We say it all the time; selling is a difficult and scary job. It's not for everyone. But, it is the job you signed up for.
As a salesperson, what is your number one responsibility? This isn't a trick question; it's right there in the name. Of course, it's to sell.
The "sale" is the rewarding part of the job. It's the source of the adrenaline rush. Sadly, most producers in our industry aren't feeling that rush as often as they should.
An obvious problem
It isn't hard to figure out why more sales aren't taking place. Think about it: What has to happen before a salesperson creates a new client? Again, not a trick question. Before you can generate a new client, you must create a new prospect.
This takes us to the hands-down no-question-about-it, number one challenge for salespeople - lack of prospects. Even those who have enough opportunities way too often haven't taken the time to ensure they are quality prospects.
Let the excuses begin
If salespeople are anything, they are creative in coming up with excuses for not prospecting:
- “I have too much service work to do.”
- “I have to add notes to the CRM.”
- “I have to visit with existing clients.”
- “I have vendors to vet.”
- “I have to organize my notes.”
- “I have to research first.”
- “I have that thing on my back I need to get checked out.”
But there is one excuse that shows up on the lips of producers more than others:
“Oh, I REALLY want to prospect more. I just can't find the time.” 🙄
Someone is getting cheated
I’ve been a benefits producer myself, and now I prospect and sell the services of Q4i every day. I understand the various demands on your time. I get the need to spend time taking care of existing clients in addition to acquiring new ones. However, producers spend too much time on service work. They allow themselves to get pulled into service issues they shouldn’t.
I say “shouldn’t” partially because producers aren't typically the detail type best equipped to deal with these service issues. However, the real reason they shouldn't get pulled into them is that other team members have that as their primary responsibility. Stay out of their way! Let them do their job, and you do your own.
Yes, producers need to spend time researching opportunities, and they MUST spend some time tracking the relevant information in the CRM. However, in the big picture, these activities JUST-DON’T-TAKE-THAT-MUCH-TIME, when done properly.
Your excuse MAY be real
If you are that rare salesperson who is in an environment where you genuinely don't have time to prospect and sell, your company is cheating you. They are cheating you and everyone else on the team who depends on new revenue coming into the agency. In short, everyone is getting cheated.
If this describes your situation, demand that something change. If leadership doesn't take at least some non-sales work off your desk, the "change" may have to be the agency for which you work.
Let’s get real
However, much more likely is that your excuses are BS, and you are the one who is cheating your agency. You aren’t just cheating the company as a business; you’re cheating every team member who makes up the agency and depends on its growth.
You (likely) do have time to put new prospects in the pipeline and close more deals. You're just choosing to spend your precious time doing other things.
As a producer, think of your job description as follows. You are responsible for takeoffs (writing new business), landings (helping renew clients), and emergencies-in-flight (service issues that threaten the client relationship). Any time you spend doing anything that doesn't fall into one of these three categories has to be questioned and kept to a minimum.
There is a tremendous opportunity that comes with being a producer. You have more flexibility than most. You have almost unlimited income potential. You enjoy the privilege of making an impact on the businesses of your clients.
However, with that opportunity comes equally great responsibility. It is your responsibility to ensure the healthy growth of the agency – period.
Is that a heavy burden to carry? Absolutely! But it’s the job you signed up for.
The most cheated of all
If selling is a difficult and scary job, prospecting is the most difficult and scariest part of that difficult and scary job. This is the real reason your pipeline sucks.
I get it. Selling is not for the faint of heart.
But, if you truly believe and know that you and your team can deliver better results than what is provided by your competition, the list of those cheated extends beyond you and your team.
When you are able to help, and you don't prospect; when you don't offer your conversations, you know who gets cheated most? The would-be client who never gets to know you.
When you can deliver exceptional value, your prospect calls aren't an imposition. Not at all, my friend. They are simply an offer to share valuable business improvement ideas.
If you don't make those ideas available to others, you're selfish, and you're holding out on those businesses that need your help.
Photo by topdeq.