By John J. Kimmel
While some sales factors vary from industry to industry, certain things are constant for all salespeople. One of those constants is the effect call volume will have on your results. Whether you sell face to face or on the phone, you must be actively pursuing as many customers as you can without lowering the quality of your calls. So, if you are an inside sales person spending your day making outbound calls to potential clients, how many calls is enough?
To answer that question, we need to work backwards. How many appointments, on average, does it take for you to make a sale? For the sake of this example, let’s say that you close one out of every four appointments. Next, how many calls does it take for you to get an appointment? Let’s say you can turn one out of every five calls into an appointment. Last, how many sales per day do you need to stay on budget? Let’s say that you need two sales per day to hit your quota. That means that you need 5 (calls per appointment) x 4 (appointments per sale) x 2 (sales per day) = 40 calls per day to reach your quota.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t just want to hit my goals—I want to crush them. If you want to do the same, then make more than 40 calls per day. Make 60 calls and beat your quota by 50 percent. Make 80 calls and double your sales. Did you just roll your eyes? Are you thinking, “No one could make that many calls” right now? You are wrong. Someone is doing it, and it’s likely a competitor. That lady or man that seems to be everywhere, taking all your customers… she is making 80 calls per day. Do you want to be better? Do you want to win?
What you need to start considering is “How do I increase my call volume?” First, take the time to analyze how you spend your time. How many minutes per day do you spend chatting with your co-workers, taking personal calls, surfing the internet or stopping for coffee? While there is nothing wrong with any of these activities, they are burning precious selling time during the day. If you want coffee, leave home fifteen minutes early. Stop for gas on the way home from work, not during your precious, limited work time. You get the point.
If you have never really done an accounting of how you spend your time, you will be shocked at the incredible amount of time that is wasted. You will almost certainly find it is hours per day and not just minutes that you are wasting. Use that time for calls and you will be rewarded.
Next, examine your call processes. If you are an outside salesperson, look at your call routes. Are they efficient or are you running back and forth across town for no reason? Many salespeople enter their day with some idea of who they plan to see but end up reacting to phone calls and emails that change their plans and make their travel time very inefficient.
Let’s say that you have a customer that you need to see once per week. Does that customer have an expectation that they will see you walk in the door every Thursday morning around 10:00 AM, or are your visits random? It is amazing how conversations change when you create service expectations with your customers. The phone call that you likely get right now goes something like this, “Good morning Joe, this is Susie from ABC Stores. I need to go over that new program you mentioned. Can you drop by this afternoon?” And you respond with, “You bet Susie, I need to pick up some materials from the office and should be able to get it to you by about 2:00 pm.” After the phone call you drop what you are doing and drive all the way back to the office and then an hour in the opposite direction to get to ABC Stores.
But that’s okay because this is your biggest customer, right? You want them to know how much you value their business. Well, frankly, sometimes it is just a huge waste of time. When you have a consistent call plan, you will find the phone call usually goes more like this, “Good morning Joe, this is Susie at ABC Stores. I need to go over that new program you mentioned when you come in this Thursday.” How much better is that? No special trip to the office, no trip back across town and your customer still knows how much you value their business because you are professional and consistent.
What about the times when Thursday is not good enough? What if your customer says, “Good morning Joe, This is Susie from ABC Stores. I know you are coming in on Thursday, but I really need to talk over that program before then. Can you drop by this afternoon so we can review it?” Most of us will immediately respond with a “Yes,” drive all over town and think we are the best sales rep ever. Few of us will ask questions like “Susie, thank you for thinking of our new program, we are all excited about getting it into the market. I am across town right now and don’t have the right materials with me, but I have some at home that I could bring you first thing in the morning and would be willing to be at your door when you open. Would that be soon enough?” In many cases, it will be. You can make your customer happy and keep selling without wasting half the day in your car.
How we pursue leads will have a dramatic impact on not only our income and company’s revenue, but also on our reputation. Take the time to look honestly at your schedule and the way you service customers with the intent of looking for ways to cut wasteful time out of your schedule. When you do, you will have more time to make more calls. More calls will mean more sales and when you get that bigger paycheck, you will be glad that you did.
John J. Kimmel is the author of Selling with Power and has spoken for many state and regional petroleum marketer associations. John provides custom solutions to increase the effectiveness and profitability of sales teams for petroleum marketers all over the United States. To learn more, visit www.johnjkimmel.com.