to be selling.
Do you know where your time goes? What activities soak up a disproportionate amount of your time?
When I ask owners to double the time they spend selling, they always identify plenty of reasons (excuses) why they can’t do so. They can list many activities which they must undertake. In most cases, these tasks may be important but are not as important as selling. Consider delegating these peripheral (and important) tasks and spend more time talking to prospects. The impact on your business will be significant.
Some owners will not be comfortable with the idea of spending more time selling. They are not comfortable selling at all. They will prefer to focus on other tasks. This is an easy situation to deal with. Recruit someone who can (and is willing to) sell your products/services.
- How much time does each of your sales staff really spend selling? Analyse how you spend your time and prepare to be shocked.
- Aim to double your revenues and profits by doubling the time your business spends selling to qualified prospects.