In my last post, I covered the topic of the job of the small business owner to manage his sales force. I introduced the notion that management’s toughest and most important job is the collection of accurate information about what’s actually going on out there on the sales battlefield.
Now I want to talk about what I consider to be the best thing management can do to increase the performance of most sales people. It is to force their analysis and accountability of time use. Most sales people waste enormous amounts of time and are notoriously poor time managers. I like to see sales people log and account for the use of their time in fifteen minute increments. The result is an honest representation of how much of their time is actually being used to produce results. Often even a small improvement in a sales person’s productive time use can result in significant sales increases.
Getting sales people to effectively prospect for new business is often a big problem. Prospecting is hard work. It often involves a lot of refusal and rejection and can be very discouraging. If you can develop a company managed lead development program to provide sales people with pre-qualified prospective customer leads that’s the very best marketing strategy you could have.
Consider space advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, exhibiting or a combination of these methods to develop qualified leads for your sales force. But caution, if you do provide leads to sales people insist on reporting of results.
Most companies would probably be shocked to learn how poor their follow-up on qualified leads actually is. I kept count last year at trade shows and by mailing in reply cards where I inquired about products or services to over three hundred companies. Surprisingly less than thirty, less than 10% of these firms ever followed up with in person or telephone contact. The sad fact is that most companies do a better job of collecting prospects than they do of selling to them.
Sales people who are given prospects must be required to report back on the results obtained. And if you operate a lead collection and distribution program on a large scale you need some method of randomly checking with the prospects directly to verify that your reps ever contacted them.
If you are dispensing leads to independent reps, distributors or franchisees and cannot legally require accountability than I advise you to sell not give the leads to the marketing people.
In my next post I want to review the quick tips for improving the productivity of your sales organization. Be on the lookout for this information in just a couple of days.