Do we sell or administrate?

# 28 – June 2012

The question sometimes arises from sales people who claim that the administration infringes on the selling time. The first thing for management to do should be to sort out whether this is a real situation or not. The reason for this is because sometimes administration is used as an excuse to why sales people don’t have more customer time and why results are low.

Finding out the facts before acting on this issue is strongly recommended. Our Sales Function Audit is good tool for analysing this. If we then find that the administration indeed is too high, we recommend an approach on to levels.

  1. Establish what administrative routines are required
    One area of the administration is the tasks required to generate business, such as proposals, agreements, orders, confirmations and different types of customer requests. Can we cut away tasks which do not generate any customer value? Or can we automate the work for the sales people with different types of tools and templates? Or should tasks be performed by other than the sales people?The other area concerns the reporting that the sales people are required to do. What is the minimum level the company needs the sales people to report? What tools and templates are available to easily generate this? It could also be useful to decide on the maximum reporting levels, preventing sales people from overloading the CRM systems. (We want the sales people to make deals, not to write long essays about it).
  2. Decide on who should perform these tasks
    When it comes to reporting, we see no other option than the sales person who should do this. This process will ensure that the sales people have a good grasp on the development of their customers and business opportunities and that they are accountable for their results.When it comes to the tasks required to generate business, it is not clear cut on who does what. Certainly, the sales people will continue to do some of these tasks, but a lot of tasks can be performed by other roles. Either other internal roles such as customer service or it could even be the customer himself. Web-based solutions offer great opportunities in this area.The division of who does what could be depending on the task itself (e.g. that order confirmations should be sent out by customer service). But it could also depend on what type of customer it is (e.g. that small customers are dealt with by inside sales only, or that they are referred to self service on the web).

Using a sales force to visit and do business with customers is very effective, but costly. The customer needs to be of a certain size to justify this. (This, however, is an area which requires further elaboration. Perhaps in another newsletter).