Time is a precious commodity for field reps and managers. Between juggling tasks and expectations of multiple parties, field reps and managers are constantly looking for ways to manage their time well to maximize productivity. In an ideal world, field reps would spend most of their time on activities that directly impact sales and revenue, such as building relationships with customers, generating orders, providing customer service, developing strategies, and minimize time and energy spent on activities that do not directly generate revenue, such as administrative work and order processing.
Unfortunately, research points out that time management for field reps and managers are far from ideal. A time management study conducted by Proudfoot Consulting Group of 800 participants across 19 countries looked at time management perceptions, desires, and realities. Participants were first asked to provide an estimate of perceived time spent on different segments of activities. Then they were asked to provide an ideal schedule and finally, they were measured on their actual schedule.
The range of activities were segmented into four categories: core activities, administration, traveling, and non-value added time. Core activities are activities that contribute to profitability, while administrative, traveling, and other non value added time are non contributing segments to profitability. Results from the study provided a gloomy outlook on the current reality of time management and productivity.
Field reps claimed that they ideally wanted to spend 72% of their time on core activities and estimated they spend about 60%. However, they actually spent 38% of their day on core activities. For administrative activities, the ideal amount of time spent was 17%, while the perceived amount of time was 24%. However the actual time spent was 31%.
Conclusively, the study shed light on the fact that reps overestimate the amount of time they spend on core activities and underestimate time on administrative tasks.
Another similar time management study conducted by Pace Productivity also demonstrated the discrepancy between ideal and actual time allocation on administration and order processing work. This study indicated that a typical rep spends 35% of their time on administration and order processing and preferred to decrease that percentage to 27%. The following chart below sums up the averages of time spent per task.
It is evident that there is still room for improvement in reducing time spent on administrative tasks. Administrative work which is often viewed as a necessary evil is a burden on both field representatives and managers. To learn more about how managers spend their time, refer to our previous post.
Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.