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A Day In The Life Of A Sales Rep August 11, 2010

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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The Bonzo Dog Band recorded a song on their 1972 release, “Keynsham”, entitled “What Do You Do?” Of course, this satirical song from a band of satirists is meant to poke fun at typical middle-class workers. It goes like this:

“What do you do?/I don’t know, but I know I do it everyday/What do you do?/I don’t know but I know I do it anyway/ I do what I do indeed I do/I do what I do everyday/Indeed I do!” And repeats itself over and over.

Not so with a sales rep!

As any sales rep will tell you, the best part of the job is that every day is different. Things you knew were locked down, in the books, go sideways. Prospects of two years pop up and need an RFP completed yesterday because they really are going to spend in the coming year. Production calls chasing materials or you discover you forgot one detail on an online order and your client’s campaign didn’t start on time. Nevertheless, as I heard Zig Ziglar say it in the 1975, it is true today: “Don’t tell me about the labor pains, show me the baby!”

Yet, the purpose of this exercise is to reveal the typical daily process of a media sales rep. The labor pains.

As Kramer asked George in an episode of Seinfeld: “Do you have any conceivable reason to get up in the morning?” As a sales rep I can answer, yes I do!

First on the agenda: Anything left from yesterday that must have an answer today. For this, I check Salesforce.com and email to be sure I remember what needs to be completed. If I need the assistance of others, I will follow up with them and check on the progress of a price quote (for printing or mail list rental) or double-check online availability or related details. I receive several email newsletters, which I will glance at now or at the end of the day. It’s time to clear out the cobwebs and get with it.

Next, a check of the Salesforce.com calendar for reminders of follow-up calls or things to do. This will spur follow-up phone calls, emails (or both) and the creation of proposals. While some may disagree, I will create unsolicited proposals for prospects if they are marketing with a competitor. These are done on a template so there is not much time invested in detailed customization. The only things that are “customized” are the types of marketing channels that fit their target audience. If I need to pull a package of material together for mailing, this is the time to do it. Then, it’s on to a little research.

Our websites are updated daily, so at this point I take time to view them for two purposes: 1) to be sure my campaigns are running properly and 2) to see if there is any news related to one of my clients or prospects. If the news includes my prospect(s) or client(s), I will shoot an email off to them with a link announcing the article to them. I will do the same if I see an article or product announcement for them in print or in a newsletter. I have found that these are invaluable ways of communicating with prospects and forging a better relationship with clients.

Now the day begins for clients, prospects and colleagues. This is where the “intrusion factor” takes its place in my day. Whether the intrusion is positive or negative, it does take me away from the basic plan of my day.

And what is the basic daily plan for my day? It is this:

-Outbound calls

-Creation of proposals

-Monitoring the sales pipeline

-Closing deals

-Submitting IOs

-Prospecting

-Repeat process

Here is a sampling of intrusions that occur on a daily basis:

-A client or prospect needs to know about online availability. I stop to check our online inventory and respond to them.

-A client has decided to buy an online service. I must stop and get the order into our system so I can capture the inventory immediately. (Our group doesn’t have one person assigned to this task so we must do it ourselves. We do have a sales assistant that can expedite the order if we are on the road.)

-Insertion orders come in and must be processed. While this can be left to the end of the day, in my opinion, processing them as they come in is best.

-A colleague calls for assistance on a project they are working on.

-A client calls with a billing or production question.

-Editors send leads. Again, while this can be set aside for later, I usually will read the press release or click on the link they send to judge the quality of the lead then move on.

-A client or prospect submits an RFP that they forgot to send to me in the initial email blast two weeks ago so, to be included, it must be done by EOB today!

-Requests from clients to add or delete names from the comp-promo list.

-A colleague stops by to chat about his favorite sports team (or whatever).

-I discover the computer “path” to the printer has been changed so you search for the office manager to see if there is a local solution prior to going to IT.

-Reports for online and print sales arrive and need to be checked for accuracy.

The irony: intrusion is good! After handling one or more, I get back to a proposal and discover I left something out or I was using the wrong template or not considering all possibilities, and now with “fresh eyes” I have an opportunity to correct my error.

I block all interruptions during conference calls and webinars. However, it is true that no one calls you until someone else does, then they all need to speak to you…urgently!

Appointment-setting. Whether I have to travel to see clients or attend trade shows scattered across the nation, this is a separate class of time management challenge. Of course, if it’s a simple driving trip, it takes little time to coordinate. If it requires the flight/hotel/car routine, then time must be spent arranging it for best economy. Again, some may put this off until the end of the day, but once I have the appointment (or list of appointments) I stop and make arrangements. Often this requires using the company travel agent and sometimes other resources depending on the destination.

Prospecting. This is a methodical daily process:

-New leads from editors are judged for quality

-New leads from colleagues are warmest and require immediate attention

-New leads from competitors are judged for compatibility and an approach is determined

-Dormant clients or prospects in ACT! are reviewed at least monthly and new calls made and proposals created and sent as needed.

Yes, each business day prospecting is feathered into my process. Some days it may be as few as one, other days it could be north of a dozen, but prospecting is key to developing a vibrant sales pipeline. Then, there are ticklers for follow-up and the calendar moves on.

Wrap-up. Prior to the close of the day, I check to see if I have filed all paperwork and made all necessary arrangements, and, if not, I do it now. I will update my forecast at this point and double check my online orders processed during the day. Since I work in the Eastern time zone and have clients in the Central time zone, I will make calls on clients I know are best caught at the end of their business day.

On some days I will Twitter. Yes, in my first months Tweeting as ECMEWSESW I have amassed 150+ followers! I limit myself to 5 Tweets per session and they typically link to articles on my magazine websites. Also, I participate in three LinkedIn groups devoted to B2B sales, so I may end the day commenting on a discussion or, at least, looking in on one or two. I don’t have any illusion that this will push business my way, but if my clients and prospects have begun to tinker with them, then I should, too. I’m not a techno-wiz or early adopter but I know this much: if it’s important to my clients (or my publications’ audience), then I will understand “the next new thing” enough to talk about it with them.

Other days, I will post comments to questions posed in various LinkedIn groups. My favorite: Sales Playbook hosted by Paul Castain and its alter ego Sales Playbook Sanctuary hosted by Roger Demas, Tim Mushey and Paul. They are simply a MUST for any sales rep in any industry. If nothing else, it is good to put your thoughts down and share them with peers. Regardless of the feedback, or lack thereof, you’ve contributed to the conversation.

When the heat of battle has abated for the day I hope you can see that my goal is to accomplish sales in the most efficient manner possible. I don’t believe I am alone in approaching my sales territory as my own business. As I see the winners of the quarterly sales contest, it validates my approach to innovate and “push the envelope” to keep our titles top-of-mind with clients and prospects.

Some sales reps are methodical and some are not. At a previous publication, the publisher noted that one of my reps was a “list salesman” — he goes right down his list, completing each call in order no matter what. While I’m not sure if I’m a pure “list salesman” it is likely the closest label to fit my style. I have a process that works and I stick with the process. It is flexible enough to survive emergencies and strict enough to keep me focused when sales has its seasonal slow-downs.

In the end, I don’t have to ask myself: “Do you have any conceivable reason to get up in the morning?” I have the best mix of challenge, adventure and intrigue: I’m in sales!

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