Ask any human resources manger how many work hours are in a year, and you will likely hear stats such as eight hours per day, five days per week and 52 weeks per year. Add that all up and you have 2,080 hours of work time annually. This should be plenty of time for a salesperson to make his annual quota, right?

The reality is that the actual available selling time per year is much less than 2,080 hours. Here are a few of the factors that significantly reduce available selling time:

  • Training (8-40 hours annually)
  • Vacations (80-120 hours annually)
  • Sick time (0-40 hours annually)
  • Compulsory meetings (100-200 hours annually)
  • Meeting travel time (96-192 hours annually)

If you are like the average salesperson, your available selling time can be reduced by the above factors by 28 percent to 35 percent annually. Couple these events with the daily interruptions and minor client emergencies we all have, and all of a sudden your ability to stay focused on selling during prime business hours seems impossible.

One way to keep non-selling activities from significantly eroding your selling time is to set aside 30 to 90 minutes each day to manage such issues. I like to break the non-selling time into two time slots: one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. As non-emergency issues arise during the day, make a note of them and deal with them during this time.

Also, consider starting your day earlier than you normally would. I find that starting my work day around 7:30 gives me a full hour for non-selling activities. And I can do it without interruption, as most of my associates have not yet arrived to work. Starting a little early adds back valuable selling time to your day.

Take the time today to set aside time slots for non-selling activities. You will be amazed at how much more available selling time you can generate by managing these small, non-selling issues en masse instead of interrupting your selling “flow” to address each one individually.

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at dan.hudson@3forward.com.