Top 10 Tips for Improving Sales Productivity
Strong sales productivity is an essential aspect of B2B success. It’s no wonder, then, that sales management is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve productivity across the team. There are a lot of different strategies and tools that could provide good results, and we’ve narrowed down our top 10 favorite approaches below.
1. Look at Your Training Process
When a new sales rep starts at your company, it’s understood that it’s going to be months before they’re productive. Why? Because they don’t yet have a strong understanding of your products or services, your sales process, how to use each tool or software, etc. Learning these things takes time, and the more complicated or ineffective your training process, the longer it will take for your reps to ramp up. This is just as true for veteran reps—if they were never fully trained in the most efficient ways to use certain sales tools, then they’re going to waste time.
Take a critical look at your training materials. Do they accurately represent how your reps actually go about their day? It can be helpful to have a software expert come in and share some tricks of the trade on how to best leverage CRM, Outlook, or whatever other sales tools your reps habitually use.
2. Stop Selling to People Who Will Never Buy
It’s common for companies to fill their sales pipeline with any opportunity that looks remotely likely to close. The result is that there are more opportunities than there are reps to adequately pursue them. Then one of two things happens:
- The reps spread themselves thin in order to accommodate more opportunities, which means that really good opportunities don’t get the targeted attention they need.
- The reps pick and choose which opportunities to pursue. This decision is often based purely on gut instinct.
The goal is to cut down on sales efforts that focus on bad opportunities and transfer those efforts to the good opportunities instead.
So how do you do that? We recommend a sales analytics engine capable of prioritizing leads according to how good a fit they are for your company.
3. Start Each Day with a Prioritized List
Using the same sales analytics engine that is prioritizing leads, you can prioritize the sales activities that your reps should be doing each day. Often, when reps start their day, the first thing they do is check their email inbox. From that point on, each action is reactive—whoever sends them an email or gives them a call gets their immediate attention. The risk here is that the reps might miss a prime opportunity to follow up with a prospect that is more worthy of their attention.
Instead, use an analytics engine to identify which leads are most in need of follow-up based on how long it has been since they last communicated with you, how good the opportunity is, how far along in the sales cycle they’ve gotten, etc. It takes a far more sophisticated approach to the everyday process of sales follow-ups while also making it easier for the reps.
4. Cut Down on Meetings
Meetings are a sales productivity killer. According to a study by Accenture, the average sales rep spends 17.3% of every day in meetings. That’s a lot of time taken up that could be used engaging prospects. Now, don’t get us wrong: meetings have a lot of value, especially if that time is used for training and coaching. But if you find that reps are spending two hours a day in unnecessary meetings, it’s time for a change.
At Accent, we’re fans of the stand-up meeting approach. Each morning, the sales team meets for 15 minutes to talk about the biggest goals for the day and any obstacles standing in the way of achieving those goals. By having everyone stand up, it removes the normal comfort and stagnancy that so often causes meetings to drag on.
5. Designate a Power Hour
If interruptions constantly keep your team from selling, the obvious solution is to remove those interruptions. Unfortunately, there’s no way to efficiently keep reps from getting phone calls or emails throughout the day (nor should you want to!), but there is a way to keep the latest email about the company barbecue from distracting a rep right as he or she is about to start following up with a key prospect. It’s called a power hour.
The concept is simple: designate one hour of the day as a power hour. During that time, each rep is expected to focus solely on selling activities. This is not the time for water cooler chats or an impromptu meeting about a certain client. Instead, instruct each rep to ignore internal company emails and simply focus on making as many sales calls as possible. Without distractions, each rep will be able to get a lot more done than usual. The structure is a fantastic way to ensure that the time is used efficiently.
6. Streamline Which Sales Activities You Do at Each Time
An often overlooked aspect of sales training is analyzing how your sales reps approach each day’s activities. Do they organize their day by focusing on individual opportunities? Do they tend to do new opportunities in the morning and follow-ups in the afternoon? Do they even have a process at all, or are they more of a “something new every day” kind of rep?
Look at the behaviors of your top sellers and consider making their process part of the formal methodology. As a general rule of thumb, your reps can increase sales productivity by doing the same type of activity all at once. For example, knock out all of the email follow-ups at the same time. This can be effective because often the time-consuming process of follow-ups isn’t the actual follow-up, but rather the setup leading to that point: collecting information, opening up CRM, getting in the right mindset. By immediately jumping to something else, only to go back to the first task an hour later, everything takes a lot longer to accomplish.
7. Integrate Your Different Sales Tools into One Platform
Doing all of a certain type of sales activity at once is the manual approach, so let’s talk about the automatic method: integrating all of your software tools. It completely removes the hassle of jumping from sales tool to sales tool because everything is always in the same place. CRM, content repository, email, presentation builder, and more…they’re all consolidated into one easy-to-use interface. Known as sales enablement platforms, these centralized systems can shift your sales process from a disjointed, disorganized mess to a logical, streamlined flow that guides each rep through every part of the sales cycle.
8. Automate CRM Data Logging
Your sales reps weren’t hired for data entry, so why is it the norm for reps to spend a good chunk of each day writing notes in CRM? The data in CRM is incredibly valuable, but the process of getting that data there is a huge area of inefficiency for the average sales team. The better approach is to automate CRM data entry.
A sales activity tracker can do this. By tracking sales rep activities and mapping them to each opportunity, you remove the need for reps to go into CRM and update the information manually. Instead, reps can move on to the next sales activity immediately.
9. Increase Sales Performance Visibility
B2B sales is not a typical desk job, but it’s still easy for reps to get lost in the daily grind. That’s why it’s important for your team to be able to see exactly where they stand in terms of sales performance. If you asked your sales team how many sales calls they’d made in the last quarter, it’s not likely that any rep would be able to give you an accurate number. And yet think about how motivating it would be to see that number of calls update in real time and even alert you that you’ve achieved the goal for the day or that you’re behind on the expected amount.
Using the same sales activity tracker that logs CRM data, you can generate reports that show how many emails or calls have been sent in a given period of time. Then the rep can easily stay in the loop about how productive they truly are. Management can also use this data to easily identify which reps aren’t hitting the mark.
10. Motivate Your Sales Reps
People work harder when they want something. It’s a simple truth, and it’s one that your business organization can use to your advantage. There are many different ways to motivate your sales reps, and not all of them require a financial investment. Simply acknowledging a rep for winning a deal or getting creative with follow-ups can go a long way toward making your team feel valued, which in turn will make everyone want to work harder.
It’s also a good idea to come up with an employee incentive plan beyond simply reaching quota or getting a commission on each closed deal. That’s because these standard approaches get stale over time. They become an expectation rather than a bonus. Consider implementing an employee incentive plan that uses gamification or changes up what the reps are working toward each quarter (most calls made, most deals won, highest sales value, etc.).
We hope you found this list of sales productivity tips useful. If you’d like more information about some of the sales tools and technologies we mentioned above, please give us a call at 1-800-771-6011 or fill out this quick form to request a demo to see sales enablement in action!
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