Sales Reps Think They Know What They Are Doing But They Don’t

In sales, prioritization is key to productivity and achieving your revenue and business goals. But the question is, are your sales reps doing it right? Read on to find out.

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In this article:

  1. Working Harder vs. Working Smarter
  2. The Pareto Principle
  3. The Power of Prioritization
  4. The Law of Prioritization
  5. Bonus: Prioritization Techniques for Salespeople

The Importance of Prioritization: Why It Matters in Sales

Working Harder vs. Working Smarter

There is often a debate in sales about working harder versus working smarter.

The “work harder” team mocks the “work smarter” team because they spend so much time researching prospects that they never actually get around to doing any real work.

On the flip side, the “work smarter” team gives the “work harder” team a difficult time because all the latter cares about are tasks and activities. Results don’t matter.

The truth is, neither approach is right when viewed in extremes. The right balance actually lies somewhere in the middle.

To be successful, you need to work both smarter and harder.

It may seem as if it’s easier to work harder. You simply put the time and effort in, and normally, you would see the results begin to increase.

For example, take a sales rep who’s the first one in the office every morning and the last one to leave at night. Most people can’t really argue that this type of dedication has an impact and it pays off.

Yet, how do you work smarter?

The Pareto Principle

For most salespeople, it’s definitely a more difficult concept than simply working harder. If you’ve been in sales for a long time, you may be familiar with a concept called the Pareto principle, which is also known as the 80/20 rule.

This principle says that you spend 80% of your time on accounts that yield 20% of your sales, and that 20% of the accounts you work on yield 80% of your results.

It’s an interesting concept, but it does make one wonder, is it actually true in sales?

Our team here at XANT did a research study on this. We called it the Power of Prioritization.

We examined millions of accounts and contacts in an attempt to try and figure out where sales reps spend their time. Truthfully, the results may surprise you.

The Power of Prioritization

man working late at night | Sales Reps Think They Know What They Are Doing But They Don’t | prioritization skills

Prioritizing tasks to improve efficiency

The first step in our research study process was to score millions of accounts. For this, we used our own AI-powered scoring engine.

In the next step, we analyzed which accounts closed and which didn’t to determine what good and bad accounts looked like. We believe most people in sales understand that their best accounts close much better than their worst accounts.

We wanted to see if we could really quantify it. After going through our research study process, we found that, on average, the best accounts convert 98.8% better than the worst accounts.

This number is nearly twice as much.

With that data point, we looked at 116 million sales activities to figure out if sales reps focus their time on bad accounts or good accounts. Guess what?

Our data showed that sales reps spend .05% of their time on good accounts and 99.5% of their time on accounts that are bad.

That is a huge problem. We’ve looked at literally millions of data points across thousands of companies.

The one thing that we found to be the case more often than not is that salespeople think they know what they are doing.

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The Law of Prioritization

Salespeople tend to trust their instincts, thinking they’re spending their time focused on the right accounts. Yet, the data says that they are not doing that.

It’s a dangerous game that sales reps are playing every single day. It’s costing them, and the companies they work for, millions of dollars.

If sales reps could solve this prioritization problem alone, they could increase their ability to convert prospects into opportunities by 46.1%.

We call this idea the Law of Prioritization. It’s likened to the Law of Gravity — gravity affects you whether you like it or not.

Right now, the Law of Prioritization is affecting you whether you believe it or not.

There are accounts in your customer relationship management (CRM) system that are twice as likely to buy from you than others. Yet, you’re probably not focusing on them.

You may think you are, but it’s more likely that you’re not.

Are you breaking the Law of Prioritization? If you are, you have to work on an effective solution for it, because it’s costing you and your company a lot of money.

Bonus: Prioritization Techniques for Salespeople

It’s a must for salespeople to have prioritization skills. This boosts your productivity, which allows you to contribute to achieving business objectives.

Here are three prioritization techniques you should learn:

  • Create a task list that’s effective for you — Your task lists should contain a manageable list of things-to-do to that will lead you to accomplish huge tasks. Be smart on what you need to prioritize, and set a timeline for each task to avoid having them pile up.
  • Focus on what will drive growth — If you have a lot of prospects or areas to cover, evaluate which among those will drive growth and revenue to your business. Then, prioritize those over the others by attending to them first and dedicating your time on them.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ — This is especially crucial when you’re bombarded with many activities and people you “should” meet with. Remember: you have to dedicate your time on what will help you achieve your goals in an efficient way.

To be effective when it comes to prioritization, you must first figure out which accounts will bring you the most value in terms of the goals you want to achieve. Then, convert those prospects into opportunities by following the Law of Prioritization.

Keep in mind the prioritization techniques we shared and apply them to avoid wasting your time on accounts that won’t close.

Do you apply the Law of Prioritization on your work? What other techniques can you share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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