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December 2017
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Best Practice No. 33: Focus on spending the greatest amount of time with the highest potential customers
By Dave Kahle

It is so easy to do that which is comfortable and easy as opposed to that which is smart.  It’s a common temptation to which every sales person succumbs at least some of the time. 

This applies most dramatically to the fundamental decisions that every sales person makes over and over again every day:

  • Where should I go?
  • Who should I see?
  • What should I do?

Those sales people who consistently make those decisions most effectively rise to the top of the sales profession, and those who don’t, don’t.

Here’s an example.  It’s Monday morning, and you must make those decisions.  You could attempt to see a high potential prospect, or you can go see a small customer.  You know the customer will probably see you – he likes you.  And you’ll spend an hour or so in friendly conversation.  You also know that the likelihood of increasing the business with this customer is next to nothing. But, since it’s comfortable and easy, you choose to see the customer.  You rationalize it by claiming to be “building relationships.” 

Or, you are all set to visit that high potential, but challenging prospect, when you receive a call from a “C” account who has a question.  You are not too distant from them, so you change plans and drive to see the “C” account.  Why?  Because you know that he’ll see you, and you’ll be able to answer a question, and that makes you feel important, and gives you a sense that you are actually accomplishing something.

In both cases, you chose to do that which was comfortable and easy, as opposed to that which was smart.  You succumbed to the temptation. 

This is such a common thing among B2B sales people that those who “focus on spending the greatest amount of time with the highest potential” stand out on the basis of this one best practice alone.

That doesn’t mean that you totally neglect smaller customers.  But it does mean that you define, with some rigor, the highest potential customers in your territory and you then, with discipline and willfulness, spend more time with them.  My recommendation?  Fifty percent of your time with the top twenty percent of your territory, and fifty percent of your time with other eighty percent.  Note that the definition of the top twenty percent is based on potential, not necessarily the amount of the current business.  So, in other words, an “A” account is a high potential account, even though they may spend nothing with you now.

This is such a crucial practice that it is a part of almost every seminar and training session that I do.  Those who consistently implement it routinely report dramatic increases in sales.  Most commonly, they report tripling their business in two years. 

While that sounds almost too good to be true, it isn’t.  It is predictable and almost routine for those who consistently practice it.  That’s why it’s a best practice.

If you’d like to pursue this practice, we have some resources to help you.  Consider Chapter Six of my book, Ten Secrets of Time Management for Sales People, or the video training program,  “Prioritizing your customers to dramatically increase your sales.

If you are a member of The Sales Resource Center™, consider Pod-55: The most powerful time management strategy for sales people.

Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of distributor and B2B salespeople and sales managers to be more effective in the 21st century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. Sign up for his weekly Ezine or visit his blog at www.davekahle.com. You also may contact him by e-mailing editorial@mhwmag.com.
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