Despite their title, sales reps don’t necessarily do much selling. In fact, most salespeople spend significantly less than half their time in direct contact with leads and opportunities, and some research puts it as low as a fifth of their time.
As a Sales Operation Leader, it’s easy to look at figures like these and feel frustrated. Often when sales productivity is discussed, the numbers are presented with mingled tone of outrage and despair. Why don’t sales reps just do their job?
But your sales reps aren’t trying to undermine your company’s profits or sabotage their careers. They don’t avoid selling because they’re lazy or irresponsible. They’re just really busy.
For example, sales reps spend a lot of time planning—making appointments, determining their schedule, and strategizing the week or month ahead. That’s a good thing, because if salespeople don’t plan adequately, research by Pace Productivity Inc shows that in the end, they’ll likely spend less time selling. Takeaway: you can’t sacrifice planning for more revenue. However, Pace’s research also shows that planning too much can backfire and ultimately detract from selling time. There’s a sweet spot for how much preparation to do, and it’s determined by the size and speed of the pipeline compared to the tools and software capabilities that salespeople have for managing it.
Beyond planning, sales reps spend a lot of time servicing their existing customers, processing orders, and performing administrative tasks, such as maintaining customer data, handling email, and attending sales meetings.
The key to increasing the amount of time that salespeople spend on direct selling activities isn’t to cut back on they’re already doing, but to make those tasks easier and more efficient. For example, you won’t need as many meetings if data is shared more fluidly, if sign-offs are achieved more quickly, and if trends and metrics are communicated more intelligently.
To see how you can support sales reps to do what they do best and earn more revenue, try a demo of Obero SPM.