There are 365 days in the year. No surprise there, but let’s think through how much of that time is really available to sell. It breaks down like this:
- 104 weekend days
- 15 vacation and sick days
- 24 days for non-selling meetings (e.g. internal sales meetings & events), training and travel time
- 7 paid holiday days
That leaves 215 days sales reps can spend selling. On average then, sales reps have only 18 days a month when they can pursue, advance, and close a sale.
But wait. Within those same 18 days a month they often must follow up on a delivery, straighten out an invoicing mistake, help their clients resolve issues or perform any one of a list of nonselling but crucial tasks.
Sales reps have to be superhuman. We expect them to find prospects (or sift through a “lead” list), determine how to contact them and attempt the contact, then keep attempting until they get through. But first they must learn a little about the prospect’s business in order to appear knowledgeable and credible. They need to close on an appointment, or at least draw the prospect’s interest and determine when to call next. Then they have to remember to call and decide what to send via e-mail and achieve just the right amount of communication – not too little, not too much.
Once they have an appointment, they need to prepare the collateral, find and print directions, make sure they have all the hardware they need and plan the objectives for the meeting. They may need to prepare a presentation, and it better not be too generic or the prospect will quickly lose interest. Performing the tasks described above takes valuable time away from the 18 available selling days per month. How much of “the 215” over a year’s time is left over for actual selling? The point is there are inflection points where we can – and should – figure out how to protect “the 215.” Can some tasks be delegated? Can we deploy better systems or processes? For example, if we constructed the territories differently, could we cut down on travel and down time? (see Mapping Analytics free report)
Demanding more from our sales reps is unfair, unreasonable and unproductive unless we can preserve more of their 215 for selling. It’s obvious that something’s gotta change. That “something” is the way they spend their time. As Einstein reportedly said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If we ask sales reps to keep doing the same things but insist they get a different outcome – more sales – well, that’s just a little bit insane.
The good news is there are lots of sales tools that help us change the way we do things. Investing in just a handful of those can dramatically change the amount of time your sales reps have to close sales. Make it a mission to protect “the 215.” It’s your job to eliminate barriers – to block and tackle so your reps are free to carry the ball across the end zone. It’s your job to increase sales productivity in 2010. Protect “the 215” and get the job done.
Nancy Nardin founded Smart Selling Tools after a prestigious career in high-tech and IT market research sales. She is considered the leading expert on sales productivity tools.