Sales people need to put more time into closing big deals in 2018

“Fear, uncertainty, and doubt had crept into my head. (I now know that this is a common event among salespeople.) It was devastating.” – Dean Minuto, The One Page Sales Coach.

Have you ever lost a huge deal and wished you had spent just a few more hours on it?

Doing the deep work, thinking about the upsells, and how the deal flow should go down.

If so, you’re not alone.

In fact the majority of reps we consult with regularly say things like, “If I just had another week, I coulda closed that one.”

Yet, time and time again we reps “can’t set aside” or “just don’t have” the time to slow down and really put the hard work it takes to close big deals in 2018, when the Internet has changed sales forever.

If this is you, then here’s what you’ll get from this article.

  • What exactly is occupying a sales rep’s time so that they can’t give the extra time to get these deals done
  • What sales reps that value their time are doing to make sure they set aside the time to really work on these deals
  • What you can start doing tomorrow with the tools you already have to get more time back into your day

If you are crushing quota and taking the end of the quarter off, then this article is not worth your effort.

However, if you want to find a way to get better and close bigger deals more often, then hopefully this will be useful for you.  

Just in case you are hoping for it, there are no magic wands or shortcuts. 

 

What the heck are Sales Reps so busy doing?

As you are probably aware, a core sales responsibility is providing prospects with compelling information that helps them justify their decision to buy.

So let’s use this as an example of where our time goes.

For many sales reps this means, spending time searching for the right case studies, the right product information, etc. and building compelling customized presentations for huge deals.

To make this even more difficult, the right collateral could be in your email, stored on your hard drive, buried in a sales portal, or on your company website.

The bottom line is finding the right collateral takes up a ton of time for the reps.

I call it playing “Sales hide and seek”.

Look, I do it too.

Our company is small with only a few reps and doesn’t really have a ton of products per se, but I recently found myself spending 30 minutes trying to track down a PowerPoint we used a few years back to add a single slide to a new customized PowerPoint I was building. Finally found it in Dropbox buried in a folder – btw poorly labeled by me!

How much time is spent just searching for the right materials?

So let’s imagine you have a hot prospect and you need to pull together some collateral-based on a one-to-one meeting to close a deal.

You set your mind on 5 files/key pieces of information

  1. Price Sheet
  2. Short Overview Video
  3. Installation Guide
  4. Comparison battle card with a competitor
  5. Link to the product on your website

It doesn’t take that long to find, right?  

Say 5 minutes per piece of information by the time you find it, check it, copy it and paste it into an email.

That’s just 25 minutes. Easy peasy.

But you aren’t working one account, you are working at least 10 – 20  prospects, all with different needs. So we’re up to 4 to 8 hrs a week (250 – 500 minutes), let’s call it 6 hrs per week?

50 work weeks x 6 hrs means sales reps are spending about 300 hrs per year searching for collateral to send to prospects. That’s roughly 15% of your year.  300/2000 for the math nerds.

From my conversations with sales reps and dealers, that’s a very optimistic outlook on the time spent, I bet that it’s closer 15 hrs per week searching for the right information depending on how complex your product or services your company puts in your bag.

So when you throw in group meetings, sales meetings, one-on-one’s, travel time, and logging calls in your CRM.  You’re left with 10 hrs or so a week to actually meet with prospects and work on the big deal you got going.

We all know this is not enough time!

What savvy Sales Reps & Dealers are doing to make sure they spend enough time on bigger deals to give themselves the best chance?

Quick question.

What do you like doing better?

Searching through emails, portals, and websites trying to track down the elusive golden nugget collateral, or…

… spending time gaining a deeper understanding of a prospect’s needs and building the types of insights that make you a trusted advisor.

Simple right.

However, even master salespeople fall into the trap of doing the former over the latter.

For example, Dean Minuto, master sales trainer, in his book The One Page Sales Coach painfully describes the moment when he realized this…

“Fear, uncertainty, and doubt had crept into my head. It was devastating.”

He then goes on show us how he overcame this.

First, take stock of where you are spending your time.

Take a look at your calendar last week.

Add up the hours you spent working on the big deal you got cooking.

And contrast that with the time you spent

  • Looking for product information
  • Logging activities in CRM
  • Making calls
  • Traveling
  • Sitting through meetings

I suspect the answer will shock you.  

Here’s my calendar for last week. I’ve narrowed the times where I worked on the one mega-deal we are working as a team.

That’s right 1 hour and 30 minutes total. Granted it was a short week with the 4th holiday in there.  So 1.5 hrs out of 32 were spent on the life-altering deal we are working on.

Makes me sick at my stomach to think about it.

Second, decide today how much time you need to spend next week to be 100% confident that you are spending 100% of the necessary time to win the biggest deal in your pipeline.

This will be hard. I promise you.

Here’s a possible list:

  1. Background research on the major players
  2. Research the company’s competitors and position in the marketplace
  3. List out all possible reasons you will lose the deal and write out what you will do combat these reasons
  4. Spend time with Marketing, product managers, your VP, or production to make sure your presentation, RFP, SOW, or proposal is airtight
  5. Practice your pitch or phone call

And so on for your deal. Is it 5 hours? 10? 20?  

Finally, now that you are crystal clear on what it will take to be 100% confident you are giving 100% of the effort required to win the deal. Block off time on your calendar today to complete each activity and title each block of time with what you need to accomplish starting with word CRITICAL.

For example, CRITICAL – Meet with Mary to list out the potential upsells for Acme Co – 1hr.

The reason I want you to use the word CRITICAL is that this will tell your co-workers to stop bothering you at all costs.

Of course, you need to meet all your other obligations like sales meetings too, so the time needs to be blocked off around these other meetings and time sinks. Yes, taking the kids to soccer counts.

So, how much time is left to search through your sales portal for the latest sales slick?

What can you start doing tomorrow with the tools you already have to get more time back into your day?

I am going to get crucified for saying this, but you gotta use every tool at your disposal to claw back your time including off-loading looking for sales materials to your Marketing team.

Most Marketers we meet with seem perfectly content to do the legwork for their sales teams, so I’ll put it in writing.  

  1. Bury’em with requests until they push back or give you tools that make it fool-proof to find what you need fast. Seriously, just keep emailing and texting them until their heads explode.
  2. Next, take the time to get all your login credentials for all sales tools provided to you in one place. If you’re fortunate enough to sell for a company that uses single sign-on good on you.  For the rest of us, I like the app 1Password for keeping track of all my login credentials in one easy place so I don’t have to keep resetting passwords all the time. I’m sure there are others that’ll do the trick.
  3. Install and sign in to all the sales tools your company provides.  We recently ran analytics for a large client on FatStax sales tool adoption and found out that roughly 40% of their dealer reps had never even bothered to install the super amazing sales app we built for them.  Come on man!  That’s crazy. How many hours do those 40% waste hunting and pecking for sales materials when they could have it on their smartphones in their back pocket?
  4. Set aside 30 minutes a day to log activities in CRM. 30 minutes is all you need, sometimes less.  Get it on your calendar and hold yourself to this time limit. When your VP or Sales Opps guy complains you don’t log things, just show them your calendar filled with CRITICAL to-dos for the biggest deal in your pipeline and the 30 minutes you spared every day to log activities into CRM.
  5. Put Marketing to good use by enlisting their help and demanding their time working on your presentations or proposals. Your Marketing and Product Managers have extraordinary knowledge about how products flow together and where to find the right materials. The best reps that close the biggest deals will always make them a critical part of the team.

Conclusion

While a rep naturally wants to spend less time looking for sales materials and logging activities into CRM systems and more time working on the huge life altering deals, our tendencies will always be to do busy work.  Thus we squander the time we should be putting in to make sure at the end of the deal, win or lose, that we don’t wish we had another week to spend preparing to win it. 

Come on man! We can be better than this.