Note: This post was written by Matt Dixon, Simon Frewer, & Andrew Kent for the Harvard Business Review. Sales Challenger readers first read about this research in Andrew’s post, Spend Less Time Selling, published on January 11, 2011.
This just in: salespeople are spending less time actually selling to customers, and more time on internal activities, than they were just five years ago. But before you pine for the “good old days” when reps spent more time in the customer’s office than in yours, what if we told you that having your reps spend less time face-to-face with your customers might actually be a good thing?
At SEC Solutions, we’ve been tracking how reps spend their time since 2003. Our B2B Sales Index contains data on the sales process activities and time signatures of more than 10,000 sales reps across all major geographic markets and industries. Recently, we took a look at how the time signature of sales reps has changed over the past five years.
When we compare rep time spend today with what it looked like five years ago, it’s clear that the sales world has undergone a dramatic shift. Time spent on pre-sales and post-sales activities are both up by 15%. Meanwhile, time spent on non-sales (i.e., admin) work is up a whopping 21%. And all of this has come at the expense of actual selling time in front of the customer, which is down a full 26%.