There have been multiple studies done to answer that question. Time and time again, the results come back similarly. The best sales people outsell their peers by about 5x. Here are a few areas where they are distinctively different:
- They plan more – rather than just getting in the office and making calls, they spend a significant amount of time planning to make sure they spend their time wisely. This means having an annual plan for how you will achieve your number, having a plan for how you spend your day/week/month and having a plan for how you will win an account. Their peers? They react to things as it comes there way. They prospect “when they have time”…vast difference.
- They hand off service issues – average to good reps spend an inordinate amount of time helping customers when issues pop up. That’s good, right? Don’t you want them focused on the customer? Yes and no. Yes, you want to make sure customers are happy, but “no,” that does not mean the sales person always has to be the problem solver. The best sales people are the ones that leverage their team to solve issues so they can sell the next deal.
- They fail fast – average to good reps tend to always look for an opportunity in every prospect and fight hard to win every deal. Again, sounds good, right? Nope. The best reps are very good at quickly identifying whether they have a good chance to win or not. If not, they get out quickly and move to the next deal. You will never find these people spending hours responding to an RFQ in which they have had no exposure until it showed up in their email box. Chances of winning are so low, why even bother. Find a good deal instead.
There is a common denominator among these three areas. Great reps make great use of their time. The common term for this is “time management” and that term gets thrown around a lot to the point where everybody agrees it is important, but many don’t really have a good definition of it. I think about like this. Great sales people maximize their time on quality deals and with quality accounts by having a plan, not getting sucked away from their plan and they spend their time on the deals they can win. This is prioritizing just as much as it is managing time.
If you want to help your sales people, evaluate them on these three criteria. Coach them to make some changes in how they prioritize their time. It can have a big impact.