10 Errors to Avoid in Sales Part 2 – Not Actually Selling

How do I get the most from my time so that I can sell more?

The best natural salesperson that I have ever met is a personal trainer, Steve, in Cape Town, South Africa. I do not think that he would even see himself as a salesperson, but without realising it, that is all he does.

He is in great physical shape, and enters bodybuilding competitions every now and then just to stay motivated, and so his body basically sells his product. But it is his way with people that really makes me see him as a salesperson. He listens, and gives good advice, but does so in such an assertive, natural way that people cannot help but buy the food products, supplements and gym apparel that he suggests. He is not even making money from any of it, but people all buy what he suggests!

Now, the reason that I say he is the most natural salesperson is that it is manner. People listen to, and follow his advice. If he was in real sales, I am almost certain he would be an absolute star. But why am I only almost certain...?

Building rapport with people, and getting them to commit to what you are offering, is a very large part of sales. But I have seen other people almost as good as him at working with people struggle when it comes to a full time sales role. Why is that?

Successful Salesman

In many cases, these people have gone into sales because somebody has seen them in action, whether it be socially, or in some other job role, and told them that they would be great in sales. They then get themselves a sales job, and suddenly it is not as easy as people were saying it would be. The problem is more often than not, that although they can sell really well, they are not actually spending enough time selling. Things just keep getting in the way.
Most people think 'selling' is the same as 'talking'. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job. – Roy Bartell

The single biggest focus that any person in a sales role should have is to maximise the time spent actually selling. Unfortunately, sales does seem to generate additional activities. There can be paperwork. There can be training that you need to provide to clients who have just bought your product. There can be reports, and giving feedback to management, and forecasting and on and on and on…

The key: find as many ways as possible to minimise the time lost on non-sales activities. I have worked at a company that had many salespeople. When I started there, they were responsible for everything related to their own sales. We first identified one sales lady that was so good, any time spent on admin was potential revenue lost. So we hired her an assistant. If she obtained commitment over the phone, the assistant prepared and sent out the paperwork. The extra revenue, and profit, more than made up for the admin lady’s salary.

That taught the company a lesson, and while the other salespeople were not as good and could not justify the salary of an assistant on their own, we hired three admin staff to do all the paperwork for the balance of the sales team between them. Every single person was now on the phone to clients more, and closing more deals. They had not been slacking off or anything, just not using their time as well as they could have been.

A secondary benefit arose from this, though. While training the new admin people on what they needed to be doing, it provided an opportunity to re-evaluate processes, and actually cut out and remove some of what was no longer felt to be necessary. It then made the admin staff more effective and time-efficient, so they could do more admin, and even take over some other of the chores, like Customer Service calls. Even less for the sales staff to worry about.

So How do I Spend More Time Selling?

For those of you in sales, strive to do everything that you can to maximise the time you can spend selling. Is there something that you do not need to do, or do out of the core times when you can be reaching your clients? If you can, do that so that you can be on the phone when you need to. Are there quicker ways to get things done? Could you have a conference call or video conference, rather than drive an hour each way to meet with somebody in person, and lose two hours travel time?

Video Call

Think of what you can do yourself, and ask for help from other people who can give guidance on what else you can try. Sometimes people not familiar to your situation can come up with the best advice, as they are not sitting with the same blinkers on as you.

If you are in management, or are a supervisor, the way to best maximise your results is going to be ensuring that the staff are as productive as possible. This might mean improving people’s sales abilities, but it might also mean providing the coaching and training that will allow them to use those skills more. Can you as a manager do anything to remove admin, or simplify procedures? Can you coach people privately to make them each more time efficient?

I think that I was a reasonably good salesperson personally, but I certainly improved when I was put through time management training and learnt how to batch my work. I was now using those skills with more clients! I had not intentionally been inefficient, I had just not been shown a better way. Other people might be the same, they may be working very hard, just not smart and efficient. Give them those skills that will allow them to actually be selling more, and then they can close more. We all know sales is a numbers game, so enable people to talk to as many people as possible, and you have more opportunities to win business. And if you do want to bring in support that can think outside your little box, bring in outside help that can provide people with those skills to use. Everybody will benefit of your salespeople are actually selling!

For more about spending time actively selling, have a look at the Duane Spark Action Selling books. Or if you'd like to see how Activia can help you, please visit the sales training section of our website

What do you think? Let us know what you think in the comments below.




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10 Errors to Avoid in Sales