Avoiding the Activity Trap


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Many salespeople make the assumption that activity leads to results. “As long as I’m doing something,” they argue, “results will come.”

This is a mistake. It’s the best way to get stuck in the activity trap. The activity trap occurs when you begin working too hard to make the sale. Sales is much more simple than a lot of salespeople make it out to be.

Above all, your interactions must be meaningful. If all you’re doing on a call with a prospect is saying ‘hello,’ all you’ll hear is ‘hell no.’ Instead, your activities need to fall into one of these four productive buckets:

  1. They educate your prospects.
  2. They uncover essential information about your prospect.
  3. They reveal pivotal information about your solution to your prospect.
  4. They close opportunities (for the good or bad).

First, Educational activities provide information to your prospects that make them more receptive to your messaging. These kinds of activities help them understand the business impact you can have on their operation. They help them understand that you have something meaningful to say to them. Examples include:

  • Sending useful content (e.g., articles, whitepapers, etc.) to them
  • Sponsoring roundtable discussions for your prospects to meet your happy customers
  • Publishing pamphlets about your solution
  • Providing well-documented case studies to your prospects

Activities that allow you to uncover essential information about your prospects are some of the most important. The most common is the face-to-face (or phone-to-phone) meeting. These probing meetings allow you to ask meaningful questions that help (1) demonstrate your expertise in their field and (2) gather information you need to make a meaningful recommendation to them. They include:

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Sales Interviews

Revealing your recommended solution to your prospect is — obviously — essential. Doing it, though, requires more than just activity. Instead, meaningful sales presentations are carefully targeted to your prospects particular situation. This can be done in any number of ways, but is dependent on effectively uncovering practical information in your probing meeting.

  • Webinars
  • Formal Presentations
  • Demonstrations
  • Tours

Finally, the most directly meaningful of all sales activities are those that close business. This is typically in some kind of interaction between a salesperson and a prospect-turned-customer. Alternatively, you might discover that a particular prospect isn’t a good fit for your solution. This, too, can be good because it allows you to move on.

If your “activity” doesn’t fall into one of those four buckets, it’s probably wasteful. Many outside reps believe that activity begets results. With one slight change, the statement becomes true:

The Right Activity Begets Meaningful Results.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeb Brooks
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog.


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