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Cutting the Right Waste

Thursday, June 18, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Local Indianapolis sales coach Jeff Bowe points out that sales requires being “vigilant in using limited time.” But how should sales professionals manage their time effectively?

In his article, Bowe states:

Most salespeople spend less than 30% of their time in active selling and less than 50% of their total time in any aspect of selling. The rest of the week is filled with travel, marketing, company meetings, training, client problem resolution, and paperwork. All of these are part of sales so we can’t get rid of them. What we can get rid of is unproductive networking time.

Bowe goes on to to talk about how to optimize the use of networking groups. But note how he dismisses other activities such as “travel, marketing, company meetings, training, client problem resolution, and paperwork” as inescapable. According to Bowe’s numbers, this miscellany makes up 50-70% of the total time worked!

However, it is precisely these boring, arduous tasks which are the most important to try and reduce or eliminate. Since this work is outside of the field of sales, the employee is likely to make errors and be less efficient. Since the work is largely considered as drudgery, quality and consistency will inevitably suffer. Imagine the impact of a sales person who could remove this component of their workday and focus exclusively on building relationships and closing deals. Using Bowe’s figures, such a producer would either double or triple their sales.

In the landmark book The Trouble With Computers, Thomas Landauer shows that modern technology has actually lead to a decrease in specialization in some areas. The business professionals, university professors and bureaucrats of yesteryear were supported by specialized departments: secretarial pools, billing centers, and field service groups. But today, we all have cellphones in our pockets and computers on our desks, so we are expected to manage our own correspondence, process our own paperwork and handle practically all customer needs.

We are not likely to turn back the clock or hire an administrative assistant for everyone. However, we can design and maintain workplace systems to increase productivity in these crucial, non-core areas. Drive time  can be optimized by combining trips. Training can be shuffled using audiobooks, recordings or webinars. Client issues can be documented in a common space, such as an online support forum, to foster community and reduce costs. Improved meeting preparation and structure can save time and increase effectiveness. Paperwork can often be automated and in some areas, entirely eliminated.

Salespeople should focus on sales, and support re-engineering methodologies to enhance overall productivity. You too can transform your workflow and accelerate your business. Read our reasons to reach out and contact Slaughter Development today!

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

A Complete Waste of Sponsorship - A few months ago we attended a major industry conference with a huge corporate sponsorship. As far as we could tell, however, that effort was nearly a complete waste of cash. Read on »
Productive Networking - As part of the ongoing More Than a Few Words podcast, Indianapolis small business leader Lorraine Ball sat down with our own Robby Slaughter to talk about productivity and business networking. Read on »
Impacts of Cost Cutting - In an anonymous opinion piece, one former employee explains how a reduction in expenses destroyed productivity and morale. Mark down another incident for the law of unintended consequences. Read on »
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