"What percentage of time should a salesperson be selling?"
Oh how many times I have heard this question.
I can't believe I am actually saying these words.
This statement seems like common sense yet when I look under the hood of a typical sales team, I often find salespeople doing everything but selling.
A typical salesperson spends a third of the time selling.
A google search for the topic of salespeople wasting sales time yielded the following Hubspot article - Salespeople Only Spent One-Third of Their Time Selling Last Year.
A third of the time?
I think a third of the time selling is wishful thinking. I think the actual number is lower in many cases.
The reasons are plentiful. It is not uncommon to find salespeople wearing multiple hats ranging from sales to customer service to delivery to stocking the shelves. Add reporting and networking to the activity mix and the actual time selling drops even further.
Unfortunately many in management seem to accept salespeople doing everything but selling as a cost of doing business.
This mindset must be stopped.
Four steps to doubling or tripling the size of your sales team without adding a single salesperson.
Once you create accountability for how company time is used on your sales team, you can easily double or triple your sales team's productivity without adding a single salesperson.
Step one - Expect salespeople to sell.
I realize we are in the land of political correctness where everyone is special, blah blah blah... Brexit just occured. Getting real may actually become popular again.
Your company "writes" the electronic paychecks that your salespeople accept as compensation in exchange for doing what?
Go ahead. Say it. "My company pays our salespeople to sell. Selling is the job of salespeople."
The time you pay your salespeople to go out and sell is not their time. The time you pay your salespeople to go out and sell is COMPANY TIME.
If you hire the right salespeople in the first place, they will respect company time as if it is theirs.
Step two - Make salespeople accountable with how company time is spent.
What gets inspected gets done so inspect.
Then set expectations.
Then inspect some more.
Then hold salespeople accountable for meeting those expectations.
Naturally you will have naysayers who will beg, plead and attempt to barter with you to continue to not sell. They will say things like, "No one will take care of X Customer the way that I do."
Salespeople who believe no one else can take care of their Customer the way that they do are usually wrong.
This kind of talk is false job security for lousy salespeople.
Chances are these salespeople have actually sold little or nothing and are unlikely to sell in the future.
Step four - Invoice those who insist upon using the services of your salespeople.
I get it. Due to politics, geography, ownership and reality, salespeople must do what they must do.
Nothing gets changed until someone is invoiced. Until you invoice for the actual hard and opportunity cost of time your salespeople should be selling, others will continue to abuse your budget and profit.
When you begin invoicing customer service, engineering, whomever it is that requires your salesperson to not be selling, they will get their own people doing what they should have been doing in the first place.
The real reason they use your salespeople to do what they, themselves should be doing is because you make it easy for them.
Decide to take back company time for selling.
Salespeople are expensive. More importantly, missed sales opportunities due to a salesperson not selling is expensive as hell.
Hire the best salespeople in the first place. Give them the best processes / tools and guard their time.