Call reports, the bane of every salesperson’s existence. How do I know this? I have been subjected to them! Now, before you put up your defenses, cross your arms, and become disgusted with me because you require them, ask yourself this: are these call reports producing R.O.I. to pay for the time used to complete them? In my twenty-seven plus years of management, sales, sales management and marketing management, I frankly have NEVER seen an example of where these time suckers have paid for themselves.
I of course submit this caveat: I do know there are exceptions to EVERY rule. If you are one of those companies that has instituted a rigorous sales call report program, monitors it for results and measure the R.O.I., then my hat is off to you! However, it generally goes like this: the sales force generally uses productivity time on Monday morning or Friday afternoon to do their best to recall the week’s events, put them on paper, and turn them in to the Sales Manager. Then, by July, the Sales Manager usually has seven feet of reports stacked on the desk, thus sending a clear message to the sales force that these are a useless waste of their time. I know one former principal of a large dealership, who in his early years, wrote “sleeping with (the bosses name) wife” during the afternoon on one of his reports. He waited and waited for the Sales Manager to say something to him, like “nice.” However, he said nothing, and my friend actually approached him to point it out, exploiting the weakness in their system.
If you hire educated, motivated individuals and provide them proper training and ongoing guidance, there is no need for a daily or weekly call report. You won’t need to babysit them to be sure they’re not playing golf or having sex with your spouse in the afternoon. Their results will paint a portrait of their efforts. Now, that said, how does a Sales Manager ensure they are staying focused? We all know that salespeople (myself included) have a tendency to be perhaps, just a smidge, A.D.D. So as a business owner, you want to be sure they are calling on the RIGHT prospects, correct? In steps the “Top Prospect List.”
This list was introduced to me some twenty years ago by probably the best Sales Manager I have ever worked for, and we still are connected today on LinkedIn. His name is Eric Leaman, and when he introduced this “Top Prospect List” to me, I was actually thrilled to have it. It worked like this: I knew that every Friday at 2pm, Eric and I would have a phone call (he worked in N.J. and I was in Kentucky). At that time, I knew he would have my previous week’s “Top Prospect List” out on his desk and I better have mine as well, and it better be updated (Eric didn’t take excuses). We would review my activities with these accounts during the week, including phone calls, personal sales calls, literature, samples, how I felt about the account, and what our next steps with the account would be. If I felt it was worth keeping them on the list, then we would retain them. However, if I felt nothing was going to happen in six months or so, we would agree to remove it and replace it with a new target prospect. This process kept me focused on a narrow target of activities for the week and ensured to Eric that I was indeed working the types of clients that was congruent with the company’s direction.
This process is integrated into many CRM modules these days, and if used wisely, it can make a big difference in the direction of your sales force.Lets face it, that is really what you are interested in any way, right? However, if you are a small dealership that has not or will not be using a CRM platform with sales management modules and functions, then you can download a copy of the same form I used back in 1992, except now, it’s electronic! No more pencils and erasers!
You can download a free copy of this Top Prospect List HERE from my website. You can expand it to be Top 50 or contract it to be a Top 5, depending on the size and scope of the products you sell. But I can attest that through my years of selling and call reporting, this little gem is the ONLY ONE I found truly useful to help me increase the sales in my territory. And as Eric always closed his communications to me…