When it comes to boosting your company’s sales, you can either focus on attracting new customers or working more efficiently. Ideally, you’ll be able to do both, meaning that you can elevate your bottom line even faster.
Unfortunately, your sales team is likely not as productive as it should be. In many cases, reps fall into habits that may or may not yield excellent results. When that happens, sales can take a dive or remain stagnant.
Even if your team is performing well, chances are that you can improve your processes and sales methods. With that in mind, we’re going to show you 15 proven ways to double your sales productivity. Choose the options that work best for your team and watch your numbers rise.
What is Sales Productivity?
Overall, productivity means producing more results in less time with fewer resources. For example, if it took six hours to complete a task, completing it in three hours would make you twice as productive.
When talking about sales productivity, you want to look at your whole team as well as individual salespeople. As a rule, only 20 percent of your reps are top performers, with around 60 percent delivering average results.
That means you can boost productivity by moving more of your salespeople to the top percentile. If 20 percent is your current status, increasing that to 25 percent can yield incredible gains.
On an individual level, you want each rep to close as many deals in as little time as possible. There are multiple ways to do this, which we’ll cover in our following 15 tips and recommendations.
Overall, even incremental success can be valuable. By using as many of these methods as possible, you can build a high-quality sales team that works efficiently.
Top Sales Productivity Methods
1. Create an Effective Onboarding Process
The sales industry is continuously adapting and evolving to meet customer needs. There was a time when sales calls and face-to-face interactions were the norm. Now people use emails and live chat sessions to communicate.
As technology advances, so should your sales team and the processes they use. Even if you are bringing in top performers, reps are only as good as their surroundings. If you don’t equip them with the right tools and training, they are doomed to fail.
Many companies simply bring in new salespeople, set them loose, and expect the best. However, without the right foundation, it’s hard for your new reps to deliver the results you want.
By creating an efficient and effective customer onboarding process, you can ensure that all new reps are brought up to speed. Then, they can and will work within your parameters.
Not only is onboarding necessary, but so is training. We’ll cover sales coaching later on, but you will need to update and train your sales team continually. Otherwise, they won’t be able to adapt, letting the competition outshine them.
2. Create a Sales Plan
All too often, businesses only have one goal in mind: increasing sales. It makes sense to boost the bottom line. But, it is also necessary to have a clear and understandable way to reach that objective.
Think of a sales plan like a race track, and all your sales reps are individual cars. If your only motivation is to make the cars go faster, they might race in all different directions. Without the proper guidance, inspiration doesn’t always deliver results.
Instead, you have to narrow the track to ensure that each rep is moving forward. The best way to do this is with a comprehensive and detailed sales plan. You can get input from your sales staff about what to include, but some typical plan elements are:
- Quantifiable Metrics – How do you measure success? While dollar values are an excellent start, they don’t tell the whole story. For example, perhaps your low-performing reps are taking too much time to close each deal.
- Objective Deadlines – These deadlines are not designed to create more pressure but verify whether your team can meet them. If your reps keep blowing past delivery dates, you have to figure out how to solve that problem. Either they need additional training, or you have to readjust your timetable.
- Check-Ins – While some reps do better without oversight and guidance, others prefer to have constant reinforcement. Be sure to schedule check-ins so that you can pay attention to progress and make changes as necessary.
3. Make Meetings With Sales Teams More Effective
A common complaint among sales teams is that too many meetings could easily be memos or emails. While it’s tempting to meet with your team face-to-face, you do not want to derail your momentum as a result.
Trying to make your meetings more effective is easier said than done. Here are some tips to encourage better sales productivity:
- Create Unique Meeting Schedules – While some reps may struggle with a particular task like cold-calling, others might excel at it. Don’t waste time by bringing everyone into the cold-calling meeting. Instead, only invite those who need the insight.
- Have Specific Goals in Mind – Although meetings typically have a purpose, the best way to make them more productive is to determine the goals for the next meeting or check-in. Have a list of deliverables ready for each participant.
- Understand Your Reps – Some salespeople like the collaborative nature of an in-person meeting. Other reps may prefer to talk one-on-one or communicate digitally. To maximize your sales productivity, you should adapt your strategies to fit each person. This way, you can ensure that all reps are getting the most out of every interaction.
4. Embrace Sales Automation
Many top sales reps prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. Calling clients on the phone, meeting with them in person and crafting unique messages. While these methods still have incredible value, they are also time-consuming.
One way to streamline your processes and improve sales productivity is to let technology do a lot of the work. A computer will never replace a person. But, it can handle much of the detail-oriented tasks that can slow your team down.
While there are tons of sales automation tools out there, you have to be careful about implementing and using them. Here are some tips on how to incorporate automation into your processes:
- Outline Your Sales Process – In many cases, reps or teams don’t have a literal step-by-step guide to closing sales. Instead, they adapt to each lead or client on the fly. Have your salespeople list the different steps so that you can pinpoint where automation can fit in.
- Compare Tools – Some automation tools focus on specific tasks, while others can handle multiple actions. Once you have picked the various steps to automate, choose your technology accordingly.
- Use Free Trials – Before committing to a particular tool or system, you must make sure it will work well for your team. Otherwise, you could update to a program that disrupts more than it solves problems.
- Avoid Siloes – One issue that can stem from automation is using unique tools for different tasks. The primary downside is that reps have to maintain multiple accounts and transfer data between programs. If possible, use one system for multiple tasks or find a way to sync various tools together.
5. Make Use of Sales Tools
This tactic fits in well with the one above. While automation is the process of trusting machines and technology to do different tasks, sales tools augment each rep’s capabilities. For example, you might use an automated system to send notifications to clients. A sales tool might be CRM software that allows agents to find client details quickly.
As with automation, the best way to use different sales tools is to figure out where your team is lacking. For example, if reps are spending too much time entering client information into a program it could become problematic. A good solution is to opt for a tool that does it automatically.
There are so many sales tools that it can be challenging to determine which ones will work best for your team. Here are some suggestions on how to find the right tools for your needs.
- Find Delays – When outlining your sales process, it helps to estimate the time spent on each task. From there, you can determine where your reps can become more efficient. These spots will also allow you to find the right tool for the job.
- Appeal to Your Low-Scoring Reps – Your top performers likely do not need much help with sales productivity. So, rather than choosing a tool that helps them, focus on the bottom 20 percent of salespeople. If they can master these tools and boost their close rate, it will be easier for top reps to use them as well.
- Do not Overcomplicate the Process – While it’s tempting to use as many sales tools as possible, too many can slow your team down. As we mentioned with siloed programs, you need to focus on efficiency.
6. Help Your Team Generate Quality Leads
One problem that many sales teams face is that of the “zombie prospect.” This term refers to leads that won’t convert to customers. The more time spent working on these prospects, the more time wasted.
Instead, it’s much better to qualify your leads as much as possible before handing them to your salespeople. Here are some tactics to ensure better qualification:
- Refine Your Lead Generation Strategy – Don’t try to get as many leads as possible. It is better to narrow your search and find individuals who are already interested in your business. You should be using lead gen tools already, so just refine how they locate new prospects.
- Use Lead Scoring – This process is when you assign points to different leads for various actions. For example, subscribing to your newsletter can be worth 10 points, while filling in a CTA form is worth five. From there, you can create a minimum score to follow up with each lead.
- Create a Qualified Lead Profile – Your marketing team should already have an ideal customer profile. But, how does that influence your sales team? Build from this profile to determine which factors separate a qualified lead from an unqualified one.
Overall, you will need to ensure that your sales team gets as much information about leads as possible. You can do this through lead capture forms, surveys, and automated chatbots. The more details you can gather ahead of time, the easier it is to qualify all new leads.
7. Streamline Your Sales and Marketing Efforts
In many cases, the marketing team does not communicate effectively with the sales team. Marketers make promises and promote products without input or insight from sales reps. When that happens, there is a vast disconnect between what leads expect and what they receive.
Instead, you need to find a way for these teams to work efficiently together. Otherwise, you are creating more time wasted as marketers deliver unqualified leads to sales reps. Here are some ways to achieve this goal:
- Have Interdepartmental Meetings – Rather than having meetings for sales and marketing separate, bring them together. Share the same goals with each group and gather insight on how to reach them.
- Connect Supervisors – Depending on the size of your teams, it’s not feasible to have each person communicate with everyone else. Instead, rely on supervisors and managers to talk to each other and provide updates. For example, the marketing manager can tell the sales director about an upcoming campaign and gather details about how it will affect the sales team.
- Create a Marketing and Sales Process – Instead of having individual processes for each team, connect them to create a comprehensive action plan. Have both groups look at how leads move through the funnel. That way they can understand how each step affects the one after it.
8. Make Ongoing Sales Coaching a Priority
As we mentioned earlier, improving sales productivity requires continuous maintenance and care. Never assume that a single training will stick. Many reps fall back into old habits, particularly if new strategies are not reinforced.
Ideally, you will schedule coaching once or twice a year, especially for underperforming sales reps. Each coaching session should reinforce what was taught before to ensure that each agent follows each strategy all the time.
Another point to remember is that sales managers need to participate in these training sessions as well. If they are not reinforcing the coaching materials, reps have no incentive to follow along.
While comprehensive sales training can occur quarterly or bi-annually, managers and supervisors should plan to meet with reps monthly. These meetings allow new training to take place. But, they can also enable managers to have a better understanding of the shortfalls and hurdles that reps face regularly.
Finally, when implementing sales coaching, promote it as improvement and adaptability. Many reps can view coaching negatively, as they assume it’s a result of poor performance. However, training can help all salespeople do better, not just those at the bottom. By framing these sessions as positive reinforcement, your team is more likely to embrace them.
9. Advance Prospects Faster With Value
One reason leads fail to convert to customers is that they spend too long in the sales pipeline. Too often, reps fall behind when talking to prospects. Reasons for this issue are they don’t know how to move them forward or they are not as proactive as they should be.
Here are some tips for moving prospects through the sales funnel faster while adding value to their experience:
- Create Content for Each Step – One way to maximize sales productivity is to take as much pressure off of your reps as possible. You can do that easily by creating content pieces for each step of the funnel. Your salespeople then augment this content with a call or demo meeting to move the lead onward.
- Make Content Pieces Accessible – If your sales reps are spending too much time looking for content, they may get sidetracked and forget to send it altogether. One easy way to make it accessible is to have a shared drive with folders for each step within the funnel. This tactic allows reps to get what they need depending on where the lead is currently.
- Write Sales Scripts – While your salespeople have to be adaptive when talking with clients, scripts can help them stay focused. Another option is to script answers to frequently asked questions. This way, your reps do not have to develop solutions on the fly or schedule a follow-up call.
10. Evaluate and Re-Evaluate Sales Processes
Your sales team may be lacking productivity if they aren’t following a strict process. The best way to streamline your reps is to have them move a lead through specific steps. By developing a comprehensive funnel, you do not have to worry about salespeople falling behind. Since they know what to do next, they can be much more proactive.
Your sales process is likely imperfect, especially as you increase lead generation. What works for some prospects may not work for others.
When it comes to improving sales productivity for the long term, you have to regularly re-evaluate your processes and funnels. Ideally, you can schedule an evaluation meeting once per quarter to see which elements are working.
In some cases, you might be able to identify specific steps where leads tend to fall off. From there, you can develop alternative methods that might be able to increase conversions.
Get insight from your sales reps and managers during these evaluations. This information will help you understand what it’s like from their perspective. Don’t assume that specific changes will deliver results. Just as your team needs to be flexible, so should you.
11. Use Analytics
This tactic can be integrated with the one above. As you re-evaluate your sales process, have as much data as possible to understand which elements are working best. Without quantifiable metrics, it is impossible to know whether you have to make any changes.
Fortunately, there are many analytical tools out there. The most significant challenge, however, is getting your sales reps to use them.
Typically, marketers love to look at data and adjust tactics based on the numbers. Conversely, salespeople tend to rely on anecdotal evidence and instinct. While there is value in both of those elements, they can be misleading or outdated.
One component of your sales coaching should be to incorporate analytical tools into the sales process. This way, reps can see how their actions affect the numbers directly, making them more likely to follow through.
The other aspect of the analytics process is to look at data from all points of the sales process. Not only should you pay attention to lead metrics, but those coming from your team as well.
For example, how long does each rep spend on a single sales call? How many emails do they send each day? If you have no means of capturing this information, how can you be sure where your team is falling behind?
Analyzing back-end data can give you valuable insight on what to change and how to coach individual salespeople.
12. Send More Precise Emails
When it comes to email marketing, the goal is to send the right message to the right person at the right time. It’s easier than ever to send email blasts to hundreds or thousands of individuals. However, there is a good chance that your capture rate is likely going to suffer.
Instead, it’s much better to be precise with your emails. Here are some ways to do that:
- Segment Your Lists – Instead of sending messages to everyone on your subscriber list, you want to focus your attention on specific demographics. For example, one email can go to past customers (re-selling) while another focuses on qualified leads. Segmentation allows you to speak to everyone individually, even if your subscriber count is in the double-digits.
- Focus on One Call-to-Action – No one wants to read a rambling email. Instead, focus on a specific action like clicking a link or responding to a survey in your messages. This way, readers know what to do without any confusion.
- Pay Attention to Timing – When you send an email is just as valuable as the content inside. Some people open emails during the day, while others do so at night. Follow-up emails may work best the same day as a particular action, or they might be more captivating three days later. Don’t assume that one time works best for all messages and recipients.
13. Understand Your Ideal Customer Profile
The best way to engage with prospects is to understand them and the problems they face. If you’re not addressing a customer’s specific needs, they are far less likely to buy.
Your marketing team already has ideal customer profiles, but are they sharing them with your sales staff? If not, there can be a massive disconnect between promotional materials and sales messaging.
You should reinforce your ideal customer profile as much as possible during sales coaching. One of the processes should be to capture details about which problem the customer is experiencing. That way, your reps know which profile to use. From there, scripting and value-driven content can help close the deal much faster.
14. Encourage Referrals
It is often much easier to sell to referred leads than brand-new prospects. Referrals know what to expect from your company and have a favorable view of the brand already. So, by making it easier for current clients to refer others, you can improve sales productivity.
There are multiple ways to encourage referrals, including:
- Rewards Program – The more your clients refer others, the more they are rewarded.
- Review Soliciting – You can’t solicit positive reviews. But, you can make sure that all customers have a quick and easy way to rate your business.
- Asking – Sometimes, the easiest way to get a referral is to ask clients for them. Incorporate this language into the sales and closing process and see how well it can deliver results.
15. Motivate Your Sales Team
Finally, a happy sales team is going to be more productive. However, motivation comes in many shapes and forms. Here are some methods to motivate your reps as efficiently as possible.
- Customize Your Approach – Some salespeople are motivated by commissions, while others like helping customers. Don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to improve sales productivity.
- Focus on Solutions, Not Problems – Rather than reprimanding reps for their shortcomings, talk to them about how they can improve. Finding solutions that help each person move forward yields much better reactions.
- Commit to Positive Reinforcement – While you don’t have to go all out, a simple “good job” or “great work” can go a long way. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to continue to put extra effort into their work.
Contact Selling Revolution Today
Improving your sales productivity is easier said than done. Even with these tactics in mind, you may find yourself struggling to implement various strategies. Fortunately, we can help. Selling Revolution focuses on sales coaching and data-driven results. We can ensure that your team delivers a more robust bottom line. Contact us today to get started.