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. 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.
What is Sales Productivity?
First, Every sales rep must a ask a question to himself- “what is sales productivity?”
Sales productivity means maximizing sales results while minimizing the resources expended, such as cost, effort, and time.
But an average sales representative spends only 18% of time actually interacting with buyers. Hence every sales rep must understand where he’s going wrong in order to grow the business.
Here are 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
If you want the best, focus and hire the best. This would save loads of time and money on training while protecting yourself from failure down the road. The Sales managers must commit in hiring the talented lot even though it would cost more up front because it definitely pays off over time.
Hence, look for individuals with social goals that are already more aligned with your organizational goals.
2. Provide High Quality Leads
Sometimes gathering leads can feel like a numbers game- The more collected, the better. But your sales team might land more sales
if they’re just with fewer but higher quality leads. Create a lead qualification system to guide your reps in the right direction. Marketing needs to agree with and understand the standard of lead you are aiming for, and consistently deliver leads of that quality to the sales team. With marketing’s support your sales team can devote more time to pursuing leads that are likely to lead to sales.
The Gleanster research says only 25% of leads are actually legitimate and should be advanced to sales. 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 helps 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 it!
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 grind will make your sales reps happier and give them more time to focus on closing deals.
5. Invest in Proper Tools
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 the 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 (see our list of tools to improve sales).
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!
6. Measure Key Metrics
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 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.
7. Align Marketing and Sales
There is way too often a disconnect between sales and marketing. The silo mentality occurs 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 operate as individual units, has become a major problem in the Business-to-Business selling space.
Forrester research shows that only 8% of Business-to-Business companies have tight sales and marketing alignment. The lack of communication can cause organization-wide disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenues. 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.
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 Social and Assess Processes
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. And according to Aberdeen, sales reps who leverage social media in their sales process are 79% more likely to attain their quota.
Also, One of the best ways to see if a new tool is being adopted is to observe your sales teams’s processes to see if they are incorporating it into their workflow. Additionally, 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.
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.
Also, take the time to assess the various strengths and weaknesses on 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.
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, 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.