Sales Leadership Part V — Less Often, More Better

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“Cost is more important than quality, but quality is the best way to reduce costs.”

–  Genichi Taguchi (1924 – 2012), Japanese engineer, statistician, and creator of “The Taguchi Method”  for applying statistics to increase quality in manufactured goods

 Taguchi proved it’s true in manufacturing.  It’s true in sales, as well.

Yes, the cost is important.  It’s one of two pieces of the formula that determines whether we make money or not.  And that’s why simply “making more calls” rarely pays off.

If you’re selling pots and pans door-to-door, making more calls might pay off.  Unless you’re knocking on doors in the wrong neighborhood.  If you’re selling entry-level term life insurance with no intention of building relationships with the policyholders, making more calls might pay off.  Until you exhaust the universe of people to call on.

In selling professional services — and in most B2B sales pursuits, simply making more calls raises your cost – time has value, after all – at the expense of the kind of relationships that will glean repeat business, higher customer loyalty, and a better return on time spent.  That’s because how we spend our time goes into the profit-and-loss equation.  Researching the company we’re calling on, and the buyer(s) is a better use of time than simply making more calls.  Understanding their competitive landscape, perhaps as well as we understand our own is a better use of time than simply making more calls.

As I’ve said for years, it’s not about playing more often, it’s about playing less often but more better.

A fast “no” is better for a professional sales team than a slow “maybe.”  “Maybe” consumes our time, distracts us from people who we know are likely to say yes, because we researched their company, the buyer(s), and their competitive landscape.  Investing time to go deep with a prospect who “gets it” is a better investment than trying to knock a prospect that doesn’t over the head with our features and benefits until they acquiesce and say “yes,” in hopes that we just go away.

If we’re leading a sales team today, we ought to expect our team to know why they’re calling on who they’re calling on, and we ought to expect them to be prepared to win more often by making better choices about where to invest their time.  Winning four times out of ten is better than winning six times out of twenty-five.

And we danged sure better be willing to measure them this way, instead of beating the dead horse of demanding more calls just for the sake of trying to fill the funnel.  Because it’s a funny thing about funnels, whatever we put in the top ultimately trickles out the bottom — so let’s don’t fill our funnels with junk.

We have to select talent well for this approach to work.  We have to develop talent well for this approach to work.  We have to trust our talent for this approach to work.  And we have to measure the right things to give this approach time to work.  And when it works (it will, by the way…) it’s like a perpetual motion machine.  Clients tell other companies, who turn into clients.  Buyers leave to go to new companies who immediately become qualified prospects.

It ain’t a quick fix — but it is more better.  (“More better” — still and always a technical term…)

This post is the last in a five-part series on leading sales teams. Roll back up through the first four if you wanna get the Paul Harvey “Rest of The Story…”


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