Why Are Your Team Spending Under a Third of Their Time With Customers?
By Phil Hobden
I was surprised (and a little shocked) to see a report from Salesforce recently that shows that Sales Reps spend JUST 28% of their working week focused on direct customer activity.
28%? And what's more shocking is that this trend shows a decrease year on year from 2016. In an 8-hour day that means less than 3 hours is focused on spending time with customers.
This reminded me of one of the best disciplines that was ever installed in me (and one I talk to my team about regularly) which came from a previous sales leader I worked with – the idea of 'Core Hours'.
Simply put, the hours you are MOST likely to connect to a customer in, usually 10-12 & 2-4, are your CORE business hours. During that time, you should ONLY undertake activities that will drive that engagement and activity with your customers. This means that across an 8-hour day AT LEAST 50% of your time should be 'client focused'.
My team love this. After all, this is the part of their role they love best – speaking to our amazing customers. What's more, I actively encourage my team to communicate this message back across the business and, if they can, decline activities that aren't customer focused if it falls in those times, always asking the question: “Is the internal meeting needed? Do I need to be a part of it? And will it directly impact my clients?” And, if not, decline or suggest another time.
It may seem harsh but regardless of the business size (and I’ve worked in large organisations with thousands of employees through to smaller tech businesses with under 50) the distractions are the same. And often, I’ve been part of that problem.
It made me really reflect on how I work as a leader and moreover what my role really is (or should be).
I broke it down to this: As a revenue leader my role is to empower my team to be able to service our customers in a laser focused way, to remove distractions, simplify the MI & data we use so EVERYONE can understand it and ensure my team continue to learn, grow, and develop.
BREAKING THIS DOWN:
Empower my teams – Enable them to be confident to make the decisions they need to make, when they need to make them.
Remove distractions – Limit meetings, non-core activity and ensure we challenge WHY we do what we do. Make sure we are not spending less than 30% of our time with our customers.
Simplify MI – Does everyone REALLY understand our MI and do we really need everything we have? Is it too complex? Does it really service the purpose of making our boat go faster?
Grow, Learn & Develop – Make sure everyone has a development plan, an idea where they want to be in a year or 2 years' time and give them what they need to get there.
This has worked well for me and is a discipline that has helped my teams buck the overall trend of the industry. I'd love to hear what you do to ensure your sales team spend their time with customers and make sure they are maxmising their productivity.
About the author:
Phil Hobden is a Sales Leader, public speaker & podcast host with over 20 years of sales leadership experience who now works for a leading global technology business leading digital change across the accounting industry.
The views and opinions in this article are the author’s and may not reflect those of the business they work for.
Find out more about Phil Hobden on LinkedIn.