Time Management in Sales

3 Ways to Use Your Selling Time Wisely

Are you using your selling time wisely? Is your selling time costing you too much? Real selling time is the time spent in closing sales and winning business, as opposed to the prospecting and research time, where you spend time identifying your target market you want to work in. The two should not be blended as active selling. To make better use of your selling time, take a look at the signs that you are on your way to closing the sale with prospects and clients. Here are a few selling tips on the behaviour you need to be doing to ensure you get the best return on time invested in building your sales funnel. Time is your most precious resource, so it’s worth using wisely.

1. Stop the Sell-and-Tell

I witnessed a hard sell-and-tell moment one time, which taught me a lot about what can go wrong when we imagine a sales opportunity winging its way to us! A well-intentioned sales person proceeded to unleash a breath-taking three minute sales pitch on to me and another unsuspecting punter. Not only did they overwhelm their listener with information they really didn’t need to know, but by the end of the conversation, what really stood out was the scare-mongering being dished out about using “other” products. What’s interesting about this is, the opportunity was lost to explore the benefits and quality products actually being offered. I kept imagining the worst-case scenarios that were being drip-fed into our brains about other lower quality products in the market. It is so easy to lose in a moment of eagerness to sell-and-tell.

Even more interesting, I recall observing the sales process going on in that moment and how little it was helping the sales person to even get us interested. Then it dawned in me how much dead selling time is created by these excruciating Sell-and-Tell moments. We really need to resist the temptation to go in for the rapid sale! As I said before, slowing down a conversation really does make you a better sales person. Instead, start training your ear to listen for signals from your prospects that they be interested. It’s all in their verbal and non-verbal language. Ask yourself, from a social perspective “How do I know when somebody is interested in what I have to say?” People will generally engage more and ask more questions about you and your business, if you spike their interest. There are always patterns and behaviours you can spot, so start looking and listening and stop the Sell-and-Tell spiel.

2. Make your Sales Conversations Productive

Productive sales conversation should give you at least three indicators that you are the right track: 1) you have clear information on where a prospect is with their level of interest and whether your service or product would even be of any use to them 2) you are having a quality conversation where the level of engagement and buying signals from a customer increases as the conversation proceeds 3) there is resulting call to action, where your prospect makes a decision to take the conversation to another level; to the next step or to a follow-up meeting. An agreed action must be clearly stated, if you are to make any progress. Always walk away from a conversation knowing that your prospect learned something valuable and wants to take action on it. And ideally, the action should include you. I call this getting them into the “yes” room in their head. Even if it is early stages , you should at least get them as far as “Yes, I want to explore this more.”

3. Understand the Decision-Making Process

It has always astounds me how little sales people can consciously explain how people make decisions to buy from them. You can learn how to sell, but if you cannot track and identify buying decisions, you are missing at least half the equation in selling successfully. This is the most fundamental and most powerful indicator that you are going to win business. To be able to do this, you will need to take your listening and observation skills to another level. It takes time, but the rewards are there if you develop your selling skills and communication skills to this level.

A prospect is continually giving indicators in their language of where they are in moving forward. Pay particular attention to discussions around the changes they wish to make, the problems they want to give rid of and the new ways they want to operate, whether personally or in their business. Keep the conversation focussed on this. The secret lies in being able to detect clear buying signals. And every buyer is completely different in how they process their decision. If you want to quickly understand a buying decision, think back to when you bought your last car. Splice it frame-by-frame and see how you finally went to the “yes” room in your head. In the world of coaching, we call these meta-program or patterns of behaviour. Detecting these patterns takes your selling to a whole other level.

Return on Time Invested

As a sales person, do you believe you are getting the best return on the time you invest with each client? You may be making your targets, but the question that comes to mind is “how much did each client cost you?” Did you do 1 meeting with one and 5 with another to make the sale at the same price? I understand that sometimes we have to give our time and our energy to clients we value. But sometimes the cost of a customer may not be worth the time invested. The 80/20 principle is worth mentioning here. 20% of your customers bring you 80% of your profit.

My suggestion here is to ensure you cover yourself on the 3 headings I mentioned above to recover the selling time invested. Stop the Sell-and-Tell. Have a KPI (key performance indicator) for your selling time and be very clear what you want a prospect to get from the meeting. Notice I said “what you want a prospect to get from the meeting!” Be able to review and articulate how the prospect made the decision to choose you over your competitor. And always get a Call-to-Action from the meeting, even if it’s a case of abandoning the conversation.

Finally, step outside your standard modus operandi by seeing every buyer as a different decision-making process and start looking for patterns. Making the most of your selling time really does need to be the focus of your business, if you want to get the best for you, your company and your clients.

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