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World-class curmudgeon and future Hall of Fame football coach Bill Bilichick says, famously, that if you want to be successful, just do your job. That’s it. Do your job. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Don’t worry about your boss’s job. Don’t worry about what your colleagues are doing or not doing. Just do your job.

Sounds good, right? Simple. Makes sense.

In my world of training and coaching salespeople, I often wonder if sales teams understand what it is they are being asked to do. If you are in sales, what exactly is your job? I can tell you that your job is not to make professional visits to your customers with no agenda, no objectives, and no plan. It’s not to do your expense reports, research, and rearrange your desk drawers during prime time selling hours. Creative avoidance doesn’t fill your pipeline.

Too many salespeople spend too much time doing things that have nothing to do with creating revenue.

If you are in sales, you must consistently do three things well.
Manage your territory.
Manage your pipeline.
Manage a sales meeting.

Do that, and you’ll win more than you lose. Let’s dig in and take a quick look into each.

Manage Your Territory

Do you have a plan or process for how you prioritize your time? Are there customers in your territory where you have good market share and little room to grow? How do we protect these accounts from the competition? Our best customers are our competitor’s best prospects. We need to be intentional about our strategy and not take anything for granted. What is the process for growing the accounts where we have the potential for more wallet share? What is our plan for prospects and former clients? A failure to strategically manage your territory leads to reactive behavior. We tend to behave more like order takers instead of order makers.

Manage Your Pipeline

The sales pipeline is the central nervous system of your business. Your pipeline will speak to you. It will tell you what you need to do. It will tell you where to focus your time and effort. Effective pipeline management can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your sales efforts. Are there enough opportunities in the early stages to keep me on pace with my goals? Am I getting enough deals across the line? Do I have clear next steps? Does my pipeline have velocity, meaning I keep things moving forward, or I disqualify them?

Manage a Sales Meeting

How well do you manage the sales interaction? What is the process you use to prepare for a sales meeting, and how much do you practice the elements of the call? Do you establish up-front agreements and talk about the outcomes expected before the session begins? Do you show up and talk, or do you have questions prepared that will help you extract the information you need to determine fit? When do you talk about money, and what strategies do you use to get your price? What process do you use to discover and discuss timelines, and who else is involved in the decision? What method do you use to determine who gets a proposal or presentation versus being disqualified?

Running a professional sales meeting is not a show-up-and-wing-it activity, yet that’s how many salespeople engage with prospects. A sales meeting is the highest value activity we have. We spend thousands of dollars getting opportunities. We spend thousands of dollars on salaries, commissions, training, health insurance, and office space. Yet, our sales teams show up without having planned or practiced our sales techniques.

How much more could we sell if we just did our jobs?

Most industry surveys suggest that in a 40-hour week, salespeople spend just a little more than 9 hours prospecting and selling on average. Think about that. Less than one-fourth of the week is spent on revenue-generating activities. What happens in those 9 hours is essential, to be sure. But what happens in the other 31 is critical.

By focusing your time and efforts toward managing your territory, your pipeline, and a sales meeting, you’ll be working on the right things. You’ll avoid the busy-but-not-productive trap. You’ll give yourself (or your team if you are a manager) the best chance for success.

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