Sales representatives have the answer to the $64 million dollar question, “How can we get more sales?”

Ready, drum roll…the #1 answer by sales people is, “Give me more time to sell. Take away my paperwork, get me out of meetings I don’t need to be in, and stop asking for reports.”

Sound like any of your reps?

So how do we give them more time to sell? If they believe that’s what they need, then heck, why would we not give it to them?

In my research to find the magical answer to giving sales people what they want – more time to sell, I turned to Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude. Janice provides practical ways for sales leaders and reps to streamline the process from initiation to close, focusing on the key drivers to sell more in less time. 

Alice:  Janice, years ago companies got excited about adding technology to the sales departments in hopes to improve time management and sales. Yet, sales reps are still wishing they could spend more time on selling and less time on non-sales related activities. Why is this still such a challenge?  

Janice: Interesting question, Alice. We see this every day with sales organizations.

First, let me say that technology only works when it minimizes or eliminates tasks and enables sales people to free up their time. There are many reasons why this may be challenging.

Sometimes, sales organizations implement solutions that are touted as the newest technology without understanding how it may help their teams.

I call this the “shiny penny” syndrome where they have to have the newest technology that provides, as an example, the pretty dashboards and graphs.

However, the input of data can be cumbersome to sales and the output may not be relevant or provide additional insights to help sales sell more.

Other times, I have seen sales organizations purchase excellent technologies but fail on implementation or getting the sales input the technologies need.

For sales reps to see value in new technologies, sales organizations need to look at technologies from many different points of view to ensure sales gets tangible benefits and provides them with more time to sell and less time doing non-sales activities.

Alice: What are the biggest obstacles that get in the way and how can sales managers fix it?  

Janice: The biggest obstacle I see is that technologies often benefit many others in an organization but not so much the sales rep. And these technologies require data input from sales, which can be time consuming.

In order to get the most out of any new technology, a group of “influencers” from the sales team should be included in the selection, configuration and implementation of the new technology.

This core team should be integral starting with the very first phase of the project before introducing it to a wider audience. This will ensure all the kinks are worked out and the sales reps get maximum efficiency from the new technology with minimal to no effort.  

Alice: What is the most important action a sales manager can take to begin freeing up sales people’s time to sell more?  

Janice: I know when I was a sales rep, nothing upset me more than having to provide management reports that took too much time or required superfluous meetings to complete.

When it comes to reporting requirements, a sales manager should take into consideration the necessity of detailed information and the reporting deadlines.

Sales reps understands management’s need for some reporting, but sales management should ensure that the data involved for the desired reporting can be provided in an efficient manner, therefore freeing up sales to sell more and minimize administration work.

Alice: What technology should be on sales managers’ radar to improve efficiency of a sales team?  

Janice: Sales managers’ top priorities should be any technology that makes the discovery process with a customer or the administration process with their management more efficient.

In terms of the discovery process, technologies that can provide any data and insights into a customer, industry or trends are extremely valuable in changing the conversation and thereby increasing credibility with their customers by offering value-add information.

And in terms of the administrative process, technology should help minimize or eliminate any duplicate efforts. But sales managers still need to be cognizant of the amount of time sales needs to complete the reports in a timely manner, even with new technology 8in place.

Alice: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to sales managers who are struggling with giving sellers more time to sell?

Janice: Take a good look at what specifically is getting in the way and fix it. It is the sales manager’s job to make it easier for sales reps to sell and easier for customers to buy.

Janice Mars421Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership.