Have you ever managed sales representatives? The freenet dictionary defines a sales representative as someone who is hired to represent a business and sell its merchandise. In my role as the Manager of North American Recruiting for Proforma, I often receive calls from people asking me for sales management advice. I always ask two questions:
1. How much time are they out selling?
2. How much time are they in the office behind the computer?
If the time out selling is any less than 65%, that is a problem. One of the biggest mistakes that managers make when supervising sales reps is turning them into customer service representatives or even worse, data entry clerks. Both CSR’s and data clerks have important roles within business, but true sales reps need the behind the desk tasks kept to a minimum.
I often tell people they need to take a step back and think about how much time a sales representative will spend doing clerical work. Do you want your sales representative to sit behind a computer for 10 hours a week entering orders or sourcing products? Is this the best use of their time? Absolutely not! They are sales representatives, not clerical workers. The best use of their time is to have them out on the road meeting with existing and potential customers.
Whether you currently have or are planning on hiring sales representatives in the future, sit back for a minute and think about their job responsibilities. The #1 responsibility should be to generate new business and grow existing accounts. You want the sales representative to generate sales. They can’t do that if they’re stuck behind a computer doing data entry.
If your goal is to have them behind a desk, hire a customer service representative and be out pounding the pavement yourself.