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By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

There are 365 days a year. Taking out weekends and holidays leaves you with about 200 days.

That is only 200 days to make or, better still, over achieve your number.

As sales people we don’t have time.

A key skill of all sales people is to decide where and how to focus that time.

This requires us to qualify prospects.  Regardless of if you are cold calling all day or selling a $500 million outsourcing deal, you must decide when and where to spend that time.

There are many acronyms out there that describe this approach. BANT – Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale is one such way to qualify. There are many others.

But this blog isn’t about qualification and how to qualify. This blog asks why are sales people wasting (and burning away) their time on deals they cannot win?

Below is a conversation that my friend Theo Priestly posted on LinkedIn.

social selling

Now a sales mentor of mine once said to me “Selling starts when somebody says no!” and to a certain extent this is right.  But you have to learn when to push ahead and when to walk away.

So back to Theo’s situation

Pitching on social media is bad for a number of reasons:

  1. The buyer (not the seller) is in control of the discussion. They can block you. 
  2. There is so much ambiguity in the written word.
  3. It’s bad etiquette, but if you are pitching on social, you probably don’t care about that.

If you are going to pitch you should be having a conversation. Just asking somebody to have a conversation qualifies.

Remember, sales is a numbers game. It does mean you will be rejected but you have to understand that is part of the job.  That said the numbers game may well be done.  We were recently asked to provide some content and for this we would get “200 leads”.  I didn’t bother asking for the 200 leads. Put simply, I know the “leads” would just be names and the time spent going through the list would be better spent elsewhere.

As I often say, “Sales is a numbers game, I just need 1 lead”.

I recall one sales job, which was back in the day of sending out letters, but is similar to using a cold outreach method like email.  Where we would send one letter a day. Not tens, not hundreds, not thousands as you see with so many email campaigns.

We used the “Selling to the Very Important Top Officer (VITO)” methodology that Tony Parinello covers in his book of the same name.

We would sit and write a letter and make it totally original for a particular target.  We would research the person, the business issues they were facing, and we pretty much got a 100% meeting rate.  I think marketers would today call it “hyper segmented” or something.  For me it was purely one-to-one marketing.

To get meetings with senior executives at large companies, pretty much daily, was a good investment of our time.  Scale that across the sales team of 10, and we didn’t have a problem with pipeline.

As I’ve written before, sales is hard work. Like grains of sand in an egg timer, the time will soon disappear, and you need to make sure you have focused the right effort on the right things.

Some of that is luck, some of it is judgement, but I can tell you that if you keep pitching to people across social (especially those that have said no) you are wasting your time!

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

Picture credit: By Hydrargyrum (enwiki) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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