Focus – The Greatest Challenge Facing Sales Organizations
BY PAUL REILLY
Imagine a hunter wandering aimlessly through the woods looking for prey. If he has no specific target, he must lug around his entire arsenal. How exhausting. Since there
is no targeted prey, everything looks like an opportunity.
There is no focus. Although this hunter has the determination to find prey, he has no idea what he is looking for.
Salespeople also wander aimlessly around their territories
looking for opportunities. Since there is no focus, they believe any opportunity is viable. Salespeople attempt to meet
the needs of everyone by pitching their products’ breadth
and depth. They carry around their arsenal of sales tools. It’s
exhausting and it doesn’t work.
Succeeding in sales takes more than a desire to hunt. It
takes focus. The most successful salespeople are those who
focus on the right opportunities.
Consider the following statistics from Reilly Sales Training’s ongoing focus study:
• Only 15 percent of distributor salespeople believe they
focus their time and energy on pursuing ideal prospects.
• Only 16 percent of distributor salespeople strongly agree
they have an established profile for their ideal prospect.
This presents two significant challenges; salespeople are
spending their time on low-payoff activities and they don’t
have an established profile for the ideal opportunity. There
is a relationship between these findings. If there is no ideal
opportunity profile, how could they spend their time on
Successful salespeople focus on the right opportunities.
Here are three tips to help you focus.
What makes you the best?
Answer this question from an organizational and
personal perspective. There are certain things your organization does best. Figure out what it is. Certain customers
benefit more from experiencing your solution. You can only
discover this segment if you understand your organization’s
strength. Here are a few questions to help you understand
• What do our current customers say we excel at?
• What about us does our competition try to duplicate?
• What are we known for in the industry?
• What do our most satisfied customers have in common?
Here are questions salespeople should ask themselves.
• What can I personally be the best at?
• Do I have specific expertise?
• Do I know things that my customers cannot find in a
Expertise creates a niche for many salespeople. Customers want knowledgeable expertise.
Develop specific criteria for ideal business
Our focus study reveals that only 38 percent of managers clearly define what good business is for their company.
Defining ideal business is a strategic decision. Managers and
ownership need to be involved. Think of how much money
you invest in your salesforce. Don’t you want them pursuing
the right business? Here are some sample questions to help
you establish your specific profile:
• What industry do we serve best?
• What size organization is best for us?
• Geographically, where do we fit best?
• Where do we have the most access?
Managers, be able to define the ideal industry, size, and
geographical zone for your salespeople. Analyze qualitative
features. Ask yourself, “What does good business feel like?”
Focus 80 percent of your effort pursuing
This is a minimum expectation. Do your best to focus 100
percent of your time on these ideal opportunities. Focusing
your time, energy, and effort on ideal opportunities is the
only way to gain the maximum return on your investment.
Fill your pipeline with ideal opportunities. Create a top-ten or top-fifty list of ideal opportunities. Then, dedicate at
least 80 percent of your time and energy to these opportunities. Here is what 80 percent looks like:
• Four days per week dedicated to ideal opportunities
• Six hours per day dedicated to ideal opportunities
• Four-of-five sales calls dedicated to ideal opportunities
• Four-of-five phone calls dedicated to ideal opportunities
The greatest salespeople focus their time, energy, and
effort on ideal opportunities. They have a knack for defining, finding, and penetrating these opportunities. During
this time of the year, salespeople are energized with a new
sense of hope, determination, and enthusiasm. Match your
invigorated spirit with focus. Remember, its ready-aim-fire,
Paul Reilly is president of St. Louis-based Reilly Sales
Training, a privately-owned company specializing in
training sales professionals, sales managers, and service
professionals by offering seminars, in-house sales training
programs, and hiring and training assessments. Contact
Paul at 636-778-0175 or Paul@ReillySales Training.com.