Sales people want selling time more than sales leads

Ask most executives and marketers what sales people need and they will say, “more leads.” Your sales people don’t want more leads actually, what they want is “more effective selling time.”

A recent report by Aberdeen Group, “Sales Effectiveness: Helping Sales Sell” concludes, “The number one issue for most CEO’s and Marketers is lead generation – getting more leads to their sales team.” The number one desire for sales people however, is MORE selling time with “sales ready” opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong, lead generation is still extremely important to sales people (it was actually number 2). You must realize that the extreme time pressure sales people face – especially those with a complex sale – requires them to ignore what is not immediately relevant and highly likely to produce revenue. Why? They are not paid to do anything else.  Quality is more important than quantity. 

A study of 1,535 professionals by CSO Insights in cooperation with CRMGuru.com, uncovered a wealth of insights in to the challenges sales forces are encountering today. Top 10 Trends in Sales for 2004.

I found this post on Jim Berkowitz’s CRM Mastery Blog highly relevant, “Is Your Sales Force Selling?” Jim links to Proudfoot Consulting’s annual sales force effectiveness study; most salespeople spend only 10 percent of their available time actually selling, according to the latest figures from Proudfoot Consulting’s annual sales force effectiveness study.

I disagree with Proudfoot’s 10% figure but, think their premise is on point.  Simply put, sales people don’t get to spend enough time actually selling! 

In my experience, the average sales force spends around 20% of their time actually doing productive selling (upto 40% if you’re great) based on research done by the Huthwaite, Inc. — Creators of SPIN Selling.

As marketers we can do a ton to help improve sales effectiveness.  So before you invest any more money in lead generation ask this question, how can we give our sales people more selling time? Then write down your thoughts and meet with your sales team and ask them the same question. How can we help YOU get more selling time? Now shut up and really listen… The key is to communicate and then collaborate. 

Here’s a short vignette on how 3M increased their sales teams effective selling time by leveraging Six Sigma.   

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