Sales productivity is a hot topic. Everyone wants to be as productive and efficient as possible, but for many it remains an elusive goal.
When a sales team isn't meeting quotas or is spending a disproportionate amount of time on non-sales tasks, some managers might assume the team is "lazy" or "not trying hard enough." But the team's attitude and motivation may not be the problem at all; instead, a poor workflow may be to blame. Getting some hands-on experience should give you a sense of what is diverting their attention so you can take measures to improve sales productivity. When it comes to enabling your sales team to sell better, here are six solutions to consider.
It’s estimated that salespeople spend only a third of their time selling and half their time on administrative and other tasks.
While it would be virtually impossible for a salesperson to spend 100% of their time selling, the 33% figure is rather dismal. There is room for improvement, however, and the easiest way to give some time back to your sales team is to automate their basic administrative tasks. For example, automate lead distribution and prioritization, report generation and record creation. You can even use tools that make it easy to schedule phone calls and meetings without all of the back-and-forth confusion about availability.
Jumping from one task to another and back again requires the mind to make too many “gear changes”. It’s exhausting. Encourage your salespeople to cluster phone calls at the same time, without stopping to check emails in between or to do administrative work. Encourage them to get those calls taken care of while they’re in the “sales zone,” and then encourage them to take a break to let their minds work on something else.
Likewise, it’s more efficient to get into a groove of entering a day’s worth of data into a computer at once than to do a little at a time. Look around for opportunities to bundle these tasks.
Meetings are a waste of time if they aren’t run efficiently and on a schedule. Set aside a regular time for meetings and have a clear purpose for every meeting. If you don’t have a purpose for a meeting, cancel it. There is no point in getting everyone together to talk about nothing in particular.
It’s better to keep meetings short. Short meetings encourage people to say their piece quickly and to not get sidetracked. Half an hour should be plenty of time to discuss a topic, decide and assign next steps, and clear up any questions.
Does the right hand know what the left is doing? An intimate partnership with marketing is important for sales productivity, and yet few businesses operate this way. (Those who do, call this integration “smarketing”)
Have your sales and marketing teams create sales personas, determine pain points and define a “high quality lead” together. Working together on the overall plan helps salespeople feel invested in lead generation, and it helps marketers feel invested in seeing leads turn to sales.
Although smarketing might seem like it detracts from sales productivity, it can really pay off.
Your sales team needs to be able to hit the streets at a moment’s notice. Staying in the office all day doesn’t cut it anymore. Despite the everlasting popularity of social media, people do enjoy face-to-face interactions. Enable your sales team to sell anywhere, but make sure they have the right tools first.
A tablet is a must-have, as is a sales app that acts as a virtual catalog and management system, like TradeGecko Mobile.
In regards to meeting places, sometimes it’s not convenient to take a prospective customer all the way back to the “real office.” Coffee shops are all very well, but if you need a guaranteed quiet meeting place, equip your sales team with memberships to flexible offices like those provided by Regus. If a potential customer wants to see your full presentation, these offices have all the necessary technology and equipment.
Motivation is one of the keys to efficiency. People who are motivated to do a good job or simply earn their manager’s praise, are more likely to get things done. Never underestimate the power of praise. Respect your sales team, get to know them, work with them individually, nurture their talents, give them room to grow and develop, and they will certainly repay you with their productivity. Very few people are comfortable “letting down” someone they respect, and will work hard to earn their admiration.
Finally, don’t forget to develop a way to measure productivity and success. Without a benchmark, it’s impossible to know whether you have truly made any progress. For a sales team, the number of leads engaged and the number of finalized sales are good metrics to consider.
Productivity never increases by simply telling your team, “Be more productive!” By using these tips, you should help your salespeople to guide their focus and time back to what they do best: selling more.
Cathy Habas is a full-time writer and content marketer for Build Niche Links who focuses on the marketing and business development niches. She works with clients around the globe and has helped nurture several start-ups into flourishing businesses.
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