From the Sales Tech Buying Blog
Vendor Neutral

Whether you have 3 or 300 salespeople, it doesn’t matter. You’ll always want to get more from every single one. More effort. More passion. More revenue. Salespeople want that too. However, salespeople also want less. Less paperwork, less hassle, less logging.

Here’s the good news – there’s a causal relationship between generating more revenue and spending less time on non-selling tasks. In other words, delivering more of what salespeople want will cause you to get more of what you want.

The question then becomes, “how do you reduce the time spent on non-selling tasks?” [1]

The answer is quite simply, to stop doing them! I have a highly successful, and in-demand, business friend who always complained about the amount of travel her job required of her. She’s worked for a number of companies during our friendship but the story was always the same, “Every one required that she travel – a lot!”

Finally, I told her, “I have the solution to your problem… don’t accept any more jobs that require travel!” If she really didn’t want to travel, she needed only do one thing which was to not accept any role that required travel (she was fortunate to have that choice).

We often complain the heaviest about things we have the power to change, because we’re comfortable. We don’t like change. The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t know.

If you want your team to generate more revenue, you need only to make sure they spend the bulk of their time doing that. And that means you need to eliminate or reduce the time lost to non-selling tasks. Which in turn means, you have to change the way you do things today.

How to Have a Lean Mean Selling Machine

Several research studies have pinpointed the typical amount of time spent selling at around 35%. The challenge then, is to look at what salespeople are doing when they aren’t selling (65% of the time). While some of that time is needed to on tasks that move deals through the pipeline (email follow-ups, creating proposals, etc), there’s no doubt, a lot of FAT in the system. If you want to have a mean, lean selling machine, you need to get rid of the FAT.

There’s a lot of FAT in the sales process

FAT is an acronym for the three categories that contain the biggest time-sucking sales activities.

F is for Fetching

  • Fetching collateral
  • Fetching insight
  • Fetching resources
  • Fetching approvals (both internal and external)
  • Fetching contact names and details

A is for Assessing

  • Assessing territory opportunity
  • Assessing needed follow-up
  • Assessing likelihood of a close
  • Assessing what activities should be done
  • Assessing the buying team politics
  • Assessing how to align your solution to the buyer

T is for Task-doing

  • Creating emails
  • Sending emails (cold and warm)
  • Leaving cold or warm voicemails
  • Logging activities
  • Creating proposals
  • Chasing paperwork

How to eliminate the FAT in the Sales process

Just like your body, your sales process needs fat to be healthy. Indeed, all activities I listed are needed to close deals. The trick is to find ways to reduce or eliminate these tasks in ways that will protect high-value selling time.
Consider the first activity listed, “Fetching Collateral”. For sure, Salespeople need collateral. Is it possible, however, to reduce the amount of time they spend looking for, or creating it? Can Marketing make the collateral more readily available and easier to find? Can they match collateral to specific sales motions or situations so that

Salespeople don’t have to figure out which is best for each situation? Can they make it easier to personalize collateral for each prospect?

You may use SharePoint or perhaps some other file-folder structure like Dropbox to store collateral. That’s what typically happens. In that case, here’s what you need to ask yourself:

  • How will salespeople know where to find each item they need?
  • Will they know what to look for?
  • How will they know whether they’ve grabbed the most current version?
  • How can you know which content is actually helping to close deals?

The alternative is to use a Collateral Management or Sales Enablement solution that does three things.

  1. Gives your Marketers a way to manage (store, update, remove) collateral so that only the latest content is available to salespeople
  2. Gives Marketers a way to track the usage of the content to see which and what types of content affects the sales process the greatest.
  3. Gives Marketers a way to map content to the opportunity types and stages to which they’re most applicable.

All of those things, in turn, add up to Salespeople spending less time fetching collateral freeing up more time to hold more sales conversations with prospects. By the way, it also has the benefit of helping drive better outcomes.

Maybe it’s comfortable to continue the way we’ve always done things. Perhaps my friend somehow felt if she wasn’t always on the road that she wasn’t busy enough, or worthy of her high industry regard. The words we repeat to ourselves every day (I need to do this. I need to stop doing that) are the equivalent of flashing neon brain signs. We know what we need to do or not do.

It’s common and reasonable, to ask yourself, “What can we do to ensure salespeople are more effective when communicating with prospects?” As I’ve pointed out, however, focusing your eye there will only impact 35% of their time (arguably an important 35%). Start looking for improvements in the way they spend the bulk of their time – the 65% of the process that consists of FAT. In my mind, that’s the fastest path to generating more revenue.

[1] Let’s define those tasks as anything that doesn’t involve talking with a customer or prospect.

Vendor Neutral, the official Advisory Partner for the 3rd Annual Sales Team Accelerator Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange, provides practical resources and advice on the SalesTech selection process. They are focused on helping businesses identify the right technology that supports the goal of selling more, in less time, at the right price, while reducing costs.