No timesheet in your sales? – ‘Raise yourself from failure’!

“…Companies in the U.S. spend three times more on sales force compensation than on advertising. Indeed, for most B2B companies it’s the single biggest marketing investment they make…”

…according to a recent study (ebook) by Inc.
And according to my experience 30% – 60% of sales force compensation is base salary at B2B companies.
So if you buy 160 hours per a salesperson monthly, the only question is:
Can you measure how many of the paid hours your sales department actually delivers?

 And let’s go beyond and suppose everybody in your sales department really tries to do their best. How could a timesheet boost your efficiency in sales decisions besides making sure that everybody is trying hard?
According to Wikipedia: “…timesheets are not just for payroll any more…”
I first read about the relationship of timesheet and sales decisions in Frank Bettger’s ‘How I Raised Myself From Failure’ classic (first published in 1947!).
In the first chapter ‘These ideas lifted me out of the ranks of failure‘ Bettger shares:

“…The records showed that 70 percent of my sales were made on the first interview, 23 percent on the second, and 7 percent on the third and after. But listen to this: 50 percent of my time was spent going after the 7 percent. “So why bother with the 7 percent,” I thought. “Why not put all my time on first and second interviews?” …”

My point is certainly not Bettger’s conclusion about his sales process but the mere fact that a life-insurance agent 67 years ago based his sales decisions on his sales timesheet because he had one! And in 2014 many corporations could not follow his lead as they cannot not measure the actual time their sales people spend on different sales activities and leads. Can You?
There are three areas where your sales decisions could use some help from precise timesheet data:
Lead Development
by telling us the real price of a lead
Sales Processes
by showing us the total cost of our sales cycle
Motivation system
by marking the productivity of each and every member of our sales-team
I am in B2B sales for a while and have seen a few sales departments. Have I ever seen lasting B2B sales results without the task management being integrated with a timesheet system. No, I have never. Why?
Lead Development
Depending on your average deal size, your “…single biggest…” investment into lead development is the time your colleagues spend with developing a lead. Finding, classifying, qualifying a lead takes time and in many cases it involves more than one of your colleagues.
Should we be able to tell by different portfolio items and by salesperson-seniority what is our average investment of developing a lead? Yes.
Sales Processes
After developing a lead we need to contact, feed with info and manage a lead till the decision point. Some of our efforts are a waste of time from the very beginning we just don’t know it because we have never measured our efforts and we cannot find the winning formulas if we can only look at the end results (number of closed deals).
Here is an example: in car manufacturing the car output of a factory is public data in most countries. Why isn’t that a trade-secret? Because the secret is in the seconds and minutes, not in the overall output. In the car manufacturing industry seconds are measured at every small step of assembling a car. And more over the manufacturers know the exact seconds their competitors need for the same step! (benchmark intelligence)
Would we find the weak points and bottlenecks easier if we knew the average time requirements of each of our sales steps? Yes.
Motivation System
“…The best way to motive is leading by example…” and with a sales timesheet we can automate this!
If we have the timesheet data of each individual salesperson we can share it with the whole department. Then we don’t need to explain anything anymore! Everything will be obvious for everybody (specially for the juniors): salary differences, promotion timings, valid sources of coaching… etc.
It is coded in every salesperson’s genes to believe that “…I am the best!…”, “…Maybe not the most hard-working, but definitely the most effective!…”. Forcing everybody to face the detailed statistical reality we can discipline our sales department.
Should we acknowledge the ones among our sales who deserve it the most and share their best practices in an automated way? Yes.
Integrating and implementing a task management and timesheet system in B2B sales require some expertise but it is definitely a quick return of investment and we can ‘raise ourselves from failure’.