To achieve or exceed sales goals, effective management of the sales process is critical. Each activity has an associated cost, and channeling that activity into the greatest return must be a prime focus of all salespeople with the direction and guidance of sales management.
List all of the activities a salesperson is doing now. Study time allocation to determine how much and what percent of total time is spent on each activity. Review the activity list, and determine if an activity is not necessary, can be limited, can be made more efficient or should have more time invested in it based on the financial return from the activity. One important approach for activity management is to determine how much time is spent in pay activities versus nonpay activities. A pay activity is one that directly produces sales. For example, writing proposals and meeting with prospects is a pay activity. Filling out expense reports or traveling is not a pay activity. Although some nonpay activities are necessary, focus on increasing the amount of pay activity. For example, if salesperson assignment to a territory requires excessive travel, reorganize how territories are organized to lessen salesperson travel time.
Decide what activities you want to report on. Review current reporting methods, and determine if they can be streamlined and become more effective. For example, if salespeople are filling out manual paperwork, consider implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system that automates activity reporting and also provides other useful features such as scheduling followup activities.
Sales activities are driven by sales objectives, such as a sales volume plan. If the sales department is responsible for maintaining existing customer relationships, service needs must also be factored into activities. In most organizations, salespeople are left to planning their own activities and are held responsible for results as opposed to activities. The only exception in some organizations is that sales management often requires a minimum level of activities such as sales calls per week. Activity ratios should be monitored by sales management to review how effective individual salespeople are. One metric that is often monitored is what percent of proposals presented result in business. Another activity management tool is sales pipeline review and management. A sales pipeline shows the number of instances of activities by type in the sales funnel. For example, a view of the funnel might show that 40 initial sales calls have been made and 20 proposals are in process.
Sales Activity Automation
Much of the sales activity can be automated, such as sending a salesperson activity report to sales management, scheduling one activity dependent on another and automating the marketing process.