Sales Capacity

What Sales Capacity Can Learn from Supply Chain Principles

When I made the jump from the automotive industry to the software industry, I tried very hard to move myself away from my Industrial Engineering and Supply Chain roots.  But over the years I have come to realize that this experience is a big value add, especially as I have focused most of my software career in RevOps solving GTM problems. 

In’s 2023 State of Sales Report, they shared that “As it now stands, reps spend only 28% of their week actually selling. The rest is made up of critical, but tedious tasks like  deal management and data entry.” (emphasis added)

This is a stunning statistic! It’s even more so considering the current era of driving efficient growth. One of the key drivers for both growth and managing expense and productivity is investments in capacity to both generate pipeline and close deals.  If you could double the amount of selling time and increase the available capacity at the unit level, you will immediately drive improved performance and financial KPIs.

Think of the massive business gains you could achieve: 

  • more growth or the same with fewer reps
  • higher attainment
  • increased quotas
  • improved CAC

I wrote a blog post “How to Calculate Revenue Growth Opportunities” where I shared some techniques on how to drive material incremental growth. One of those techniques was “Taking Back Sales Cycles,” The stat above related exactly to this. The idea is that if you reduce administrative and non-selling activities and time, your sellers have more time to engage with prospects, and they can execute more sales cycles over the course of the year.  Even if  all other sales KPIs remain the same, such as win rate, this results in more closed deals and improved rep and sales for deals per rep and higher attainment.

Reducing Waste in the B2B Revenue Supply Chain

A key principle of the Toyota Production System, back to my automotive days here, is the elimination of “Muri”, “Mura” and “Muda” or Overburden, Inconsistency and Waste. If you think about this in context of GTM motions, there are many areas where this can apply.  Lack of defined and documented processes and workflows, burden of the administrative work of filling out dozens of fields in a badly configured CRM without automation, too many meetings, having to do work outside of your main responsibilities, and data cleanup are just a few examples.   

I conducted a Time and Motion (T&M) study at a company where I led the RevOps team to better understand the amount of effort and time that Sales Reps spend during Stage 0. We called this the Pre-Qualification stage. This is where the handoff from the BDR to the Sales Rep takes place, one or more discovery calls with the prospect are conducted, and the Sales Rep determines if the opportunity is qualified, against a defined criteria, to move to Stage 1 or qualified pipeline. This was a bottleneck for us, and I wanted to better understand why. While we didn't use stopwatches and clipboards, we did conduct a lot of interviews and shadowed the activities of several Sales Reps to collect enough data points for analysis.

Here is what we found in only that Pre-Qualification stage:

  • A whopping 16% of the total time is spent on data entry and administrative tasks.
  • Only 25% is spent directly engaging with prospects.
Summary of time and motion study for sales pre-qualification stage showing sales capacity

Remember, this is not the total time a sales rep spends selling; it is isolated to just one part of the process, qualifying, but the analysis was still remarkable. I am not saying that data entry or non-selling time (such as account research or engaging with SDRs on a handoff) isn’t valuable or necessary, but the question to be asked is, “What is the right balance?”  

The details are as follows for “Stage 0” or our pre-qualification stage:

Details of analyzing selling time to calculate available sales capacity

Optimizing Your Go-to-Market Process: Freeing Up Sales Capacity to Increase Selling Time

Below are recommendations on some things you should be doing to increase the amount of your team’s collective selling time. 

Understand where Reps Spend their Time:

We spend a ton of time asking reps to do things related to sales methodology, forecasting, deal inspection/review, research, enablement, quoting, CRM and data management and oh yea, engaging with prospects and customers. Do you know all of what they are being asked to do, what they are actually doing and how much time is spent on each? I suspect that answer is no for most of us. Find out!  You don’t necessarily need to go through the same level of detail that I did above, but do investigate, interview, shadow, review calendars and build a view of the above. As we’ve all heard many times, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.


Define what you want reps to be spending their time on and what they should be doing. This is what brings the right balance and consistency. This should be against the desired outcomes. The methods should define what resources to use and the time to allocate.  For example, document the 6 things you need the rep to understand about the company or person, where to obtain the information and how much time to spend doing it.   

Document and Enable:

Document, train, inspect and reinforce the methodology above. This drives consistency and improvements. It allows you to measure and make adjustments. 

Reduce Sales Data Entry and Administrative Tasks:

When a leader or other team comes to me  and asks to create “just  one more field for reps to complete," my response back is: “it’s not one more field, it is the 53rd field.”  Are you actually using the fields that are currently mandatory or that the reps are being asked to complete? Are these fields leading to any real insights? Are they absolutely necessary, can they be combined, are they stale and old? These are questions that need to be asked and if the answer is no, eliminate the fields. If you are being asked to add one more, remove one. The same goes for any non-selling tasks that the reps are being asked to execute. 

Automate and Leverage AI:

Many tasks can be automated or made more efficient and impactful using AI-driven solutions. Eliminate multiple data entries of the same attribute, create automated workflows for updates and entry, and leverage third-party solutions for research, messaging, forecasting, content, and meeting notes among others.  

In Summary: Make Sure You're Maximizing Selling Capacity to Build Pipeline and Revenue

Every incremental improvement you can make to even one rep’s time pays dividends across the whole organization. It’s a multiplier effect. At Revcast, our revenue plan management solution and expert services help ensure you are modeling your sales capacity, pipeline creation, and other critical KPIs that drive your revenue achievement. This also frees up your RevOps team time to support the sales organization with more value-adding insights, risk monitoring, and opportunity identification – vs. tedious data collection, cleansing, and report-building.

Reach out to us today to see how our product and our best practices advisory can help you.

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