What is sales productivity?
Sales productivity is the practice of maximizing sales revenue while minimizing the use of resources. To increase profitability, businesses should continually optimize sales productivity. These can be anything from money, time, and manpower. For example, we have two sales teams: A and B. Team A is made up of 6 salespersons, and team B 5. Both teams achieve $500k of sales revenue in quarter 4. But, team B is more productive as they hit this figure with fewer team members.
How to measure it
How it’s measured varies by organization and business goals. One of the most common ways to evaluate sales productivity is using employee utilization rate. This refers to the amount of time, as a percentage, employees spend on billable tasks. A sales team refers to the percentage of time sales reps spend selling versus doing administrative tasks.
Many firms still trail behind on sales productivity. A recent study found that the average sales rep spends an average of just 36% of the time selling. The same study also found that only 22.9% of SDRs follow any time management methodology.
The rest of sales reps’ time is often taken up by repetitive administrative tasks. These may include replying to emails, updating CRMs, and internal meetings.
Key pillars of sales productivity
To increase efficiency and become productive, and in turn more profitable, sales teams should focus on the following key areas:
- Consistency. While all sales reps have different styles and ways of closing deals, the sales process they follow should be consistent. This ensures a standardized customer experience, as well as maximizing sales opportunities. Sales managers ensure consistency within their teams by communicating processes and best practices. And senior sales leaders should ensure sales processes are consistent across the organization.
- Concentration. With a vast range of apps competing for attention, concentrating on the task at hand is harder than ever. Sales managers should ensure their teams are free of distractions and tedious tasks.
- Constant innovation. A successful sales team is never content with just hitting targets. Productive teams constantly innovate to optimize performance. Does the sales script work or does it need updating? Should KPIs and metrics be reviewed? Sales managers should innovate to keep things fresh within their teams.
- Reduce pressure. Salespeople are motivated by performance, outdoing their previous best and beating their colleagues. This competitive approach creates a high-pressure environment that can be counterintuitive. Pressure to perform can demotivate sales reps and lead to high staff turnover.
Secrets to Increasing Sales Productivity
Sales managers need to drive productivity within their teams. The less time spent on admin tasks and the more spent selling means they’ll close more deals. But how do you make your team more efficient and productive? Here are some of COR’s most tried-and-tested tips to increase sales productivity within your teams:
- Automation. By automating repetitive tasks, sales organizations enable their teams to spend more time selling.
- Use email templates instead of writing out the same email every time
- Pre-record video snippets instead of producing a video each time
- Use CRMs, like Hubspot or Salesforce, to automate micro-tasks in the sales process, like follow-ups and LinkedIn connect
- Use accounting software to automate invoices, payment chasers, and sales forecasting
- Decide sales activities metrics to track. Defining metrics will make it clear to your sales reps what they need to be doing to hit a target. Metrics will vary by organization, and the best one to track depends on your business goals. These are some ideas of what sales managers can track in their team
- Reachability. The % of new leads reached
- Phone time. The numbers of hours spent on the phone talking to prospects
- Phone calls. The number of prospects a sales reps calls per day
- Response time. Length of time between lead being received and lead being contacted
- Define and communicate KPIs. Finally, for sales teams to be profitable, they need clear sales goals and KPIs – usually set monthly. Sales managers can then use these to hold team members to account and set competitions. Here are some common sales KPIs.
- Total revenue in $
- Average transaction value in $
- Conversion rate as a %
What should your sales CRM do?
CRMs are an essential tool in any sales team. Standard CRMs allow sales reps to share customer and prospect data with colleagues and record activities. This is what other features your CRM should have:
- Automate your to-do list. The best CRMs should be intuitive. They should automatically create to-do lists so sales reps don’t waste time writing their own at the start of each day.
- Standardize workflows. As we’ve already discussed, consistency is a key pillar in sales productivity. The best CRMs standardize workflows so sales teams follow the best sales process.
- Integrate with other platforms. Use CRMs that link to LinkedIn to automate outreach and nurturing activities.
- Track lead activity. Top sales CRM can record prospect activity, such as emails being read and emails sent.
Tools for sales productivity
Aside from CRMs, a vast range of other tools help make your sales team more efficient. They include, but are not limited to:
- LinkedIn and other social media channels for networking, outreach, and nurturing
- Video call platforms, like Zoom, for face-to-face sales calls
- Call recording software to listen back to calls and coach sales team members
- Video recording software to provide more personalized sales messages
- Financial management software, like COR, to track sales performance
The 12 most effective ways of increasing sales productivity
Increasing your team’s sales productivity will take time, as it involves behavioral change. New measures will require buy-in and acceptance from all sales reps. Even if just one team member is in disagreement, this could have serious impacts on the rest of the team. So, strong change management is essential to the rollout of new sales initiatives.
Make results and performance YTD transparent
In high-performing sales teams, all individuals know their individual, team, and stretch targets. By making this information transparent, sales managers can hold their team members to account. Transparency also allows businesses to spot trends, which can then be used to optimize performance. For example, if sales reps always hit targets sooner than others, they should share their best practices with others. Using whiteboards (virtual or physical) is a popular way to keep track of sales performance within a team.
Hire top sales talent for your team
To increase sales productivity, smash goals and achieve profitability, you need a team of top sales talent. There are several traits all successful salespeople have in common. And while experience is preferable, it isn’t essential to sales success. The best sales reps are driven, ambitious and self-motivated to achieve their targets. They’re resilient and don’t let rejections, pressure, or slow months get them down. They’ve excellent people skills, strong listeners, and are motivated by success. Top sales performers are also super organized with their time.
Generate high-quality leads
Strictly speaking, this is more of a marketing strategy, but high-quality leads are a key part of sales success. Sales managers don’t want their team members wasting time and chasing poor-quality leads unlikely to convert. In this case, marketing teams should define their target audience and have strong lead-gen funnels. It may help to make use of conversational marketing techniques, like chatbots, to pre-qualify leads. This technology leverages artificial intelligence to screen a prospect before sending it on to the sales team. They pre-qualify the lead through a series of automated questions. Then, if a good fit, the lead is sent to a sales rep.
Set up effective onboarding and training
Effective onboarding and training are an essential part of any sales strategy. New sales professionals need to hit the ground running with agile onboarding that teaches them the sales process. It’s useful to use case studies and call recordings to demonstrate sales techniques. Role plays, case studies, and competitor mystery shopping are also effective training activities. As for existing team members, sales managers should organize regular refreshers to keep sales skills sharp.
Automate your sales process
Automating processes is one of the most effective ways of improving sales productivity. As we’ve already touched upon, automation relieves sales reps of repetitive tasks. This frees them up to spend more time chasing and closing deals. Email templates, automated follow up and nurturing emails are all examples of automation in sales. Businesses can leverage AI to pre-screen leads, ensuring that only qualified prospects go to the sales team. On a higher level, senior sales leaders should track data and monitor workflows. This will help them identify repetitive workflows that could be slowing down the sales teams.
Qualify prospects properly
Many salespeople find prospecting one of the hardest parts of the sales cycles, and often it’s down to incorrect prospecting. To get the most out of each opportunity, sales reps should follow these steps:
- Understand why they’re a prospect and bring this up in the pitch. What pain points do they have that your product solves? What industry are they in? Who are their competitors? Understanding this information first will help salespersons pitch from the right angle.
- Develop ideal customer profiles. Similar to buyer personas in marketing, prospect personas are an effective way of categorizing leads. Each persona will have a different sales process based on how your product or service solves their problem.
- Personalize your communication. As well as adapting sales processes to each persona, sales reps should personalize their contact with each individual. Finding something they find in common or asking how their weekend was are common ways to break the ice and build relationships.
Keep Your Team Motivated to Reach Their Full Potential
High levels of team morale and motivation are especially important in sales teams. The nature of the game means salespeople will receive more rejections and ghosting than replies and wins. This means sales managers need to keep their team morale up. Otherwise, constant rejections may demotivate team members and send them into a negative cycle. Managers should reward top performers for their efforts, and in turn, this motivates others to achieve the same. They should also conduct regular check-ins with their team members.
Sales leaders should break down quarterly targets into bite-size figures to make them sound more achievable. Having a quarterly target of $100k sounds a lot. But, it’s just over $33k per month, $8.5k per week, and just $1.6k per day. Suddenly $100k seems very doable. This can also apply to other KPIs, such as units sold and leads converted.
Monitor and Improve Sales Performance with Key Metrics
The best-performing sales team work towards key metrics and KPIs to track and improve their sales performance. Within a team, sales reps can use metrics to structure their days. For example, team members need to reach 50 new prospects per week. So, the sales manager could set aside one hour each day for team prospecting. During this hour, team members need to reach 10 new prospects. By making information transparent, sales teams are more likely to achieve their goals. On an organizational level, senior leaders can use data to identify strong-performing teams. They can use this data to optimize sales efforts and share best practices with the rest of the organization.
Spend the first hour per day prospecting
Prospecting is the practice of generating leads. Sales reps often shy away from this activity and prefer to contact fresh deals rather than conduct cold calls. But consistent and frequent prospecting will soon pay off as sales reps start seeing results. Starting their day doing this means they get this less popular task over and done with first. But if they have success with prospecting and create opportunities earlier, this will set them up for a strong rest of the day. Prospecting doesn’t just have to be cold calls, sales reps can contact and nurture existing customers.
Optimize follow-ups and automate where necessary
Follow up, follow up, follow up. It’s one of the golden rules in sales, but often the most neglected. Why? Often salespersons simply forget, or don’t believe the lead will advance any further down the pipeline. Following up with clients shows them you want their business and care about helping them. As well as automated email follow-ups, sales reps should always end every sales call with a date and time of a follow-up call. It helps to send a calendar invite straight after the call. And sales reps need to be mindful of when to follow up for the best results, and how many times to do so before disqualifying a lead as non-responsive.
The best salespeople never stop learning and adapting their techniques. As well as training, organizations should consider sales coaching for more personalized learning. After all, each team member has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It helps to record all sales calls, as these can listen back to in coaching sessions. Coaching sessions should be documented, with clear next steps and action plans between coaching. These can be reviewed at the start of each session to track progress.
Aside from sales techniques, the most successful rep have strong time management skills. Sales reps need to spend as much time as possible prospecting, chasing, and closing deals. Time spent on administrative tasks, like data entry, removes them from revenue-generating activities. So, sales leaders should eliminate as many repetitive tasks as possible by automating them. A study by consulting firm McKinsey found that up to 30% of tasks in sales can be automated. Sales reps should also track their own time. This allows them to see how many their sellings vs admin ratio.
Increasing sales productivity improves performance, generates more revenue, and increases profitability. Businesses should ensure their sales reps spend as much time as possible prospecting, chasing, and closing deals. Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks is the most effective way of increasing sales productivity.