by Jeb Blount
For field salespeople spending less time staring at a windshield and more time interfacing with customers almost always equals increased sales. This week we received a question from Fred about how to effectively manage his time and territory.
We received this email from Fred:
I recently took on a new territory for a major provider of information services to the automotive repair industry. I work mostly with small shops. I’m usually very structured and organized but lately I don’t feel like I’m managing my time well because of a lack of tools. For prospecting basically what I do is look up customers in the Yellow Pages select the ones I will call on and then copy and paste the information into Streets and Trips. I use a similar process for customers. If I’m able to manage my time better and hit more shops I make money. If I don’t well that’s when I go home with nothing and that can’t happen. My question, is there something I can use to help me manage my time so I make more money?
Fred I must confess that the answer to this question requires more time than a five minute podcast. With that said though there are some basic things you can do immediately to become for efficient and effective, which ultimately will put more money in your pocket.
For the sales managers listening to this episode: pay attention. Your salespeople are dealing with these same issues. If you help your people become more effective with Time and Territory management, I guarantee your numbers will improve.
Fred, the first issue is the methodology you are using to identify prospects in your territory. While yellow pages are helpful in finding prospects there are better ways. One of the problems with yellow pages is you are certain to miss (especially in your industry) a ton of businesses that have chosen not to advertise there. With the explosion of online directories and advertising many small businesses are looking elsewhere. The other issue is yellow pages are manual in nature. You have to manually take the information from the yellow page and type it into your mapping or CRM program – that takes a lot of time.
A better bet is to use services that provide you with a digital list of every business in your territory that matches your ideal SIC code. Since the lists are in digital format they can be sorted by zip code, city, or state which makes them easy to manipulate and import into your CRM and mapping software. A free service is Reference USA. I’ve used it in the past and it works well. You can access Reference USA at your local library and then online once you have a valid library card. A paid service I recommend is Sales Genie. You may also want to check with your industry trade associations for member lists.
Of course, once you have these leads you have to do something with them. The key is getting technology doing as much of the work for you as possible. If your organization doesn’t provide you with a CRM program to manage prospects and customers, you need to fork over some cash and get one. Don’t worry the return on investment will be well worth the cost.
Once you import your prospects and customers into your CRM software you can segment your territory, create call lists, build reminders, manage a calendar, and keep customer information like product preferences, buying habits, and even birthdays – right at your finger tips. There is a huge array of programs to choose from in the market place. For your purposes I recommend looking at a new CRM program which integrates into Google Apps – to learn more go to www.CRMforGoogle.com. I also like a CRM tool called Sales Nexus. It is powerful, really easy to use, and you will get hands on customer service – to learn more go to www.SalesNexus.com.
Since it sounds like you are calling on customers and prospects in the field and working your territory like a route, the key, obviously, is to reduce windshield time and optimize face to face time with customers and prospects. This is where technology really comes to your aid. Let’s say, for example, you planned to work a specific zip code on a particular day. Simply go to your CRM or list and sort by that zip code. Then import those addresses into your routing software. The routing software will build an optimized route based on the information you import. There are a number of routing software programs available on the market. Just do a Google search for “mapping a route.” I found one at www.TrackRoad.com that looks pretty cool, you mentioned that you already use Streets and Trips, and there are also programs that integrate with your GPS which can make things even easier.
Fred, I know this sounds like a lot of work. However, if you will take a couple of days to do some research and commit to a system you will become more efficient, you will spend more time with customers and less time in your car, you will make more money, and most importantly your quality of life will improve.
This is Jeb Blount, the Sales Guy. If you have a sales question please send it to email@example.com.