Our sales training partners in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto know that Sales proactivity is the one ingredient that consistently fuels higher sales. All good Salespeople want to be more proactive, yet great intentions can easily be hijacked by internal meetings and other distractions that can keep you from your clients. So, how can you get your day back and focus it in the right direction? This one technique is an eye-opening experience and the start of making higher sales.
Ask a Professional Salesperson if they would like more meetings, reports, projects, and committees and you’ll get the expected response that comes with a roll of the eyes. Here’s the kicker: Forbes estimates that nearly two-thirds (64.8%) of a Salespersons’ time, on average, is spent in non-revenue generating activities, leaving only 35.2% for functions related to selling. Field reps are somewhat ahead, spending 3.1% more time selling than their inside sales counterparts.
How Do You Increase Sales Proactivity?
First, let’s offer a simple, clear definition of the 3 levels of sales activity.
Inactivity: Asleep at the wheel, a Salesperson appears to have no direction or desire to improve. He or she is biding time waiting for something else to turn up. To them, sales is not a career, it’s a job with little engagement. This Salesperson tends to spend most of their day hiding from their Manager and staying under the radar. I highly doubt anyone reading this post, fits into this category. While we all have more productive days than others, inactivity is inexcusable.
Reactivity: This is where most Salespeople spend most of their day and week doing their best to juggle demands and tasks that are expected of them internally and by their clients.
The purest form of reactivity is distinguished by understanding that as a Salesperson, you are reacting to something that someone else expects of you. Attendance at a Sales Meeting, an Aging Receivables Report requested by your Sales Manager or client expectation for an upcoming meeting are all examples of reactive task management.
This is not a bad thing. There are times that reactivity is demanded of you. Your ability to be efficient and get things done means you will have the respect of co-workers, management, and buyers. Many good Salespeople are known to be very talented in the reactive phase. For them, there is nothing quite like striking off the tasks you had planned for the day.
However, just know this – you are being reactive.
Proactivity: This is where a Professional Salesperson is doing something that originates with them. They are the creator of the task or initiative because they feel it will have a huge positive impact on the client or internal relationship. Great Salespeople know the power of proactivity. It’s the jet fuel required for combustion and higher sales.
Prospecting, asking your Client or Manager for a meeting, creating a report to show a client’s buying history and entering sales follow-up in your CRM are all proactive because the action started on your own volition.
Analyze your Weekly Schedule
As I’m sure you’ve heard the saying – if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. In one week, this simple exercise will show you where you stand in your level of proactivity versus reactivity. Categorize your activities over one full week allocating the time devoted to each. Try to be as accurate as possible recording 15-minute time blocks – whether they were scheduled or un-announced like so many client emergencies. Place a “P” for proactivity or “R” for reactivity next to each task based on its origin. Remember, proactivity means you’re the creator of the activity. Reactivity is your response from someone else’s proactivity.
7 Typical Daily Tasks for Great Salespeople
I believe this covers the full scope of what needs to get done in a day, however, please let me know in the comments section if you think I’ve overlooked something.
- Email sales activity
- Phone sales activity
- Face to Face sales activity with clients or prospects
- Sales Administration: (Preparation, research, pricing, CRM entry)
- Meetings internally
- Travel Time
- Other (Lunch, errands, personal time, etc.)
Step #1 To Double Your Sales Proactivity
Total the 7 areas to see the actual time allotment invested in each activity. This will be your first realization as you use a creative top-down approach to analyze your week. Of course, we will always have the weeks from hell where we feel more like a fire-fighter than a Salesperson. Take these into account and look at a week that you’d typically experience.
The Sweet Spot for Top-Producing Salespeople – Weekly Time Allotment
- Email sales activity: 5 -7.5 Hours/Week
- Phone sales activity: 5-7.5 Hours/Week
- Face to Face sales activity with clients or prospects: 5-7.5 Hours/Week
- Sales Administration: (Preparation, research, pricing, CRM entry): 5 Hours/Week – maximum!
- Meetings internally: 5 Hours/Week – maximum!
- Travel Time: 5-7.5 Hours/Week
- Other (Lunch, errands, personal time, etc.): 5 -7.5 Hours/Week
Total: Every week will be different; however, top-performing Salespeople will find themselves somewhere at the higher end of between 40 – 50 Hours/Week. Be aware of the time vampires of Sales Administration and Internal Meetings. Be careful that you don’t allow email to suck up more of your day as a replacement to having discussions and face to face meetings with your clients. Talking with buyers on the phone and in-person should total no less than 25% of your week. Watch out for overly social co-workers and other distractions that can easily hijack your day.
Years ago, I remember removing the guest chair in my office cubicle to ensure that all conversations with me were kept brief and timely. That alone saved me 5 hours per week.
Step #2 To Double Your Sales Proactivity – Proactivity and Reactivity Time Allotment
Here’s the next interesting exercise. Total up your proactivity and reactivity time allotment. Be honest with yourself to ensure you get a true reading.
Here’s the sweet spot in this area:
Proactivity: No less than 60% of all weekly hours. Goal: Push yourself up to 70%
Reactivity: No more than 40% of your weekly hours. Push yourself down to 30%
My Final Takeaways
Top-performing Salespeople focus on being proactive with clients by seeing them face to face (outside Salespeople), on the phone and through email. Everything else is necessary, yet secondary to the job. The key is to be aware of where your time is allocated.
Either you are in control of your day or your day, your boss and what you perceive your job to be is in control of you. Smart Sales Managers get this and are opened minded to you sharing the results of this exercise.
We all will have days of imbalance. We need to be aware of them by using these 2 Steps to double your sales proactivity to swing the ratio to our favor as soon as possible. What do you think? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Having great sales skills always makes a difference with your time spent. Consider our online course The Sales Skills Incubator for $199 CAD including tax. We’re also in the final stages of producing our latest online sales training course, Negotiating 2 Party Payoffs. Every great Salesperson wants to learn the skills of being a great negotiator. If you wish to be notified when the course is launched or future sales ensure that you are signed up to receive the PROSALESGUY BLOG by email. If you prefer reading, check out our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Amazon.
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Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY