Sales productivity is a crucial factor in meeting sales quotas and reaching new sales goals. In fact, 71% of C-level executives believe sales productivity is critical to achieving growth. Another 79% stated that improving productivity is the leading driver in hitting new sales goals.
Business growth depends on your sales productivity. How hard is your team working to make sure that you succeed?
Although it may be evident that sales productivity is the foundation of company growth, many leaders ignore this basic fact. Or worse, they choose terrible tactics to try to get more productivity out of their sales teams.
However, keeping your team productive doesn’t take a master class in psychology. Instead, it takes some thoughtful steps to see where your team is, what they need, and encourage them to be as productive as possible.
Read on to learn the three easy steps you can take to measure sales activity, enable a more productive sales team, and sales productivity tools to help your team be as efficient as possible.
What is Sales Productivity?
First, though, we need to define precisely what sales productivity is. The simplest definition of a productive sales team is that they are both efficient AND effective.
Efficiency can be defined as the ability to spend time on high-impact activities while minimizing time wasters. Take two sales reps that spend the same amount of time in the office, for instance. The one that is sending emails, making phone calls, and connecting with clients will be more efficient than the one that is filling out paperwork all day.
Effectiveness, on the other hand, is how well your sales team uses their resources to reach their goals. For example, if two sales reps make the same number of phone calls, the one that lands the most meetings and sales is the more effective sales rep.
To encourage your sales team to be as productive as possible, you have to find ways to make them both efficient and effective.
Why Sales Productivity Matters
Simply put, productive sales teams close more deals.
For leaders that want to increase the revenue-driving capabilities of their teams, productivity is a critical consideration. In particular, getting data-informed insights can help leaders pinpoint exactly where reps struggle and take practical steps to improve these areas.
That is why we put together a step-by-step guide to help leaders set up their teams for success and critical areas to consider to improve productivity.
Step by Step Guide to Increasing Sales Productivity
Sales productivity is not just one part of sales leadership. Instead, it requires inspecting each part of the sales process and overall business practices to ensure that reps have what they need to be as productive as possible.
These steps should help you consider which areas of your sales process need improvement and enable your sales reps to be effective and efficient.
Step #1: Set Up a Successful Onboarding Process
Sales productivity starts from the first day your sales reps come onto your team. The right onboarding experience can help ensure that they understand your company, your customers, and the value that you bring to them. That is why companies with an effective onboarding process enjoy a 10% increase in sales growth and a 14% higher profit objective achievement.
The faster you can get your sales team up to speed, the more productive they will be. Programs with a consistent structure and application cut down the average ramp-up time from 9.1 months to 5.7. This provides a critical boost to the overall productivity of your sales team.
The transfer of information is also critical for ensuring success during onboarding. Rather than having new reps start from scratch while working a territory, ensure that old reps pass on their information to boost their early success.
Training should not stop at onboarding, though. Research has found that the average salesperson forgets anywhere from 80-90% of their training within a month. Continue to offer training to keep reps up-to-date on the newest information related to your business and refresh them on what they learned during onboarding.
Step #2: Create Targeted Personas
Do your sales reps know what the ideal customers for your business all have in common? The more that they know about your customers, the better they can qualify all prospects. This is especially critical since more than 40% of salespeople stated that prospecting was the most challenging part of their job.
To increase their sales productivity, sales reps need to understand what qualities your customers share to know which prospects they should target. From there, they can create a prospect persona that highlights these insights. These personas should include basic demographics and specific industries, job titles, interests, challenges, goals, and any other traits customers share. The more that reps understand who they need to sell to, the less time they’ll waste on customers that are not a good fit for your company.
Step #3: Improve Your Content
Once you have established customer personas, you need to create content tailored towards them and their concerns.
The average customer is more informed than ever. They can quickly find industry information, and they expect your sales reps to supply them with personalized content. This content should be about who you are, what makes you stand out from competitors, and why customers choose you for business.
One sales survey found that 57% of salespeople said high-quality content is a critical tool to drive sales. However, if sales reps don’t have this content or can’t find it, it can significantly impact their overall productivity and ability to move prospects along the sales funnel. One of the top ways to improve sales team productivity is by giving them the content tools they need:
- Marketing materials including case studies, whitepapers, and brochures that give prospects more brand and company information.
- Articles and industry content can serve as additional information and conversation starters for sales reps.
- Email templates for check-ins, follow-ups, and outreach campaigns so that your sales team has both effective and efficient ways to reach prospects.
- Company website that gives prospects critical information about your company, brand, service, and products.
Arming your sales team with the content they need can help boost their productivity and ability to build client relationships.
Step #4: Streamline Sales Team’s Efforts
The right technology can make your team more efficient than ever. However, if your sales reps don't have the right technology or know-how to optimize it, they could waste their time.
CRMs should be configured to make it easy for reps to enter and find the information that's relevant to them. If you're using CRM tools alongside other sales enablement tools (like for auto-dialing or digital contracts), it's best to have tools that can integrate so that sales reps don't have to do double data entry in two systems.
In fact, CRMs such as Map My Customers streamline the whole process to keep your sales team from needing to document certain transactions at all. Walking into a customer's office, for instance, can be automatically logged instead of manually entered afterward.
In addition to a streamlined CRM, other tools can help streamline the sales process. For example, how many manual steps do your sales reps need to take to get a proposal completed and approved? Tools can help streamline the process.
Likewise, are contracts signed by hand? The time it takes to get the contract signed and sent back is a waste of your team’s time. Electronic signature apps eliminate the time and energy it takes to get the contract to and from the customer.
However, don’t overload your team with different sales tools. This will end up slowing them down. The more tools your technology can offer in one place, the better.
Automation is also key to the efficiency of your sales team. Some key actions that could be automated include:
- Appointment scheduling
- Proposal creation
- Task creation
Your sales team is wasting their time if they're doing something a computer can do just as well. Let your reps do the selling and encourage them to leave everything else to technology.
Step #5: Improve Team Oversight
Outside sales is a very independent endeavor, but oversight is critical to make sure that sales reps stay on course to remain productive. However, the systems that leadership use to keep tabs on their reps is decidedly unproductive. Having sales reps fill out forms detailing their sales routes or check-in after every meeting can take valuable time away from selling.
Technology can be a valuable tool for leadership to help them maintain oversight without ruining sales productivity. For example, auto check-ins on mobile phones mean that managers can see where their reps are without having to be in touch with them.
Step #6: Create Team-Oriented Success
A common mistake companies make is encouraging productivity by creating competition between team members. The problem with this is that it fails to cultivate a team-oriented culture at your organization.
Likewise, negative reinforcement (i.e., penalizing and firing) can have limited success. In the end, though, you may lose company loyalty and find that your sales reps aren’t fired up or passionate about their job.
Instead, create a team dynamic and encourage everyone to succeed together. Some ways you can inspire productivity in your sales team include:
- Celebrate wins. If your sales rep hits quota, leave some champagne at their desk to celebrate. When you see sales reps accomplishing goals, big or small, recognize them and affirm them. Also, don’t be afraid to celebrate with the group. Calling out members who have achieved a goal in an email or meeting will help motivate everyone.
- Encourage engagement. Sales can be a pretty competitive environment. However, everyone is more successful when a team dynamic spreads knowledge, creates better networking and encourages each other. You can support a team environment by making events for sales to engage with each other. Host a sponsored lunch or team event to spread comradery.
- Send motivational emails and messages. An inspiring message during an intense time, such as at the end of the quarter, can help your sales reps to keep working hard. Share an inspirational story or words of wisdom from a great.
Productivity is more than having the right tools. Inspiring your sales team to greatness will help them achieve their goals and high levels of productivity.
Step #7: Utilize Referrals
Recommendations of others is a powerful selling tool. One survey found that 47% of top sales performers ask for referrals regularly as opposed to 26% of lower performers. It makes sense, then, that referrals are four times more likely to close than other online leads.
To make sure that your sales team spends their time where it counts, encourage referrals as a great source of leads. Teach them the importance of requesting referrals and ensure that they are asking for them every day.
A referral reward system can also help motivate happy customers to send referrals your way and show appreciation for the business they can bring you. Some rewards could include discounts, upgrades, or presents such as gift cards.
Your sales team can spend more time with prospects more likely to convert by emphasizing and encouraging referrals.
KPIs to Measure Sales Productivity
The temptation for many sales managers and executives is to start doling out solutions. They create prizes, roll out new sales tools, or make cuts to the team. In fact, 49% of organizations have next to no means to measure sales productivity.
However, before you can make any solutions, you have to know where the problem is exactly.
Metrics can give you a good idea about where your team is in their productivity goals. KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are a great way to measure sales team productivity.
Try to focus on customer-centric metrics in your KPIs to encourage customer quality. This is what makes customers stay in the long term and even end up purchasing more than they initially thought they would.
Some sales productivity metrics to keep track of include:
- Conversion Rates. This calculates how many prospects your rep turns into customers.
- Average Deal Size. Make sure that your sales team isn’t wasting too much time on all smaller sales. Larger deals are a more effective use of their time.
- Retention Rate (LTV). Keeping clients is essential for business growth. If you are gaining more new customers but not holding onto them, you need to know why.
- Sales Length. Make sure that your team isn’t dragging down the sales process. Although the ideal sales length varies from company to company, you should have an average that your average sales rep should hit.
Beyond KPIs, though, activity sales metrics give you a real insight into how efficient your team is. KPIs let you know how well sales are performing in general. Activity sales metrics give you a good idea about how well your sales team is working.
If your conversion rate is poor, for example, maybe your marketing department is not sending high-quality leads? Likewise, perhaps a longer-than-usual sales cycle is because sales managers are taking too long to approve contracts?
Activity sales metrics let you know if your sales are doing their job and if you may need to concentrate on another department for efficiency. Some metrics you could track include:
- Calls made
- Emails sent
- In-person visits
- Social media interactions
- Demos or sales presentations
- Referral requests
These are the metrics that are more under your sales teams' control. If they're doing their part, you can optimize other departments for success or give them more tools to increase their efficiency.
Sales Tools to Improve Productivity
Sales tools are a critical part of productivity: companies that don’t use sales productivity software experience a 12% decrease in their sales goal achievement rate on average. The right sales productivity tools help increase efficiency and effectiveness, which results in better sales productivity.
Some of the top sales software tools available include:
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
An ideal tool for B2B sales, LinkedIn Sales Navigator utilizes advanced filters so that reps can search for the best leads. It provides actionable insights so that your team can get a better understanding of their prospects. It also offers content that you can personalize to reach prospective customers.
In our interview with Jim Kaleem, he revealed that his team had an impressive 50% response rate using LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It can significantly increase productivity since it gives reps better prospects and deeper insights to help sales reps be more effective.
SalesLoft integrates with CRMs to help make data easier for B2B sales teams to use. It helps drive sales engagement as an all-in-one platform that automates interactions to generate leads. Both reps and leaders can get better insights to help optimize strategies and performance.
Setting appointments can be a time-consuming task for sales reps. The back-and-forth can waste time that could be used actually selling. As one of the top scheduling tools available, Calendly can help reduce the time spent scheduling demos. It has an intuitive user interface to allow prospects to book a meeting in a couple of clicks. Plus, it can integrate with other apps to make it easy to see appointment times from anywhere.
Creating proposals is also a place that can waste time for sales reps. Proposify not only makes it easier to develop proposals but can improve them too. With interactive quotations, content libraries, customizable fields, notifications, and the ability to add videos, sales teams can create winning proposals.
Obtaining a signed contract is a critical part of the sales process, but it can also be time-consuming sending documents and getting signatures. DocuSign makes the process easier. It allows clients to sign from anywhere and has reliable document storage in the cloud. Clients no longer have to print out documents, sign them, and send them back, which means they are more likely to get it back to your reps much faster.
Map My Customers
As one of the leading sales automation platforms, Map My Customers provides a powerful productivity solution for outside sales. Map My Customers offers reps mapping features to spend less time on the road and more time in front of customers. Using data from your CRM, it can create better visualization to help drive the productivity of your sales team.
Increase Your Sales Team Productivity
Sales productivity is essential for your business. By measuring productivity, helping your team be as efficient and effective as possible, and giving them the right tools, your sales reps can reach more prospects and close more deals. Try some of these tricks today to encourage your sales team to be more productive than ever!