Increasing your sales team’s productivity leverages each rep’s value to the organization. It also ensures that effort is not wasted. Productive sales reps earn more and tend to feel more satisfied in their jobs — which can lead to higher retention. Not only do sales organizations need to improve efficiency by cutting redundant or wasted effort; they need to boost revenue and increase sales productivity.
How can you do that?
Here are seven strategies to improve your sales force’s productivity:
1. Invest in Managers
Sales managers are your inspirers on the ground, and their expert hand on the helm is key. Seventy percent of team-level engagement can be chalked up to manager skill, according to Gallup research. The same study notes that systematically hiring talented managers can result in 27% higher-than-average revenue per employee. A Harvard Business Review article on leadership notes, “Inspired employees bring more discretionary energy to their work every day. As a result, they are 125% more productive than an employee who is merely satisfied. Stated differently, one inspired employee can produce as much as 2.25 satisfied employees.”
2. Remove Obstacles to Productivity
Before you focus on ways to increase sales productivity, it’s helpful to make sure there aren’t any pain points in their way. “Sales leaders must ensure that sales reps are not burdened with administrative tasks when gathering productivity data,” says the SiriusDecisions Sales Productivity Quotient Model. Today’s sophisticated artificial intelligence solutions like People.ai take the headache away from things like data entry, so sales reps have more time for key sales activities, like personalized emails, sales calls, and follow up.
3. Deploy Talent Strategically
The right people-management practices have a big impact on your productivity. All companies — successful and not-so-successful — have the same percentage of star employees, about 15 percent of their workforce. Harvard Business Review recommends that you assign the most talented people to business-critical roles. Their research shows that in the most successful organizations, 95 percent of these super-important jobs are given to top talent — the A-list players. Before you can do this, you need to find out two facts: Which roles are most essential and who are your best people. Star talent is a resource that your whole company can benefit from.
4. Empower Your Team
Productivity expert Michael Mankins writes that successful organizations “provide their employees with autonomy and authority to bring new ideas to life.” This correlates with Daniel Pink’s classic identification of autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the three main components of motivation. Pink notes that effective teams make sure their people know that “they won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” You also need to ensure that your team has the onboarding and sales training they need; as well as solid sales enablement and sales strategies. Give them powerful sales tools that make it easier to track prospecting activities, interact with the team over social media, and a complete vision into every stage of the sales cycle.
5. Build Engagement by Appreciating Your Employees
Recognizing and appreciating sales team efforts is an essential element of building engagement and (thus) productivity. Gallup research finds that 87 percent of employees are not engaged with their work, and “A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow.” Only 1/3 of U.S. workers state that their good work was praised or recognized in the past week, despite the fact that this type of recognition has a high impact on productivity. Gallup also notes that peer-to-peer expressions of appreciation are powerful in building teamwork and motivation. The best sales reps feel valued.
6. Get Deep Insight into Sales Productivity
In order to increase something, you need to understand what it’s made up of. The Sirius Sales Productivity Quotient divides sales productivity into five components:
- Sales Activities: Number of meetings with new leads, phone calls, emails sent, etc.
- Pipeline: Overall number of opportunities won and lost, and time involved in achieving the wins.
- Sales Enablement: HR statistics on sales team personnel.
- Sales Performance: Individual quota attainment balanced against sales team forecasts.
- Demand: Qualified leads generated by marketing and sales departments, together with conversion rates.
Once your metrics are clear, measure and track each of them, rather than merely noting raw sales numbers.
7. Create a Replicable, Scalable Process
In the words of People.ai’s CEO Oleg Rogynskyy, “Sales is about the sales process, not personality.” Each company is unique, but you can find out the best way to express your own individual sales magic. Notice who your best talent is, and then create metrics around their activity levels. How quickly do they return emails? How many emails do they send out? How many external attendees are there at their demos? How long are their meetings or calls with potential customers? Your most successful sales reps may have their own individual styles, but certain patterns will begin to be obvious if you compare what they are doing. You can then replicate the process by coaching all team members on the metrics that count, without eroding their individual autonomy.
In an era when capital is abundant, (and expected to stay that way for the next two decades), the best growth strategy involves making numerous small investments that will increase sales productivity and revenue generation. Solutions that provide you with a deep understanding of sales productivity will ensure that your investment will pay off.