Most sales leaders don’t appreciate how little time they have to coach and help their salespeople succeed.
I know you won’t let me get away with a comment such as that without proof, so let’s do the math. Follow the table below:
There you have it – about four (4) working hours per day. I know some of you work 60 hours a week, so please add an hour per day if it makes you feel better. Now subtract travel time and the actual number of hours you spend in meetings. If you are like most sales leaders, you’re lucky to have two (2) hours a day in an average week to have some thinking time, coach your salespeople, and conduct pipeline, opportunity, forecast, and account plan reviews. Not a pretty picture, is it?
The average span of control can vary significantly for sales leaders (5 -12 salespeople), so you can finish the math to determine how much time you could theoretically allocate to each salesperson. You’ll discover that something has to give if you are committed to providing your salespeople the time they need and deserve.
We’ve helped sales leaders across various industries uncover ways to improve their productivity so that they can spend more time with their salespeople. We conduct full-day workshops on this subject, so I’m sharing a few recommendations that you can begin to apply today:
- Don’t block out full days to conduct marathon pipeline, opportunity, forecast, account reviews, and coaching sessions.Rarely will you have a day that won’t be interrupted with compelling opportunity, account, or service issues – you will always end up suspending, canceling or rescheduling some of your sessions.
- Get aligned with your sales team’s travel schedules, time zones, personal lives, etc. Individual and work schedules are often in flux, but less so within a two-week horizon. Set a scheduled time with each salesperson, but agree with your team that two weeks out, or one week out, that a 1:1 session won’t be rescheduled. The 1:1 can’t be the first meeting that is moved to accommodate other priorities; it should be the last. Also, the coaching impact diminishes if you are having a 1:1 session at 7:30 am with a salesperson that is not a morning person.
- Start declining internal meeting invitations, and ask that web or phone conferences be recorded for you to listen to later. You can’t decline all internal meeting invitations, but maybe start with one per week, and then increase to one per day. I know this one seems arbitrary, but the concept is that you can attend fewer web or phone conferences without missing much.
- Travel less by beginning to attend more client and prospect meetings via desktop video conference. It’s a thing now. Tools such as Skype for Business, Go-to-Meeting, and Zoom have been adopted by large swaths of industries to improve collaboration and reduce the need to travel. It works, and it’s powerful. Modern salespeople are already working this way. Push yourself to try this during the next few weeks?
- Color code your calendar meetings. Not all meetings are created equal. By color coding (Categories in Outlook, Color dot in Gmail) your calendar, you can visually see which events are a priority, and how the flow of your day will go. For example, when I’m working directly with a client on a project, the color is purple. Business development is orange, and thinking/project work is green. Planning time is yellow. Low-value meetings that I can quickly move are light-blue, and so on. Different colors provide visual cues as to which events require prep time, and how you are allocating time for the week. By color-coding 1:1salesperson sessions, you’ll be less likely to move their session in favor of moving others.
The suggestions above are but a few practical tips on how to find more time you can spend with salespeople, but they won’t increase the level of commitment a sales leader has in spending more time with her salespeople.
This math also applies to marketing and line of business leaders, just swap out sales person focus for your respective teams.