Selling is hard in and of itself, and sales representatives frequently feel overwhelmed with putting out clients’ fires, reaching seemingly massive quotas, and a multitude of other tasks. Plus, the pressure of their daily lives brings stress into the workplace; so why do sales leaders feel the need to add more to their plates? The goal is almost always enablement and improvement, however, it can oftentimes lead to burnout for the frontline sales team. How can you balance this dichotomy?
Assess the Daily Workload With a Ride-Along
Ride-alongs can feel like a massive time suck for managers, but will be immensely rewarding in the long run. The goal is to gain an understanding of what the sales reps do with their time. What’s taking them longer than normal? What seems like annoyances to them? Sitting in the background, and just being present with an open mind is the best way to approach this. Your team members will undoubtedly feel stressed that you’re watching them work, so it is very important to call out in advance that it is NOT a performance assessment, or any sort of reprimanding measure. Identify a list of key items you want to watch for and summarize your notes once you’re done. This will assist you in your conversations in the future on what you’ve isolated as ‘time waster’ activities.
Removing Over-burdensome Reports
In sales, data is vital. Whether or not you are utilizing analytics software, you are undoubtedly pouring through sales reports daily. Why slow your reps down with another report? This is not meant as advocacy for not reporting or recording work – the point is to understand why those reports exist. If you do not have a reasonable “why” for the report or process, then question it. Reports that can be combined with others or even eliminated can help free up part of your sales rep’s workweek.
Bad Contact Data
Not to sound like someone who’s just seen Glengarry Glen Ross for the 10th time, but, a sales rep is only as good as the data that’s provided to them. Your reps are probably wasting time reaching out to invalid contacts, or managing email bounce-backs. There are about a thousand BI solutions your organization can invest in, however, there is also a free way you can jumpstart fixing bad contact data. Instill a research-minded sales culture. Training people to use LinkedIn — or LinkedIn Sales Navigator, if you have it — can help verify if a contact is still at the company and even add new potential prospects. Your team can also take a proactive approach through free software like Hunter.io to verify email addresses. Whichever way you go about it, enabling your sales reps to be research driven, rather than disengaging from the task once they receive an email bounce can keep their momentum moving forward in their daily work. This research mindset, paired with BI software will save you and your team countless hours of frustrating conversations.
How many steps are you asking your reps to complete in your sales process? If you don’t have the answer to this question, or remember all the steps, then perhaps it is time to re-assess the sales process as a whole. Prospecting, running meetings, and closing sales can be very hard to wrap into a firm process. The best way to find out what can be edited is to get feedback from your reps and find any consistencies. Processes should be built so they can be edited, and if something isn’t working in your process, don’t be afraid to take it out. A best practice approach is to regularly review and critique your sales process to ensure it’s not adding time wasting activities.
Overall, there are many grey areas when it comes to enabling time management. Using a posture of humility and openness, and making sure you’re regularly checking yourself is a great place to start. It’s easy for leaders to get entrenched in one position or process and ignore the truth that said process might not be working. Once you figure that out, you’re on the right track.