Senior management consistently looks for ways to increase their sales numbers. Popular approaches to the sales number dilemma include hiring more sales people, spending money to improve coaching capabilities of their sales managers and spending money on skills training for sales people. What is overlooked much of the time is how a company's sales force is utilizing their time.
Understanding what your sales people do during the day and being able to differentiate between what is revenue generating and what is not revenue generating is key to increasing your bottom line. Helping protect your sales people from tasks that generate no revenue and take time away for core sales job duties is a never ending task for all sales leaders. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure your sales team is focusing their time and effort on the right activities.
1. Help them understand what is important.
Do your sales people spend too much time with "friends and family", existing clients they have already build a report with, instead of focusing on new opportunities? Are your sales people spending time trying to break into a tertiary market or closing a a bunch of sales for a secondary product line? Sales people that don't understand what markets and products are priorities will end up setting their own rules on how they are spending their time and who they are spending it with. The only want to ensure they understand is to provide clear and consistent communication. Coaching and goal setting help reinforce this communication. Metrics track performance. The old adage, "What gets measured gets done" is true. Set the priorities up front and provide feedback based on their metrics to keep them focusing their time in the right areas.
2. Minimize time spent on administrative tasks.
When sales people spend their time inappropriately because they have too many responsibilities, it is time to re-evaluate the job description. All sales positions have some level of non selling, administrative or customer service tasks associated with them. But it is easy for these tasks to multiply over time until your sales people are spending more time on non-revenue generating tasks than they do out selling. To minimize the non-selling time, make sure your CRM is easy to use and to update by your sales force AND that it is easy for management to pull the information they need so they aren't bothering the sales team to submit reports. Look at hiring sales support staff and helping divert non sales issues to the proper departments; billing issues to accounts receivable, technical issues to tech support.
3. Arm them with the right mobile tools.
Sales people can spend the bulk of their week in the field, rarely showing their face in the office. To minimize drive time and maximize their productive hours during the day, it is imperative that sales people are able to access everything they need remotely. This includes order entry systems, sales portals, CRM systems, and customer support systems.
Your sales people also need to be able to collaborate in real time with each other and their management along with other key contacts, marketing, customer service etc. Many times providing a chat systems provides the right level on ongoing connectivity to keep everyone engaged and moving processes forward.
4. Properly qualify leads.
On of the biggest pet peeves for sales people is getting a marketing qualified lead and taking time to contact that lead to find that they are no where close to the target market that their company sells to or that they aren't ready for an actual sales engagement.
Having your sales team waste their time on unqualified leads does two things effectively. It wastes your selling time and it build animosity between sales and marketing. Both of these are results that damage your opportunity for sales success.
Take time to make sure that the proper level of collaboration is happening between sales and marketing. A little communication now can save a lot of sales time down the road.
5. Better marketing support.
In today's information based economy, sales people are expected to know more about a customer's industry, company, business needs than ever before. Additionally the information needs of the sales person vary between different steps of the sales process. When you throw in the amount of information prospect clients are consuming pre- sales engagement and during the sales engagement it is easy for the sales person to get sucked down the rabbit hole of market research. This is where marketing comes in to save the day. In addition to generating qualified leads so the amount of time spent filing the pipeline is decreased, marketing is also the source for vertical market and customer data. Marketing needs to understand the buyer process inside and out and understand the level of quantity of information prospective buyers need at each step of the process so sales doesn't need to.
At the end of the day if your sales people are achieve quota, you hear limited complaints from your team regarding quality of life and administrative tasks are getting completed on time; you have most likely achieved a good balance between revenue generating and non revenue generating activities. If you production isn't where you want it to be, don't immediately think you need to provide more training or hire a better class of sales people. Take a good hard look at how your team is actually spending your time and identify how you can help them sell more effectively.