If your a sales rep then you there is a flurry of activity when you take over a new territory. It’s the same if you are given a new area of responsibility in some other venue beyond sales. Sometimes it’s motivated by the false perception about about how the area of responsibility contains great untapped potential.
I shudder to think about how many times sales managers have said something like “The guy who had this territory before you just didn’t really work it which is why the sales are so low” I know from several experiences, if you hear that line it’s because the territory in question simply can’t produce what management wants out of it. Sometimes it’s the excitement of learning something new and a desire to really engage the task and the challenge.
The alternative includes prostate produced power points and excreted excel sheets that come from too much reporting as a function of the job.
This initial time is usually inclusive long days punctuated by events, continuous outreach, networking, and extended effort targeted at different focus areas of the job in question. Ultimately this extended effort, or at least the internal motivation on the part of the Professional Individual Contributor eventually goes away because they decide you want to concentrate on the things that actually affect change. Usually there are environmental limitations (only so many people care about your product, only so many individuals have the bandwidth to work with you, etc..) Maybe there are a thousand people who have a need for a particular social service that’s’ offered, but getting 3 of them in the door to engage the service providers is a herculean task all unto itself. – the company would say something like “you have great opportunity here, over a 1000 people in this area can use our stuff” completely and purposefully blind to the fact that for some systematic reason they can’t engage.
Time goes on, the PIC get smarter, just like if they owned the company or where the head of the organization. They spend your time where it’ll have the most impact and start to ignore the time wasters.. why go to the chamber of commerce networking event when it’s the same 10 people every week? Why do the report for the higher up who will never read it?
The problem, especially in the private sector is the expectation of unrealistic activity. You need to go to every single event, you need to collect tons of data and put into reports that won’t be read, you need to reach out to get 50 demos completed even though only 10 people would be interested. Generally this is because of the need for justification of time and salary, and to be fair sometimes it works.. it’s possible to run into an opportunity that you would have missed if you didn’t go to a particular event. but more often than not the time is simply wasted.
The most recent example has to do with when my oldest daughter and I were visiting a friend at a car dealership. After we left, I found out this guy’s boss criticized him for not going through the process of trying to sell me on buying my daughter a new car (everyone is a potential customer in their world) – let alone that we were there on a social visit, that act would hurt our relationship and that I drive a minivan with a quarter million miles on it. So why would I buy my daughter a new car before I buy myself something, let alone all the other variables? Unfortunately,. This example is both classic and true.
This unrealistic activity eats up energy and focus that can be used to be better prepared for true opportunities. Without energy and focus the quality of the actual activity goes in the toilet. If your so exhausted in trying to secure those demos, you are much less ‘in the zone’ when a good opportunity comes your way. When the chance to get your thoughts and research in front of decision makers is rare, it’s much more valued and the information will be much more detailed and close to reality. The alternative includes prostate produced power points and excreted excel sheets that come from too much reporting as a function of the job.
Activity is an art, it needs to be high when the situation calls for it, and it needs to be reserved when the situation doesn’t. Sadly the ones who know best, the professional individual contributors aren’t the ones who usually get to make the call on how much activity they should produce at any given time.