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How about a selling time audit?

How About a Selling Time Audit?

If you don't think your salespeople are as productive as they might be, then they probably are good candidates for a selling time audit.

Periodically, McGraw-Hill conducts surveys on how salespeople spend their time. Results of the latest survey are particularly interesting because they show industrial salesmen are spending more time selling than they were ten years ago.

According to survey findings, the average salesman devotes 25% of his time to face-to-face selling and 17% to selling customers and prospects by phone, a total of 42%. The previous survey reported that 39% of the salesperson's time was taken up with both personal and telephone selling.

Time spent traveling and waiting for interviews decreased from 32% of the total to 25%, and time spent on paperwork and meetings declined from 24% to 22%. The other 11% was reported as being spent on service calls and other miscellaneous activities.

In our industry, salespeople have many different responsibilities related to ongoing servicing of accounts--particularly the important ones. Thus, a considerable amount of their time is tied up in nonselling activities. It is not unusual to see casting salesmen spending less than a third of their time in face-to-face and telephone selling. It is unfortunate that many salesmen lose sight of what their real job is after a number of years. With some, it is a major accomplishment to get them out of the foundry every other week.

They become fixated with details, spending a major part of their valuable time shuffling paper, expediting and generally doing things that other people in your organization should be handling.

Making Improvements

To realize improvements in sales productivity, you should first conduct a selling time audit to determine just how much time is being spent on direct selling, customer service and sales-related tasks. Sit down with your salesmen and find out how many hours, days or percentage of their total time are being spent in each of the following areas: * face-to-face meetings; * waiting for meetings; * phone calls; * travel; * time planning; * call, expense reports; * other management reports; * sales and other meetings; * territory analysis; * forecasting, planning, budgeting; * market analysis; * training, seminars; * customer service; * preparing quotations; * credit work; * order entry; * expediting orders; * layout, patterns, etc.

One technique that may prove helpful is to ask your salespeople to divide 100% of their time among a specific group of activities like those listed above.

While you may be surprised at how little of your salespeople's time is spent on direct selling, you probably will get a real shock when you add up the total cost of all the lesser important tasks being performed. And this does not include the missed opportunity cost of sales being lost as a result of your salesmen spending too much of their valuable time on things that should be handled by someone else at a substantially lower salary level.

Moving sales-related activities--such as some customer service, order entry, credit work, expediting, market analysis, quoting, layout, etc--to other people in your organization will free up a surprising amount of selling time.

Another way to increase sales productivity is to transfer smaller, less important accounts from your heavy hitters to junior salespeople. Then, have your pros spend more of their time on large, important prospects.


A third successful technique for improving productivity is to assign your salesmen a quota of calls, forcing them to delegate many present tasks to others. In determining the level of sales effort needed, you will first have to list each customer and prospect plant you want to call on within a specific time frame--quarterly, semiannually or annually--and the number of buying influences to be contacted in each plant. Then, rank these by their volume and profit contribution potentials to establish priorities.

Next, estimate the number of calls required for each customer, prospect or group of customers and prospects in a territory, ranked by profit potential. Determine the number of sales calls required for each group, based on experience and expectations. Be sure to allow for unexpected problem calls on customers.

When establishing guidelines for customer calls, you may, for example, want to peg the annual contact frequency for customers with a profit contribution potential exceeding $200,000 at perhaps 24 calls a year; those with $100,000 could be 18; and $50,000 accounts might be 12. Prospect calls would follow the same pattern. However, there could be considerable deviation from these guidelines, depending on the unique requirements of a particular customer or prospect. Again, these sample numbers apply to calls on multiple buying influences at a particular plant. Look at each present and potential account and assess its importance to your foundry's future.

Your marketing plan should spell out in detail a list of both customers and prospects and the expected call frequency for each. Keep good records so progress against these objectives can be monitored throughout the year and, if necessary, corrective actions be taken.

Examining how your salespeople are spending their time can pay large dividends. Ask them how they think their efforts should be redirected and what opportunities are available to make tradeoffs between selling and other activities.

With a selling time audit, you undoubtedly will find more productive ways to leverage your selling time while also meeting the needs of your customers.

T. Jerry Warden Foundry Marketing Services Estero, FL
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Marketing
Author:Warden, T. Jerry
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Previous Article:93rd AFS Casting Congress in review.
Next Article:Examining cleaning room requirements, part 2: abrasives.

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