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Territory Management - FOCUS
Work Your Job - Don't Let It Work You
...But still work! The key to success, according to a lot of folks I have read - including the Bible - is working hard, not hardly working!
From most of those same sources as well as my own experiences working smart is still the better avenue. It took me a good while to figure out just what that means - and although I still don't practice what I preach 100% of the time, I at least should have known what I was doing.
It works for field sale people, for office workers and managers, for physicians, surgeons, lawyers and bricklayers. Taking a moment to figure out just what it is you are going to do and how is the best way for you to do it - or at least tell someone else how to do it!
No one has any time on their hands anymore for contemplation - and I suggest the reason is because they didn't plan their work out well enough in the beginning so they end up short on time in the end. It goes back to when I got my first calculator in 1975 ($39.95 at K-Mart for a 10-key). I thought I was going to have all this extra spare time since I wouldn't have to do all the math in my college math classes longhand on paper. I could just plug in the numbers and wow - there was the answer! I figured with the extra time I would have I could join a club or go out with the boys.
Even back then, that efficiency gained ended up being filled by other demands that reduced the option of the extra time in the day to zero. You know when you bought that riding lawn mower how much more time you would have for golf, right? Or, ladies, when you got your hair cut off with that new quaff so all you had to do was shake your head when you got out of the shower - no blow drying, no brushing. Now you have all that time on your hands, right? NOT.
Now let's apply that to business. Just because you found a new client management software program, do you really expect it to save yourself that much time? Or, do you really plan to find ways to focus your time and efforts.
Time AND Efforts.
I have sold tangible and non-tangible products my entire adult life. I have had huge territories - Mississippi River West to Pakistan, and I have had 6 counties in one state. I have had 3 skus of products to sell - and have had thousands of options. None of that mattered. I also have had as few as dozens of prospects and as many as unlimited. That mattered a little more. I had customers that needed what I was selling, and others who "could" use what I was selling. That mattered even more. I had prospects that didn't know they needed my products. Important to know who they were. I have had prospects that could pay for what I was selling and others who could not. Again, important to know. What customer is going to have the single largest impact on my future growth - regardless of size or value, now that is important to understand.
When I evaluate what I am going to do for the coming day, week, month, year all these considerations must be put in play. And don't just think that since what I have mostly written about sounds like a salesman that it doesn't apply to you as an office manager or clerk, school teacher or administrator or student. Just move the words around to fit.
I had a job at one time where my new boss came to me and asked how I was working my prospects. I explained how I had evaluated all my best prospects and ordered them. I would start on Monday calling on them trying to set appointments or meetings and if I didn't make it to the end of the list, I'd start there the next Monday. His response was - no, pick your very best top prospect. Call on him until you get him sold or I tell you to move to your second best prospect. That will be how you do it until I say differently.
About 7 months later that company went bust. But why would you expect anything different. If I called the prospect and he said no - I was supposed to call him back again the next day. No, day after day after day - and still no change by my boss. We finally quit calling on people since the company closed.
Low Hanging Fruit
All my professional life I have heard the term, "Low hanging fruit." I have rarely found any. Every industry I have been involved in,has been pretty mature. Even when I was working with the concepts brought forward by the internet - there really was no low hanging fruit - it really wasn't simple to sell.
So what is the next best thing to get a kick start on selling? Spending the time to see if there is a niche' that your products, services or a combination thereto offer you. Are there people within your sales area that could use you because of a special situation that only they may be experiencing? What does that look like?
Let's say it is financing. You are selling a significantly expensive piece of equipment and money is tight for some potential clients. How do you get them off the dime? Explore financing options like leasing. If your company doesn't offer leasing - find a leasing company that will work with you. Not necessarily that you make anything on the leasing, but that you can develop a relationship with a company that when you bring a client they work hard to find a way to make it work for the client. You all win.
Maybe it is a shortage of supply of some sub-straight they need to make finished products. You don't sell substrates but your customer has no use for your product unless he can find them. You find out where the sub-straight comes from, tell those people if they will work with you for your client, you will work to bring them additional business where you already have business. Everyone wins - well, except your competition that didn't think of that.
How does that transfer to the office? How can you find "low hanging fruit" in an office setting so you can make significant improvements with the least amount of extended effort? Find the niche' opportunities. What can be changed, improved or implemented that allows for any improvement in efficiency? What can be upgraded for little money but have a large impact? Painting a dark wall, adding lighting (or fixing them), having the air conditioner fixed. One of the best, most dangerous but potentially transforming opportunities is to ask everyone for input. If you are new at the game, do it one at a time in a private interview. If you are good at handling the mob, do a group meeting. Then follow-up and be sure the asked for and provided gets the response promised. If so - ask again - if not tell them.
Impact is Important
What customer in your area can have the largest impact on your future? Ask that question every week. Be determined that customer gets a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 40% of your time every week until you close that account. One full day a week or a part of every day each week you are going after that one account. Once you do close that account - who is going to be next? They should be good for 10% of your total time now - and the one after that? 5% of your total time. The rest is spent thinking about how to keep the customers you have and to prepare the information or presentations you need for that new, big customer.
I just met with a company last week offering me a chance to help them launch their products into my territory. If I help them with finding prospective customers, they will help me sell my products. They asked for no payments from me - and offered great payments from them. How long will that relationship last? Keep in mind, although they are offering me significant money if I can introduce them to some of my clients and they end up with some of them as customers - they are agreeing to introduce me to some of their customers and I may end up with some of them as my customers. We are both winning - and if I believe in my products their customers will be winning too.
It comes down to focus. Knowing by analyzing who will have the greatest impact on your territory by winning them as a client. Focusing on what your long suit is that can make the difference between why they are where they are and why they should be with you. Be sure, in your evaluation that you consider the leviathan issue. The leviathan issue is one that is big as a whale - so big that all you can do is barely manage the relationship with that one client to the point they are never happy and you can never call on anyone else to grow beyond that one customer. Do you walk away from it? NO - you plan for it and explain from the start what their expectations are and what your capabilities are. Above all, be honest - do your best to promise less and over-deliver.