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Fifty Hours

August 14, 2012 | By Jim Ninivaggi

Fifty hours. That’s likely the average workweek for an average salesperson – though between travel and late nights writing proposals, filling out RFPs and rehearsing for presentations, it may be longer for your reps.

Fifty hours. That’s likely the average workweek for an average salesperson – though between travel and late nights writing proposals, filling out RFPs and rehearsing for presentations, it may be longer for your reps.

Our job, in marketing and sales, can be boiled down to this: Together, how do we ensure that those 50 hours our reps have to spend in the pursuit of revenue are maximized for each and every salesperson? Ultimately, each rep is our means of production (i.e. sales and revenue) – and we want to make sure we are getting the maximum yield from them.

It’s that simple. And that complex.

There are two ways to maximize overall rep productivity – by improving efficiency and/or improving effectiveness. Break those 50 hours into chunks of activities (each consuming a part of those 50 hours), estimate the yield against those activities (what amount of revenue will that time/activity typically produce), and you can begin to analyze where there are opportunities for marketing and sales to impact productivity:

  • Efficiency. The focus of improving efficiency is straightforward – how do you move more of reps’ time away from low- (or no-) yield activities and shift them to higher-yield activities? Case in point – the amount of time reps spend sourcing their own leads through cold calling. Cold calling is a low-yield activity compared to activities like face-to-face sales calls with active buyers (an hour spent cold calling has less chance of producing revenue than a qualified face-to-face sales call). Marketing and sales leaders can work together to determine how to eliminate, or at least lessen, the amount of time reps spend on cold calling (e.g. by using internal or third-party teleprospectors) and shift that time to activities that focus on later-stage opportunities (and thus a higher yield). Regardless of the yield, marketing and sales should continually look at squeezing more efficiency out of every activity for their reps.
  • Effectiveness. Improving the ability of salespeople to execute – by providing them with the training, tools, skills and knowledge they need to be successful – results in improving the expected yield per activity. For example, we can improve reps’ performance when they are face-to-face with buyers, improving the conversion rate of sales calls that lead to a closed deal and ultimately increasing the yield of that specific activity.

The idea of a relentless pursuit to eliminate inefficiency and maximize effectiveness has been around for years in the world of manufacturing, with movements like Six Sigma and Lean. It’s time that marketing and sales begin to adopt some of these concepts – uniting in a relentless pursuit to maximize sales productivity.

Let’s get the most out of those 50 hours.

Jim Ninivaggi

Jim Ninivaggi is Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Jim’s focus is on helping to deliver data, knowledge and insight that our clients need to improve sales performance and drive ROI. Follow Jim on Twitter @jninivaggi.
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