42% is the average amount of time a sales person spends engaging with a customer (A.k.a selling time). This equals only 17 hours per week. We all know improving selling time should increase sales. But is the effort really worth it? Should I spend the time to fix it?
And what is the value I should receive by actually improving a sales person’s selling time in front of a customer?
Look below on what impact an increase in an hour of selling time has on revenue. It is definitely worth the effort.
The data also revealed some interesting points:
- If you give a Rep an extra 15 to 30 minutes of selling time per week, it is not enough to change behavior, so the incremental revenue gain is negligible. They usually waste this time.
- Once you make an impact of 1 hour or more per week, reps change their behavior to use the extra time productively.
- When you give them 4+ more hours per week, the incremental productivity gain slows down. The rep’s territory potential starts to max out.
As a Sales VP, you need to understand how to get back more time. Start with identifying and then eliminating these bad habits. Change things in your immediate control and don’t worry about stuff that you can’t. Get a handle on your team’s situation.
Start with two major actions to understand what to do:
#1. Complete a Time Study. For three weeks, have 25% of your team record their everyday actions. Recording their daily actions to the hour allows deep analysis of how they use their time. Below is a sample of the actual worksheet we gave to sales reps. The worksheet categories need to be targeted to the industry and sales role. This is critical to the success of the study. Download this Time Study Tool.
This company identified some major time sink areas. The study told us this customer needed to reprioritize time in several different areas:
- Internal Email
- Customer Issue Resolution
- Administration (i.e. Expense Reports, Additional Forecasting Reports)
- Specialist Interactions
#2 – Shift and Lift Non Customer Related Activities. Now that you identified where the time sinks are, you can shift those low value activities away from high value resources. This will increase their selling time and lift performance. For this customer, each low value add activity was changed:
- Internal Email – Investigated that the majority of emails were going to customer service from sales reps. Communicated to all customers calling customer service would speed up service. Established a new 1-888 number for customers to call customer service.
- Travel – Redesigned sales territories to reduce travel time. Related compactness of a territory to available warehouse space (They sold industrial cleaning supplies).The decrease allowed more customer facing time traveling less distance.
- Customer Issue Resolution – Assigned sales reps to ‘pods’ of customer service reps. Established a direct relationship with customers and sales teams.
- Administration (i.e. Expense Reports, Additional Forecasting Reports) – Added Sales Specialists and assigned a ratio of 5 sales reps to 1 specialist. Shifted activities like order entry and forecasting/expense reporting to them.
- Specialist Interactions – Pushed into the sales process where specialists are involved. Directly allowed for every deal to engage specialists earlier in the opportunity. Allowed for less phone and email interactions due to the specialists deep knowledge of the deal.
These changes were completed inside of 30 days resulting in an increase of selling time by 4.25 hours per week per rep. It amounted to an increase of 2.3 more customer interactions per week. Revenue increased 13% inside of 90 days. Well worth the time to fix it.
Call to Action:
- Develop a time worksheet for 25% of your sales reps focusing on the time buckets. Your sales reps will hate you for having them do this….and will be thankful afterwards. Start tracking their time over 3 weeks. Make sure you use of mix of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ players across diverse geographies. Based on your structure, note any differences in vertical industries and complex selling teams (i.e. inside sales or strategic sales)
- Analyze the results noticing these low value activities and sale structure differences. Where are the biggest time sinks under your control? Can you bucket these into creating a fix immediately?
- Begin the Shift and Lift Strategy. The most common low value activities are bucketed under such categories as: administration, reporting, systems issues, process gaps, billing and invoicing issues. Make sure your time worksheet has some variation of these in it.
- Leverage the “How to Make Your Number in 2018” or . Review the talent approach emerging best practices in the sales strategy section under people plan phase.
Changing bad habits begins with determining what they really are. Identifying and understanding these bad habits and time sinks will not only increase customer face time but create happier reps. Didn’t you hire them to sell anyway?
Need help? Contact us and we can assist you in setting up the time study and performing the analysis. Then we need to strategize how to make the changes quickly. It’s worth effort.