I saw an interesting study done by Pace Productivity, which is a consulting firm specializing in increasing productivity, where they did a deep dive into how sales reps spend there time.
As a student of productivity and a sales person it was an interesting read which broke down the % of hours that each sales rep spent doing what and what the ideal situation was. I suggest you take a look at it because it tells us a lot especially that there is room for great improvement.
Here’s a visual representation of their findings:
So as a sales rep we are only spending 22% of our week actually selling. Selling is defined as activities designed to seek out new business such as cold calls, follow ups, visits, presentations, etc.
Pace Productivity also said that the managers questions as part of this study expected the sales reps to spend at least 50% of their time selling so clearly there is a breakdown somewhere.
While 50% may be a dream world for sales reps that are responsible for some of the fulfillment process I think any sales rep would agree that the more time spent selling is more time spent earning money, everybody wins – you, the manager, the company.
Just Work More Hours
So do you just work more hours? That wouldn’t be recommended. There are a ton of studies that show how your productivity decreases as your hours worked increases.
HERE is an interesting history of the 40 hour work week. I especially like the part about Henry Ford. In an era where factory workers were logging in insane amounts of hours the legendary Mr. Ford conducted his own study and instituted a 40 hour work week. Now a 40 hour work week may be impossible for you as it is me but good information regardless. See that article
If you aren’t going to work more hours then your best bet is to squeeze more selling time out of the hours you are already working which as an outside sales rep is about 50 per week according to Pace.
Let’s Find More Time for Selling
When looking at the pie chart of % of weekly hours two slices jump right out at me as something that is easily squeezed down and they happen to be the top two uses of your time other than selling and that is Administration and Travel.
Because I really want to dive into each of these categories to provide actionable feedback I am going to break them up into multiple blog posts. In this one I am going to cover what can be done to reduce Administrative Work. The bane of all sales peoples existence.
Part 1 – Reduce Administrative Work
For most sales people, the Administrative type of work is like kryptonite. A necessary evil that is pushed off until the last second. Sales and Administrative work must use two different sides of the brain. But necessary it absolutely is. By Admin I am talking about paperwork, emails not involved with selling, maintaining customer data, communicating with your office, expense reports, etc.
If you are an outside sales rep then most likely your Admin type work is done either before or after you are in the field. I don’t know about you but the last thing I want to do in the morning or especially after work is to sit down and down and do 2 to 3 hours of paperwork or correspondence. No thanks!
What can be done to transfer your time spent of Admin to Selling is to delegate to others, automate, standardize, batch or complete the Admin tasks during another designated period.
Delegate and Outsource
Unless your company provides you with an in house admin or office manager which is nice but most companies don’t then hiring an assistant would be worth considering. 10 years ago when I thought of assistant I used to imagine somebody following me around everywhere I went with a pen and paper exclusively at my beck and call. Like I was some hot shot movie producer.
Welcome to the digital age where we now have so many other options. There are a ton of super qualified assistants that work from all around the world called Virtual Assistants that can do everything from managing your calendar, to answering your emails, processing orders, create lead lists, etc. You will have to find a good one and train them but for $500 a month for a full time assistant you can easily make that back with a sale or two.
I have used Upwork to hire over 50 contractors to do a multitude of tasks and if you have never done outsourcing before I suggest you start there since upwork has a good rating and feedback system. Before you get into hiring a VA DO YOUR RESEARCH or you can have a very wasteful experience in both time and money. I am reading a book right now by Chris Ducker called Virtual Freedom which has a good road map . HERE is a link to the book on Amazon.
Automate, Standardize and Batch
With the mobile technology available today you need to be utilizing it as much as you can. There are so many apps out there and more coming so either jump on the bandwagon now or be left in the dust.
Here are some of my favorites:
I would image that everybody has their email account connected to their phone but if you do not then do it right now. Stop what you are doing and figure this out.
I routinely check emails while on the go. Whether its at stop light (or sometimes driving), in an elevator or waiting in line. Don’t wait until you get home at night to fire off all your emails. Do it on the go.
One very important piece of advice I will give you is to set up your email as IMAP not POP. I don’t know what it stands for but what it means in simple terms is that your email account will sync across all your devices. If you delete an email on your phone it will delete from your main account. If you create a new email folder on your desktop computer then that folder will show up on your phone. This one tip alone will save you 15 minutes a day. I know it did for me.
The mother of all automation. Many of you are familiar with Zapier because I integrated Spotio with it a few months ago. What can be done with this app is limited only by your imagination. I have written several other blog posts about it which you can see:
Just take a look at their integrations and see what all you can automate. Sit down for an hour or two and automate 3 to 5 tasks that will save you 15 to 30 minutes a day. That just bought you a few more hours a week, forever!
An online place to store files. I have the app on my iPhone, iPad and computer. I actually have my whole hard drive on the business version of dropbox which is now over 300gb. Why? Because I have a laptop that I bring everywhere and I don’t want to risk losing what has now become my whole life if I misplace the computer. So I use Dropbox to hold all my data that way if I lose my computer then I simply get a new one, install Dropbox and login and BAM I now have all my data back.
If I am in the field and a customer asks me for a proposal or a picture of a job from 6 months ago? No problem, I pull out my iPad, open up Dropbox and find the document and can email or text it right from there. I am never without information.
Dropbox can also be used by teams to manage marketing collateral as well. I will do another post on this in the near future. This one is HUGE.
There is probably a newer scanning app out there since I got this one a few years ago but it is simple and works like a charm. Scanner Pro will allow you to use the camera on your phone to scan documents into a pdf and automatically save them to your Dropbox account or Google Drive.
If you close a deal and need to get the contact back to the office to start on fulfillment don’t wait until the end of the day to run it by. Scan in a copy and get it there immediately. You can share your dropbox folder or link with anybody and give them immediate access to the document.
While I still use Excel for my heavier calculations, forecasts, etc I often use Google Spreadsheets to store online spreadsheets that I share with a team. I have talked to several construction companies that do all of their estimating from a Google Spreadsheet file saved in the cloud. It may be a viable option for you too. With this app you basically have excel on your phone.
Although I use an iphone, I like google for my calendar. The reason is because I can share it with other calendars so the people I work with can know what my schedule is. I do product demo’s all day but I also have calls and different things that I need to get done. By allowing my team to view my calendar they can book appointments for me without having to first ask if I am available. If I am going to be out of the office or unavailable I block off that time on my calendar.
As an outside sales manager you want to keep informed on what is going on with your team and also use team wide communication to drive productivity and have fun. You can use a free app called GroupMe to do that. Did John just get his 3rd appointment for the day? Let everybody know. Is there a sales meeting Thursday morning at 9am? Let everybody know. Is dinner and drinks on you Friday after work if the monthly quota is beat? Let ME know!
By using GroupMe you can save time by having all your conversations in one place which will prevent you from having to call or text each rep individually.
Waze is a social gps where its users provide updates on the traffic. What a great idea! Who knows the traffic situation better than those sitting in it. I always check Waze before I head out to the field so I know the route with the least amount of traffic. If there is a wreck blocking two lanes on the interstate you will not only know about it but will be given an alternate route around the traffic. Not only will this increase your productivity but decrease your travel time which if you look above is one of the top uses of your time as is.
Last but not least the ultimate tool for productivity is SPOTIO. By logging your sales activities as you do them on a mobile device you will have a permanent record of where you have been and what you have done. Indispensable information for both outside sales reps and sales managers. Before SPOTIO you were probably either filling out a piece of paper with the activities you did for the day, sending an email to your manager or worse having to go back to the office after work and enter it all into the company’s CRM. A real bummer.
With SPOTIO you will save time and increase productivity all across the board. Spend less time wondering where you need to go prospect today by looking at your pins on the map and running custom reports. Know who you need to follow up with by setting appointments in the app and they automatically go to your phones calendar. Set your default calendar up to be your google calendar and then you can share it with your manager or team so everybody knows where you will be and when. HERE is a blog post I wrote on how to do that.
SPOTIO is the #1 way to reduce admin time to allow you more selling time. When used properly it will itself have a ridiculous return on investment.
How Much Time Did We Get?
If you start using some of the tips and apps above you should be able to cut your Admin specific time in half. Multitask by answering emails and calls while driving or walking. Log your sales activities as you go with SPOTIO. Reduce the amount of paperwork you have by going to a more digital approach.
Here is what you new weekly time looks like.
Now Let’s Do the Math
What does it mean to you if you can add another 11% of your weekly schedule for selling? That is what counts and why we are going to all this trouble to automate things and what not.
I’m going to break it down.
for the Sales Rep
For example, right now you are closing an average of 3 deals a week with your current schedule. You earn $500 per deal so you are earning on average $1,500 a week.
22% selling time = 3 Deals x $500/deal = $1,500 a week in income
Now I am going to have to think way back to my algebra days to work through this equation so correct me if I am wrong but when I add another 11% to selling time I should theoretically get an 11% increase AT LEAST in my # of deals.
33% selling time = 3.33 x $500/deal = $1,665 a week in income
An extra $165 a week or $8,580 a year.
For the Sales Manager
If you are a sales manager with a 10 person team and you increase everybody’s selling time by 11% then you just sold another 3.3 deals per week or 13 for the month or 172 for the year.
AKA, you just became an office super hero.
If your average deal size is $5,000 then
Week: 3.3 x $5,000 = $16,500 in added revenue per week
Month: 13 x $5,000 = $65,000
Year: 156 x $5,000 = $860,000
These are life changing numbers for everybody involved.
Stay tuned because in the next post we will squeeze even more time out of your already crazy schedule to put toward selling in our quest to maximize results by working smarter, not harder.
Questions or comments? Contact SPOTIO at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
SPOTIO is the #1 sales enablement and territory management app to increase your revenue, maximize your profitability, and increase your team’s productivity in just 2 weeks.
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