So what are they doing and how can you change this?
Studies with over 500 field sales people show that the amount of time sales people spend selling is often less than 20% of their total hours worked!
If you are concerned that not enough selling is being done, don’t start by criticising the salesperson. Instead, take a serious look at your sales team’s responsibilities and what you’re asking of them in the way of non-selling activities.
Field sales people are expensive and it is reasonable to want to know where they are spending their time. But the fact is when you ask them to fill out complicated digital forms (Though Speadsheet or CRM format) that require them to give detailed information on their activity and provide information for other departments such as customer service, marketing, finance etc. This all takes time, significant time. Time I would rather have my sales team spend with customers and prospects discussing sales opportunities!
The study showed that sales people feel that significant time is being taken away from the selling activity by the following
- Capturing marketing information about customers so customers can be segmented and marketing initiatives developed to appeal to individual segments
- Writing reports to keep the office informed of what they’re doing with their time
- Writing proposals
- Designing and writing promotional material
- Gathering competitor intelligence
- Collecting outstanding debts
- Attending non sales related meetings
It can be argued that these activities are part of their job as a salesperson since most of them are related to making sales and retaining customers.
But that’s not the point. Selling is a skill not everybody possesses, and a good (expensive) salesperson is someone to be valued, nurtured and set free to use the skill of selling your goods or services on your behalf rather than being saddled with a lot of administrative tasks.
So what should a salesperson’s role be restricted to? That will vary from business to business but let’s suggest three general areas:
Selling – face-to-face selling to purchasing decision makers
Prospecting – using their experience and field knowledge to identify prospects or groups of prospects. Depending on volume it is often recommended to have a junior sales person do the actual prospecting for field sales agents. Technology may also help with this.
Relationship building – participating in managing customer relationships, but only as really necessary
If the members of your sales team are focused on these activities, and only these activities, their time will be spent more productively.
So what should you do next? Start by analyzing the non-selling activities now carried out by your sales team.
- What are the non-selling activities carried out by your sales team today?
- What non selling activities could be delegated elsewhere to ensure sales can spend more time selling?
- What parts of prospecting/customer relationship management can be taken up by others in the business or by technology?
The Paretos Pipeline management system is a tool that helps solve these and other sales related issues. Try it now for FREE!