Even with the growth of online sales, salespeople are still very important to the building materials industry. In fact, for many types of building products, they are critical and irreplaceable.
These days, however, most companies have fewer salespeople covering a larger area. This makes each salesperson’s time more valuable than it was before.
But do you actually know how valuable their time is? Do you know how much your salespeople’s time is really worth per week, or even per hour? If you don’t, you should find out. Because when you don’t know the value or cost of a salesperson’s time, it’s easy to waste it.
I wanted to know how building materials companies could get more value out of their sales teams. So, I conducted a poll on LinkedIn asking salespeople about their biggest time wasters.
Running the poll was quick, easy and free. And the response rate was high, so it gives us a good sense of what salespeople really think.
Unfortunately, there are a few limitations to polling over LinkedIn. I wish I could have given the respondents more options. Allowing them to rank order their votes would have given us more granular insights. And being able to include an “Other” option would have encouraged salespeople to write in answers that weren’t in the list.
To make up for these limitations, I’m going to expand on the list of time wasters based on my experience. I’m also going to assign some to the company or sales leader and others to salespeople.
The items in these lists aren’t sorted in any particular order, since different companies and salespeople would rank them differently. They are, however, common issues that every company should tackle if they want to become more efficient and successful.
How Companies Waste Salespeople’s Time
Not Providing Clear Direction – Many companies view any sale as a good sale, so they don’t provide clear direction to their sales team, such as the type of customer or projects to focus on.
Ineffective Marketing Support – Marketing departments and agencies frequently develop marketing programs with little or no input from the sales team. Marketing programs should be reviewed with sales before they are finalized.
Not Listening – Companies don’t listen to their salespeople enough. No one is closer to your customers than the people who sell to them, and they often know things you don’t.
Unnecessary Reports and Paperwork – Every report should have a clear justification; otherwise, it’s a waste of time. Eliminate all the “nice to have” and “why not?” reports. Any report that is not reviewed and commented on a regular basis is a waste of time.
Meetings with No Purpose or Value – Meetings should be treated the same as reports. If you can’t justify its value, it’s not the best use of anyone’s time. If the meeting could have been an email, make it an email. You also don’t have to invite salespeople to every meeting just because it’s a meeting. If there’s no value in it for them, let them sell instead.
Over time, weekly meetings tend to lose their value if they are not kept fresh.
Difficulty Getting Accurate Information – If your salespeople have to ask for information, it means you haven’t made it easily accessible to them online. Here’s a good article on the importance of making it easier for sales people and customers to access your information.
Not Enough Support – Many salespeople have to act as account managers instead of selling new customers. Don’t expect your sales team to double as your customer service department.
How Salespeople Waste Time
Calling on the Wrong Customers – Too many salespeople spend their time with first customers like distributors. In reality, calling on the distributor’s customers is a better way to secure sales.
Chasing Sales Instead of Customers – A sale is a one-time event that you have to keep chasing over and over. When you create a customer, the sales come to you.
Not Understanding the Customer – Most salespeople understand their product. If they knew as much about their customers, sales would come much more easily.
Time Wasters Are Costing You More Than You Realize
The most experienced salespeople are retiring and it’s harder to find new salespeople to replace them. That makes every salesperson’s time more valuable than before, which makes these time wasters an even bigger problem.
Everyone knows that time is money, but too few people act on that knowledge. I continue to be amazed at how tightly companies control their expenses while playing fast and loose with their salespeople’s time.
Time wasters keep your salespeople from doing what they do best: selling your products and building strong, loyal customer relationships. Freeing up their time so they can spend more of it pursuing the right customers is the key to improving your sales team’s performance.
Remember, your salespeople’s time is a valuable and costly asset. Make sure you’re using it wisely.