Sales Management: Keep Them Focused

07/03/2023by dang tin0

Keep Them Focused

As the sales manager, as the officer-in-command of your sales team, one of your key responsibilities is to keep your people focused on the most valuable activities they can engage in every day, all day long, to generate sales results.

According to a study done at Columbia University, the average salesperson only works about ninety minutes per day, approximately one and one-half hours. The rest of the day is spent warming up, cooling down, chatting with coworkers, playing on the Internet, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, and going for coffee breaks and lunch.

We confirmed this statistic by providing a national sales team of 300 people with stopwatches to monitor the amount of time they actually worked. The company was astonished to find that, after a month of record keeping, the average salesperson was working ninety minutes and forty-two seconds per day.

When Are They Working?

When are your salespeople working? Only when they are ear- to-ear, face-to-face, with qualified prospects who can and will buy within a reasonable period of time. They are only working when they are prospecting, presenting, and closing. All the rest of the time, they are merely filling up space and engaging in non-revenue-generating activities.
A sales manager friend of mine worked for a major international corporation with 2,000 branches in more than 100 countries. After years as a salesperson and then sales supervisor, he was promoted to sales manager and given the task of turning around the worst-performing branch in the worldwide organization.

He traveled across the country to take his new position. On Monday morning, the first working day of the month, the thirty-two salespeople drifted into the office carrying their cups of Starbucks coffee and their newspapers. Every sales manager who had worked in this branch had been defeated and was forced to depart in disgrace. The salespeople assumed that this would be another sales manager that they would chew up and spit out.

A New Order of Business

They were wrong. That first day, the sales manager explained that there would be sales meetings at 8:00 a.m. each morning, then asked the question: “What do you notice that is not in this office?” No one had an answer. He said, “There are no customers in this office. If there are no customers in this office, you should not be in this office either. The sales meeting is now over. Please go out and call on customers.”

On the second day, the salespeople discovered that all the desks and chairs in the office had been removed and sold overnight. The new sales manager explained: “Since you will not be spending any time in this office during the day, you won’t need any desks or chairs. We can have our morning sales meetings standing up. The sales meeting is now over. Good luck calling on customers and making sales. Have a good day!”

Within a month, twelve of the salespeople had quit. They refused to work under this “new regime.” The others began to make more calls and more sales, upon which they received commissions. This energized them and created a higher level of motivation in the office that began to affect everyone.

Within six months, this branch had gone from number 2,000 (last place) to approximately number 1,000 in the world operation. Within two years, the branch had become the number one branch in the company in sales, paying the most commissions to its salespeople of any branch worldwide.

This is a true story. I told this story at a sales seminar a few years ago. At the break, one of the salespeople came up to me and confirmed it. He said, “I worked at that branch at that time, and I saw everything that happened. It was an unbelievable experience, and everything you said is perfectly true.”

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. Or said another way, it means that 80 percent of your activities will only account for 20 percent of your results. Nowhere is this truer than in sales and sales management.

In selling, 20 percent of your salespeople will account for 80 percent of your sales results. This means that the other 80 percent of your sales team only account for 20 percent of your sales results. You must discipline yourself to focus your time and attention on those top 20 percent of people on whom your business depends.
One of your responsibilities as a sales manager is to make sure that everyone is applying the 80/20 rule to everything they do.

Teach your salespeople that 80 percent of their business is going to come from 20 percent of the products and services that they offer. Eighty percent of their business is going to come from 20 percent of their prospects. Eighty percent of the profits that your company earns from sales results will come from 20 percent of the sales, and from 20 percent of your salespeople and customers.

The 20 percent of activities that account for 80 percent of sales results are prospecting, presenting, and closing. The most important job is to get ear-to-ear and face-to-face with qualified prospects. Your job is to make sure that your salespeople spend more and more time engaged in these specific activities.
When I started my sales career, someone shared with me a mantra that I used for several decades. It was this: Every minute of every day, ask yourself, as a salesperson, “Is what I am doing right now leading to a sale?”

If it is not leading to a sale, stop doing it immediately and begin right away to engage in activities that will lead to a sale. This mantra pushed me to the top of every sales force I ever joined, selling every product and service I represented over the years. This mantra has also helped countless thousands of salespeople become sales superstars. When everybody on your team practices this mantra, you are going to become a superstar sales manager.


1. Teach your salespeople the 80/20 rule again and again, and help them become perfectly clear about the most important things they do all day long.
2. Buy stopwatches for each of your salespeople and have them keep track of how many minutes they spend face-to- face with customers each day for one month. Then set a goal to double the number of minutes the following month.

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