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The key to high activity levels

# 41 January 2015

Few would question the importance of sales people being in the field and meeting customers. Everyone realises it is central in sustaining and driving business forward as well as generating more business opportunities. Sadly, most companies experience that their sales people do not spend enough time in the field.

The problem is rarely that the visits themselves (including preparations) consume so much time. The real reason for low activity levels is usually because sales people do not spend enough time in booking the meetings. As an example to illustrate this: One of our customers has a sales force approaching different market segments. In one of the segments they are required to book the meetings in advance and in another one “drop-in” visits, without prior bookings, are accepted. In the latter case the sales people do almost three times as many visits per week.

So why don’t people just book the number of visits they require? What we see over and over again is that sales people underestimate the difficulty and effort in getting hold of customers to book the visits. In addition, very few sales people find this stimulating and like to perform this task. If it is up to the sales people themselves to manage this task, you are likely to fall short on activity levels.

As a consequence the sales person will do fewer customer visits, drive less business opportunities and close fewer deals. As a manager, the consequence is that you will not get enough out of your sales force investment, and you will fall short of your revenue targets.

The solution is to allocate resources to book visits. Don’t count on the sales force to handle it automatically. We see three possible scenarios:

In order to achieve high activity levels and to a continuous inflow of new business opportunities, you need to pay attention to the process of booking customer visits.