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Q. How do we get more calls in when driving time is so long?

Copyright MMXIII, by Dave Kahle

A. I'm going to answer this on two levels. First, when you have a big geographical territory with lots of windshield time, you have to do a better job of routing your calls to maximize the time with the customer. Plan your basic itinerary at least a month in advance, and try to schedule your calls in a logical pattern so that you are not driving back and forth. Schedule the longest drives before your first appointment, during lunch, or after your last appointment so that you are using the 8:00 to 5:00 selling time to its maximum advantage.

Make "ish" appointments. In other words, instead of making the appointment for 10 AM, make it for "10-ish." This gives you a window of about 15 minutes before the appointment to 15 minutes after when you can still be on time. It takes the pressure off of you and provides you a bit more flexibility.

Always have a back-up plan for when that big appointment cancelled at the last minute. That typically means keeping a list of smaller customers, inactive customers, or prospects that are in the vicinity, and using the time that suddenly freed up to attempt to see one of them.

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Plan your travel so that you avoid long drives between customers if you can. If you plot your sales calls on a map, and draw a line from one to the other in the sequence in which you can make them, the resulting diagram should not look like a star, with you driving excessive distances from one point to another. Instead, it ought to look like the outline of a daisy, with loops from your starting point, stops along the way to your furthest customer, and stops along the way back.

Here's another way to consider the problem. Instead of focusing on more calls (quantity), focus on better quality calls (quality). If you can only make four calls a day, for example, consider which are the highest quality, highest potential four calls you can make. Understand that you can't get to everyone, so focus on the most important.

This issue of focusing more on quality than quantity is one of the best practices of the most successful sales people. If you'd like to dig in a bit more, I'd recommend picking up my book, 11 Secrets of Time Management for Sales People.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He's authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave's training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.

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