Sellers have only 8 hours a day, 215 (selling) days a year. Time is a finite commodity. We can’t get more of it. The ONLY thing we can do is make better use of our time. For salespeople, the best use of time is to spend it talking with quality prospects. However, several research studies have all shown that the average B2B salesperson spends less than 35% of her time selling (defined as interacting with a prospect). That means, of the total number of 215 selling days (our available sales capacity) 140 days are used for something other than talking with a prospect.
The most important measurement that determines revenue growth is the percentage of sales capacity that’s utilized for sales interactions (and whether that percentage is increasing or decreasing).
There are two primary contributing factors for why salespeople can’t spend more of their time interacting with prospects:
- A long chain of to-dos is created after each prospect conversation. Salespeople have to actually ‘sell’ and selling includes things other than the actual interaction. At its basic level, selling is a matter of both prospect interactions, and performing the right combination of tasks to convert the prospect’s interest into a bonafide opportunity and to then win the business.
- Salespeople do other things besides selling. They perform tasks imposed on them internally, like expense reports, product training and internal meetings.
Indeed, reps have to be masters at balancing their activities in a way that maximizes their revenue. As managers, the way we determine whether reps are on target with time and task management, is to check whether they’re on target with percentage of quota to-date.
We rely on quota-attainment-to-date, to indicate whether reps are spending enough time with prospects, and whether they’re doing enough of the right activities–when they aren’t talking with prospects.
Measuring Quota attainment percentage and other key performance indicators (KPIs) is important. But here’s the problem; they don’t tell you whether reps could be selling more and what’s preventing that from happening. The only way to know whether reps could be selling more is to fully understand how their time is being used.
Think about how much time is spent on each of the following activities and what the implications are to productivity. Keep in mind, that it’s not just the minutes lost to each task that harms productivity—and ultimately—revenue. It’s also the frequent task-jumping distractions that sap focus and momentum.
Consider how much time your reps spend on the following activities and ask yourself whether they could be selling more, not by getting better, but by getting faster.
|Creating & updating forecasts|
|Responding to internal email|
|Submitting Expense Reports|
|Logging call results|
|Getting internal approvals|
|Building industry knowledge|
|Converting leads to prospects|
|Deciding who to call|
|Making Contact Attempts|
|Deciding what to say|
|Preparing post sales-call follow-up|
|Finding the right contacts|
|Convert prospect to opportunity|
|Scheduling sales calls|
|Creating follow-up information|
|Creating & Sending emails|
|Identifying key decision makers|
|Proving ROI and Value|
|Finding and sending relevant evidentiary support|
|Converting Opportunities to closed deals|
|Proving ROI and Value|
You can increase your sales by 40% simply by trimming 1 hour of time each day from the above tasks, if you devote that time instead to prospect interactions. The tasks outlined above, are essential to selling and can’t be eliminated altogether. However, they can be done more efficiently. The first step is to understand how time is used across the various tasks. Only then can you discover where there are opportunities for increasing the percentage of time spent interacting with prospects.
Technology Footnote: For ideas on sales tools that can impact selling time, view our Top Sales Tools of 2014 Guide.