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3 Terrible Time Wasters in Sales & How to Avoid Them [Research]

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While technology can eliminate many inefficiencies and time wasters from sales and marketing organizations, some problem areas are outside the reach of technological solutions. More time is wasted as a result of poor strategy, bad hiring, unqualified leadership, and a lack of performance management than from flawed sales tactics.

Companies have invested in sales tactics for years. What they haven’t done is invest in lead management, immediate response to leads, lead resources, and proper intelligence on why companies buy, and why they don’t.

Here are three of the biggest time wasters in sales, and how to start reclaiming back your lost hours today.

1) Slow Response to Lead Inquiries

Every day we find another company that spends significant time and money to create a fancy website and improve its conversion rate only to let a lead sit for 24 to 48 hours before calling them back! Our repeated research and experience shows that only 45-50% of all leads get contacted, and reps only attempt contact between four and five times. 

Laura Ramos of Forrester Research studied how effectively companies respond to their leads and wrote an article entitled “How Mature is B2B Lead Management?” In her study, only 10% of sales departments responded to leads within 24 hours and 41% responded to leads in one to three days. Nearly half of the sales departments she studied had yet to standardize how to route and respond to leads within the organization.

Hot leads cool off quickly. Our best clients know their key action is to call them back immediately.

Response time should be measured in seconds and minutes, not hours and days. Recent research by InsideSales.com in conjunction with Dr. James Oldroyd shows that the odds of contacting a lead increase 100 times if the attempt is made within five minutes versus even waiting 30 minutes, while the odds of setting an appointment increase 21 times in the same timeframe.

Best practice: Respond immediately to leads requesting demonstrations or pricing information, or have immediate questions. Other forms of lead offers should be tested to find the optimal time to respond for the highest conversion and qualification ratios. Automate lead qualification and routing to eliminate delays in entering your lead information into your system and getting them to the right sales rep.

2) Too Few Attempts to Contact Leads

While it may seem that giving up on a lead after five contact attempts saves time, this practice is actually a huge time waster. After spending thousands of hours and dollars creating and maintaining a campaign to attract leads, failing to follow up effectively is in effect dumping all those hours and dollars down the drain.

Jacques Werth, the author of High Probability Selling, quotes a 14% contact ratio in a B2B environment. Our studies show B2B prospecting contact ratios hovering around 10% across most industries. However, our studies also show that if a sales rep attempts to contact a lead four to six times, he or she reaches a lead contacted ratio of 55%. Such low actual contact ratios tell us one thing: Most sales reps are giving up too early!

We also found that most sales reps make follow up calls at roughly the same time each day. This seems counterintuitive: If a lead is unavailable in the morning, continuing to call them each morning for five days will waste time and yield little result.

Best practice: Track every dial and every contact. Separate your contactable leads from those without viable contact information. Track how many attempts your sales reps make to contact leads and the actual percentage of contacted leads for 30 days. Once you form a baseline, begin increasing contact attempts to increase your contact ratio.

3) Taking Too Many Notes

According to our research, the average sales rep spends a surprising seven and a half minutes after every call making notes. He or she usually recapped the conversation, scheduled follow-up events and tasks, and summarized emails, faxes, and proposals sent. Many reps recorded unimportant information.

We recommend recording information that:

  • Provides a memory link back to the discussion;
  • Records action items with associated date and time information;
  • Clearly notes elements of a needs analysis or qualification.

Rather than re-typing information sent to the customer in the notes, simply link the actual emails, faxes, and proposals to the customer record in the database. Not only will you have a copy of the actual document, you will drastically reduce the amount of time spent in note-taking.

Best practice: Gather One Unique Aspect (OUA) from a conversation and record it rather than the entire conversation. Use the OUA for future communications and as a memory recall tool. Encourage reps to practice typing notes and linking information throughout the phone conversation to reduce time spent after the conversation taking notes by as much as 75%. 

Editor's note: This post is an excerpt from InsideSales.com's ebook "15 Time Wasters of Inside Sales and Lead Generation," and is reprinted here with permission. Download the full PDF here. 

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