If you watch successful salespeople go about their daily business activities you will notice that they lead a very disciplined life – they know what they need to do each day and when they need to do these key activities. They make sure they make time for the important stuff and they hardly ever miss a beat.
They know there is no excuse for not making prospecting calls or forgetting to do research. There is no excuse for not getting proposals in on time or not scheduling client meetings in an organised fashion. And there is no excuse for forgetting to follow-up when you said you would.
Successful salespeople operate like a well-oiled machine. They are consistent and competent and they know how to capitalise on prime selling time.
So what is prime selling time?
Prime selling time is when you are engaging directly with a prospect or client, whether that involves making a prospecting call or you are in the full throws of a client meeting where you are exploring their priorities and needs and are engaged in selling. Nothing else matters. You are fully focused on prospecting, working through your well-researched prospecting lists (making one phone call after another), or meeting clients and engaged in selling one meeting after another. There are no distractions.
Whether the salesperson is working in field face-to-face selling or selling over the phone, they understand when it is best to make contact with prospect and clients and sell. They know when it is prime selling time.
For instance, if a salesperson is working in business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) telephone sales, or if they are a B2B field salesperson, they will need to understand when they are best able to connect and engage with their target market – their prime selling time.
For most people in B2B selling this usually happens during regular business hours. For B2C salespeople this could happen at various times during the day or evening depending on your target market.
Whatever your prime selling time is you need to make sure that all of your support work, such as researching your prospects, emails, CRM management, proposal writing, administration, etc. does not interfere with your prime selling time.
Jens Hartmann, Barrett’s head of learning and development, shared an interesting sales coaching story about a young man he was observing in his prime selling time when prospecting for new business opportunities. Unfortunately, the session was a disaster. Instead of working through his list of well-researched prospects, making one call after the other, the young man would pick a name from his list, spend quite a bit of time looking up the prospect on the internet, researching the company, etc. then would make the call with every chance the prospect would not be there. If he got no response, he did not leave a purposeful valid business reason (VBR) for calling, he would just simply hang up and move to the next name on the list. In two hours, this young man managed to make five calls and only connected with two people. A successful, well-organised salesperson would have likely made 20 calls in that time and made more connections. Even if no one was there they would have left purposeful VBR messages that would increase the likelihood of prospects and clients calling them back.
Making the most of prime selling time
One of the key things you will notice about successful salespeople is that they make time for prime selling time activities ie. prospecting and selling. They ensure that their non-selling activities are scheduled at times in the day when they will not be needed in client-facing roles. And most importantly they do their activities in blocks of time. For instance:
- They schedule three or four x two-hour blocks of time for prospecting calls: they usually spread these two hour blocks across the week, when they know they are likely to get to speak to people.
- They block client meetings together in the same location to minimise travel time: if they are going to be in a location they see if they can arrange to meet a few clients while there.
- They prepare prospect lists and do their client research in blocks of time: usually outside of prime selling time hours using LinkedIn, social networks, CRM and other resources.
- They prepare proposals or quotes in blocks of time: usually outside of prime selling time hours.
- They keep a daily to-do list (virtual or paper) making sure that they keep track of their core activities and duties. Often you will see a successful salesperson will review and revise their daily to-do list at the end of each day in readiness for the next day.
- They have an up-to-date sales plan and go-to-market action plan they use to plan their activities over each month, the quarter and across the year.
So how are you capitalising on your prime selling time?
Remember everybody lives by selling something.