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Be a Sales Force

Most companies have sales departments. Fewer have sales forces. After talking to a general manager about an upcoming sales training seminar we were doing for her people, we uncovered the potential key to this problem.

"Carrie," I asked. "What would you like to see your salespeople doing more of? And what would you like your salespeople doing less of?"

"John, I've got some highly paid salespeople who have developed some extraordinary faxing skills. I want them to develop extraordinary selling skills," she said.

By walking around her office doing her managerial duties, she saw the problem firsthand. When you have six-figure salespeople lined up at the fax machine, something is wrong.

She knew that a $10-per-hour junior can fax price sheets and order forms for customers. Salespeople earn their money in the field talking to prospects about problems and proposing solutions to those problems.

Members of a sales department may have extraordinary faxing skills. But it's the members of a sales force that have extraordinary selling skills.

Today, it seems like email, voice mail, pagers and cell phones let us stay in constant communication. But they also keep us from getting in front of our customers.

One of the most important things you can measure for yourself is time spent selling. How many minutes did you spend in front of live prospects and customers this week? Don't count driving, waiting in the lobby or filling out call reports. Use a stopwatch and record how many minutes or hours you spend each day in front of the people who buy from you.

It's a reality check. You'll be astounded or terrified at the amount of time you do anything but sell. Once you have the baseline data, work to increase the time spent selling by 15 to 20 minutes a week.

Sales go up when time spent selling increases. Sure you're working long days, but are you spending enough time selling during the day to stay on your plan? Until you make this critical calculation for yourself, you may be leaving money on the table. That's because you aren't at the table long enough to get it.