Time Matters: How You Can Help Your Sales Managers Be More Efficient and Effective

If you are a Sales Manager, or if you oversee one or more Sales Managers for your organization, you know that workdays can be long. After all, reports need to be prepared, goals need to be monitored (and shortfalls explained), and those ever-present metaphorical fires keep flaring up. It’s enough to make you wonder where the time goes; or more importantly, if the Sales Manager’s time is being spent in the right ways, toward the most productive tasks, and in the right measure.

So just how should a Sales Manager spend his or her time to maximize efficiency and to help the sales team be more effective as a unit?

The Right Answers Start with the Right Questions

Here are some key questions you should ask yourself about how your Company’s Sales Managers invest their time:

  • Are they always in the office, or do they spend time in the field?
  • Do they spend time with customers, channel partners and sales people; or are they constantly burdened with administrative work and meetings?
  • Do they allocate their own time, or does senior management allocate it for them?
  • Do your Sales Managers get all their feedback from the Company’s sales reps, or do at least some of these insights come directly from customers?

Rules of Thumb

Young speaker at a meetingMany surveys indicate that Sales Managers typically spend over 50% of their time in the office. From my experience, I’d say the reality is closer to 70 to 80% of the Sales Manager’s time is spent there. Frankly, either figure points out a huge problem: too much time in the office and/or too much time on administrative matters.

So how should the Sales Manager spend a typical week? Here’s what I recommend for a company with, say, 8 to 10 field-based sales reps:

  • A mid-level Sales Manager should spend about two days each week in the field.
  • A first-line Sales Manager should spend even more time than this in the field.
  • Each Sales Manager should spend at least one hour each week meeting with each sales rep to discuss goals, strategy, whether the sales rep expects to meet quotas, etc. I’ve found, however, that very few Sales Managers make such regular meetings part of their routine.

Making the Necessary Adjustments

According to a survey by the Sales Management Association, 20% of a typical Sales Manager’s time is spent working in isolation on company or departmental administration (picture those “TPS Reports” from the movie, Office Space!). Clearly, this makes it difficult for the Sales Manager to spend time as described above.

To help the Sales Manager spend his or her time wisely:

  • Take a good hard look at reports required, as well as time spent in meetings and doing special projects. Are they all truly necessary? Or do they merely add to the pile of “good to know” information rather than “need to know” information? If so, be ruthless and help your Sales Manager prioritize or cut out anything that doesn’t contribute to the advancement of sales success.
  • Make sure your Sales Managers actually know what is expected of them. If their current activities don’t align with what you want them to accomplish, let them know. Provide training if necessary.
  • Make sure your Sales Managers actually schedule travel, coaching and strategy time with the sales reps. If it isn’t blocked out on their calendars, it won’t get done. Remember, the laws of physics are ruthlessly inflexible: if your Sales Manager is stuck in the office, he or she can’t also be face-to-face with a client.
  • Make sure that upper management knows how to access key information or reports from the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This will reduce interruptions of the Sales Manager’s more critical strategic tasks.

The Bottom Line:

The lion’s share of your Sales Manager’s time should be spent managing your salespeople. (This sounds obvious, yet too often Sales Managers get caught up in distractions.) Specifically, the three most crucial sales management tasks are 1) sales planning, 2) training and coaching salespeople, and 3) helping with stalled deals and other one-time sales problems. These activities should come first in the Sales Manager’s daily scheduling, even if other tasks end up being delayed a few days.

Are you having trouble figuring out how to allocate your sales team’s resources, including time, talent, and tools? If so, contact a Sales Xceleration Advisor today. They can help.