3 Ways To Win Back Your Valuable Selling Time

TimeToday all of us are doing more with less.

The majority of sales reps we talk with tell us they’re taking on more non-selling functions as a result of limited resources.

This shift started after the post 2008 economic meltdown and business hasn’t recovered.

As a rep in this reality, read on for three simple strategies to maximize your selling time, improve your sales strategy and put money back in your pocket.

What’s Your Time Worth?

When did you last stop and look at what your time is really worth? Take a look at the chart below, which breaks down annual income into three scenarios. If you’re putting in 40 hours a week, consider yourself lucky and run to the bank. However, if you’re putting in closer to 50 or 60 hours a week, then focus on the columns in yellow and red.

The takeaway is to think about your annual income on an hourly basis to help focus your selling time.

Ask yourself the question – if I work 50% more (60 hours compared to 40), do I make 50% less?  While your annual income doesn’t drop based on the number of hours, you certainly are working harder for that income.

Then the question is how much of your time is spent on non-selling activities?

If you find yourself with more administrative responsibilities and less client selling time. Here are the three strategies to focus on:

  • Quick Time Management Assessment
  • Segment Your Selling vs. Non-Selling Activities for Greater Clarity
  • Leverage Non-Selling Time to Your Advantage

Time Management

 The first strategy – get clear on where you spend your time.  Unless you’ve done a personal time assessment recently, you may not recognize where you’re allocating your working hours.

The prospect of tracking your critical activities may sound like having teeth pulled, but it’s an insightful exercise for sales reps.  If you were able to bill for your hours, you’d get serious about tracking and reporting them.  As a sales rep, you must maximize your time because it’s your most precious resource

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” – Lord Kelvin

You’re a sales rep, you still have to hit your number for the year and you don’t have time for a lengthy one week assessment. You can take an hour at the end of the week and quickly assess where you spent your time. This can also be done in 5 minutes at the end of each day for a week.

Segment Your Selling vs. Non-Selling Activities

Next, look at the time assessment over the course of a week. Do you know what your silent sales productivity killers are and what to do to get rid of them?

The short lists provided below offer a springboard towards finding them. It’s common to see sales reps get caught up in a flurry of busy work which doesn’t add to their bottom line or the revenue of the company.

You have to clearly see how your time breaks down into selling verses non-selling activity.  To stave off the flood of negative comments and emails, let me say that non-selling activities are a necessary evil…or a necessary pain.  For instance, order processing and post-sales support are critical to implementation and happy returning customers.   Regardless of the type of sale, transactional, enterprise or complex, there is always non-selling work required. The caveat is you need to get strategic about how you handle it.

Leverage Non-Selling Activities

Here’s where strategies one and two really come into play.

Assuming you’ve done a time assessment and segmented your activities by selling vs. non-selling activity. Now you’re prepared to leverage your non-selling activities in the following ways:    

  • Delegate or relocate:  Take a serious look at those activities you can delegate to others in your organization better suited and equipped to handle them. Keep in mind some selling activity can be delegated such as account research or partner meetings tied to an opportunity.
  • If you can’t delegate them, then relocate the activity to non-selling times. In a recent study we found at least 10% of non-selling activity (entering CRM data and generating reports) could be offloaded to non-selling times.  Successful reps intuitively use mornings, evenings and weekends to knockoff these activities.
  • There’s a good chance that 75% of your performance appraisal is tied to revenue, margin and selling activity. When you look at where your time is going, can you say 75% is going to revenue generating or selling activities?  If not, you now have the kind of information that is needed to have a productive talk with management about -
  1. Reconsidering non-selling activities
  2. Offloading to internal resources which are better suited for such duties
  3. Reevaluating expectations on your quota and forecast

The following is from one of the organizations that allow us to guest post some of their great content, Sales Benchmark Index.  You can find the original post here. It has been modified slightly for presentation here.