“How can I sell more when I have so much to do?”

 That’s a question I’m often asked whenever I’m talking to a group of salespeople.  I’m sure you can empathize with the feelings behind it.  You have new products to learn, paperwork to complete, hundreds of customer problems to solve, meetings to attend, inside people to cajole, managers to mollify and, on top of all this, you are expected to sell something!

It’s hard to do so when you have all these other aspects of your job howling for your attention.

How do you manage all of this while at the same time you build your sales?  How do you sort through all of this and focus on the essentials of your job?

Good question.  Let’s start by identifying one of those essentials.  Think about the sales process – the activities that it takes to make a sale – and certain key activities come to mind.  You know that you need to make appointments with qualified decision-makers, to collect information about their needs, to build relationships, to demonstrate products, to follow up, to answer questions, etc.  Your list of important sales activities is probably expanding monthly.  But if you’re going to focus on the essentials, there is one absolutely necessary activity around which everything else revolves.  All of the other activities are either means to bring about this activity, or actions that spring out of this one key activity.

What is it?  Making a persuasive offer to your customer.  Think of it as an offer.  In its simplest terms, making an offer means saying something like this to your customer:  “Here is this (product, service, package, deal, etc.). How about buying it?”

You make an offer whenever you respond to a request for a price.  When you demonstrate a product, you make an offer.  When you bring in a piece of literature and tell your customer about some new product or service, you make an offer.  When you respond to your customer’s request with information about a product or service, you make an offer.  All of these are variations on a theme, but all of them can be classified as the presentation of an offer.

Those offers are the heart of your job.  Without them, you can’t sell anything.  Your customers will never buy if you never offer them something to buy.

It is an unmistakable fact of life that, in sales, quantity counts.  In other words, to be successful, you must make a certain quantity of sales offers.  No matter how much skill and sophistication you apply to your job as a salesperson, you can not totally negate the quantity aspect of it.  Given two salespeople in approximately equal territories, or of approximately equal abilities, the salesperson who makes the greater quantity of sales offers will generally have better results than the other salesperson.

With this in mind, one simple way to cut through all the mass of things that you have to do is to focus on the essential component of the sales process – making an appropriate quantity of sales offers.  If you’re looking for a simple way to increase your results, focus on the number of sales offers that you make.

Do two things.  First, begin to keep track of how many of these sales offers you make in the course of a week.  Initially, don’t worry about what you’re presenting, and don’t be concerned about the dollar volume of each potential piece of business.  Those are more sophisticated concerns that can be considered later.  For now, just keep track of how many offers you make.  Use a simple hash mark system in your planner.  Each day, make a hash mark for each offer you presented to a customer.  At the end of each week, add up the number of hash marks.

There is an amazing law of management that states that the behavior you measure is the behavior you get.  That applies to self-management as well.  Just the act of keeping track (measuring) the quantity of sales offers you present will help you to focus on those essential activities.  As you become more aware of the quantity of sales offers, you’ll naturally be drawn to ways to increase that quantity.

This brings me to the second thing you need to do.  Begin to find ways to increase the quantity of those sales offers.  If you find yourself averaging five presentations a week, try to increase that to an average of ten presentations a week.

When I was a new salesperson, my manager told me that I ought to attempt to have at least one new product to present at every sales call.  I thought he probably knew better than I did, so I did what he suggested.  At some point along the way, I began to think in terms of the quantity of sales offers.  It occurred to me that I could double the number of sales offers I made by taking two or more products to every sales call.  So I began to spend a little more time preparing my samples and literature each week so that I could dramatically increase the quantity of sales offers I made.  That simple strategy was certainly part of my $1Million a year increase in sales.

It can be for you, too.  When you’re overwhelmed with too much to do, and when you’re feeling like you’re being drawn in a kaleidoscope of conflicting directions, focus on the essential part of your job.  Measure and increase the number of sales offers you make.  It will keep you close to the heart of your job and help you focus on the highest priority activities.