Two More Hours of Weekly Sales Activity Leads to Millions

Shifting two hours per week from administrative duties to selling can result in millions of dollars in incremental sales for companies.

Watson Wyatt’s 2008 Report on Sales Effectiveness and Compensation found that just two hours more of sales activity a week can lead to as much as $225 million in additional expected revenue for a company with 1,800 new-business developers. In addition, Watson Wyatt contends, reallocating time and resources between new-business developers and account managers can create as much as $600 million in additional expected sales for a FORTUNE 100 company with $20 billion in sales.

According to the study, each minute a new-business developer with a $2.5 million quota spends on administration instead of with a qualified lead or prospect costs a company $15 to $20 in lost expected sales. For a sales professional, shifting two hours per week from administrative tasks to time with customers can be worth between $90,000 and $120,000 in sales.

The study found the majority (52%) of top-performing salespeople responsible for developing new business prefer in-person communication to other methods of contact with prospects and customers, compared with 39% of lower-performing colleagues. Top performers also typically spend less time on administrative tasks.

Additionally, Watson Wyatt suggests appropriately structuring variable pay programs is a key differentiator between top performers and others. Top-performing salespeople report incomes nearly one-quarter higher than their less productive counterparts, and sales-related variable pay accounts for a vast majority of this difference, the news release said. Top-performing new-business developers and account managers respectively typically receive 46% and 60% more sales-related variable pay than their peers, respectively.

“While financial incentives are an important part of driving sales growth, the key to long-term success is freeing up salespeople to develop and build customer relationships,” said Craig Ulrich, North America East Division practice leader for sales effectiveness and compensation at Watson Wyatt, in the release. “Companies that take steps to implement the right sales structure and design compensation plan incentives to focus on the highest-value activities can expect to increase sales and profitability. Those that don’t manage their sales roles and activities smartly risk leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of potential sales revenue on the table.”

The report is based on responses of more than 800 salespeople from approximately 500 companies. More information is available at