As a salesperson you can list many activities on your daily to-do list, but let’s cut to the chase — I submit that they really boil down to just three: monitor-facing, customer-facing or “air”-facing
“What’s in your cup?” a common advert inquires.
“What’s in your day?” I usually pose to participants in my workshop. “What activities would I see if I spent my day with you?”
A litany of activities usually follows to demonstrate how busy a salesperson’s day is. Making calls, schedule sales activities, walking, planning, generate leads, source referrals, prepare sales action plans, develop and maintain a customer database, develop and make presentations of company products and services to current and potential clients, monitor and report on sales activities and on and on the laundry list continues.
“Hogwash!” I say. “Absolutely rubbish! An attempt to camouflage it all. And even then it is a pathetic disguise.”
As a salesperson you can list many activities on your daily to-do list, but let’s cut to the chase — I submit that they really boil down to just three: monitor-facing, customer-facing or “air”-facing. And your success hinges on how you allocate time to each. You may have seen the sticker that says: football is life; the rest is just details. Well, in our case, the activities of a salesperson fall into three: customer- facing, monitor-facing or “air’-facing — the rest is just details. And we all know which one pays. Now then, with all the distractions (details) gone, let’s look at these three activities beyond their face value.
What I call air-facing is what the average salesperson loves to do — travel to occupy her time. She will justify four hours of her day as spent moving from one prospect to another; after all what else was she to do when the only two appointments in her day were at Embakasi and Westlands?(20 km apart).
And so the four hours are allocated to travelling on foot, by matatu, taxi or even company car. On the surface this is logical. Scratch a bit lower and another picture emerges — poor planning usually emanating from a streak of laziness.
It’s too much work to prospect; it will mean facing six even seven prospects in a day in one general area. It’s so much easier to allocate hours in my day facing the cool air blowing into the vehicle as I cut across town to see this other prospect. And you are right. It is. Easier that is.
Monitor-facing is almost a decade old but has gained currency exponentially. What with Facebook, emails, Twitter and a billion other websites? And so the salesperson hides behind the monitor “doing reports” and “responding to emails”. Most reports are standard Excel sheets one need only populate. Any sales manager or salesperson will tell you that the one thing salespeople hate doing is reports. They submit them late, incorrectly done and even then after many reminders week in week out.
It is the rare salesperson who submits genuine, correctly completed reports on time. Even successful salespeople. One wonders then what this lengthy time spent facing the monitor is all about.
Research, though a distant second, is another favourite excuse. In all probability, they will start the day on the Web, browse on the phone in between meetings, en route home, if not at home itself, and after work. Why not research then? This column has stated before and I wish to reiterate. Sales isn’t a desk job. With a desk job, work comes to you; with sales, you look for it. And it qualifies as work when you are facing the customer or prospect.
Customer-facing is where you get to present your product, get referrals, and a feel of the industry you are in. You are paid for facing the prospect, presenting and closing. Your sales manager would be delighted to deal with the fact that you see, say six people daily and don’t close a deal, than seeing one or two at best. With the former, there are likely more objective issues to deal with than the latter. The successful salesperson thrives on facing the prospect. He eats, lives and breathes this. It’s his bread and butter. A significant portion of his time is spent here. Learn from the hawker whom many look down upon.
The activities of a salesperson fall into three: customer-facing, monitor-facing or “air’-facing — the rest are just details.
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