A sales organization is like a well-oiled machine. There is a proven framework that allows it to run successfully, and it is dependent on certain fuel to function properly.

In business-to-business sales, you can argue that sales content is what fuels the engine, but that fuel works in different ways for different organizations. The problem is that for most sales reps, content isn’t functioning the way it should: it isn’t relevant enough for specific conversations, isn’t easy to locate or share and takes too long to craft and deliver.

The time reps waste locating, updating and delivering sales content is typically regarded as a necessary evil, when in reality it could be costing your company opportunities and revenue. But the fact of the matter is that this waste of time is completely avoidable. Inadequate content is just one of the things holding back your sales reps from selling efficiently, a problem that many sales organizations have finally begun to address.

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In a presentation by Jim Ninivaggi of SiriusDecisions, "Activity-Based Enablement: Helping Reps How and Where They Work,” he illustrated a quadrant that categorized sales activities based on their level of contribution to the ultimate sales goal: selling.

Ninivaggi advised that most of a rep’s time should be spent in the top right quadrant, which he called “direct engagement core selling activities.” These activities include prospecting, email outreach and speaking with prospects. The rest, including research, reports, travel, service activities and more, should be streamlined, delegated elsewhere or minimized so reps are able to focus on customer-facing core selling.

But how do you do this? Activity-based enablement involves examining how sales reps are operating every day -- what programs they use the most and which activities are taking up the most time. As illustrated in the quadrant, there are many different activities that reps are responsible for, and many of them can be minimized, streamlined or delegated elsewhere to maximize the amount of time spent selling. While it’s important to handle all of these quadrants appropriately, the biggest focus should be on maximizing that top right quadrant, and subsequently, the time reps spend selling.

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When thinking about your own activity-based enablement strategy and maximizing direct-core selling activities, consider how and where your reps need to spend the majority of their time in order to sell efficiently and effectively. At the SiriusDecisions Summit presentation, an audience poll found that sales reps from B2B organizations were spending most of their time on email, followed closely by customer-relationship management and pre-call activities such as prospecting and preparing presentations (as opposed to in-call and follow-up activities).

Knowing that content is the fuel to the sales engine, it would make sense to give the sales force access to the sales materials that help them sell from the place where they spend the most time: within their email, CRM or both. If you’re able to connect all of the programs or solutions where sales reps are spending the majority of their time, the time wasted changing between them, searching for the information or materials they need, and crafting the right response or presentation is easily reduced. This drastically increases the amount of time your reps spend actually selling, and selling effectively.

When it comes down to it, sales reps want to spend as much time as humanly possible talking to prospective customers. This isn’t possible if reps are bogged down by manual, unnecessary and tedious tasks. Identifying where the biggest inefficiencies are in your sales process, where your reps are spending the most amount of time on internal or non-sales activities, and how you can reduce these time wasters is imperative for an effective activity-based enablement strategy and sales success as a whole.

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