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Can You Make Your Annual Quota In 80 Days?

by David Brock on March 24th, 2011

We’re all busy.  We run from meeting to meeting, we’re busy doing research, reports, working on social media…. The list can go on.  No one suffers from a lack of activity—the key to sales productivity, though, is are we focusing on the right activities?  Ideally, as sales people, we want to spend as much of our time in customer/sales related activities as possible.  Recently, I heard a piece of data, roughly 40% of sales people’s time is spent working with customers in sales related activities.  Frankly I believe that probably high, I think the time is significantly less than that.

Think of it, on an annualized basis, once we eliminate weekends and holidays, at 40%, we have roughly 80 days to make our annual quota!

Are we focusing on activities that help us produce results–or are we wasting our time?  Are we as impactful as we possibly can be?

Sometime, it’s tough to tell.  We may be busy meeting with people at the customer, are we meeting with the right people?  Are we meeting with our friends and allies, or are we meeting with the people deeply involved in the decision?  Sometimes we fall into bad habits, or rely on too few people in the organization when we should be expanding our relationships.

When we meet with people, are we talking about the right issues–the issues important to them?  We spend a lot of time meeting with people, but if all we are doing is regurgitating a list of features and functions, we are wasting our time, more importantly, we’re wasting their time-we’re wasting our time.

Are we accomplishing as much as we can in each call?  Research we did several years ago showed sales people making 50% more calls than needed.  The reasons, poor call planning/preparation then poor execution.  Sales people spend a lot of their customer facing time going back, to cover things they forgot to do in the original meeting.  A small improvement in planning and executing calls has a dramatic impact in our productivity!

Little things rob us or our time to sell—-bad preparation for sales calls, bad organization, too much time in internal meetings, not leveraging tools that help our productivity, not planning the day/week and sticking to the plan, too much time on emails, constant attention to blackberries.  Sometimes an “avoidance” mentality impacts us, we find anything we can to distract us so that we can put off those calls to customers and prospects.

  • Are you using your time as effectively as possible?
  • Do you make every moment with a customer count?  Do you maximize your impact with every call?
  • Do you rigorously plan and schedule your time?
  • Do you look at thing that rob your time, that distract you?

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  1. Dave – Love the perspective! Never thought about it that way before. Strikes me as yet another compelling reason to create and maintain an electronic version of myself (via blog posts, video, etc.) to help me offset the inadequate planning, things I forget to say in actual sales calls… – Todd

    • Great comment Todd, we need to leverage everything possible to drive our productivity and our effectiveness. However, eliminating the source of errors, as you cite “inadequate planning,” etc. has more impact than anything else. No number of tweets or blog posts will make up for not achieving the most in a sales call and wasting the customer’s time.

      As we both have written and commented in the past, we seem to have inifinite time to correct something, but no time to plan and execute it right in the first place. This is simply inefficient and ineffective.

  2. Bruce Zimmerman permalink


    Excellent thoughts! Add in a few other misc. distractions and the time is actually much shorter. Makes me realize how important time management is. – Bruce

    • Bruce: We’ve actually done audits of Fortune 100 organizations and seen time available for selling as low as 17%. In large organizations, we see so many unconscious time robbers—-everyone is doing their job, achieving their objectives, talking to sales people, unwittingly robbing time. By focusing on those time robbers and changing nothing else, you can dramatically improve productivity. Then layer on that skills, focus, process, etc., imagine the gains that can be made.

      I really appreciate you joining the discussion, hope to see you as a frequent contributor!

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