Imagine that your sales territory was the family business; that you have been entrusted with the work your father and grandfather had done to build the business, and you are expected to pass it on to your children.
Suppose then that in order for you to visit a customer, once you have bought the tools of your trade: car, laptop, and samples, to name a few, that you have worked out the cost of each visit.
That figure is around 300 pounds.
With this knowledge where would you choose to spend your time?
If each visit were to cost you personally, would you be motivated to ensure that you achieved the maximum return for your investment – of time and money?
And the fact is it is no different when running a sales territory.
Time is money.
Time is valuable.
You’re running the family business.
You Can’t See Everyone
In the majority of sales territories there are a significant number of customers. To visit all of them even once, may take a long time. But spending sales time so thinly is an inefficient method of managing a territory; with no concentrated effort, the goal of growing or even maintaining business is difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Alternatively, taking a strategic decision to focus on a particular group of customers for a defined period brings focus and direction to activities.
Now comes the real skill.
How do you stay focused on those customers and avoid being distracted by other customers?
What approach can you take to continue to manage the relationships?
Could a phone call or a mail provide a sufficient ‘touch’ until such a time as you can turn your attention back to them?
The key here is protecting valuable face-to-face time.
Face time must be reserved for the customers you have strategically identified to assist in you hitting your target.
Stay focused – don’t get distracted.
There are many ways of prioritising customers.
Firstly, the key success defining factors have to be identified. These vary from industry to industry, however they will fall in to these general categories:
Their ‘potential’. In other words, the volume the customer could potentially provide.
Their ‘convertibility’. The ease or difficulty of persuading him or her to change their buying habit.
The ‘relationship’ factor. The strength of the relationship between them, the sales professional, the product or service and the company.
Next the success factors can be used to either rank or rate the customer. A score can be attributed to each customer. This then provides a ranking.
Based on capacity and territory coverage, a cut-off point is then agreed. (This is much like a leaderboard in golf, where those who fail to make the cut are not included in the next day’s play.)
Avoiding The Trap
Spending time with the wrong customers is one of the major traps sales professionals fall into. Trying to please everyone – we end up pleasing no one.
We cannot work harder so we must work smarter.
So select a tool to define a strategic method to group customers and stick to it – it’s what the best sales professionals do.
Remember, customers buy from people they trust, trust the people they get to know and get to know the people they see most often.
If your sales territory were your family business, where would you spend your time and with whom?