In the world of sales, time is money. For that reason, prioritizing sales productivity is a leading factor in overall success. While improving productivity isn’t something that happens overnight, with the right processes and strategy in place, you can set yourself and your team up to make 2019 your best year yet.
Sales is a constantly evolving field; what works one day may not the next. Furthermore, because 87 percent of training content and information is forgotten within weeks, a one-time training course is not effective. In order to succeed, sales reps need to be refreshed on the latest trends and developments in the buying process, buyer personas and products on a consistent basis. To help you most effectively prepare your team for a successful year, we’ve gathered a few productivity-boosting strategies you can implement today.
Communication and training
Communication is key. Without regular communication between sales reps and managers, missed connections can occur and can result in long- and short-term issues. To remain productive, sales managers should keep close ties with their reps through regular one-on-one meetings. Even just brief chats to feel out any grievances or frustrations can serve as time- and money-saving preventative maintenance.
Sales coaching can increase productivity by a whopping 88 percent. By engaging your sales reps with valuable insight and guidance and easing any apprehensions they may have, not only will they feel more confident, but the likelihood of improved production will also rise. Taking note of how other companies engage their people can provide helpful insight when forming your training methods. CEO Mark Hurd, for example, created a mentoring program so new employees can learn from more experienced salespeople. The program encourages new employees to build on the relationships they established during initial training sessions and allows veteran reps to get a fresh look at what the younger people are bringing to the table.
Modern technology has provided access to more accurate and insightful data than ever before. What used to be an incredibly time-consuming task for sales reps can now be achieved with minimal effort and lead to improved results. Taking advantage of the abundant available information can provide your team with the necessary information to recognize what’s working, areas in need of improvement and opportunities for new successes. Management can also better understand the performance factors for individual reps as well as buyer behaviors and can, therefore, make more informed decisions about where to focus resources.
To improve your team’s production, data analytics should be utilized to drive strategy and identify opportunities. The proof is in the pudding: Organizations that use sales analytics and insights increase team quota attainment 4 times faster than non-users. Once you’ve determined your most valuable metrics, dashboards should be employed to visualize patterns and insights on what makes certain reps more successful than others. Following a more data-driven practice in this format will undoubtedly contribute to changes in productivity levels and how prospects are engaged, in turn positively impacting your bottom line.
As with any industry in this age, technology has notably altered the sales process. Innovative new strategies are developed and contribute to the improved output. Studies show less than one-third of a salesperson’s day is focused on core selling activities, while the other two-thirds is spent on busy work that doesn’t directly add value to prospective deals. Cutting down on that wasted time can often be as simple as streamlining daily processes and eliminating redundant tasks. Automation technology is the optimal solution for this problem as it enables sales teams to work more efficiently. When redundant and mundane tasks are automated, sales reps can focus their energy on more important, selling-focused duties.
However, caution is advised for utilizing automation in sales. Because sales is still very much a personable transaction, it’s important to remember your prospects are people and will likely not respond well to fully-automated interactions. There’s still a lot of value in conversing with customers, particularly when it comes to larger and more complex deals. By automating other aspects, more time will be freed up to allow for this relationship building.
That being said, a few recommended forms of automation include:
Email drafting: Template emails can be automatically personalized for efficient communication with prospects.
Lead scoring: Rather than manually sifting through leads, automated lead scoring saves time and presents your most engaged leads through a point-based system.
Task automation: Reducing the risk of letting a lead go cold, automated systems allow reps to log their calls and receive automated reminders for unique follow-ups.
Lead routing: This type of automation relieves sales managers of the task of pairing leads with reps, handling it in seconds using a process based on your preferences.
Building reports: Automating sales reports allows for teams to visualize real-time displays of performance, providing invaluable insight into what’s working and what’s not.
Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work, and feedback is essential for improvement. While sales compensation packages often include commission, going the extra mile to acknowledge success with positive reinforcements and incentives can be an excellent motivator. Whether that be celebratory company events, a gamified leaderboard or whatever else best suits your team, letting your reps know you appreciate their efforts and that there are rewards in good work can make all the difference in productivity. As for verbal recognition, leadership author L. David Marquet advises that praise is most effective when it’s immediate. Think minutes or seconds after success is achieved rather than hours or days. Keeping this in mind can serve as a helpful reminder to regularly congratulate your employees.
The American Institute of Stress says that occupational pressures and fears are the leading source of stress for American adults. That’s a big deal for obvious health reasons, but it also has an effect on your team’s productivity. When people aren’t feeling physically and mentally well, their ability to focus and produce plummets. Here are a few best practices to avoid employee burnout and unproductive stressors and create a healthy, productive culture:
• Encourage the use of PTO when necessary.
• Establish clear parameters for success and growth.
• Keep lines of communication between reps and managers open.
• Offer feedback when helpful.
• Provide reps with the right tools and equipment for success.
With a new year comes a sense of refreshment and a desire to improve on the prior year. Now that 2019 is officially underway, it’s time to set strong goals and establish your processes for achieving them. We hope these tips help facilitate a productive year for you and your sales team going forward!