Back to our bedevilled Head of Sales from last week, scratching her head from inconclusive answers to questions about why visit activity rates were 24% below than that which all members of the Sales Team committed to average.  She was on the right track….probing, enquiring, investigating.  She just inadvertently booby trapped her right track by the way she “prosecuted”.

Engage Sales Execs in a formatted time:activity survey exercise……a prism to look into sales team visit activity

Far better to engage the sales team members in a formatted, consistent form of data discovery.  Craft a standardised on-line survey for them to complete on their own.  Design it in such a way is to corral thinking in a consistent way.  Get them to think about how they spend their time day in : day out.  Start with how much time is spent on territory vs off territory.  Get them to break territory time into face-to-face vs drive vs other.  Don’t stop there.  Get them to break their face-to-face time into proactive vs responsive vs reactive time – These being defined as:

  • Proactive = All activities initiated by the Sales Rep with customers and prospects to capitalise on business/relationship/opportunity development.
  • Responsive = All activities where the Sales Rep is responding to a customer or prospect in regards to a pre sale sales opportunity / operational requirement post sale / are responding to any internal colleague or manager to anything EXCEPT issues/problems/firefighting/fixing (ie distinguish and separate from reactive, as below).
  • Reactive = All activities where either the Sales Rep or the customer/prospect/colleague are fixing problems, troubleshooting, firefighting, rectifying, reworking, duplicating (ie any violation of “right first time”, (regardless of cause or blame)).

Face-to-face time also broken down into customer vs prospect vs other visit times.

Don’t forget to use this sales team productivity exercise to understand drivers and destroyers of value that keep Sales Execs off-territory

Also solicit data in this way by surveying off-territory time and territory non face-to-face time to break down into value adding, value neutral, value destroying time – These being defined as:

  • Value adding = receiving or self-generating support or skills to be able to plan and/or undertake proactive customer interfacing activities
  • Value neutral = activities of an administrative nature
  • Value destroying = process failure, rework, error, any violation of “right first time”.

And ask them to nominate the typical activity examples for each.

No data collection method time:activity analysis is perfect, and we all know that some Sales execs “fudge” their activity reporting.  But when you “corral” them in a heirarchial successive breakdown fashion like this, where the breakdowns have to mathematically equate to the number above being broken down, you will find it is easier for your surveyees to “call it as it is”, rather than try to gild the lily.

And the results will give you far far clearer insight into what drives visit productivity in your team , and what erodes it.