Are you busy or are you
productive? The question is innocent enough. But can you handle the truth?
Recently I was doing some
consulting with a client who carefully examined how his sales representatives
spent their time. He concluded that they actually spent less than 5 percent
of each day engaged in the act of selling! Imagine, 95 percent of each sales
day spent on nonselling activities. Writing letters, putting together information
packets, filling out paperwork, telephone prospecting, and traveling consumed
As you can imagine, my client
wanted to grow sales revenues. Some sales trainers attempt to convince prospects
that training is the answer for everything. While I encourage the acquisition
of knowledge and new skills, I disagree with the blind assumption that training
is always a cure for poor sales performance.
Let's pretend that he sent
his entire staff to a sales training seminar, and they learned skills that made
it possible for them to double their closing percentages. The improvement would
only be useful during that 5 percent of each day they spent selling.
Adding salespeople isn't
always the answer either! If each rep is spending 5 percent of their day selling,
it would take another 19 reps to achieve 8 hours of selling time. Common sense
will tell you that the costs of recruiting, training, and managing such a force
would be an awful waste of potential profit.
So let me get to the point.
Are your salespeople spinning their wheels? Are they spending time, money, and
energy keeping busy or producing results? If you're not sure, be on the lookout.
Watch and see if your reps are doing things that less-skilled and lower-paid
support personnel could be doing for them. Do your representatives spend time
doing things manually that could be done better, faster, and more efficiently
For example, are they writing
and launching mailing campaigns that could be done better and faster by an assistant
with a computer and automation software? Are they spending hours each day leaving
messages in prospective clients' voice mail boxes instead of having sales assistants
with Direct Voice Mail Marketing Systems make calls for them?
Let me encourage you to
rethink the assignment of individual job responsibilities and list the tasks
necessary for successful job performance. Take a look at which tasks require
the specific knowledge and ability of a salesperson and which ones don't. Build
teams of support personnel and leverage technology wherever possible to cost
effectively and efficiently accomplish the simple, yet time-consuming, tasks
that hold your salespeople back.