A mid-sized New England company that considered itself highly sales-driven recently discovered their sales people spent less than three-hours per day interacting with customers or prospects. They also discovered that nearly 25% of the average sales representative’s time was spent on company-required paper work!
While this might seem surprising, research indicates that these results are typical across all industry lines. For example, statistics presented in The New Rules of Sales Enablement, by Jeff Ernst, indicate that 65% of the average sales rep’s time is spent not selling. Similarly, process improvement experts such as Conway Management Company have compiled data showing the largest waste in most commercial and industrial organizations is lost gross margin that results from sales not made, sub-optimal pricing and excessive costs in and effecting the sales and marketing process.
Clearly, as business owners or sales managers, one thing we can all do to boost profits, productivity as well as longevity in our ranks is to get our sales and marketing people working on the right things. This will require some effort and research, as we must first study the work being done to determine where, in fact, their time is being spent. We cannot improve the process based on assumptions.
Likely next steps might include:
- Identify the categories of work on which the sales force is spending its time; share the data and seek input on how sales people can increase the amount of time spent on the key activities; i.e., meeting with or speaking with customers and / or prospects.
- Help sales people formulate the best territory management or routing plans.
- Provide appropriate administrative support and tools. This applies to both sales and marketing personnel. Some useful tools to help the marketing team might include proven no-cost options such as Buffer and Hootsuite, along with a number of innovations as summarized in a recent article published by ClickTime, a time tracking and expense management firm.
- Set standards for call volume and frequency, and measure performance.
- Streamline order-input processes