Lean Sales And Marketing — High Variability, Low Productivity
Sales people don’t like the routine! We do different things every day. Each situation is different, each call is different. There’s huge variability in our jobs — or so we like to think. But is it really true? Is it really true that we can’t plan our days, that there aren’t some standard practices or processes that we leverage?
The job os the sales person is certainly not routine. Each sales situation is different, each customer situation is different–all this is true. But it’s important to understand the difference between the “content” of what we do and the structure of what we do. If everything were truly different, we would be incredibly unproductive. Our win rates would plummet, our sales cycles would be endless, our ability to achieve our goals would be completely out of our control.
Our jobs aren’t as unpredictable as we like to think or the excuses we tend to make. Think about it……
The cornerstone to high performance sales is the Sales Process. The sales process is the set of activities and steps we undertake that most effectively and efficiently enable us to engage with the customer–moving them through their buying process and helping them reach a decision. The sales process is based on our best experience in selling. It’s the set of activities that we know consistently enable us to win. Without a sales process, we are just wandering aimlessly.
The next element to reducing the variability in what we do is Sales Call Planning. Not planning our meetings is a waste of time–ours, but more importantly, our customers’! Planning our calls assures that both we and our customers are prepared to accomplish something in the meeting, that we create value for each other and that we are moving through our selling and buying processes.
We also do Account and Territory Planning–or we should. How do we expand our relationships in the account or territory? How do we maximize the business we get from each, growing our share and relationships. The most effective sales people don’t just do this randomly, but they have a structured process–they analyze their accounts and territories, assessing the potential. They conduct structured marketing and prospecting programs. They build and nurture relationships over time.
Finally, putting structure to our days and weeks is important to maximizing our effectiveness. Blocking time, prospecting, customer meetings, preparation, learning, research — all enable us to accomplish things and move to accomplishing our goals.
High variability destroys productivity and effectiveness. If we insist on high variability in the way we do our jobs, it’s like living in Bill Murray’s “Ground Hog Day” all the time. We end up being very busy but accomplishing very little.
Don’t succumb to the excuse of not putting structure and process to the way you (and your organization) operate. If you want to maximize your impact, win rate, results and effectiveness, examine every aspect of how you work. Examine everything you do–sure the content–discussions in each meeting you have will vary (not as much as we think), but you know the basic structures and processes that drive your effectiveness. Strive to reduce the variability to maximize your productivity.
Note To My Readers: My apologies, I haven’t been writing as frequently as I like to and that you’ve gotten used to. I appreciate all the emails asking if things are OK. I’ve just been a little over committed with projects and some other things. Also, to be truthful, I’ve been suffering a little from writer’s block — I’d love any topics you think I should be writing about.
I’ll be getting back to my more normal publishing schedule in the coming weeks. Thanks for your patience and support!
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