When it comes to your sales people delivering profitable revenue growth, it's not how many hours they work that is the key to success, it's how intelligently they allocate their time.
A new survey by consultants Watson Wyatt Worldwide has found startling differences in the behaviour and attitudes of salespeople in high performing companies and those in less successful organisations.
Those in the former group spend some 40 per cent more time each year with their best potential customers and an additional three to four hours each week in high-value sales activities than salespeople at low-performing companies.
Moreover, the survey of 841 sales professional at 500 companies also found that salespeople in successful enterprises spend 30 per cent less time on administrative duties than their counterparts at low-performing companies.
"It may seem fundamental, but the way sales professionals allocate their time is critical — even a couple more hours per week on these key activities can make a real difference," said John Bremen, director of Watson Wyatt's sales force effectiveness consulting practice.
"Who they spend their time with is also important. Not only do sales reps at successful companies spend more of their time identifying customer needs and demonstrating products, they also spend more time with qualified leads and prospects they know."
High-performing companies also provide their sales forces with greater earnings potential through performance-related pay, the survey revealed.
Salespeople at high-performing companies receive about 40 per cent more of their total cash compensation in the form of variable pay than sales professionals at low-performing companies (38 per cent of total compensation versus 27 per cent).
And twice as many sales professionals at high-performing companies receive stock, stock options and other equity pay than sales professionals at low-performing companies (36 per cent versus 18 per cent).
"High-performing companies offer more performance-oriented rewards to help attract and motivate their sales forces, and by getting more of their salespeople to become overachievers, leading companies can help ensure higher overall company performance," said Watson Wyatt's Ted Briggs.
Attitudes were also markedly different within high- and low-performing organisations.
Salespeople at high-performing companies tend to be believers in their companies and have more favourable views of their both products and their internal support.
For example, eight out of 10 sales professionals at high-performing companies think their products and services are among the best offered in their market versus little more than half at low-performing companies.
Similarly, seven out of 10 at high-performing companies consider their products and services to be innovative versus just four out of 10 at low-performing companies.
"The most well-respected and successful organizations grow by finding ways to engage and get the most out of their salespeople," John Bremen said.
"Managing a sales force is about creating a win-win situation. A company that helps its salespeople become successful will ultimately reap the benefits of their achievements."