Time is the most valuable resource a sales rep has: “A salesperson has, typically, 50 hours in the week in which to work. It’s the job of both marketing and sales to ensure that those 50 hours are spent as productively as possible,” said Jim Ninivaggi, service director of Sales Enablement Strategies at SiriusDecisions, who spoke at Summit 2013 this morning.

B2B organizations often struggle to keep reps focused on higher-yield activities that lead to closing deals and bringing in revenue. This was borne out by the results of an instant poll of the Summit 2013 audience: Only 1 percent of participants polled felt very confident that their reps are fully productive vs. 41 percent who are very confident that their reps are not fully productive.

Traditionally, organizations use time-and-motion studies to break down reps’ activities and the amount of time they spend on each. However, another instant poll of Summit attendees showed that only 17 percent of respondents have conducted a time-and-motion study within the last 24 months.

“Simple time-and-motion isn’t enough. Today, you really have to focus on relative productivity, so we’re changing the paradigm,” said Mark Levinson, service director of SiriusDecisions’ Sales Operations Strategies service.

The SiriusDecisions Sales Activity Framework, introduced today by Ninivaggi and Levinson, fills in the information gaps that time-and-motion studies fail to consider. It takes into account the relative productivity value of each activity – that is, its impact on achieving the goal of closing a sale. The framework divides activities into four quadrants that vary in productivity level. It provides a systematic method for moving reps out of lower-value activities into high-impact ones.

To illustrate how the framework works, Ninivaggi and Levinson presented a case study of how 50 hours of a rep’s time would be analyzed and optimized in a typical organization to produce a 26 percent increase in productivity for core selling activities.

Marketers need to understand how their activities can positively impact sales rep productivity, observed Ninivaggi, and they should use productivity data to focus their resources on sales enablement assets that achieve measurable success in making reps more productive.

Levinson added that B2B sales organizations should constantly focus on making ongoing productivity improvements, and all sales resource decisions should be based on their potential to improve or detract from reps’ capacity to become more productive.

“So the next time you hear ‘50 hours,’ you won’t think of that novel that none of us are reading, but you’ll think about of how you can increase the time your reps spend selling,” said Ninivaggi, in closing the session.