The Biggest Mistake Sales Reps are Making - And How to Fix It

Elaina Engel

 A recent 2017 Sales Benchmark report had some eye-catching statistics that really wowed me. In low performing organizations, sales representatives only spend 20% of their time speaking to customers. This means that during an eight-hour work day, these sales reps spend less than two hours actually selling!


But what really is selling time? Selling time is spent working with or for a prospect or customer.  And s
ales reps, by definition, work with customers to sell their products/solutions. Everything else is non-selling time. However, sales reps may find themselves spending more time doing administrative work than with clients. These are the organizations that find their overall performance falling short. How much time do your sales rep spend selling?

Needless to say, sales can’t happen unless reps spend more time with their customers and prospects. Furthermore, sales reps also need to make sure they’re spending quality time building relationships with their client base. Time blocking for client interaction is critical to a sales reps calendar.  Here are the Top 4 Ways that representatives can ensure that time with clients is time well spent:

1.  Face to Face Meetings

Meeting in person, early on in the relationship is a terrific way to create a stronger bond with you and the client or prospect.  Scientists indicate that 87% of all communication is non-verbal.  Face to face meetings (or through a Video Webinar) allows you to pick up the non-verbal communication.  This allows you to understand their problem better and solution to it.  Also, don’t overlook long-standing clients. You may assume they know they are valued as a client, but hosting face to face time reinforces and/or enhances the relationship.

2.  Utilizing Networks

Connect your clients and prospects to other contacts that might be able to assist each other. When you introduce two people, their first talking point will be their mutual contact, YOU. Be sure the networking is mutually beneficial. For example, introducing an accountant to another accountant is generally not helpful. However, introducing an accountant to a start-up business owner is extremely helpful to both of them.

3.  Listen

When you’re with them, listen to what they’re saying and be responsive. On top of that, write down anything noteworthy. For example, their secretary’s name, what they enjoy doing outside of work, kids (or pets) names, birthdays, etc. This will be helpful for future conversation starters.

4.  Write Handwritten Notes

With almost everything being electronic these days, handwritten notes stand out as a sincere gesture. Some examples of respectable notes can be anything from:

  • Thank you for the meeting, business contact or sale
  • An article about their industry
  • A magazine highlighting their favorite sport or other interest
  • Congratulation note on milestones (10 year anniversary, promotion, goal achievement)

 
The bottom line is your becoming a high performing sales organization isn’t easy. As a sales rep, you must be willing to spend quality time with customers. Typically, clients and prospects will not come to you, you have to spend time going to them. Buyers prefer to work with representatives they know and trust. Having as many positive interactions as possible builds trust, and trust builds business. And do things differently than other sales reps.  It helps you stand out.

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Elaina Engel

Elaina Engel

Elaina focuses on enabling sales teams through analyzing best practices. Her consulting work has touched a variety of industries in healthcare, technology, financial services, media, and professional services.