354 Sales Conversations In Just A Week!
I was astounded to read an article from a very enthusiastic sales person. He talked about the 354 conversations with C-Level executives he had in one week. The article captivated and horrified me at the same time.
By now, you know I’m a numbers guy. So I started running the numbers. I thought, “Hmm, the typical work week is 40 hours…….. well, actually no, everyone works more than that…….” You can see where I’m going.
I don’t know what the typical work week is, but let’s look at this data across 3 possible workweeks:
For a 40 hour workweek, to have 354 conversations, that’s 6.8 minutes per “conversation.”
Fro a 50 hour workweek, to have 354 conversations, that’s 8.5 minutes per “conversation.”
For a 60 hour workweek, to have 354 conversations, that’s 10.2 minutes per “conversation.”
But let’s think a little further. I don’t know about you, but I can’t spend 100% of my time on conversations. I’m ashamed to admit it, perhaps it’s a sign of my laziness, but maybe 2-3 times a day, I have to wander down the hall to get a cup of coffee or something to drink. Then 2-3 times a day I have to run to the bathroom (Hmmm, wonder if there is linkage?) Then, of course, I take a lunch break–actually, it’s about an hour so I can ride my bike and get some exercise. I have to do some research and preparation for calls. Then after a call I pause to take some notes, set the follow ups, and next steps. Then there’s all the other stuff that takes our time during a typical work week. Things like doing email, spending time with managers reviewing what we are doing, maybe every once in a while a meeting. So a lot of things impact the amount of time we actually have available to have sales conversations.
I keep going back to the number, 354 conversations with C Level executives in a week.
Math tells us these conversation are only a few minutes, but what we don’t know is the quality of those conversations.
What insight did we provide?
How did the customer respond? What questions did they raise? How did we handle the questions?
What discovery were we really able to do? What is the customer trying to achieve? What’s driving their need to do this?
And there are probably a several other things we might want to learn in a conversation.
Then I think of a “conversation”—effective conversations are not just a Ping-Pong game of Question/Answer. In a “conversation” we want to engage a customer, we want to probe and understand. We want to share our ideas and views–that’s part of engaging in a “conversation.”
So I’m still struggling, if I want to engage a customer in an impactful conversation, particularly a C-Level customer, how do I elicit all that stuff in only a few minutes? How much can we accomplish, how engaged is the customer, how do they feel about the conversation? Can we really engage the customer in a meaningful way, in only a few minutes?
Even, if my side of the conversation is pretty well scripted, the customer’s side never is. So they wander, they take time to think. Ideally, they start talking and I want to let them talk, I want to learn as much as I can.
I wonder, how did the customer feel about these conversations? Clearly, the sales person was shooting for a high volume of conversations. But did the customers feel as though they were being engaged? Did they feel they were being listened to and really heard? Or did they feel rushed and pressured?
So I wonder, are we really having impactful, high quality “conversations?”
But the story goes on, the sales person says those 354 conversations produced 42 appointments. Hmmm, about 12% of the people he spoke with agreed to a next step.
OK, I think I understand, clearly the objective of these calls was to set appointments. I get it, that’s a fair objective.
But then I think about it. If we are setting appointments, perhaps what we want to do is get a little more information about the customer, maybe we want to do a little more discovery, so in that we can be well prepared for the meeting (or the sales person making the call can be well prepared for the meeting). So we’ll want to probe a little more, we want to determine interests, motivations, who else should be involved. Maybe even where, when we should meet. And I want to take notes on this so I remember–or can provide them to the sales person so she can be prepared. My mind goes to these crazy things, I start running the math. Say, for those 42 conversations, it takes an additional 5 to 10 minutes–that’s 3-6 hours, but then that means all my other conversations have to be shorter……..
Clearly, this sales person’s goal is to get meetings. But this causes me to think. Is the right goal a meeting, or should it be setting the right meetings? I want to make sure every meeting I go to is a high impact meeting. I worry about the customer’s time being well spent, but, honestly, I’m more worried about my time being well spent. So I don’t want just any meeting, I want high impact meetings. So in such short conversations are we 1) Getting the right meetings with the right people? 2) Collecting/sharing all the information we need to have a high impact meeting? 3) Pre-empting the need for a meeting by taking the phone call to another level?
So this article has me thinking. Is 354 calls which produce 42 meetings good or bad? I really don’t know. I don’t know the objectives of the campaign.
I certainly admire this sales person’s enthusiasm, stamina, and kidney strength. I know even in my very best moments, I could never do what he did—but I’m not sure I would want to do what he did. But again, my goals and the conversations I engage people in may be very different than his.
When you start to do the math, it causes met to wonder.
We are always faced with the quantity/quality quandary. We want to move fast.
But I wonder, what if we slowed down? What if we had only 177 conversations? Would we have learned more? Would we have discovered more, could we have accomplished more, maybe even preempting the need for a meeting, or moving further to have a more substantive meeting.
Too often, in our rush for speed and quantity, we sacrifice quality. We sacrifice the opportunity to learn more, to develop the relationship.
I don’t know the answer, but we always have to look at the right balance of quality and quantity.
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