Salespeople Are Selling Less than Half Time!

So, you think you need more salespeople? Your current sales staff is not producing enough? According to data from Cirrus Insight, the average salesperson spends less than half of his time engaged in actual selling. Too much time is spent staring into a monitor composing and sending email.

According to Dr. Tom Sant, partner at Hyde Park Partners;

“Although email is an important vehicle for staying in touch with customers, it can spiral out of control very quickly,” Sant said. “First, it can become an end in itself, so the salesperson feels that by answering emails they are doing meaningful work [when] most of the time, they probably aren’t. Second, it’s too easy to write an email that is confusing or that sends the wrong message, putting down speed bumps that slow our progress toward the goal of a closed sale.”

Okay, that’s depressing. You can do a simple exercise to see how much time you, or your salespeople, spend really selling. Keep a notepad, or device handy and log your time daily for just week. Track hours for email, proposal writing, phone calls, driving and finally, face to face interaction with prospects/customers. You will be surprised and enlightened.

Alice Heiman, founder and chief sales officer of sales consulting and coaching firm Alice Heiman LLC, agrees that these numbers are indeed “unfortunately” accurate for salespeople.

“Salespeople need to spend more than 39% of their time selling, but other activities pull them away,” Heiman said. “Hopefully, some of that email time is advancing a sale.”

More time should be allocated to active selling according to Heiman and Sant. That sounds good, but where do we find more hours in the day?

Research shows salespeople spend an inordinate amount of their time doing research and gathering information. Think about that for a moment. The folks that should be in front of customers are stuck in front of computer screen.

More and more of our clients with high performing sales teams are dedicating research and other administrative functions to inside support staff. Even setting appointments (getting more difficult in the age of voice mail) is done by sales support. Give serious consideration to using support staff (or even outsourcing) your research, lead generation, appointment setting, proposal writing, and estimating. Optimize your sales staff by maximizing their actual selling time in front of prospects and customers.

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