By Pat Hinds
One comment I hear from many of my clients is how they keep unproductive sales reps around longer than they should. Most of the reps they are concerned about are the new ones who have positioned themselves as people who can deliver sales immediately based on a list of contacts and relationships. The typical reason for keeping a sales rep around too long is the appearance that the sales funnel is full of deals from the existing contacts and letting the sales rep go will jeopardize future business. Most people feel they keep non-productive sales people around for 90 days longer than they should.
Letting a person go from a job is a difficult decision; as result it is important the management team ensure they have all the information required prior to making the decision to dismiss a sales rep. It is important that the management team coach the rep to identify issues within sales cycles and make the appropriate changes to their activity to minimize the threat of the sales rep not producing. One feature of a sales force automation technology like Salesforce.com is the ability to apply a timestamp to account, contact and opportunity activity that is modified within the CRM tool. The time stamp can be used evaluate the average length of time it takes a sales rep to close a sales cycle.
Listed below is a definition of a “Sales Cycle” and “Timestamp”:
Sales cycle – the Sales Cycle term generally describes the time and/or process between first contact with the customer to when the sale is made.
Timestamp – is a sequence of characters, denoting the date and/or time at which a certain event occurred.
If you leverage the timestamp feature in measuring your sales cycle time you are able to average the length of time it takes to close a deal. In working with the new sales rep you can encourage them to focus on existing relationships and look for low hanging deals within those relationships. Using the timestamp feature within opportunity management you can raise a red flag on deals that look like they are ageing compared to the average sales cycle time of your previous sales. Using this data you can articulate your concerns to the new sales rep about the aging sales cycles from the “relationship based opportunities” and get the new rep to start prospecting into accounts outside of their relationships. Now you have two data points to measure the sales rep productivity: how well they manage existing relationships and how they prospect into new accounts.
Leveraging timestamps can provide sales people and sales management with a valuable tool to measure activity levels and sales cycle times.