You Don’t Have a Time Issue, You Have a Priority Issue
So many rural reps we train don’t understand the importance of time management.
They tell us they don’t have time to service new clients, call on new ones or fill in their CRM.
They often complain that their territory is too big too (this last one is so easy to fix – see below).
The question I like to ask to elicit some form of self-awareness is this:
“Are you busy working on the right stuff or the wrong stuff?
How do you know?”
If they don’t know how they’re tracking against their targets (and I mean including the daily targets such as 3 new customer calls on phone or in person) they don’t know how to plan and prioritise their days.
If they don’t know the value of their client base they can’t prioritise their calls and call cycle because believe it or not some customers are more valuable than others.
And if they don’t know the lifetime value of their customer they don’t know how much time they need to dedicate to getting them.
Some will dispute this and say every customer is important. True as some customers who you start with small might have big potential down the track or they offer strategic value through association or endorsement.
Yet other small customers will stay small drawing a disproportionate amount of time and energy. Like sand, they can become irritants. Focus on pebbles instead.
So often we see what we call “milk men” sales reps – those that stick to doing the same sales rounds with existing customers – those they are comfortable and safe with, rather than stretching themselves further.
Fear is what holds them back from venturing further.
Another thing we see is rural reps under-servicing high-value clients and over-servicing low-value clients. The latter don’t threaten them so they stick to their core customers, again through fear of rejection or exposure which isn’t a problem once you know what you have can help your customers.
A no becomes like water off a duck’s back. It won’t touch you because you have a buoyancy of belief that means it’s their loss, not yours. This is the mindset you need to have.
I’ve always said to my students:
“Don’t mistake enthusiasm for effectiveness or ambition for ability.”
This means I watch what reps do, not what they say.
That’s why I spend several days a month sitting in trucks travelling with rural reps watching how they go about their work.
Observation is key because seeing is believing. I can’t rely on the bias and “happy ears” BS that can come from the mouths self-reporting sales reps.
If what they say marries with what they do, bingo! We’re in business.
If not, we have some work to do.
Which brings me onto the subject of Territory Management.
Yes, I admit some reps have bigger territories than others but it’s all about breaking them down into manageable chunks.
What I call our District and Driveways® Strategy.
By focussing on tight pockets each day vs. driving from one side of your territory to the other, you get to see more customers because you’re spending less time travelling (minor low impact activity) and more time meeting (major high impact activity).
You can even leverage your alpha farming customers on one road to get appointments with the other farmers on that road.
Road before region. Simple aye?
Planning + Preparation = Prioritisation
When you prioritise, you will perform.
I am on a mission to help rural sales and marketing professionals get the results they deserve. Please make sure you Follow Me here on LinkedIn so you don’t miss out on my articles.
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