Jun 25, 2010

Are sales calls a good use of your time?

Making sales calls are fun. You get to meet new people, understand their challenges, share insights and present solutions. If all goes well, you close the deal.

Here’s the question: what is the value of your time to make a sales call?

You never go to a sales call just to pitch. You ask questions. You clarify needs. You share wisdom. You present options. This is very much what a consultant does. The only difference is you don’t get paid to make sales calls.

Are you getting paid appropriately to make sales calls?

Evaluate your sales process. Do you get paid enough to make a sales call? Is it the best use of your time? Do your customers really need a face-to-face meeting to make a buying decision?

Too often we make sales calls out of obligation or expectation. I encourage you to challenge tradition, and recognize how much value you are bringing to a meeting. When you quantify your value, you can judge which customers should receive a face-to-face meeting and which ones can get by with a phone conversation.

Your value starts with dollars

What is your average size sale? The size of your deals is an important variable, because it lets you know how much margin you have to invest in a sale. If you only make a few hundred dollars on a sale, should you really be trucking across the city to meet the customer?

Define your threshold. Set a minimum size deal you require to make a sales call. This is easier said than done, because winning sales is always important. But consider the value. When you focus on your most profitable customers, you will free up time to find more of them.

I will qualify my above statement. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t sell smaller deals. For smaller deals review your sales process, and determine ways you can sell without making a face-to-face call. Can you conduct the sales call through a webinar or some other format? Look to technology to streamline your sales process while still delivering high customer service.

Take a page from the software industry

You can close big deals on the phone. I started my career in CRM software sales, and we sold many large deals without ever meeting the customers. The logic was simple. If we had to get on a plane to close the deal we wouldn’t make money. So we had to use conference calls and webinars to build our value proposition, present the software and close the deal.

Large companies like Salesforce.com, Oracle and IBM all have substantial inside sales teams selling complex solutions. These organizations recognize the value of their sales efforts, and align their resources to be as efficient as possible.

You can do this too. It’s a mindset. What is your time worth to make a sales call?

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