Undoubtedly, there is tremendous pressure wearing down on most sales organizations these days, as the ill economy and shrinking margins make it harder to meet their quota. Amid all this, increasing the organization’s sales productivity is always the main topic of concern.
Because among all the companies, there is one universal truth – no matter how great your project or service is, your business will inevitably fail if you have an inefficient sales productivity.
First and foremost, it is important to know that sales productivity cannot be increased unless you work on your customer service.
That said, a report by Sirius Decisions found that while sales reps spend 30% of their time prospecting, they only spend 18% of their time actually interacting with buyers!
And according to Accenture, sales reps are spending the majority of their time selling to the prospects.
Hence every sales rep must understand where he’s going wrong in order to grow the business. Here are the top 10 ways sales leaders can use to improve their sales productivity strategy and enable their sales teams to sell smarter and faster.
10 Strategies to Improve Sales Productivity
1. Hire Talent to Build a Perfect Team
Every organization requires a team of effective sales professional. You really can’t achieve sales productivity without a wonderful and credible sales team with you.
The concept is simple – you have to build a rockstar sales team!
So, you will probably have to start hunting for potential employees with the following attributes:
An excellent and “collaborative” communicator? Check! Because hey, sales are all about engaging and conversing with diverse individuals.
So, this proves that you have to be an awesome conversationalist.
However, first and foremost, start with the evaluation. Building a sales team actually starts with the evaluation of your existing staff. One of the most important thing that you can’t overlook is the size of your sales team. Say, for example, you are just stepping into the industry, so initially, you probably don’t even need to hire a sales team and can handle the sales department yourself.
Once you start evaluating, you are likely to get a better idea of how to proceed with the hiring process.
One more thing…
Avoid hiring a jack-of-all-trades.
You have to be extra careful while hiring a new sales rep. With extra savvy prospects, you need candidates who can adeptly handle themselves when faced with a difficult situation, or something akin to a sales funnel cul-de-sac.
Now there’s a breed of sales professionals who seem to know just about everything. From outbound prospecting to running discovery calls and to closing deals, they would have everything in their resume.
Mind you, many hirers assume that a jack-of-all-trades is an ideal candidate.
But nothing can be farther from the truth, especially when we talk in respect with today’s scenario.
Now, you don’t need amateurish sales professionals who seem to have acquired every possible skill. What you need is an expert or someone who can smoothly handle but are amateurish in every department. Instead, focus on hiring a person who is willing to evolve and is a master at one job.
So, the first step in achieving sales productivity is by hiring a perfect sales team and organizing their schedule through a staff rota.
2. Generate High-Quality Leads
All of you are busy generating leads. But the question is, are you generating the leads that are likely to convert? Or are all of these leads pretty much useless?
Say, for instance, you are selling luxury shoes but your email list is inundated with college kids who are too broke to care about such stuff. Do you think this is going to help you at all?
Therefore, it doesn’t take your lead generation process as a number game. Quality of the leads should trump the quantity.
The best way to go about it is by creating a lead qualification system to guide your sales team in the right direction.
Here are some of the factors that must be included in your ideal customer profile:
What should be the company size of the prospect?
Where is the company located?
Age and gender of the ideal prospect.
How does your product help the prospect?
What are the challenges faced by the prospects?
These are a couple of questions that should be covered before you make your ideal customer profile.
This will help you narrow down your lead generation process and only go after the leads that will be beneficial in the long term. Otherwise, you are just chasing something that is of little to no use to you.
Thus, If your teams are sending everything to sales, it’s time to stop. Get a process in place to save valuable time and resources.
3. Invest in on-boarding and training
The basis for any great sales team is good on-boarding and training. On-boarding presents the opportunity to impact the future productivity of your salespeople before they ever make a sale. With a tech-enabled on-boarding program you can get your reps up to speed right whenever they start.
Effective training gets new sales reps up to speed quickly, but without overwhelming them. Using online training software with video lessons, information libraries and testing capabilities help your reps learn better, and faster.
Thus, this produces sales reps who are confident in their abilities and equipped with the knowledge to be successful and productive. The faster your reps are up to speed on your company and products or services, the quicker they can close.
4. Automate your sales process
Time spent on unproductive, repetitive, or non-best practice tasks is time spent not selling. One way to boost your sales productivity is to give your reps more time to sell.
How do you do that?
Cut out the extra manual work. Automate sales processes where you can, to save time and frustration for your reps. Reduce or eliminate admin tasks, such as data entry, and automate your sales workflow as much as possible. If you automate an activity, you will save steps and time so that sales reps can get back to core selling activities.
There are countless ways to automate processes for your reps including using email templates, adding trigger workflows in Salesforce, or even hiring a service dial phone calls on their behalf. Consider triggered events, such as follow-up emails, which will help reps respond to prospects faster. Getting rid of some of the daily grinds will make your sales reps happier and give them more time to focus on closing deals.
5. Invest in Proper Tools
This is an extension of the previous point.
One of the ways to achieve automation is to invest in proper automated tools. After all, with the costs of recruiting and training sales reps, there is no reason not to invest in their success and keeping them around.
Collecting and analyzing proper data can quickly uncover opportunities for improvement. There is always a budget to consider when it comes to purchasing tools, but make sure you aren’t saving money at the expense of increasing productivity. If a tool can allow your team to spend more time making calls and landing sales, then the extra expense will be well worth it in the long term.
Give your sales team the right tools to help them do their job efficiently and effectively.
This infographic poses a clear picture of the importance of automated softwares in today’s world:
Moreover, according to statistics, four in five users increased their leads by using marketing automation software.
When first introducing new tools, provide thorough training on their use. After the team has had the tool for a while, discuss it with them to determine whether they like the tool and if they are using it. If adoption rates are low, you may need to invest in further training or consider additional options. Tools that help boost your sales team’s productivity are well worth the investment, but only if your team is actually using them. Remember, a more productive sales team means more revenue is being generated!
Measuring ‘sales‘ is easy, that is, revenue and dollars are good indicators of success. But measuring ‘selling‘ is the challenging part. Many organizations are not consistently improving their sales productivity because they don’t regularly track productivity gains and results.
In addition to performance metrics, consider measuring productivity metrics. Consider metrics such as call rate, win rate, sales cycle length, pipeline conversation rates, productivity software adoption rates and an average number of touches until conversation.
Use these metrics to assess how productive the sales rep is, as this could reveal how successful your productivity strategies are and address any problem areas. Use dashboards to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity.
Apart from this make sure to keep track of your sales cycle as a whole.
A regular sales cycle looks like this:
You should be aware of the fact where you are standing when it comes to your sales funnel.
For instance, if you are at the presenting stage of the sales cycle, you should be well aware of what you need to do now. Moreover, you should also be prepared for the upcoming cycle beforehand.
Once you keep track of all the stages of your sales funnel, you will be able to identify the things that you are lacking in, things that are working out fine, and so forth.
Introspecting and knowing your sales process in and out in one of the most important aspects of sales productivity.
7. Align Marketing and Sales
This may seem like an obvious thing to do. After all, both marketing and sales are inextricably linked, right?
But you would be surprised to know about the discrepancies between the two departments.
In fact, Forrester research shows that only 8% of Business-to-Business companies have tight sales and marketing alignment. However, alignment, with shared goals and metrics, can result in 25% increases in quota achievement, 15% increases in win rate, and 27% faster three-year profit growth, emphasizing the need for collaboration.
The silo mentalityoccurs when several departments or groups within an organization do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organization. Hence, this silo mentality, where departments such as sales and marketing operations as individual units, has become a major problem in the Business-to-Business selling space.
While the two teams can feel like they’re fighting different battles, they should be supporting each other. Hence, to increase sales productivity, a symbiotic relationship between these two departments.
8. Invest in Technology and Avoid Multitasks
You could tackle almost all the sales productivity but without technology, you will still be lagging behind.
Think about it, does it make sense to invest in on-boarding and training if your investment doesn’t involve technology?
Not unless you’re living in the past!
Taking advantage of new technology to improve sales productivity is what every smart organization is doing. Hence, if you don’t want your company to fall behind then grow with the technology.
Frequently, sales reps will complete a call and then stop to perform related administrative work. But this is not the most efficient method of getting things done. When a salesperson in the zone making calls, taking a break to input information cam reduce momentum. Instead, encourage your sales team to make a certain number of calls before they stop to complete administrative tasks.
If there is essential information they need to remember, it can be jotted down quickly on a notepad for future reference. This solution avoids unnecessary multi-tasking and encourages salespeople to give their complete focus to the task at hand.
9. Get on with social selling
The power of social selling can help sales forces relate to and engage more intelligently with buyers.
Sales reps can use social media in every stage of the sales process, from networking and prospecting to customer service. With insights about prospects such as demographics, preferences, what’s happening at their company, what’s going on in their industry, and where they encounter pain points, sales reps can more quickly and effectively drive an engaging and meaningful conversation.
That said, social selling is all about keeping track of your prospects’ activities and engage with them accordingly.
Observing can be a good way to assess what your team is or isn’t doing during their sales calls, and look for areas where new tools or procedures could support team members and increase productivity. Additionally, observing workflow also gives you the opportunity to learn from your team’s good habits and pass on productive behaviors to other team members.
Also, One of the best ways to see if a new tool is being adopted is to observe your sales teams’ processes to see if they are incorporating it into their workflow.
10. Motivate and Appreciate a Win
Motivated and engaged team members will be more productive. In his famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People“, Dale Carnegie tells the story of Charles Schwab. He was one-time president of United States Steel Company. This influential man attributed his vast success to one critical skill- the ability to motivate people and not to criticize or correct people. Schwab believed that approval motivates people to work harder and put forth greater effort.
You would think how is it relevant to your sales productivity. Contrary to what people think, motivation and incentives are extremely important for the sales productivity of a business.
Therefore, take the time to assess the various strengths and weaknesses of your team, and learn more about their personal interests. If possible, give sales reps the opportunity to do more of what they are good at. And make sure to appreciate a win as that would refresh their minds and hence this would result in a more productive team.
Summing it all up…
You may only have a limited number of hours in the day, but what matters most is how your team spends that time. With the help of these tips along with a couple of automated tools, you can maximize your team’s productivity and performance. The day is short, so let us help your team make the most of their time.
Are you struggling with your sales productivity? Which strategy are you going to use to increase your sales productivity?
Deepti is a senior content writer with AeroLeads. She spends a lot of time brainstorming ideas and writing marketing and sales content. She also has a knack for writing and reading about politics and prevalent social issues and regularly pens letters to the Editor of The Hindu newspaper. When she is not working, you’ll find her socializing with friends or binge-watching Netflix. (And devouring sushi).