A day in the life of a sales rep: how it is vs. how it could be

Help your sales team be more productive, and they'll help your company grow.

By Rachel Serpa

Published May 24, 2017
Last updated September 23, 2020

Docurated’s recent State of Sales Productivity study revealed that reps spend just ⅓ of their days actually selling, while the rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks like data entry and reporting.

To help put it in perspective, that’s like hiring a taxi driver who spends just 1/3 of his time driving and the remaining 5+ hours of his workday changing tires and drawing maps. Which is just plain weird.

So how does your team spend its time, and how much more productive could they be given the right tools for the job? We’re dissecting a day in the life of a sales rep by examining just some of the tasks they complete on a consistent basis, and offering a glimpse into how much more strategic and successful they could be.

Lead prioritization

When your reps are handed a list of hundreds of leads or need to source a certain number of prospects, where do they start? While diving in head-first may seem like the mark of a go-getter, it’s definitely not the most efficient tactic, especially given that 50% of sales’ time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.

How It Could Be: Rather than simply providing a list of arbitrary names and emails, give your reps a clear starting point by scoring leads based on their likelihood to close. Despite the amount of time this could save reps, just 44% of companies report using any kind of lead scoring system - which means a major competitive advantage for businesses that are savvy enough to make this happen.

For outbound reps, having a crystal clear picture of the types of leads generating the most value for your business is key - from industry and company size to title and geography. Scientific sales platforms have the ability to quickly codify and analyze a company’s data to provide recommendations as to the exact types of leads sales teams should be reaching out to to achieve their revenue goal.


As Trish Bertuzzi put it in a recent interview, “If you’re not using a dialer, what are you doing? If your people are still touching phones, what are you even thinking about?”

But even for reps using power dialers, there is still plenty of room to optimize. Unless your dialer is fully-integrated with your CRM, your reps have to jump back and forth between these two systems to research the prospect, actually make the call, log it and make notes. And with the average sales rep making 52 calls each day, those little extra tasks can add up to a lot of extra time.

How It Could Be: With an all-in-one sales platform, your reps can call, email and text from within your CRM. All communication is logged and recorded automatically for easy reference at any time. What’s more, reps can easily take notes during or after calls, all within the same user interface. Not only does less back and forth leave your reps more time to prep or make additional calls, but it also helps keep all of your sales conversations organized and in context.

Field sales

Whether you’re walking door-to-door or flying from meeting to meeting, being a field sales rep comes with its own unique set of challenges.

One of the most major is a lack of access to your sales platform - or a mobile CRM experience so terrible that you don’t even want to access it. This means that most of your meetings and interactions are simply “remembered,” or scribbled down on a notepad, at best. And if they do eventually make their way into your CRM, it’s with far less detail. Which of course means little visibility for key stakeholders, as well as lost insights and opportunities.

How It Could Be: In an age where mobile devices represent 65% of digital media time, mobile-first sales platforms definitely exist. What exactly does this mean? It means that not only should your CRM offer the same capabilities and functionality on mobile as it does on desktop, but also that these features should be slightly altered where necessary to actually optimize the mobile experience.

This mentality results in route mapping, offline access, one-touch reports and a slew of other features that empower and enable mobile sales reps.

Entering data

Undoubtedly, data-driven sales organizations are leading the pack when it comes to achieving predictable, repeatable, and scalable revenue. However, this success shouldn’t come at the cost of reps.

Did you know that 71% of sales reps say they spend too much time on data entry? When you stop to think about all of the call logging, information gathering and note taking they have to do, this number seems much less surprising and simply more ridiculous.

How It Could Be: There are many ways to lessen the burden of data entry on your sales force, the most fundamental of which is to put an established sales process in place. By doing this, you will be forced to predetermine the most important pieces of prospect information needed to move your deals forward. This means that you can then make it as simple and standardized as possible for your reps to capture this information throughout the sales cycle using drop-downs, pick-lists, etc.

Another way to avoid this time trap is to automate as much of the data collection process as possible. This is especially important when it comes to repetitive data entry tasks such as call and email logging. Not only does this free reps up to take on other, more impactful tasks, but it also helps ensure that your sales data is highly accurate and consistent. In fact, high-performing companies are 2x as likely as underperforming companies to describe their sales process as “automated.”

Searching for status updates

When you’re one close away from quota and the clock’s ticking, it’s hard not to refresh your email in hopes of a signed contract every 5 seconds. The same mentality applies for checking to see whether any new leads have been assigned to you, or just how many more calls you need to make to catch up to your team. All this eagerness can distract your reps from focusing and continuously disrupt the flow of their days. Not to mention, a watched pot never boils!

How It Could Be: You can’t tell your reps to stop caring about new leads or won deals (horrible idea!), but you can give them a much faster and easier way to monitor progress and stay updated. Automated alerts allow reps to go about their days and trust any major updates to the power of technology.

For example, if a new lead is assigned to them, a deal reaches a certain stage or even if an email is opened, reps can receive real-time alerts and take immediate action. One click, visual reports also enable your team to quickly and easily see where they stand.

The $1 trillion tip

It’s reported that lost productivity and poorly managed leads cost companies at least $1 trillion every year. Avoid this trap by taking the time to think about what a day in the life of one of your sales reps looks like, and following these 5 tips as necessary.

This post originally ran on the Base blog. Please visit if you’d like to learn more about Zendesk Sell.