Selling Time Keeps Slipping Away – by Ken Smith

You don’t have to make dramatic changes in your business to achieve sales success.  Small differences in your daily sales activities can make big differences in your sales results.

Oftentimes when working with salespeople, I start our conversation with “How much of your activity is spent on the phone or in front of a customer?”  Referred to as revenue-generating activity, speaking with the customer on the phone or meeting with them in person enables you to close the sale or set a follow-up appointment to move the sales conversation forward.

Most sales people say they spend a majority of their time in revenue-generating activity, but, after peeling back the onion, I find most of them spend that majority on non-revenue-generating activity, or sales-support activity.  These activities are necessary to get the sale, but successful salespeople that I’ve spoken with over the years delegate them, streamline them, or conduct them during non-selling hours.  These activities may include:

  • Reactive customer service
  • Planning and Goal Setting
  • Administrative Tasks
  • Meetings
  • Research
  • Quoting
  • Learning & Development
  • Travel time
  • Other

Look at the results of your sales activity; if you don’t like it, change it.  Here’s a quick way to increase your revenue generating activity.

1. Conduct a daily time study for two weeks each quarter.

2. Categorize your time into revenue-generating versus sales-support activity.

3. Then, ask yourself the following five questions:

  • How much time do I spend in revenue-generating activities vs. sales-support activities?
  • How should I spend my time to achieve my sales goals?
  • What are my biggest time wasters?
  • What can I delegate, streamline, or do during non-selling hours?
  • What will I stop, start, or continue doing?

There are many systems available today to help measure sales activity, but a tool only offers data.  You need to open the hood, analyze your revenue-generating and non-revenue-generating activities, to understand why the “check engine light” came on in the first place.    Time is a precious commodity, don’t let selling time slip away.

I’d like to hear your ideas on how you assess revenue generating versus sales support activities.  Please contact me at


Ken Smith is currently Senior Manager of Employee Development at Allied Building Products where he leads the efforts for training, performance management and talent management.  Ken is passionate about identifying, developing and leveraging sales talent to help grow the business and win!  You can connect with Ken on Linkedin at  or send an e-Mail to him at


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