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Time and Attention

3 min readSeptember 28, 2021

Sales is not purely about the numbers. Or your process. It’s about people and their time and attention.

Are you so consumed with hitting your activity goals, that you forget about the human beings that are the objects of your sales efforts? By this I mean the buyers and stakeholders that you need to engage and inspire to talk with you.

It’s easy to be lulled into complacency by your numbers. If you make X dials per day and have Y conversations that turn into Z appointments, then you’ve hit your numbers, management will give you a pat on the back and you can go home with a smile on your face knowing that you’ve done a good job.

Or have you?

Research into the B2B customer service experience has found that your customers’ tolerance for having to invest their time to make multiple calls, or talk to multiple people, to solve their problems is rapidly decreasing. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons that customers switch vendors.

In other words, if you waste a customer’s time and don’t promptly solve their problem, you are going to lose their business.

Let’s look at sales in the same light. Isn’t sales just another form of problem solving? Why do so many sales reps assume that their buyers have the time, or patience, for a large number of sales interactions to find a solution to their pain point?

In the eyes of B2B buyers, less is usually more. They’re asking sales to help them get their job done with the least investment of their time and attention possible. Yet, most sales reps appear blissfully unaware of the amount of their buyers’ time that they consume.

How many sales touches do you have with the average buyer during the course of their buying process? Do you know? Are you counting? Or, just guessing? And, how many of those interactions are delivering something of value that is specific to that prospect and their requirements? In other words, which of those interactions help your buyer to make progress toward making their decision? And how many do not?

The challenge for sales reps is to stop burdening their buyers with rote, pre-programmed sales interactions.

Set yourself a goal to reduce the number of sales interactions with your buyers that you currently require during the course of their buying process. In other words, what can you do to reduce the amount of time and attention the buyer has to spend with you, through any channel, to move from their initial interest to making a decision to buy your product?

Let’s say for illustration purposes that you average 20 sales interactions, of all types, with a prospect during a sales process. You definitely should examine what you’re doing now and make a plan for what you need to do to reduce that number to 18 or 16. Or 10.

Pragmatically examine your sales process, your sales skills, your product knowledge and industry expertise. Determine in which of these aspects you need to invest with the objective of improving and enhancing your ability to deliver the sales value that will actually help your buyers to make their purchase decision. Then experiment with how you can deliver that value to reduce the number of sales touches required.

Here’s the bottom line: every sales touch must be deliberately planned and executed to deliver something of value that enables the buyer to move at least one step closer to making a decision.

If the buyer gives you some of their time and attention, what value are they receiving in return for that investment? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re just wasting their time. And, we all know what happens to sellers that waste their buyers’ time.