4 steps to a more effective sales team

By Mark Wardell

If you’re not 100% satisfied with the performance of your sales team, you’re not alone. However, you may be surprised to learn that the average salesperson spends only 20% of their day actually doing sales. Surprised? It’s really no wonder they aren’t getting the results you’d like to see. Statistics show that close to 80% of your salesperson’s day is likely spent on activities other than selling—but there is a solution. Here’s how you can help restructure your sales team’s time and process, so they can get back to doing what they do best.

Step 1: What are they doing?

Begin by taking a close look at what your salespeople are doing with their time each day. Ask them to submit a weekly log detailing all daily activities, and to be completely honest with you when noting the activities they do in the course of a day, no matter how seemingly mundane. You’ll need at least two weeks worth of data to get an accurate reading on their schedules. It might help if you also actually survey your sales team in action.

Step 2: Analyze their time

Report-card time. As you analyze their reported daily activities, your objective will be to find out how much time your salespeople spend selling, versus the myriad of other activities they work on during a typical week. Ultimately, you’ll be searching for ways to provide your salespeople with more time to sell. So if the results are poor, don’t be discouraged. In fact, the worse they are, the greater the potential you have for significant growth.

Step 3: Analyze your sales process

If you break it down, what does your sales process look like? In most of the businesses I’ve analyzed, I find that the average salesperson will spend five to seven hours per day on some or all of the following sales-related activities:
• Scrubbing call lists
• Scheduling appointments
• Meeting with prospects
• Delivering samples
• Preparing quotes
• Processing orders
• Managing projects
• And so forth
But while each of these steps may be important, only “meeting with prospects” involves actual selling—the one thing you want your salespeople to do more of. Which brings me to the last step…

Step 4: Free up your sales team to sell

Ideally, each phase of the sales process, including selling, should be attributed to a different person/position within your company—this allows everyone to focus more clearly on their specific goals. In most cases, your sales people could be a lot more effective if you reassigned even a couple of their tasks to others. And while this may take some time to organize, especially for small companies, the more you can stay clear on the fact that you need to free up your salespeople to focus on selling, the better the results will be.

Of course, depending on your business and your industry, the specific changes you’ll need to make will vary. But the bottom line is that selling is the most valuable and beneficial use of your salespeople’s time. Even one or two shifts in your sales process can yield big sales improvements. Find ways to get your sales team out there selling and watch your company grow.

MARK WARDELL is President & Founder of Wardell Professional Development (www.wardell.biz), an advisory group that helps business owners plan and execute the growth of their companies. The author of seven business books, Mark also writes regularly for several national business publications, including Profit Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and CGA Magazine. Email him at [email protected]

By Adam

April 18, 2011