Why Sales Reps Spend So Little Time Selling

In January, I talked about the Time Management study we did that shows how little of a salesperson’s time is spent on actual selling. In an article written in collaboration with Ken Krogue, board member of XANT, and published by Forbes magazine, I got to examine this study a little bit further. Learn more about our findings and which skill we think is highly essential to become a successful sales rep in this post.

In this article:

  1. How Much Time Do Sales Professionals Really Spend on Selling?
  2. Sales Reps Spend Only 35% of Time Selling
  3. Time Management Skills
  4. How We Can Do Better

How To Be A Good Salesman | A Salesperson’s Time Management

How Much Time Do Sales Professionals Really Spend on Selling?

Would it surprise you that much of a salesperson’s time isn’t spent on selling? Here is the bottom line: Sales reps are only spending one-third of their time selling. That just can’t happen. Sales leaders only survive 18 months in their roles and only 53% of reps hit quota. This stat is concerning.

Sales Reps Spend Only 35% of Time Selling

As you may recall, we asked 721 salespersons to tell us how they spend their time. These were their numbers, which speak for themselves. They spend 35.2% of their time selling and 65% on everything else but selling.

Let me put this in dollars and cents. The average field sales rep makes $105,482 a year. If 64.8% of the time is spent on non-revenue generating activities, then we can figure out how much they are losing not talking to potential customers. The typical company spends $68,352 per rep per year to pay him or her for tasks they were not hired to do.

I realize my company is partially to blame for this stat. We’re permanently pushing reps to have a better sales cadence, better pipeline management, and a better forecasting strategy.

Meanwhile, salespeople don’t have the fundamental skill of sales– time management.

Time Management Skills

woman using phone and laptop | Why Sales Reps Spend So Little Time Selling | Salesperson

Good time management skills are necessary to become a successful salesperson. You don’t think time management is one of the fundamental skills required for sales? Stop reading now and we’ll agree to disagree. One of my favorite books is “The Ultimate Sales Machine” by Chet Holmes. In the book, Chet lists multiple skills and strategies for salespeople to master, but he starts with time management. Why? Because if you can’t get that right, you can’t get nothing right.

Therein lies the fundamental problem. Yes, 61.3% of sales reps report they have some kind of time management system or tool in place for themselves. However, only 23% said they actually followed it. Is that a problem? It sounds like an issue to me. It means most sales reps just “try to hit their number.” A hope is a not a plan. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of great technology to support this task. About 70% of reps are not using any kind of software to manage their time.

How We Can Do Better

Great salespeople who actively manage their time through a specific time management philosophy are spending 18.9% more time selling than the person who doesn’t. That increases the 35% selling number to 54%. This should be a no-brainer, but the more time you spend selling– the better chance you’ll have at hitting your number and goal.

Read the full post on Forbes Magazine. You’ll learn more on how you and your sales team can improve your time selling.

Time management is essential to becoming a successful salesperson, especially because time translates to money in this industry. Successful salespeople know how to manage their time so they can spend most of their time doing what they’re supposed to be doing — selling. We hope this post has helped you understand more about the value of time management to any sales team, and hopefully, you picked up some tips to boost the performance of your own team.

Do you think time management is important for a salesperson to achieve their goal? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Up Next: Productive Time Management Hacks I Learned After 10 Years in Sales

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Feb. 21, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Related Posts