Are your reps struggling to meet their quota? Are your operational processes slowing your team down?
Whilst increasing sales productivity is often top of the agenda for most sales leaders, implementing strategies to counter a lack of productivity can be a hard task to keep up and follow through on.
In this article, we share the top five strategies we have found will best improve sales productivity.
What is sales productivity?
Sales productivity refers to how well a company’s sales team performs their job, which can include everything from outreach to closing deals. It also encompasses all aspects of selling such as prospecting, qualifying leads, presenting proposals, negotiating contracts, and managing key accounts. The key word here is maximum performance. If your sales team isn’t performing to a satisfactory level, you will want to implement a few long-term strategies and track performance as you go.
What does ideal sales productivity look like?
The ideal level of productivity is, not surprisingly, maximum output and efficiency. But, what does this look like on a daily operational level? Below are just a few examples of what ideal sales productivity looks like:
Prioritizing ongoing sales coaching
Because sales reps forget as much as 70% of the information they learn within a week of training, you can’t just have one onboarding or training session and hope that the team will remember forever.
Sales coaching is a continuous process that is vital to sales enablement strategy, to improve rep performance and goals attainment, including ongoing, personalized teaching by sales managers. Regular sales coaching and training can speed up productivity and also ensure that reps follow best practices to close more deals over a longer period of time.
Overly complex processes compromise sales productivity. Take advantage of powerful and intuitive technology and optimize your tech stack to streamline workflows to boost productivity. For instance, sales enablement tools can improve productivity by allowing your team to quickly access the right content to send to prospects to help them close more deals. It can also mitigate the need to perform time-consuming administrative tasks like data entry, call scheduling, and sending emails.
Aligning marketing with sales
Too often sales and marketing teams are separated and have little communication which can seriously impact growth. While they are technically two separate functions, they both have the same goal, which is to fuel business growth. Align marketing with sales so that they can enable each other and you will see an improvement on marketing ROI, sales productivity, and top-line growth.
How? Some examples: have weekly regular calls, keep everyone in the loop, make sure everyone is speaking to each other and have transparency across workflows.
Using analytics to consistently improve
Analytics and sales go hand in hand but analyzing the right metrics is important to really understand what’s working and where you need to improve. Use activity sales metrics such as number of proposals sent and number of leads created to help you determine how productive your team is. Then use KPIs like customer retention, churn rate, and funnel flow to help you make better business decisions when improving sales productivity.
How do you measure sales productivity?
The three key sales metrics related to productivity are efficiency, effectiveness, and performance. These metrics will give you a top-level overview of how your sales reps are spending their time.
- Sales efficiency: Sales efficiency measures how efficiently your company creates value. The perfect sales efficiency ratio is greatly debated but a good rule of thumb is to follow your industry’s benchmark. The standard ways to measure efficiency outside your ratio is to look at average quota attainment and revenue growth. While these metrics give you an understanding of growth, you should also look at metrics like cash burn and revenue churn to know where you are seeing the most losses.
- Sales effectiveness: It’s important to measure beyond individual effectiveness. Implement metrics into your sales reporting like pipeline replacement to see if there are enough opportunities created in a given time period. If not, then perhaps your sales team are spending too much time on administrative tasks then finding new prospects. Or maybe they’re not doing enough initial research before contacting a prospect to see if they would be qualified.
- Similarly, forecast accuracy helps to identify how far off your sales reps are from closing deals predicted. If your actuals are way off from what you forecasted, it suggests your reps aren’t being as effective as their time or that they don’t have the right skills to be able to close deals.
- Sales Performance: When measuring sales, it’s important to go beyond an individual level. You also want to look outside of other basic metrics like average deal size and win rates. Choose metrics that measure all aspects of your business’s growth from revenue per territory to total open opportunities.
Top 5 tips to drive sales productivity
Disconnect between managers and sales reps, lackluster training, and overly complex systems are just some factors that can contribute to poor performance. Implement the following strategies to drive sales productivity:
1. Use your top performers to create a better process
What are your top performers doing differently that the rest of your sales reps aren’t? Monitor their process and decide on metrics based around their performance to improve the bottom line. It’s important not to focus on their own personal approach here, although you can introduce their strategies into sales. Use analytics tools to get hard data. How long do they spend in meetings? How many emails do they send out? How many demos are they doing? Measure how long it takes them to complete their daily tasks and set this as the benchmark for the rest of your team.
2. Invest in sales enablement
Low sales productivity is a sign that you need to invest in your sales enablement. Investing in sales productivity will make your team more efficient at closing more deals which will in turn drive more sales and contribute to company growth. Sales enablement can also help close the feedback loop between cross-functional teams (i.e., sales and marketing) who aren’t working as they should be together by providing teams with tools to gain actionable insights on what’s working and what isn’t.
3. Evaluate, track, and measure your content
Part of enabling sales is providing content that builds credibility and helps them to overcome obstacles during the sales process. That means that you need to have content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Evaluate whether your content meets this specification, and if not, get your marketing and sales team to strategize on what the biggest obstacles are and the best content to help them overcome them when talking to prospects. Once you’ve started distributing content to prospects, track the interactions they have with them through a CRM and report on this data. Use a sales enablement tool to track customer sentiment and if the customer sentiment of your content is low then that’s a sign you need to adjust your message until it starts connecting with customers.
4. Find creative ways to reward hard work
Sales teams are under a constant amount of pressure and it’s easy to feel unmotivated if targets are too high. Additionally, they’re not going to be motivated if they don’t get recognized for their hard work. To see a boost in the percentage of your reps hitting or even exceeding quota, find creative ways to reward hard work. Focus on personalized incentives to ensure that each individual has a reason to work hard.
5. Automate your sales process
Automation increases efficiency which increases effectiveness, performance and productivity. In fact, automation has been proven to increase sales productivity by 14.7% and even reduced marketing overheads by 12.2%. By embracing automation tools, your sales team will have more time to spend on the phone with prospects than on admin tasks that lower productivity.
Hire quality talent as a long term strategy
Maintaining sales productivity for long-periods of time can be difficult if the right foundations aren’t in place. Hiring quality talent can be difficult, especially if you are hiring in a pinch, but without skilled sales reps, it’s nearly impossible to maintain sales productivity over time.
Determine the qualities that are the most important to you and screen applicants according to this framework. Use the application process carefully to test skills and identify whether a candidate has what it takes to do the job well.
Top 3 mistakes to look out for when improving sales productivity
Look out for these mistakes when improving sales productivity to minimize future inefficiencies:
1. Avoid micromanaging
When you are facing a sales productivity problem, it’s easy to run to micromanagement to gain control. It only exacerbates problems, lowering job satisfaction, causing unnecessary pressure, and promoting a higher staff turnover with 69% of staff considering looking for other jobs as a result. Instead of micromanagement, work alongside your team to resolve any sales productivity issues. Strategizing with others will foster a collaborative environment that will promote creative problem solving.
2. Don’t overcomplicate automation
Automation should simplify processes, not over complicate them. With so many different solutions, it’s easy to let your tech stack overflow. Have a plan and know exactly what it is you want to use technology for and find a comprehensive tool that meets your requirements. Content automation should be one of your requirements when looking for tools especially if you are looking to improve sales productivity as you can automate content to be sent out once prospects complete a certain action.
3. Don’t make content hard to find
Not managing content wisely could be hurting your chances of acquiring new businesses. This is because 95% of customers are more likely to buy from sales reps that give them the appropriate content at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Ensure that reps have access at all times to enhance their interaction with prospects.
Oftentimes, sales productivity can be improved just by adjusting processes. Remember these key takeaways when improving sales productivity:
- Automation is key: Simplify processes by using automation software to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and performance.
- Offer quality and ongoing training: Sales reps need consistent development to ensure long-term performance .
- Analyze and adjust processes: Use analytics tools to analyze all areas of sales and adjust processes if you notice inefficiencies that are hurting productivity.
- Content is king: Content facilitates sales , so you should ensure that sales reps have access to and can utilize content during each stage of the sales process – even when they are offline.
Interested in learning more about Pitcher? Request your Pitcher demo and experience our sales enablement Super App in action.