Don’t Confuse Sales Activity with Selling

Feb 22, 2012 | Sales Blog

By Andy Paul

Create Value with Each Customer Interaction

I read a blog posting recently about what a salesperson could do to increase sales. The title was something catchy like “A Billion and One Tips to Increase Sales.” It was hard to argue with the premise of the post. Everyone in sales can use good advice on increasing sales. It’s the reason I continue to read everything I can about sales. There is always something new to learn.

In this case, this author’s useful quick tips were all about creating more sales activity. He was asking the question ‘What should you do if you have prospects but they aren’t moving forward fast enough?’ and providing answers that were designed to create a flurry of sales activity around prospects to stimulate them to engage and move forward with the seller. 

But is selling the same as sales activity? And, if a prospect is not yet fully committed to the buying process, is random sales activity the way to get them engaged?

Nothing is sometimes better than something

I had a salesperson, named Arte, working for me once who had confused activity with selling. He came into my office one day and told me that he had invented his own method of selling that he called SWARM. The acronym stood for Surround With Activity to Regain Momentum. His thought was to envelop his prospects in a constant swarm of sales activities such as of phone calls, visits, emails, voice messages, invitations to webinars and seminars, product demonstrations in the hope that eventually something would stick and the prospect would relent and engage.

How’d that work for Arte? Not so well. But he got high marks for creativity.

Unfortunately, similar to Arte, many salespeople fall into the trap of believing that doing something, anything, with a prospect is better than doing nothing. This happens all the time when the prospect has gone radio silent. There are lots of reasons why this occurs and it is the job of the salesperson to determine the answer and respond appropriately and with content that has value for the prospect. But rarely is the correct response to bombard the prospect with trivial, time-wasting requests and interactions.

Keep in mind the customer’s objective 

In a sales situation, or buying situation, it is important to keep in mind that the goal of the customer is to gather the information or data they need to make an informed purchase decision with the least investment of their time possible. This is not to say that customers won’t spend the appropriate time to purchase a product or service. This just means that they don’t want to invest a minute more than they have to.

Create and deliver value each time you talk to your prospects and customers

If you are selling you should only be taking actions with a customer that have a defined purpose, deliver clear value and support the customer’s goal. To that end, instead of unthinkingly reaching out to the customer and demanding some of his or her time with a trivial request, consider the opposite approach: make sure that every interaction you have with a prospect or customer achieves Maximum Impact in the Least Time (MILT) possible. It requires planning and thought to make certain that each time you interact with the prospect or customer you are providing information that will bring them closer to their goal of making an informed decision. But the result is that you will bring value to the customer through your selling. If you want a customer to engage, create value for them by your actions. Wasting their limited time with “sales activities” does the opposite.

Selling has a purpose. It is not the goal of your prospects or customers to spend time with you. In fact, the opposite is true. They want to accomplish their job, which is to buy a product or service, while spending as little time with the salesperson as possible. The winning salesperson will usually be the one who knows how to make that happen.


Andy Paul 125x130Andy Paul is author of the award-winning book, Zero-Time Selling: 10 Essential Steps to Accelerate Every Company’s Sales. A sought-after speaker and business coach, Andy conducts workshops and consults with sales teams of all sizes to teach them how to use responsiveness, speed and intelligent processes to increase sales. Enjoy what you just read? Sign up for our regular digest of valuable Zero-Time Selling sales tips and strategies,Selling with Maximum Impact.”

© Andy Paul 2013


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