Some time ago I attended a networking event for salespeople and overheard a Sales Director discussing his new company car. So often a key benefit for an employed salesperson the company car says a lot about them; how important they are in their company and how much they believe they are worth. This Sales Director had a lot to boast about with his new Jaguar. As he described the luxurious interior, the sound of the engine and the power of its acceleration he mentioned something which really caught my attention. “I’ll only keep it for 2 years”, he stated. “By then I’ll have done my 100,000 miles and then it’ll be time for a new one!” “Wow!” exclaimed one of his captive audience looking on admiringly. “100,000 miles in 2 years. That’s some going!” “Absolutely!” the Sales Director replied. “I don’t mess about and neither do my sales team. They know 50,000 miles per year is the benchmark I’ve set and as Area Sales Managers they’re expected to do the same!”
Strange how people think that is something to boast about. Like mileage per year adds a couple of inches (50mm) to your height or makes you look stronger when actually, more often than not it demonstrates someone has no idea of how to manage their time properly. Based on what is generally the average recorded speed of any car travelling the majority of the time on British motorways, 40-45 miles per hour, that means a lot of time driving. His job title said Sales Director but I think secretly he had always wanted to be a courier! Giving him the benefit of the doubt 50,000 miles per year at 50 miles per hour = 1,000 hours of driving per year. Based on 12 months per year this equated to 83 hours per month or approximately 20 hours per week. If he is out on the road even 5 days per week that is still 4 hours per day! Whilst I can appreciate there will be times when this is necessary it shouldn’t be the norm – unless you have no idea of how to manage a territory and your time that is.
What could he be doing with that time? Well, he could be working on; administration, putting together proposals, communicating with his customers, planning where his best opportunities could and should be or determining what benefit to open a prospecting call with? Not necessarily as easy as driving but a lot more beneficial to ensuring a sales target is achieved and exceeded. Or he could be face-to-face selling!
I know couriers get paid for driving a lot – I also know they have little time at each destination they go to and that no sooner have they arrived and exchanged a few pleasantries they are already having to look at leaving. Whenever I have accompanied a salesperson on the road who does a lot of mileage each year the experience has been similar. Should they be invited to stay (because unfortunately for them someone they called on was actually interested in what they had to sell!) they spent most of the rest of that sales call not really listening, thinking about the quickest route to make up on the time they knew they were ‘losing’ as they weren’t driving when they should have been and looking for the first opportunity to get out of there. Often each call would be ended with the words, “I’ll get that for you later and come back to you!” … although after 4 hours of driving, wrestling with traffic and road works … you can understand why they don’t always feel like it! As a rule their administration is poor, customers complain about their inability to get back to them on time and they struggle to engage new business prospects as they are poorly prepared and lack a real applicable benefit to ‘turn them on’.
Salespeople in this ‘trap’ think the job is difficult to do, the hours too long and they always seem to have colleagues and bosses who don’t understand how hard they work, the hours and sacrifice they put in don’t appreciate them! For those who work for themselves they find the rewards at the end of the week are rarely worth the effort put in and often end up closing their new business as it quickly turned into a chore and not the rewarding enterprise they had dreamed it would be.
There is hope though and a better way of going about things. To see if you could benefit from that different, better way, please answer YES or NO to the following questions:
- Are you spending more time each day driving to, from and between calls than you are in front of customers?
- Do you find yourself flagging and behind on your paperwork and yet struggle to find time to do it during the week?
- Do you need to visit more prospects and customers because your business is struggling?
- Do you find you are often poorly prepared for meetings yet have no time to do more research and planning?
- Do your sales people drive from one part of their territory to the opposite side to deal with a complaint or ‘hot’ opportunity on the same day?
- Do your sales people regularly change their plans at the drop of a hat without it really causing them any issues (at least they say it won’t)?
- Are your salespeople typically driving whenever you speak to them on their mobile phones (via Bluetooth / hands free kits of course) coupled with the fact that you can usually get hold of them when you call?
- Are your salespeople’s visit reports or activity reports heavy on numbers and yet light on detail (lots of calls – not much substance and/or outcome)?
- Are your salespeople’s vehicles being serviced on a more frequent basis than you would expect?
- Are your sales people doing average number so of calls per week and yet seem to be tired a lot of the time?
- Are your sales people behind target but struggle to be able to put in more effort or manage more tasks to address this situation?
If you can answer YES to two or more of the above questions then you or your sales team would benefit from understanding how to manage your territory and plan your time more effectively. In other words if you answer YES to two or more questions then your sales results and earnings can really benefit from understanding and applying a disciplined territory plan. Your ‘actual’ sales time will improve as well as your profits and sales even without changing anything else than this and importantly it can be immediately applied to your products and services, no matter what industry you are in.
Learn how the most successful salespeople organise themselves and their schedules so they maximise face-to-face selling time so you can achieve better results now! Click here for details on my ebook Managing Your Territory for Maximum Sales module.