It’s never been more important to do more with less (and in less time). Businesses have a magnifying glass pointed at employee productivity, and for most sales reps today, success requires more footwork and more time. A report from Forrester observed that closing a deal now involves more buying interactions than ever before, jumping from 17 to 27 during the pandemic.
Organizing information, streamlining processes, and focusing on the right tasks is key to boosting sales productivity. So what activities make up a majority of a sales rep’s time? How can sales managers hone in on what their team is doing and determine what’s working?
In this post, we’re going to examine how the average sales team structures their day. We’ll explain why tracking and measuring sales activities is important for reps and managers, and how managers can help their team measure and increase sales productivity.
What Are Sales Activities?
Sales activities are the greatest driver of sales revenue and the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of your team’s productivity. If you manage a sales team, you’ve probably heard this term before. Generally, sales activities are the actions, sales practices, and strategies that sales reps and managers do every day to move prospects and customers through the sales process.
Emails and calls are examples of sales activities that put reps in touch with prospective clients. Activities like demos and meetings put sales reps in front of those clients, allowing them to address a client’s pain points and explain how their products help solve problems and meet goals. Down the line, they trigger a series of additional activities and follow-ups that bring reps closer to making a sale.
Simply put, sales activities drive revenue.
Why Businesses Should Track Sales Activities
Because sales activities play such a major role in the customer journey, they have the potential to give reps and managers remarkable insight and context into what activities are working, when they work best, and how to improve them.
Tracking sales activities helps you zero in on critical sales productivity metrics, which can be used to measure your team’s efficiency and effectiveness. These metrics help you see where your team is excelling and where they’re falling short. They can also help managers remove potential roadblocks that are getting in the way of a sales rep’s success.
Identify and track the important metrics that are within your sales team’s control, such as:
- Calls made
- Emails sent
- In-person visits
- Follow-up visits with existing customers
- Demos or sales presentations
- Referral requests
Learn more about the benefits of data-driven sales here.
How Do Sales Reps Spend Their Time?
You can’t improve what you haven’t studied. The best way to start helping your team boost sales productivity and make the most of their time is understanding how that time is spent. So what does a typical day and week look like for the average rep? Luckily, we've already done the research for you!
In our 2021 Annual Field Sales Benchmark Report, we asked nearly 200 sales professionals to share insights about their roles, responsibilities, and day-to-day behaviors. What we learned painted a clear picture of how different sales reps spend their time.
On average, reps spend 3.9 days in the field, meeting and pitching prospective clients. But of course, that number varies across different sales roles. For a rep with a hybrid roll, consisting of a mix of both inside and outside sales, that weekly average drops to around 2.9 days in the field.
No big surprises here: For fully-dedicated outside sales reps, the average number of days spent in the field leaps to 4.5 days every week. And nearly 60% report being in the field 5 days a week — or more! As any sales manager knows, spending in-person time with clients is invaluable. But 5+ days a week is an awful lot of time (and possibly money) if that time isn’t used wisely.
Why Outside Sales Visits Are An Important Sales Productivity Metric
If you manage a team of outside sales reps, making sure they are completing as many sales activities as possible — and the right activities — is critical for hitting quotas and growing revenue. In-person visits stand out as one the most important productivity metrics to watch.
Even today, with the explosion of Zoom meetings, field sales visits are an important sales tactic — especially if your company sells a product that requires meetings, demos, and high-touch interactions.
Plus, in-person meetings still work. People prefer making big-ticket purchases face-to-face, from people they trust. And over the long-term, facetime builds bonds and strengthens relationships.
Our research showed that, on average, reps make 31 visits a week. Again, dedicated outside sales reps are putting up bigger numbers. Dedicated field sales reps make 41 visits a day across an average of 4.5 days, or approximately 9 visits a day.
Sales visits are often with C-level executives and require a great deal of strategy, time, and follow-up.
Because of all of these factors, outside sales typically have a higher Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). Losing a sale after investing a significant amount of time can equal a ton of wasted money.
With that in mind, an interesting discovery from our research was that more days in the field did not correlate to higher quote success. This means reps need to work smarter, and not harder. Managers can help by ensuring reps have the sales productivity tools to track and maximize the number of visits they make every day.
Best Practices For Maximizing Daily Sales Rep Visits
If time is money, the clear takeaway is that making good use of the time spent driving to and from visits is a very big deal. Here are some best practices for sales managers and reps:
Measure With A Sales Activity Tracker
You can’t improve your sales process if you aren’t tracking what your team is doing and how often. A sales tracking template or sales tracking software helps you measure your sales productivity and see how each separate component of the sales process leads to a sale. This will help you see how each activity is impacting the big picture.
Organize And Plan For Success
By and large, smooth and productive work days don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of meticulous planning and discipline. Crafting a daily and/or weekly plan is key to the success of a field sales rep. Block off time at the beginning and end of every week to plan out your time wisely and evaluate how you executed on the prior week’s plan.
Learn To Prospect Effectively
In our 2021 Annual Field Sales Benchmark Report, we found two-thirds of outside sales reps are responsible for sourcing their own leads. And a Hubspot poll found that 42% of salespeople say that prospecting (finding potential buyers and connecting with them) is the most difficult part of the sales process. Help your team find creative and efficient ways to prospect on the road. There are a number of sales prospecting tools you can arm them with to automate essential parts of the process.
Utilize Route Optimization Software
Sales technology that can improve forecasting, communication, customer relationship management, and even route planning. Route optimization software is a simple way to create the most effective routes between customer visits. Worried your team is driving past leads? Mobile solutions such as Map My Customers can show reps new opportunities on the same map as active leads. This saves time on research and coordination, allowing them to pick up new leads while they hit planned visits.
Make Use Of Windshield Time
Our research revealed that reps report spending an average of 22 hours behind the wheel each week, and 14% reported more than 40 hours! Windshield time doesn’t have to be wasted time. Create call lists ahead of time so you can make hands-free calls while you drive. Or, learn on the go by listening to sales podcasts in the car (discover some good ones here).
Measuring Sales Activity Can Take Your Sales Team To The Next Level
What gets planned gets done, and what gets measured gets improved. For outside sales, the number of completed sales activities reps are the best indicator for how a rep’s efforts are tracking against goals. Sales managers should zero in on the most important metrics for their team and provide them with tools and resources they need to track their progress.
Best practices like planning out the week in advance, prospecting efficiently, and tracking each sales activity with sales productivity software can be game-changes for an outside sales rep.
Automation tools and route optimization software like Map My Customers can help them make better use of time behind the wheel and uncover new opportunities to drive revenue.