It's no secret that sales leaders are strapped for time. Depending on the source, you can find data that shows salespeople spend 11-35.2 percent of their time selling. "The average field sales rep is paid $105,482 a year," said Gabe Larsen, who surveyed hundreds of sales pros and arrived at the 35.2 number. "If 64.8 percent of the time is spent on non-revenue generating activities, the typical company spends $68,352 per rep per year to pay him or her for tasks they were not hired to do."
Use a Time Tracker
How do you get a handle on how salespeople are spending their time? The best way is to use a time tracker like Time Doctor or Harvest Time. You can't manage what you don't measure, and time trackers automatically take screenshots of employees' computers, phones, and tablets and issue reports with the time spent on tools and applications. You'll see how much time your people spend on:
- Contact database
- Shopping (oops)
Larsen's numbers are self-reported, which may not be accurate. The study that found salespeople spend just 11 percent of their time selling also found that they also think they spend twice as much time selling than they actually spend. Time tracking takes those numbers out of the realm of speculation with hard data.
The goal of time tracking is not to punish or blame people for how they spend their time but to help them see where their time is going to improve their productivity.
Use a Time Management System
Larsen's research found that salespeople that use a time management system spend more time selling. Findings include:
- 22.9 percent of reps use a time management system
- Those reps spend 19 percent more times selling
What's a time management system? There are many of them, including:
You can find a summary of these time management systems here.
Keep Your CRM Clean
Larsen's subjects spend 17 percent of their time in the CRM, with most of that time devoted to spreadsheets trying to reconcile inconsistent data. CRMs' value soars when all contact, deal, and pipeline data are consistent and complete—everyone enters data the same way and as immediately as possible. Messy CRMs slow reps down when the following information is entered inconsistently:
- Contact info
- Communications with reps
- Lead stages
- Lead qualification criteria
- Deal size
- Time to a decision
Manually updating this data is tedious and time-consuming. Getting your CRM clean can make teams and reps far more efficient. Learn more about proper CRM implementation here.
Follow Up Faster
Response time is key to turning leads into opportunities. If someone contacts you for information, they are likely contacting your competitors as well. And guess what?
- 78 percent of customers buy from the first responder.
- Sales conversions are 391 percent higher in the first minute after a request is made.
- After five minutes, conversion rates decline by 80 percent.
- Most companies take five or more days to respond.
Lead response time is critical to sales success. If your leads are going cold, it may be because you took too long to respond, and they’ve moved on. This should be a salesperson’s first priority.
Outsource the Admin Work
The chief distractions, according to Larsen, are as follows:
- 14 percent on admin work
- 11 percent on research
- 11 percent following up on leads
- 10 percent on prospecting
Other culprits are internal (8 percent) and external (14 percent) meetings. But let's look at the list above. One could argue that research, following up on leads, and prospecting are all administrative tasks. A salesperson with a $100,000 base salary is earning about $50 per hour. Outsourcing those tasks to a virtual assistant can give you the twin benefits of more selling time for reps and lower admin costs for sales ops.
Let's look at typical uses of virtual assistants by sales teams and the percent of the time they can offload based on Larson's research:
- Admin (scheduling meetings, filing expenses, travel planning) - 14%
- Researching opportunities - 11%
- Sales follow up by email and phone - 11%
- Prospecting based on your lead criteria - 10%
- CRM data entry, cleanup, and management - 17%
You'll still want to know how your salespeople spend their time and adopt tools and systems to help them manage their time. But getting 63 percent more time to sell will make that time much more productive.
To learn more about how a virtual assistant can give you and your team more time to sell, download the ebook, "How to Spend More Time Selling with a Virtual Assistant."
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.