If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that your sales reps aren’t as productive as you’d like them to be. You’re not alone: sales productivity is a challenge in every organization. In fact, sales productivity is a top business challenge for 65% of B2B organizations.
The first step to increasing sales productivity is to admit there’s a problem. So we’re so glad you’re here. The next step is to identify obstacles that limit sales productivity in your organization. For instance, you may ask yourself:
- How long does it take to ramp our sales reps?
- How much time do our reps spend in meetings?
- How much time do our reps spend on administrative tasks?
- What’s the average time to deal completion?
- How and when do our reps use content?
- How long do they spend searching for or creating content?
- And finally, where in the sales cycle do our deals tend to stall?
There are quite a few challenges that can limit productivity. As you begin to think about your own organization, make note of bottlenecks that take away valuable time that your sales reps can use to actually sell. But, for now, we’d like to help you figure out how to get out of this rut and do more in less time.
What is sales productivity?
Before we dive into a few tips, let’s cover the sales productivity definition. Sales productivity is the measurement of how your organization uses tools, resources, and processes to achieve key business goals while reducing the time and costs associated with winning new business.
Sales productivity is measured across your entire organization. High-performers or outliers in your organization can help you identify and scale best practices to optimize productivity.
Now let’s get to the good part. As you begin to think about your sales productivity strategy, we’ve pulled together five tried-and-true tips you can use to get the most out of your strategy. Check them out below!
1. Practice ongoing sales training and coaching
Faster ramp times mean sales reps can begin to sell effectively, quickly. Sales training isn’t just a week of onboarding sessions followed by shadowing. Instead, effective sales training and coaching is ongoing and personalized to the individual rep.
However, 26% of sellers say that their sales training is ineffective. Another 84% of reps say that their sales training is forgotten within 3 months. These numbers can deal a serious blow to seller productivity. When your reps don’t gain or retain enough from their learning and coaching, they may encounter more roadblocks throughout the sales journey.
In order to train sales reps and ensure that they retain knowledge, learning and coaching programs need to evolve. For starters, organizations need to move beyond the traditional in-person training boot camps. As more business activities go digital, so too should sales training and coaching.
Remote learning and sales coaching have significant upside. Instead of relying on hours-long sessions, sales reps can learn in short, 15-20 minute interactive lessons that allow them to retain knowledge through hands-on training. By replacing lengthy PowerPoint presentations with role-play activities, sellers can learn firsthand how to engage buyers in simulated buying scenarios.
Most of all, digital sales training and coaching allow enablement leaders to monitor performance and understand where each seller is. When you know that a seller has successfully mastered objection handling, their personalized sales training plan can pivot toward another skill that will empower them to become more productive and efficient.
2. Align sales and marketing on shared goals
Sales and marketing alignment are the cornerstone of sales productivity. According to Marketo, sales and marketing teams are 67% more effective at closing deals when they work together.
But what does it mean for sales and marketing teams to be in alignment? Sales and marketing alignment is built on the understanding that sales and marketing teams have shared goals they need to achieve to best serve customers.
Collaboration between sales and marketing leadership allows both teams to set a joint strategy and determine the steps their teams will take to achieve it. For example, if your organization’s pipeline target is $20M, sales and marketing leaders can determine how many leads need to be generated, how many calls need to be scheduled, and how many demos are necessary to reach that target.
When go-to-market (GTM) teams collaborate to build customer journeys, they can improve productivity by implementing regimented processes. When marketers create content for each stage of the buyer journey, sales reps can share the right content at the right time and keep deals moving forward.
3. Centralize access to sales content
Content is the fuel that drives the go-to-market engine. But sales reps stall out when they can’t find or access the content that their marketing counterparts create. Content discovery is an all-too-common challenge for sales reps. In a recent survey, 81% of sales executives cited content search and utilization as the top productivity improvement area. And according to Aberdeen, sales reps spend an average of 440 hours searching for content every year.
Content management software provides a central location where sales reps can access all deal-related content. From PowerPoint presentations to fact sheets and solution briefs, marketers can upload, store, and update the latest and greatest content.
The way your organization manages its content should serve your sales reps. In order to save your reps time and effort, it’s important to think like a seller. Organizing content by factors such as sales stage, industry, persona, or segment allows sales reps to quickly tailor the content they share to the opportunity at hand.
4. Build efficiencies with artificial intelligence (AI)
What if your sales reps didn’t have to search for content and align it to the right persona and sales stage? What if they could do all of the above with the added confidence that the content they share is known to generate results?
AI-guided selling is helping sales reps to do just that. Data mature organizations are using artificial intelligence to put their data and insights to work for their sales reps. AI and machine learning (ML) can decipher in moments the trends and patterns it would take weeks for humans to identify. For example, if one of your sales reps is engaging a Chief Sales Officer in the manufacturing industry who is evaluating product x against your competitors, an AI tool could recommend the most effective content to share based on previous closed-won deals.
It all boils down to simplicity. When sales reps don’t have to scramble to find and share the best content, they can focus more on their relationships with buyers. AI-guided selling simply ensures that sellers are connecting buyers with the next best content, every time. And once you know what works, you can do more of it.
5. Measure and improve performance
A successful sales enablement strategy needs to be monitored and continuously improved. From sales training and coaching to the content your sellers access and share, your sales activities generate valuable data and insights.
The key performance indicators (KPIs) that your organization tracks should align to your goals for seller productivity. By monitoring key sales metrics like average ramp time, content usage, average deal time, and time spent selling, your organization can identify opportunities to improve seller productivity. It’s also beneficial to review your sales metrics dashboard with reps on a regular basis so they have clarity on where the team and their individual performance stands throughout the quarter.
The bottom line
Your sales reps are busier than ever before. While meetings and administrative tasks will never go away completely, there are several things you can do to help your reps save time and increase productivity. Start by giving your sales reps the foundation and content they need to successfully engage their buyers. With the right sales productivity tools and strategy, your sales team can go to market more efficiently and monitor performance to improve over time.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can unlock seller productivity, view our interactive guide, Accelerating Seller Success.