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Are You Really Spending Your Time Selling?

One of the most frustrating aspects of managing a sales force that I experienced is people not making their quotas, the same applies when I observe businesses or entrepreneurs miss their revenue targets. Ultimately when sales targets are missed it’s either a lack of activity or skill or both. In my experience for the most part it’s a lack of activity. It’s simple math actually, if you’re 70% to your target, observe the hours or amount of dials, meetings or whatever other metric leads to results and increase them respectively and math tells you that’s how you will reach your target. The problem is people in general are inherently lazy, or don’t spend their time wisely, for the most part, assuming you have two individuals with equal intelligence, skill and talent, it’s how they spend their time that differentiates them and more often than not, the person who outworks the other makes more money or succeeds more in life. We also see it in sports, countless examples of athletes with inferior talent making it up with work ethic and what you find is that more action leads to mistakes and you learn from your mistakes and that practice does in time make perfect.

Ok so where to start?

First, you need to map out how you’re spending your time now. Sit down for an hour and review your calendar over the last three months, and figure out your own blocks of time for actual selling, prep and research, prospecting, lead management, administrative and CRM, traveling, meetings-both sales and “other”. Whatever the major blocks of time are that make sense to you. What we’re focused on here is to figure out the actual time spent working opportunities in the sales funnel. “Opportunities in the funnel” are the operative words.  Not marketing, not lead gen, not prospecting, not onboarding and servicing. Actual time in the funnel

A few B2B-all industries-stats to help you think about your own mapping:

  • Average “successful” salesperson spends 57 hours a week working
  • Roughly, that’s 3,100 hours a year
  • Lose 25% for holidays, vacations, sick, & non-utilizable time
  • You now have around 2300 hours “available”
  • 37-39% spent face to face or over the phone actually selling
  • 19% spent generating leads and researching accounts
  • 17% on average spent in administrative meetings
  • 14% in handling customer service calls (not selling)
  • 11% in travel and training

How do you stack up? This doesn’t even include smokers, which studies have shown spend upwards of three weeks of sales time per year outside killing themselves as opposed to selling.


  1. Create your own time map of your approximate time as a sales professional/manager
  2. Figure out your ATS (Available Time to Sell) in hours/month
  3. Do that by month for the next quarter

I started my B2B sales career in selling audio conferencing and it changed my life. But what helped lay the foundation for my success believe it or not was a summer job I had dialing for dollars as a telemarketer selling newspaper subscriptions, it helped me overcome objections as far as skill development but the real value was that in that environment you are constantly watched and your number of calls are monitored and coffee isn’t provided and you weren’t allowed to wander around the office and breaks were scheduled and lateness wasn’t tolerated. Now although that boiler room doesn’t make for an ideal prolonged environment, it definitely taught me the discipline to be effective and spending every minute of the work day actually doing the activity that yields results and ultimately success!

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