Quick quiz: how much time does the average salesperson actually spend selling each day?
- About half of their time
- Around a third of their time
- Over two-thirds of their time
- Absolutely all of it
- None at all
If you answered 2, you’re right on the money. (While we’re at it, if you answered 4, your reps are lying; if you picked 5, you may need to re-evaluate your processes.)
The exact number varies between studies and sales jobs – between 22% and 37% to be precise – but they all agree on one thing: activities that don’t directly generate revenue for your company take up the vast majority of a sales rep’s time.
Looking to increase sales time? First, find out what exactly are they doing for most of their day.
They’re planning and preparing
This includes tasks that could positively impact future sales, and help sales reps get organized.
- Scheduling weekly activities and meetings
- Updating or improving customer presentations and pitches
- Participating in team meetings
- Conducting account and customer research
Planning doesn’t necessarily mean taking away from sales time. A study from Pace Productivity found the more time a rep spent planning, the more time they were able to allocate to sales down the road – up to a point, of course.
[bctt tweet="A study from Pace Productivity found the more time a rep spent planning, the more time they were able to allocate to sales down the road." username="kiiteHQ"]
They’re using sales tools
Sales tools often boast that they’re here to improve productivity, but a significant amount of salesperson time goes into using them. By some estimates, CRM alone takes up 18% of a rep’s day.
- Managing CRM, sales intelligence, social selling, productivity and email tracking tools
- Searching for content in marketing and sales enablement libraries
- Managing CRM-related tasks in spreadsheets
- Compiling records across unintegrated tools
As more sales tools become integrated, the amount of time spent switching between and managing different platforms should decrease.
They’re on customer support
As customers look to salespeople more and more as a professional consultant, they also turn to them for non-sales-related services.
- Requests for account maintenance
- Handling customer complaints
- Answering customer inquiries
- Meeting with customers to perform maintenance or service
Even if customer service is a drain on sales rep time, they still say it’s one of their top priorities, demonstrating they want to make sure their clients are satisfied, even if it’s taking away from selling.
They’re busy with administration
If there’s one single area that takes up as much, if not more, time than selling, it’s administration – and it’s a top complaint across numerous studies.
- Filling out internal reports for things like expenses and travel
- Completing paperwork or electronic forms required to process business
- Seeking approval from other internal teams
- Handling internal calls, emails and other correspondence
Even in a perfect world, sales reps know administration tasks are necessary. When asked what their ideal day would look like, they said administrative tasks would still be there, though at a significant cut from what they spend on them today.
Increase sales time
The amount of time reps spend on non-selling activities might come as a surprise. Some sales managers expect active selling time to hit around 50% of a rep’s daily duties. Most organizations are pretty far off from that number, but there are some things you can do to help give selling a bigger piece of the pie:
Shorten the sales process.
Look at what the process looks like end-to-end from a rep’s perspective. If the process itself isn’t easy for them to navigate, you’ll want to fix that before anything else.
Back reps up with knowledge.
Insight and collaboration tools help your reps learn from past successes (and failures) and easily access your organizational knowledge. The result? They spend less time in the planning phases and can approach sales more strategically.
Delegate or automate.
One way companies achieve higher sales time is by bringing on dedicated assistants to bear the administrative burden and reduce responsibility creep for reps. More of these tasks are becoming automated through integrated, intelligent sales tools as well.
In the end, it’s all about working smarter, not harder: making more time for the largest sales team priorities (like selling and strategic planning), managing responsibilities effectively and minimizing those must-do tasks that don’t contribute to revenue.