“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” ― Jean de La Bruyèr, Les Caractères
(I think this sentence is best thought of coming out of the mouth of the priest in Princess Bride, just substitute time for mawageand be sure to pronounce it tamme! Sorry for wasting time, I digress, backto time...Time)is one of our most valuable resources and the one we personally have the most control over in our own lives. Yet, time is also the easiest resource to waste.
As a life extensionist and self-proclaimed time-freak, I am always looking for ways to better use my time. Let’s first turn you all into time freaks as well with a little time thought-exercise.
Let’s take seconds. Why? Because seconds are easy to understand, but we rarely think of time in seconds and instead think of time in years, days, decades, ...etc. Let’s reverse that logic for a second (see what I did there?) and let’s look at seconds to quantify our time.
One million seconds (1,000,000) = roughly 11.5 days
One billion seconds (1,000,000,000) = roughly 32 years
One trillion seconds (1,000,000,000,000)= roughly 32,000 years!
Now when we look at seconds, we can start to see that they do indeed add up fast! And we should be more mindful of how we spend our seconds each day (a typical work day is 28,800 seconds only!).
When your direct and channel reps can spend more time (read: seconds) working with leads, that means more sales for you. But it’s a matter of being sure that your partner sales teams are not burdened by administrative duties and other non-essential (non-revenue generating) tasks that will make this outcome a reality. It’s not realistic to ask for more work in a finite day, either by time or effort, so that leaves making better use of the same amount of time as the only option.
This is where using a comprehensive set of sales productivity metrics to analyze how each sales rep spends his or her time comes into play. The best performers will be ones that can minimize distractions, and get down to business. This concept might seem simple, but just because it lacks complexity doesn’t mean it won’t work for your business.
So what should you focus on?
Time Spent Selling
Multitasking is widely deemed to be acceptable in today’s fast-paced society, but if your attention is constantly being pulled in multiple directions, you can start to lose track of the details in each task. At worst, you risk spreading your attention too thin and taking longer to re-focus on each new task. Consider for example, what you’re doing at this very moment. Are you reading this on your phone or your computer? If it’s on your phone, are you killing time between meetings or on a commute? If you’re using your computer to read the article, how many other browser tabs have you flipped to since you opened the page? How many pop-up notifications have stole your attention?
Let’s apply this analysis to a channel sales rep. Are they constantly being pulled in multiple directions? With sales productivity metrics to measure how much of their day is actually spent selling the product, you can figure this out. The top sellers in the channel will be ones that are NOT spending their time looking for important content. They already have it at their fingertips and are sharing it with leads when it becomes relevant.
A 2015 Sales Productivity study shows that there is a lot of room for improvement here. Less than 35% of a rep’s time is spent actually selling, which means that you could potentially see a 100% increase in this sales productivity metric and still have reps spending their time taking care of other non-selling tasks. Selling for only one-third of the day comes as a result of spending over 30% of their time searching for content, and another 20% on administrative or CRM-related tasks.
Cut the time spent in these two areas in half, and the channel reps have another quarter of the day to spend selling (assuming they work an 8-hour day, that’s another 7,200 seconds they can spend selling)!
Lead Response Time
Along the same lines, when your direct and indirect sales reps are able to respond to leads in a timely fashion, this can generate more wins in the long run. If they are inundated with questions that they aren’t able to answer quickly, you may see a dip in the success rate.
Chances are, this longer response time comes as a result of two root causes:
First, the sales reps may not able to find the right answers and the appropriate content they need to transfer their knowledge to the prospects (by now, you should know to match your content to the buyer’s stage). This usually comes as a function of poor content organization (think Google Docs) or availability and/or knowledge of the best, most appropriate content (too many hands in your CMS?). The solution is then to organize marketing and sales information more naturally to allow for easier searching, sharing and consumption
The second possibility is that there is more work than can be handled by the current sales staff. That option can circle back to the amount of time the channel reps are spending taking care of non-selling tasks (did you update SFDC yet?). When sales reps are able to spend more time selling, the result will be quicker responses to inquiries (as they can move quickly from one prospect to the next).
Both of these causes and subsequent solutions can be monitored with sales productivity metrics. When the time the partner or direct sales reps spend engaging with the client is maximized, so is the revenue generation.
What other time saving tips and tricks did I miss? What sales productivity metrics do you track? Hopefully, by reading this article, you can find ways to save seconds in your sales process. A second saved is a second earned! Or something like that :).