Salespeople spend less than 20 percent of their time selling!

Still wondering why sales growth is so tough to crack in 2017? Does the chart below look familiar?

This chart would illustrate that your salespeople are devoting only a small percentage (10%) of their time to negotiating sales.

We could argue that this activity is the highest-leverage use of their time. The other 90% of their time is spent on activities that could (and should) be delegated to other less-skilled and lower-paid individuals.

Another problem is that, instead of focusing on one activity, salespeople are sharing their time between six activities, each of which requires a different skill set and different resources.

This is multitasking at its worst!

Experience shows that the productivity of an individual decreases as they take on each additional task. Performing multiple activities simultaneously will take two-and-a-half times longer than performing these same activities consecutively!

When you rid your salespeople of low- leverage activities, their productivity increases dramatically. You might also discover that you will not need to employ more salespeople for quite some time.

Of course, the pressing question is, who should be responsible for what?

Sales is a process

The suggestion that a salesperson should sell does not seem like a unreasonable one. Surely if it was suggested to a manufacturer that his crane operator should operate a crane, they’d be quite comfortable with that idea!

The reason why companies expect salespeople to be responsible for the entire sales process is that sales have never really been a set process. Traditionally, the sales function has been the least scientific, least measurable, least predictable and least manageable business function.

As a result, responsibility for the entire function has been handed to these strange, unpredictable, individuals we call salespeople.

Salespeople have been happy to maintain the perception of sales as a magical art. Their ownership of the entire sales function puts them in a position of enormous power and many regard their client list as an asset that can be auctioned off!

Today, we know that sales should a process. As a result, there’s no reason why we couldn’t break that process into its core activities, and match each activity with an appropriate resource — just as we would in the case of a manufacturing process. We’ve have recently started by looking at salespeople because they are our rarest and most expensive process resource.

What the sales process should look like in a modern business:

To maximise your return on your salespeople’s time, they should ideally do nothing other than conduct appointments with individuals who have indicated an inclination to purchase.

It is recommend that you separate the account- acquisition and the account-management functions. This is because account acquisition is a higher-leverage use of a salesperson’s time. If possible, your most skilled salespeople should be responsible for account acquisition.

If you must have the same salesperson performing both account-acquisition and account-management appointments, to minimise multitasking, it is suggested that you split these appointments between different days of the week. (For example, you might schedule account- management appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and account-acquisition appointments on Tuesday and Thursday).

It should be possible for your salespeople to conduct between three and five sales appointments a day.

For more information on setting up your sales processes in such a way that salespeople focus their full attention on selling, download our guide now.

Credit to the machine

About Riaan

Over the past 20 years, Riaan has been working with leading Sales Organisations, Sales Managers and select Individuals who want to improve sales performance, design and implement sales processes and cultures that leads to more deals.

Since 1985, Riaan has been in Corporate | B2B | High-level sales and led teams to maximise performance. He provides strategic oversight and serves as executive coach and advisor to clients ranging from small, rapidly growing start-ups to well-established, large corporations.

His experience has allowes him to work with organisations and executives within entities such as Old Mutual, Sanlam, the Telecoms Industry, Siemens, Capgemini, Accenture, BWI in Hong Kong and many others, to help them improve sales performance.

riaan@blue-oceans-consulting.co.za