It seems that many employers in the new economy expect you to work like “your hair is on fire”. This most applies to sales people.

In the era of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, activity is king. Activities include telephone calls, emails, proposals, face-to-face meetings, product demonstrations, etc. The thinking is that if many sales activities are good, then more activities are even better. The message chanted to sales people is to work faster, harder, and longer.

While I am a proponent of activity being the enabler of sales results, I feel strongly the quality of the activity far outweighs the quantity of the activity. Regretfully, many sales managers driven by the need to increase revenue can put too much emphasis on the number of activities and the documentation of these activities.

A few years ago, FedEx had such a mindset about sales activities for their B2B field sales force. Their sales force was put under tremendous pressure to create activities and log them all in the CRM system so that management could track the trends and forecast better. In practice, the CRM system was so cumbersome and time consuming that the average sales rep was spending about 8-10 hours a week entering their activities in the CRM. Ironically, sales were going down instead of up.

While it took a few months to figure it out, FedEx management ultimately determined that their number one sales activity was entering sales activities in the CRM. How brilliant is that? Needless to say, CRM data expectations were later streamlined. Yes, sales increased when the sales force devoted more time to selling.

A better message to send your sales team is to slow down. Make the most of your customer contact by listening carefully and focusing on the customers’ wants and needs. Trust and respect the sales process and you will be rewarded.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2009 All rights reserved.

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