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Society

Spend half your time in the field to bag sales

salesman
Some organisations have sales administrators, even systems to allow the salesman time to focus on prospective buyers. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

Time management is a huge challenge for most sellers. Interestingly, they do not see it that way but instead cry, “I have too much to do.” And it is easy to see why.

Most sellers are one man bands. They do everything themselves. Many times it is not their fault but their organisation’s structure. For instance, the typical insurance agent prospects, pitches, closes business, follows up payments, handles client complaints, peruses his monthly commission statements and follows up unpaid commissions.

Drowned in administrative work, it is easy to see why time management is not seen as a challenge, but instead, managing inundating work is. Some organisations have sales administrators, even systems, to carry that burden and allow the salesman to focus on selling. Surprisingly, even then, most sellers still struggle with juggling the chronometer ball.

Here’s a tip successful sellers share. Spend at least half your productive time with work that pays. And no, following up unpaid commissions is not such work. Building an unending supply of qualified people to sell to (a sales pipeline) is one such activity. Others include getting appointments, making presentations, handling objections, closing the sale, addressing thorny complaints live with customers and generally being in their face.

Technology allows us to make the face time figurative too. For instance, you can “WhatsApp” a link of a relevant article to the buyer with caption saying “Based on the procurement challenge you mentioned, I think you’ll find this of interest.” And no it doesn’t have to be related to what you are selling; just a genuine concern for the buyer’s progress. And this way, he has you top on his mind which incidentally, he doesn’t. His focus is on his job, not yours.

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What about the administrative work I still must do? Well, there’s after hours. A seller who embraced time management as his challenge relegated Saturday to address all his pending administrative issues including planning for the following week. Another says 5 to 6.30pm is when he does it. “At least by then the traffic will have cleared,” he explains. And this is the second tip: Selling is not a desk job; confining oneself to its hours limits productivity and personal progress.

This is a choice the seller makes without expecting compensation from the employer, like overtime payment. He knows the compensation will come in spades in form of extra sales from the dedicated investment in face time with buyers. Incidentally, this is why successful sales managers have developed a thick skin. They just don’t attend the regular management meetings which they are expected to simply because they have the title manager, and yet the meetings do nothing to meeting their sales targets. Instead, they commit their time to being with their team in the field.

What’s half your time spent on? Measure this with free productivity apps like iDoneThis.

Jealously guard your face time with the buyer. It pays.

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