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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Busy Doing What? 4 Steps to Implement If You're Working Hard and Not Seeing Sales Results

busy salesperson not seeing sales resultsSome sellers wonder why they miss sales goals on a regular basis even though they are busy as a bee. Making “plenty” of face-to-face calls. Presenting and closing “plenty” of proposals. Conducting “plenty” of post-sale follow-up tasks. All of these activities usually equal another month short of exceeding their sales goals. 

If you are working hard, but the results show you are hardly working, here’s a great question to ask yourself, Busy doing what?”

More of the same equals more of the same. It is time to break the cycle. Here’s how:

1. Classify your accounts properly.

Sellers are engaged in sales activities with any one of the following account types at any point in time:

Billing Customers:

Key Accounts

Big spending accounts that represent the top 25% of clients for a company or business unit. These clients represent a large percentage of overall revenue, often 70-80%, and are high-priority customers.

Secondary Accounts

Small spenders that represent the other 75% of clients for a company or individual business unit, that fall below the key account level. Some (usually less than 30%) have the potential to grow to key accounts because they are seasonal or just too small. These customers can be “needy” and require an inordinate amount of attention compared to the amount of money they spend. Secondary accounts are low priority customers.

Non-Billing Prospects:

Target Prospects 

A short list of qualified prospects meeting the following criteria:

  • Dollar potential to spend like key accounts.
  • Access to the decision maker or other decision influencers.
  • Fit with you, your products, and potential solutions.

Prospects in the process of being qualified as potential targets. These unqualified prospects are in the vetting process. Leads can be prospects you want to research and develop as targets in the near future. We recommend a maximum of 10 leads be assigned to any list at any one time. 

When sellers can't (or don't) classify their accounts properly, it can lead to marginal productivity and missed revenue goals. Breaking it down and clarifying accounts is the first step to identifying why sales goals aren't being bet.

2. Avoid the secondary time suck!

Alas, we return to the question, “Busy doing what?” Sellers who are busy but miss their goals often spend too much time with their secondary accounts. I call this the “secondary time suck!”

These small-spending customers can dominate your time because:

  • You have plenty of them (remember they make up 75% of your organizations customer base).
  • They don’t have a lot of money to spend, so every dollar they spend is important. Secondary accounts analyze, and over-analyze, every move you make. Requests for spot times, copy changes, and schedule changes happen often… all these activities take time (your time).
  • Their advertising acumen can be lower. Often this means they have ideas on how to advertise. Most of the time these ideas are not best practices, so you have to spend time teaching and re-teaching advertising basics.
  • Not many people are calling on them and/or their businesses are not very active, so these folks have plenty of time on their hands. Some are lonely and enjoy spending time with people like you… perhaps chatting about something face-to-face that could be handled over the phone.

Sellers should look at their accounts, and based on the qualifiers above, identify which accounts are sucking the time from their productivity and keeping them from the path to sales success.

3. Develop a plan to deal with secondary accounts.

A strategic plan that deals with secondary accounts could include:

  • Do a better job of selecting targets with dollar potential to spend at or above key level.
  • Focus on secondary accounts with spending potential and convert them to key accounts.
  • Contract with secondary accounts about how often you will meet face-to-face, how often they should change copy, and their bill paying process (credit cards are best).
  • Let some of them go away.

4. Be intentional with your time.

Sellers need to be intentional about spending more time with key accounts and growing their revenue. Spend time evaluating  key accounts to define growth opportunities and key accounts at risk. This is time well spent compared to spending “plenty” of time with secondary accounts. Here are some things to analyze when defining key account growth opportunities:

  • Decision maker access: Are you talking to the decision maker? Perhaps a user influencer? Or perhaps the technical influencer? The farther away you are from the decision maker, the higher the risk of losing this revenue.
  • Growth potential: Do they have additional dollars or are they spending with the competition?
  • Open to solutions and ideas: Have they purchased ideas from you in the past?

Increasing revenue from existing key accounts will significantly reduce the time that could be wasted with secondary accounts...  And increase revenue that enables sellers to exceed sales goals!

Account List Analytics

Too busy to conduct the key analysis outlined in this post, but you would like to grow revenue and reduce your dependency on new business? We can help! Check out the CSS Account List Analytics program.

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Topics: key account growth sales strategy sales process account list analytics account list management