Here is a startling fact: Average sales people spend 1/4 to 1/3 of their time handling administrative tasks, including meaningless email.

Here is another: Average sales people spend less than 21% of their time in actual selling activities.

And a third: It is far worse for entrepreneurs.

If you are an entrepreneur, you make your money selling something—a product or service—and delivering that product or service. That’s it. Almost everything else is a distraction. Some people look at this and think: But I can’t always be in selling activities! Probably true. Aside from common practices to enhance your own sales and marketing, you have responsibility for everything else in your business! People issues, technology issues, financing issues—all of it comes down to your ultimate responsibility.

On the other hand, even a small shift to increase time in sales activities can yield a huge change in your sales productivity—or that of your team. Let’s say you are making your sales goal while committing only 21% of your time to true sales activities that make and close deals. That’s average for a rep, according to the research, and as an entrepreneur, it is likely less for you. Let’s also assume that you are close to the average rep and spend about 25% of your time administratively—dealing with email from sales team colleagues, getting pulled into the email pit, handling administrative duties, scheduling your own appointments, etc. You will never be able to eliminate all of this work, but you can probably eliminate or delegate a lot of it. Most people who take a careful look at their activities can easily find 10% of their time that is just wasted and dumped down the drain. (That’s what happened to me—except that I found almost 30 hours per week, out of a 55 hour workweek, of ineffectively used time.)

Using productivity techniques like elimination and delegation, you could almost certainly squeeze 5 hours per week out of your schedule. Once you have that time, redeploy it to sales activity. That 5 hours represents about 10% of your average week, so your dedicated sales time moves from 21% to 31% of your time. That should be a small shift in your business practices, but look at the huge impact.

If you earn your quota of a million dollars per year using 21% of your work time, what happens if you make this small shift and go to 31% of your time making and closing sales? Well, 31% is almost 1.5 times 21%, so you could expect that sales will also multiply by 1.5. All of a sudden, your sales can go from $1 million per year to $1.5 million per year—a 50% increase year over year, simply by changing the deployment of ten percent of your time.

Does change look good to you now?

About the Author(s)

Tony Signorelli

Tony consults in sales force effectiveness and process design for major corporations.   His presentations and workshops challenge professionals to prioritize business focus, streamline productivity, increase profits and improve work-life balance. | @tony_sig | More from Tony              

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