Productivity. It’s a super trendy concept that is usually coupled with other buzz-words like “streamlining systems,” “scaling processes,” and “time-saving tactics.” But what does “productivity” actually mean in a sales context?
Sales Productivity Definition
When we talk about sales productivity, we’re talking about the ratio of effectiveness (the outcome of a task) versus efficiency (the effort that went into completing said task). Basically, input to output. The more productive you are as a sales rep, the less time and effort you must invest in each deal you close.
Considering that the vast majority of sales reps are constantly looking to decrease costs and increase revenue, productivity is an invaluable skill. But what does it look like on the ground? How can you (or your sales representatives) become more productive?
Here are the five central productivity goals you can use to stay on target as you try to capture some magic for your team.
1. Use the right tools
What are some obnoxious tasks you have on your plate on a regular basis? Particularly that repetitive, annoying stuff that is super time consuming but mostly involves Google searches and research.
There’s probably a tool for that.
Businesses today have access to thousands of new technologies and software that were made specifically to streamline processes and take the trouble out of annoying tasks. There’s a tool for everything, from client relationship management (CRM) and email automation, to route planning and time tracking.
Source: Map My Customers
In addition to saving time and cutting down on frustration, these tools often have the added bonus of giving you real data about how your team is doing. For example, how many people are really opening your emails? How much time are you actually spending on the road?
When you have the tools that capture, measure, and analyze data, it’s much easier to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and then make approproate changes. It’s a productivity win-win!
2. Tighten your onboarding process
One of the biggest time-sucks isn’t finding leads and getting the sale: it’s introducing new people into the system. This goes for both new clients and new members of your team.
On the customer side, when you close a deal, there’s basic (but meticulous) stuff your salesperson must do in order to get them set-up and ready to go. They need to make sure your company has all the appropriate information (contract signing, payment information, address, contact names, order specifics, etc.) and that it is given to the appropriate teams.
On the team side, when you get a new salesperson, training takes time. Even if they have a sales background, companies all have their own unique way of doing things, and it takes time and resources (likely another employee’s help) to get them up to speed.
Source: Mind Tickle
Unfortunately, both of these onboarding processes take time, (hu)man-power, and resources. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: tighten your onboarding process.
By creating a systematic onboarding process that takes every new sale and team member through the same steps, you can give salespeople back some of their time which can then be spent on making new sales. This also might include automating steps in the process and providing key information in a portal that new sales can access themselves rather than having to go through with a salesperson.
3. Automate routine tasks
There’s some overlap between “using the right tools” and “automation,” but here we’re looking specifically at things you can make 100% hands-off once you hit “go.”
Less than a third of a salesperson’s days is spent on core selling activities. Instead, they’re spending their time inputting customer information, finding contact details, answering questions, sending follow-up emails, asking for renewals, and other general maintenance tasks.
Source: Four Quadrant
These tasks can all be done automatically with software powered by AI and basic automation tools. For example, instead of setting calendar alerts to remind you to write up follow-up emails every X days, why not have your email provider programmed to automatically send the email for you? Or, why not get a CRM that will autopopulate basic information based on what’s online?
By eliminating the repetitive busywork, your sales reps have more time to do the things that actually turn a profit.
4. Incentivize your reps
This next productivity goal is purely on a human-level and takes no fancy tools or elaborate planning. Just incentivize your sales representatives to perform in ways that are more effective and efficient.
There’s a reason why so many companies give performance-based bonuses--they work. Everyone likes to be rewarded for their accomplishments, and salespeople are no different. If there’s something to work towards (like a monetary incentive, a day-off, or some other treat) your employees are going to work harder to get there. It’s really that simple.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Incentives give sales representatives tangible goals, an opportunity for some friendly competition, and well-deserved recognition for their efforts. The important thing here is to make sure the incentive is something that sales representatives actually want, that the goal is challenging but reasonably doable, and that you aren’t fostering a cut-throat environment.
If you do take advantage of tools to help you automate and more easily manage your daily tasks, it will be even easier to evaluate how sales representatives are performing because you will have the ability to look at actual data. Consider rewards for reaching a certain dollar amount in sales, deals closed, churn reduced, etc.
5. Measure and tweak
It’s a basic mantra of productivity: evaluate and adjust. Measure and tweak. Measure and respond. How will you ever discover what works and what doesn’t if you don’t have the data?
Not all companies are created equal, and you may find that productivity tips that work for many businesses just aren’t helpful with your reps. There’s such thing as tool overload where, in an effort to be more “productive,” businesses bog down their employees with redundant, disjointed tools that only really complicate matters.
The most effective way to “measure and tweak” is to implement changes one at a time and then give it time to see what shakes out. It’s the same rule as with standard A/B tests (or your elementary school science fair): only one independent variable at a time!
Keep a “slow and steady wins the race” mentality, and you’ll soon find combinations of productivity tactics that work best for your unique situation.
Productivity is a highly-coveted yet somewhat intangible concept. We all want to be “productive,” but without a set goal in mind, it’s difficult to know where to begin. As you strive to get your sales business running at maximum capacity, let these five basic productivity principles be your guiding light.
Do you have any productivity tips that you’ve found especially helpful? Share them in the comments to join the conversation.
Scott Miraglia is the CEO of Elevation Marketing. He is a balanced risk-taker with nearly three decades of experience starting and growing advertising and marketing agencies. His business acumen is matched with a drive to build creative teams that thrive in open, collaborative work environments. Scott seeks out the best creative individuals, not only to provide quality service to clients, but to also help shape the future direction of Elevation Marketing. He remains dedicated to helping his talented teams develop unique and effective integrated marketing programs that help employees realize their full potential while serving up impressive business wins for clients.