Old Sales Activity Survey

A quick blog on a mid/late Nineties survey into how the average sales person spends their time.

Attributed to sales trainer Cargill, it encompasses five straightforward possibilities.

34% Admin tasks

32% Waiting, Travelling

15% with Customers

14% with Prospects

5% Service Calls

Recognise these figures in your routines?

Despite being from the days mainly before sales software (even though I used my first such system in 93) you can, according to subsequent findings, now include system updates and account research in a similar Admin bracket.

Anything that can switch this state around is welcome. And don’t say ‘crm’ is the saviour, please. For all the good things it (all too rarely) does, freeing up time is not among them, on either input or retrieval.

I’ve blogged on such surveys before, and whilst the precise numbers may differ, there remains little change in the overall picture. Sales people hardly spend any of their time truly selling. Even today you come across similar (or worse) findings, such as this American research organisation’s twitter feed (http://twitter.com/SiriusDecisions) that on 19 October 2010 stated,

According to our research only 18% of a #b2b salesperson’s time is spent selling. #sdse10

Here’s a couple more quick examples reinforcing the constraints.

Industrial Performance Group’s November 2006 survey of 1,502 reps across 17 N American manufacturing & distribution sectors found the following, with fascinating breakdowns as featured on the above link:

38% on revenue-generating activities
39% on the day-to-day operation and management of a territory
23% on “questionable utilization” — activities the company could potentially prevent or handle in other ways

Indeed, practically any google search incorporating the words “selling time” can unveil an alarming study into true sales activity breakdown, such as this one with its delightful “decontamination index” berating management for sidetracking salespeople, also suggesting a top sales achiever utilises almost 60% more selling time than their averagely performing counterparts (Sibson Consulting’s 2006 Sales Force Effectiveness Survey of 1,200 reps at 60 major technology & telecom outfits).


As a footnote, the same person also then found that;

48% of reps quit after one attempt

each sale requires 6.7 touches per year

73% of reps have no plan for their top 5 accounts, and

the #1 reason for sales failure is not competing for orders that go elsewhere

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