Over the 30+ years that I have been working with B2B sales forces, I’m often asked this question: “If you could improve a salesperson in just one thing that would bring the quickest and biggest change, what would it be?”
My answer: Time & territory management.
1. Time & Territory Management is easily and quickly implemented.
Every other sales competency takes time and practice before it begins to show up in the salesperson’s behavior and therefore in the customers’ actions. Take a fundamental sales competency like asking better sales questions. I can train a salesperson to ask better questions in a half-day session, but that doesn’t mean that he/she is going to implement that right away.
What typically happens is that it takes the salesperson a few days to process the training and translate it into a plan for his behavior. Then, it can take weeks or months of trial and error and practice before the salesperson has made a substantial change in behavior and embedded the new competency into his/her routines.
So, the impact on the customer, and the resulting increase in sales that will come as a result, is typically weeks or months away. Time & territory management is different from the other core sales competencies in that it doesn’t involve interaction with the customer to yield results.
Time management is basically a set of decisions that you make by yourself, and that impact your actions alone. The customers and prospects are not involved in it.
And that means that you can implement time & territory management principles and practices immediately! You can see results of your growing effectiveness in days or weeks, as opposed to weeks or months with the other sales competencies.
2. Time & Territory Management can positively impact sales results with a minimum of effort.
Changing behavior is difficult and time and energy-consuming. Improving any of the interactive sales competencies, like asking better questions, uncovering customers’ concerns, etc., all take a major investment of time and emotional energy on the part of the salesperson. He/she has to decide to work on acquiring a new skill or improving an established behavior. And that takes work.
In addition, the interactive sales competencies always involve some risk to the salesperson’s self-image. He/she may have cultivated an image of himself as a certain persona. Changing his routines and taking on a new skill may be seen as risking his relationships and his image of himself.
I recall working with a group of salespeople on asking better questions. One of the people in the group commented, sort of thinking out loud, “So, they really want us to sell. I never considered myself to be a real salesperson.”
All that makes changing sales behavior a high-energy, risky business.
Time & territory management, on the other hand, since it doesn’t require customer interaction, can be implemented without any risk and without a large investment of time and emotional energy.
3. Every field salesperson can improve his/her Time & Territory Management.
There is something about the job that promotes a tendency toward comfort zones – people do what seems comfortable like calling exclusively with whom they are comfortable — rather than what is smart. Comfort zones – or ruts – are one of the most common negative characteristics of field salespeople. And these ruts promote a behavior that is less than ideal.
The requirements of the job also promote a ‘mindless habit’ approach. After a few years on the job, salespeople just naturally fall into habits that become mindless and operate unconsciously. It’s just natural. Most salespeople – and all of us, for that matter — have time-wasting habits and are not even aware of them.
In our strategic time management training, we have salespeople take a ‘time management assessment.’ I’ve done this with thousands of salespeople and have yet to have anyone grade out as perfect.
4. Effective time management training instills disciplines that will positively impact a salesperson’s career.
In our Strategic Time Management program, for example, we identify a number of disciplines that we help salespeople imbed into their routines. These disciplines encourage the salesperson to analyze, prioritize, implement, and review strategies that consistently improve his/her results. Implemented regularly over the course of a salesperson’s career, these disciplines can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the salesperson’s income, and millions of dollars in sales to the company.
Add all this up and you can see why I promote strategic time & territory management as the single most impactful training for B2B salespeople.
To learn about STRETCH – The Strategic Time Management Course for B2B Salespeople, click here: https://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com/salestimemanagementcourse/.
To learn about Dave’s book, 11 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople, click here. https://www.davekahle.com/11-secrets-time-management/.