Almost every company struggles with sales productivity, and this problem is only exacerbated by the rising pressure to meet or exceed increasing revenue targets. Organizations are growing their sales teams and chasing more aggressive sales goals, but they aren’t scaling their processes, best practices, and sales tools at the same rate.
As a result, productivity continues to decline, year-over-year. And it certainly doesn’t help that instant access to viral videos, social media, and chat messages makes it easier than ever for sales reps to get distracted, off-task, or even overwhelmed.
So if you have reps scrambling to cram in calls, send rapid-fire emails, and make it to your meetings, they must be pretty productive, right? Well, no. Often, this sort of busyness is merely a sign of lack of focus. And this type of mediocre sales performance can cost B2B companies up to 3% in potential earnings per rep, which sounds small but could actually equate to millions in lost revenue.
Sales productivity is the ratio of effectiveness (outputs) versus efficiency (inputs). In layman’s terms, it means maximizing sales results while minimizing resources expended, such as cost, time, and effort.
When only about 1 in 5 sales reps is a top performer, that leaves a majority of your team (most likely those people scrambling about) with room for improvement. And with 85% of companies raising revenue goals, additional sales productivity from your reps should be a company-wide priority.
Use the following 5 strategies to help your sales team overcome productivity challenges, become more effective at selling, and boost revenue acquisition.
1) Make ongoing sales coaching a priority
When 87% of training content and information is forgotten within weeks, one-and-done sales training is just not going to be effective. Further, the sales environment is constantly evolving, and the buying process is increasingly more complex. Your sales reps must be trained on the selling space, buyer personas, and products and be updated as this information changes over time. As such, sales coaching should be a proactive, ongoing strategy.
Sales coaching can increase sales productivity by 88%, yet 73% of sales managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching. A small time investment of just 3 hours / month / rep can boost revenue by 25% and increase close rates by 70%.
Sales coaching is a valuable opportunity to develop the sales force. It’s not about micro-managing reps or attacking their processes and performance. Rather, it’s about finding actionable solutions and strategies to drive revenue, to help your reps prioritize and effectively allocate their time and resources, and to enable your team to develop professionally.
2) Advance prospects faster with value
Anywhere between 25 and 50% of forecasted deals stall or end in no decision. And the longer a prospect is stuck at a particular stage in the pipeline, the less likely it is that deal will advance and close. To advance prospects through the sales cycle, reps need to add value to the sales conversation through relevant content and insights. They need messaging and collateral that addresses apprehensions, that demonstrates the ability to solve a problem, and that shows how ROI can be attained.
But sales reps are spending over 1/3 of their day looking for or creating content – one of the biggest consumers of their time. At the same time, 70% of marketing content goes unused by sales because reps can’t find the right content at the right time. When 95% of B2B deals are influenced by content, this is not only a waste of time but can also negatively impact opportunities. To make content and messaging productive, your sales team needs to know what to use / say and when. Using sales enablement tooling to recommend content and messaging based on the sales situation saves reps time and helps them to accelerate deals.
3) Evaluate and re-evaluate sales processes
An inefficient, ineffective sales process can cost businesses millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. On the other hand, companies that follow a defined workflow are 33% more likely to be high performers. But to make a new process effective, you must first determine what works and what doesn’t about your existing process. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current workflow? Where are there gaps or roadblocks in the sales process? Where does communication tend to breakdown? Where might you need to reallocate resources?
You can’t just become productive overnight. Once you have established a consistent process, you should always be looking for ways to improve it, continually integrating optimized processes into your workflow. The beginning of each new quarter is a good time to re-evaluate your procedures and look for areas to adjust and fine-tune. Are your prior productivity efforts and adjustments to the workflow still effective? Are there other areas where you could make a change? Every step in the sales process should be intentional and relate directly to your goals and add value to your day. Be sure to tie back every decision that you make to your end goal.
4) Embrace automation and technology
Less than 1/3 of a sales person’s day is focused on core selling activities, meaning the other 2/3 of their time is spent on busywork that doesn’t add value to prospects or advance deals and that can even impact their ability to focus. Often times, optimized sales productivity comes down to just streamlining workflow and eliminating unnecessary or redundant tasks. The easiest way to do this is via automation – empower your sales teams with the tools to help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. When you can automate an activity, you will save steps and time so that sales reps can get back to essential core selling activities.
Technology is disrupting sales, but in a good way: it is fueling new sales strategies and enabling productivity across the organization. Sales tools enable reps by surfacing critical templates, scripts, data and content right when and where they need it. The sales stack tells reps who to call, when to call and what content to provide in order to improve sales execution and achieve optimal sales results.
5) Use analytics to always be improving
There is more data, more readily available, than ever before. This data is how organizations know what is working, areas to improve, and opportunities for new sales strategies. Analytics play an important role in driving business strategy and enabling informed decision-making. In fact, organizations that use sales analytics and sales insights increase team quota attainment 4x faster than non-users. As B2B companies become more data-driven, they begin to see changes in productivity levels and how they engage with prospects and are able to make greater impacts on the bottom-line.
Many organizations are not consistently improving sales productivity because they don’t regularly track productivity gains and results. Determine which metrics are most important, such as call rate, win rate, sales cycle length, pipeline conversion rate, and average number of touches. Then use dashboards to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity – what makes top performers so successful, and what is inhibiting under-performers?
You can’t just become productive overnight – it’s something you work towards, step-by-step. But these steps are sure to get you on the right path to a high-performing sales team!
This blog was written by guest writer, Shelley Cernel, Senior Marketing Manager at KnowledgeTree in Raleigh, NC. KnowledgeTree helps sales and marketing professionals create, discover and recommend content for sales teams from a single platform.