How to Improve Sales Productivity: 7 Helpful Hints
Sales productivity is the #1 challenge for almost 65% of B2B organizations, according to research from The Bridge Group. Therefore, optimizing sales productivity should be one of the most important aspects for a business to focus on – the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of the salesforce has a direct and significant impact on revenue.
What is Sales Productivity?
First, what is sales productivity, and why should you care? Sales productivity means maximizing sales results while minimizing the resources expended, such as cost, effort, and time. The 20/60/20 rule says that about 20% of your sales team are top performers who often meet or exceed quota. That leaves a majority of your sales team with room for improvement and opportunity to increase productivity. Often times, optimized sales productivity comes down to just streamlining workflow and eliminating unnecessary or superfluous tasks.
A Few Key Stats
Now let’s take a look at a few key stats about sales productivity in B2B businesses:
- 2/3 of sales reps fail to reach their annual sales quota goal (Aberdeen)
- Most sales reps spend more than 50 full days away from core selling activities each year (Domo)
- 80% of sales occur between the 2nd and 5th call, but only 20% of sales reps even make it to a 3rd call (Thunderhead)
- The average sales rep needs to update over 300 CRM records per week (Implisit)
- Sales reps receive almost 600 emails per week on average (The Brevet Group)
You can see that most sales organizations suffer from the old adage ‘too much to do in too little time’. But no fear – this is not an unsolvable problem!
How to Increase Sales Productivity
Interestingly, studies on sales continue to show that industry-wide productivity is continually on the decline. Although organizations are growing their sales teams and chasing more aggressive sales goals, they simply aren’t scaling their processes, best practices, and sales tools effectively.
Consider the following 7 helpful hints for increasing sales productivity:
1. Effectively Onboard & Train
Recent Aberdeen research revealed that it takes over 7 months and almost $30,000 to fully onboard and train a sales rep. That’s a tremendous resource investment, especially when considering the fact that 87% of training content is forgotten within weeks. It should be easy for your reps to learn about complex products and services quickly and to maintain a level of knowledge deep enough to make the sale. With the right onboarding tools in place, an organization can decrease ramp-up time by at least 30-40%.
It’s also important to have ongoing development and training in place to keep your reps up to speed. Fifty-five percent of the people making their living in sales don’t have the right skills to be successful, and less than 45% of companies have a formal sales training process. However, continuous training can result in 50% higher net sales per sales rep. And those 2/3 of sales reps who perform at or below quota can be coached and guided to operate at a higher level of performance.
2. Embrace Automation
Less than 1/3 of a sales person’s time goes to core selling. Time spent on unproductive, repetitive, or non-best practice tasks is time spent not selling. Any time you can automate an activity, you will save steps and time so that sales reps can get back to core selling activities. Reduce or eliminate admin tasks, such as data entry, and automate your sales workflow as much as possible. Consider triggered events, such as follow-up emails, which will help reps respond to prospects faster. Companies that follow a defined workflow are 33% more likely to be high performers.
3. Align Marketing and Sales
The silo mentality, where departments such as sales and marketing operate as individual units, has become a major problem in the B2B selling-scape. Forrester research shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight sales and marketing alignment. The lack of communication can cause organization-wide disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenues. However, alignment, with shared goals and metrics, can result in 25% increases in quota achievement, 15% increases in win rate, and 27% faster three-year profit growth, emphasizing the need for collaboration.
4. Provide the Right Content at the Right Time
Sales reps spend 30% of their day looking for or creating content – one of the biggest consumers of a sales rep’s time. Yet 70% of marketing content never gets used by sales. Why? They can’t find relevant material. And 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 productive, the sales team needs to know what content to use and when to use it.
5. Get Social
The power of social selling can help sales forces relate to and engage more intelligently with buyers. Sales reps can use social media in every stage of the sales process, from networking and prospecting to customer service. With insights about prospects such as demographics, preferences, what’s happening at their company, what’s going on in their industry, and where they encounter pain points, sales reps can more quickly and effectively drive an engaging and meaningful conversation. And according to Aberdeen, sales reps who leverage social media in their sales process are 79% more likely to attain their quota.
6. Measure Key Metrics
Measuring ‘sales’ is easy – revenue and dollars are good indicators of success. Measuring ‘selling’ is the challenging part. Many organizations are not consistently improving their sales productivity because they don’t regularly track productivity gains and results. Consider metrics such as call rate, win rate, sales cycle length, pipeline conversion rates, and average number of touches until conversion. Use dashboards to visualize trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity. Collecting and analyzing the proper data can quickly uncover opportunities for improvement.
7. Invest in the Proper Tools
With the aforementioned costs of recruiting and training sales reps, there is no reason not to invest in their success and keeping them around. Give your sales team the right tools to help them do their job efficiently and effectively (see our list of top 50 sales productivity tools!). Sales enablement technologies, such as Seismic, aim to align marketing processes and goals and then arm sales teams with the tools and content to improve sales execution and drive revenue. Sales enablement, by nature, empowers and enables sales reps to work more efficiently. And remember, a more productive sales team means more revenue is being generated!
When you have a finite number of selling days per year, it’s best to make the most of them. Need one more reason to increase sales productivity? Happy and engaged employees are not only 31% more productive but also have 37% higher sales. And one last note on productivity: experts recommend 2 cups of coffee, 30 minutes of exercise, and 7 hours of sleep a night to boost your chances of achieving peak performance levels!