Getting more with less. You can bet that mantra is shared by all sales organizations in today’s economy.

Yet even the best managers are failing to make it happen.

Managers are often advised to consider three dimensions when determining how to increase sales productivity:

  1. People
  2. Process
  3. Technology

But an essential fourth dimension that is rarely mentioned – sales capacity – may be the most important element of all. The key to increasing sales productivity is to avoid making decisions about people, process or technology until you fully understand how those decisions will impact sales capacity.

Sales capacity can be determined by asking yourself two questions:

  1. How many hours in the day do salespeople have to accomplish all that’s asked of them – including selling?
  2. How many available days in the year do they have?

When you calculate the answer to those two questions and multiply it times the number of reps, you’ll know your overall sales capacity. Now think of your sales organization as a manufacturing plant. Each plant has a maximum capacity for production based on – you guessed it – people, process and technology. As a plant manager, would you make changes to any of those three elements without knowing how it would impact overall plant capacity?

We refer to the notion of sales capacity as the 215 Principle. On average, we estimate there are just 215 days in the year to sell once you account for sick days, holidays, vacation days, weekends and other non-working days. That means a rep’s “sales-manufacturing” capacity is 215 days. Nothing you can do will change that (short of the obvious, like eliminating vacation time).

If you want to get more from fewer reps, then no decision should be made until you’ve fully considered its “impact on sales capacity.”

If you ask reps to do “x,” what will the impact be on sales capacity? If you don’t adjust the processes or provide the technological tools that enable them to do “x” in less time, then your request will have a negative impact on your sales capacity.

How can you get more with less? Know your true sales capacity, then take measures to increase it while resisting actions that decrease it.

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