We’ve all been there at some point:
- firing up an efficiency tool to work concentratedly for an hour – but getting pinged by a seemingly urgent email that must be answered this minute;
- suddenly remembering an important task, turning our attention away from that email to note it down somewhere, and losing our train of thought;
- sighing but going on to make a call that could have been delegated – because it’s “just simpler” to do it ourselves.
This, as we all know, does nothing to improve sales productivity – although the whirlwind it creates round our desk can look convincing to others!
The problem is that activity whirlwinds often block your team from achieving their best sales performance. In fact, according to Forbes a few years ago, reps only spent around 35% of their time selling!
In this post, therefore, we’ll review some bad sales team habits that detract from useful sales growth, and then look at some crucial ways to improve sales productivity.
Reduce These Sales Activities That Don’t Produce Results
1 Focusing on time-draining administrative tasks.
While it’s undeniable that administrative tasks (recording expenses, arranging meetings, etc.) have to be kept up to date, it’s easy to find yourself doing more admin and less selling, ignoring the sales cycle that’s awaiting your attention!
Find opportunities to streamline unproductive work by keeping an 80-20 ratio of prioritizing the productive work of closing sales.
2 Lack of delegation.
Every salesperson has a list of responsibilities and tasks to do within their job description. If your salespeople spend time or energy doing tasks outside their main responsibilities, this directly affects how many client-facing conversations they’re having.
Train your team to say “no” or to delegate work that isn’t directly linked to their selling role and focus on what they’re employed to do. As a sales leader, evaluate tasks and don’t assign non-sales tasks to revenue-producing sales persons. Also, encourage your sales management to delegate tasks that don’t match their strengths.
3 Letting emails disrupt focus.
As a primary source of business communication, giving a real-time email response is often crucial for grabbing the client’s attention while they’re still there. But it’s not realistic for every incoming email. It steals from dedicated active selling time, the main productive task.
Instead, encourage your teams to mostly check email at certain times only. Setting up a mailbox for “must answer today” is useful. You can ping emails into it without shifting your attention from the task in hand.
4 Focusing on the wrong prospect.
This is more broadly unproductive in sales. When your reps don’t fully understand who their ideal customer is, they waste time prospecting poor opportunities while ignoring those who might quickly close a sale. This is a waste of your company’s financial and time resources.
Use a sales playbook and train your reps to use it constantly to target prospects. They will then have a given pattern for researching the prospect (for instance, on social media, company website, etc.) to make sure they’re connecting with the best person for a productive outcome.
5 Using sales strategies that don’t work.
Not every strategy will work for a particular client. Trying one strategy after another (maybe an email? Oh, no, I’ll call them…) begins to look like activity for the sake of activity. It’s panic-driven and ultimately a waste of good selling time.
Help your reps to understand your market and how your ideal customer demographic is responding to marketing. Develop your buyer personas and use the strategy that’s appropriate for them. Again, your sales playbook is essential: Information reps need should be inside it and regularly updated. And again, this will improve productivity.
Other Essential Ways to Improve Sales Productivity
Implement sales automation tools and technology.
Automated tools will reduce time spent on some of the repetitive administrative tasks. Improving sales productivity becomes easy when your team has the tools and technology to streamline their workflow.
There are many tools for CRM, communication, sales optimization, and prospecting.
Find the right one for your business needs and consider it money well invested in future productivity.
Provide continuous training to your sales team.
The best training equips your team with more than knowledge – it gives them confidence to continue talking to that client in the pipeline instead of turning to an admin task to look busy! So ensure there’s a strategy for good, ongoing coaching and training.
Training is not a once-and-done activity. It’s about constantly having the opportunity to learn and practice the latest strategies and techniques, and develop professionally.
In this way – and seemingly “miraculously”– training will drive up revenue, close more sales in today’s competitive selling environment, and increase overall productivity as less-productive activity reduces. Training should be set up on a regular basis, and key points can be brought up and discussed in your regular weekly sales meetings.
Qualify prospects the right way.
Prospecting is a challenging process because not everyone you reach out to will respond positively. This is inevitable. No prospecting is perfect. However if the rate of closing deals from prospecting is very low, maybe you’re not doing it the right way.
To increase results in the prospecting stage, you not only need to target the right prospects, you have to be able to provide potential customers with relevant “intent-full” sales conversations (messaging) that show
- your product’s value,
- your understanding of the customer pain points, and
- their own values.
The only sure way to do this is to spend time implementing targeting processes to your prospecting. This will involve drilling down really well into customer characteristics, and creating several buyer personas for your various segments. There is no way to avoid this task!
Your playbook will give a great starting point, but thoughtful and personalized targeting is the key add-on as the sales cycle starts.
Re-evaluate to improve sales processes.
The best way to manage your productivity is to measure how your sales processes perform over time. Once you’ve established consistent processes, you must determine what works and what does not.
With analytics to hand – and perhaps using AI to speed up the process – look for ways you can improve and optimize your workflow processes to improve your productivity.
Ensure that every stage has value and that it aligns with your sales goals, strategies, and the current marketing and sales plans.
We Can Help Your Sales Team Improve Productivity
In general, you don’t achieve optimum sales productivity overnight. It’s a continuous process that’s refined over time. The above tips will help you escape the rabbit hole of the activity whirlwind and focus on the habits that will pay off.
Here at 360 Consulting, we believe that setting up a well-oiled sales engine is crucial to improving sales productivity. That’s because the engine drives your whole strategy, sales organization, processes, and sales execution – without the kind of stalling that can lead to wasteful activity along the way. Schedule a free consultation today!