How Much Of Your Time Is Truly Selling?

I’ve just come across a current piece of research (I believe attributed to CSO Insights) that suggests reps today only get to sell for 37% of their time.  A little over a third of your day seems so counter-productive, doesn’t it?

(What manufacturing business would tolerate a key machine only producing widgets for this little each day?  How much more worse off would airlines be if their planes only carried passengers for an average of only eight hours a day? Incidentally, just found this 03 article which suggests 14 of the top US airlines all comfortably exceeded this figure by at least one hour.  What about if your security guard, receptionist, janitor or even CEO PA was only around for less than three hours a day?).

To compound salesrep misery, selling time today has plummeted, down from the lofty quota-busting heights of 47% ten years ago.

There can only be one main culprit.  Software.  That swingeing loss of diminished time must surely be due to ever more unnecessarily complex crm, making qwerty-jockeys of us when in fact, they are meant to free us.

We can all feel that there’s no additional sales conferences or monthly meetings going on. Travelling to and fro between customers is not taking longer.  Quite the reverse.  Formal internal forums are more spread out these days.  We can travel less thanks to technology.  We are certainly not spending more time around water coolers and kettles, and lunch-hours have morphed into desk-15-minutes (…if you’re lucky).

Given the apparent close relationship between CSO Insights and salesforce.com (who will of course produce all sorts of smokes and mirrors to claim that their software is the opposite of what the aforementioned facts suggest) the researchers cunningly try to conceal the reality by shrouding crm struggles within any or all of “generating leads/researching accounts” (20%), “account service calls” (15%) or “administrative tasks/meetings” (17%).  The only activity that potentially escapes is “travel” (21%).

My stance continues to be crystal clear.  I love what software is meant to do for us sellers.  Yet I’m devastated that it never delivers.  (Regular readers will know how I’ve helped beat this issue…)

Specifically in the case of dramatically restricted selling time since around 1999 (co-incidentally a pivotal year in corporate and SME crm take-up I’d suggest) every single crm I meet today is ridiculously over-engineered.  The lack of engagement and subsequent invisibility of activity (complete and future) combine to create keyboard slaves of those at the coalface.  Oh, how it could be so different.

What can you do to increase this pitifully small 37%?  There are so many ideas, but here’s a radical one.  Make more prospecting calls, build a huge funnel, become Number One.  No-one in such a state need worry about filling in admin reports or rummaging through endless crm screens.

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jamie@example.com
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