Why are salespeople spending so much time working, but not selling?


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When you hear the term “salesperson,” what do you picture? A well-dressed jetsetter on her way to close a major deal? A grinning car salesman pressuring you to buy a clunker? No matter what type of salesperson just popped into your head, you’re imagining them doing one crucial thing: selling.

At Dooly, we recently surveyed 600 people working in the sales industry, and we found that salespeople are spending a lot of their time working, but not actually selling. In fact, 74% of respondents agreed that much of their time at work is spent on activities that don’t contribute to selling, and the average sales rep spends nearly half of their workday (41%) on non-revenue generating activities, or NRGs.

If you’re a sales rep, you probably didn’t take the job so you could sit around on Zoom calls all day. You got hired so you could do what you love to do – sell! 88% of respondents agreed that most of the time they spend on NRGs is time lost, so what gives? Why are salespeople spending so much time working, but not selling?

Let’s take a look at where sales reps are actually spending their time, the detrimental cost of NRGs, and how managers can step in to make sure their teams feel their time is valued.

Frequent time wasters

Dooly’s Sales Happiness Index asked salespeople to list the top activities that take away from selling on a daily basis. Here’s what we found:

55% said internal calls or meetings
54% said scheduling calls or meetings
48% said responding to internal inquiries via email, Slack, and other comms channels

Updating their CRM has also proven to be a big time waster, with 25% of respondents agreeing that updating Salesforce or another CRM frequently takes time away from selling. Those below management level were 32% more likely to say this than average.

Admin tasks don’t just take up time during normal business hours; of those who said they consistently (16%) or occasionally (75%) work after hours or on weekends, 62% of respondents said they do so to catch up on administrative tasks.

The cost of NRGs

Non-revenue generating activities don’t just take time out of a sales rep’s day; they can also hurt your bottom line. 85% of respondents said time spent on NRGs makes it harder for them to maximize their earning potential, and if they could reduce time spent on NRGs they could generate higher earnings. 95% agreed that reducing time spent on NRGs would help them meet quotas, and on average respondents estimated they could generate 38% more revenue per quarter if no time was spent on NRGs.

NRGs hurt your reps’ wallets as well: 86% agreed that reducing time spent on NRGs would increase their paychecks, and they estimated their paychecks would increase by an average of 66% if no time was spent on NRGs.

That’s a lot of money lost at the organizational and individual level. If sales reps are frustrated by and bogged down in administrative work, why are they spending so much time on it?

Misalignment with managers

8 in 10 respondents to the Sales Happiness Index said that management does not understand how time-consuming NRGs are, and 78% said that this lack of understanding from management leads to misalignment between expectations and what sellers can reasonably achieve.

If you’re a sales manager, it’s imperative that you have an open line of communication with your teams to understand the pain points they face on a daily basis. Take the time to learn about your sales reps’ day-to-day activities and make sure you’re respectful of their bandwidth and the time it takes to complete assigned tasks. Additionally, consider investing in salestech that automates administrative work like updating CRMs and taking notes; this will drive efficiency across the board and make your sales reps’ lives easier.

It’s clear that non-revenue generating activities are a detriment to individual reps, sales teams, and your organization as a whole. But through effective communication from the top down – and investing in the right tools – sales teams can minimize the time spent on administrative work and more time on closing deals.


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