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  • Writer's pictureIan McWilliams

Why Sales Reps SHOULD cut corners!

Scissors cutting corners off a page. Illustration.
Can you really cut corners in sales?


You've probably heard the expression 'cut corners - cut quality' or 'cutting corners means you end up going round in circles'.

Both of the above are true. Companies would be mad to cut corners in production quality checks, after-care or safety procedures. Cutting corners in manufacturing is not only short-sighted but can be dangerous too.

Surely in sales you can't cut corners either? You are right if you are talking about effort, persistence, groundwork, lead follow up, knowledge, communication skills...the list goes on and on.


Are there better ways to do what you've always done?

Jack Russel dog fetching a stick
Jack Russel eagerly fetching a stick


In a sales training meeting once we were given the illustration of a dog who's owner threw a stick over a wall for the dog to fetch. The dog knew that if he ran to the end of the wall he could get to behind the wall, fetch the stick and repeat the return journey back to it's owner. However, the dog didn't realise that just a few yards from where the owner threw the stick there was an opening in the wall - a shortcut!

Us sales people use learned behaviour all the time, often without thinking. For example we always seem to drive down the same roads to get from one appointment to the next, often we will also structure our day in the same way every time.

Map cartography route planning
Purposely random map!

But there could be a quicker way from Appointment A to Appointment B - with modern SatNavs like Waze factoring live traffic situations with every increasing accuracy why not put your next destination into Waze rather than rely on your outdated own grey matter! This way you literally will be cutting corners and saving yourself some valuable time.

I use both Waze and BMW's excellent in-car system which responds to voice inputs very impressively - sometimes the two suggested routes vary, I then pick which I think is best.

More important than that though - how do you structure your day? Do you use a scatter gun approach - visit the first call that you hope will give you a good order, then randomly do a couple of cold calls followed by another appointment? Or do you use the 'drive to the point furthest from home then gradually make your way back' approach?

You will be surprised how much time a little effort and forethought could save you! There is no one simple 'best way' but you may well find that doing it the way you've always done it is not necessarily the best use of your time. I will cover 'route planning' in a future blog as it is a fascinating subject.


How else can you 'cut corners' in sales?

I remember when I started in sales I used to have to go to the library, pick up a Yellow Pages directory, look under 'Jewellers', make notes as to which shops I wanted to cold call, where they were in a town, where the nearest car park was, noting all of this down and collating it later. Boy was that time consuming! But worth it.

Today however we can certainly cut that corner! No longer do we need to spend hours in a library researching and route planning. Today everything is available in seconds using a phone which we can take and use anywhere - amazing! So technology can certainly help us cut corners even without us realising.

I've mentioned this before but I find that 'WhatsApp' can help me cut corners. I invite customers to send me photos of items they require, or orders, enquiries etc via WhatsApp. This is so much quicker than via email or phone conversations - this has proved to be a massive success for me. The number of sales I get this way is staggering!

WhatsApp app on smart phone
Do you use WhatsApp to gain extra sales?


However, sales people should NEVER EVER cut corners in areas such as level of service and commitment, honesty, integrity and sheer effort. In fact this list should be very very long and my main premise is even though you can 'cut corners' to a certain degree, overall good sales people are the ones that work smarter but they realise that there is no easy route to success - hard work pays off!


I hope you have enjoyed this blog - I try and make them slightly light-hearted and fun.

If you think I could help your business, please feel free to get in touch and I'd be delighted to have a conversation with you.

Here is a link to my LinkedIn profile

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