What do salespeople do all day? Why can’t they make more sales? Before you contemplate adding more salespeople to reach your sales goals, let’s first consider all the things that salespeople typically do:
- Research companies and people.
- Search for needed documents in the many places they are stored.
- Put together decks with info for customers.
- Write quotes and proposals.
- Wait for pricing information.
- Wait for legal to approve contracts.
- Attend internal meetings.
- Answer internal emails.
- Send emails to prospects and customers.
- Answer emails from prospects and customers.
- Prepare for sales calls.
- Work with internal subject matter experts on solutions for customers.
- Build and research prospect lists.
- Enter lists into CRM.
- Put out fires that arise because something didn’t go well.
- Enter customer data into CRM.
- Enter opportunities and call summaries into CRM.
- Send prospecting emails.
- Make prospecting calls.
- Build reports for leadership.
- Prepare a forecast for leadership.
- Prepare for QBRs with strategic customers.
- Work Trade Shows.
- And more.
But what do we want salespeople to be doing? Talking to people who can buy.
Are all these other responsibilities important? Yes, but they don’t have to be done by salespeople.
More Salespeople Is Not the Answer
We keep salespeople so busy that they spend only 30% or less of their time having conversations with people who can buy. So, what do we do to fix that? We hire more salespeople who will only spend 30% or less of their time selling.
Superstar CEO of Oxygen, Juliana Stancampiano, says no. She figured it out. More salespeople don’t necessarily equal more sales, but they can cost you time, money, and aggravation.
Now it’s true that out of the 24+ activities on the list, some are directly related to having conversations with buyers, but most are not. They are administrative, and most salespeople aren’t good at administrative tasks. It takes them too long to do them, and they do them inaccurately. Yet we persist. The ops people and leadership get angry with sellers who don’t keep the CRM updated in real-time.
Really! You want me to hang up from a call and, with my extremely poor typing skills, spend time updating the opportunity in the CRM and adding call notes, as well as write a follow-up email to the buyers I just conversed with and get to my next meeting on time. If you’ve ever been in sales, you know your days can be packed with calls and activities like building sales decks for tomorrow’s meeting, writing proposals that are due tomorrow, and working on getting contracts that have been sitting in legal for 2 weeks out to clients.
There has to be a better way. Adding more salespeople, in most cases, is not the way to get more sales (unless all of your current sellers are at peak productivity). Relieving sellers of non-sales activities would be smarter and more cost-effective.
How to Relieve Sellers of Non-Sales Tasks
So how do you relieve sellers of these non-sales tasks? Eliminate, delegate, or automate their non-sales tasks. Dive into what each salesperson does and figure out what they should and shouldn’t do. And while you are doing that, determine what they are best at and make sure that is what you want them to do, or as they say, you might have the right person in the wrong seat, or maybe there is no seat. If they are not good at selling, maybe there is another important job they can do, or perhaps they could be sales support.
In my ideal world, sellers would spend 80% of their time selling, but in the real world, let’s shoot for 50% or more of their time doing what they are best at, having conversations with buyers that lead to sales.
Before hiring more salespeople, ensure the sellers you have are doing what they do best: selling. Each one should spend at least 50% of their time having conversations that move deals forward. That’s what CEO Juliana Stancampiano did, and got remarkable results.
Sales were not where they needed to be, and she realized that salespeople were stuck doing non-sales tasks that they didn’t enjoy and weren’t very good at. These tasks were eating up more time than they should have and kept them from conversing with buyers. She saw them stumbling through creating SOWs, quotes, and proposals. She saw them wasting time adding data to the CRM.
These tasks make salespeople work in their zone of incompetence (if you haven’t read this article, Find Your Zone of Genius), which lowers their productivity and engagement and increases their chances of burnout.
Burn out!! This is the last thing you want great salespeople to do. Disengaged, grouchy salespeople should not be talking to your prospects.
Juliana recommends allowing your employees to do what they do best. Some of them excel at the things salespeople are terrible at. “Bring them in to build a scaffold around your salespeople,” is one of the things Juliana told me in this conversation on Sales Talk for CEOs. We talked about how you allow them to work in their zone of genius!
The Zone of Genius
The zone of genius is defined as things you are naturally good at and love doing—where you find your ‘flow.’
If we revisit the typical salesperson, that person finds their flow by talking to prospects and solving problems. When it comes to inputting data into CRM or other administrative work, these tasks bring them down to their zone of incompetence, or even if they are competent at these, it slows them down and drains their energy. But those tasks need to be done, so what should a CEO do?
Juliana shares her strategy for helping her salespeople work in their zone of genius. So when you are done reading this, tune in here.
Let Them Do What They Do Best and Delegate the Rest!
Juliana’s strategy is simple: she adds scaffolding to support sellers.
The scaffolding around each salesperson allows them to do the most important work, which is what they do best. Juliana suggests getting to know the individuals well, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and filling in the weaknesses around them (which is the scaffolding).
How Do You Build Your Sales Organization?
You build teams to address the customer’s needs. Sellers can be the leaders of those teams if you build the scaffolding around them that allows them to give their attention to the customers. The more conversations your sellers have with the multiple buying influencers it takes to close a deal, the more deals will close, and the more the money will flow. The more time sellers can spend meeting the right people, starting conversations, and moving an opportunity forward, the more likely you will have plenty of pipeline. Keep this in mind before you hire more salespeople, and for more tips, check out the links below.
To learn more about Juliana’s strategies, listen to her episode here.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.