9 Sales Productivity Tips to Blast Through Sales Deficiency
When your sales team spends most of their time on non-sales-related tasks, sales productivity suffers. Unfortunately, that’s the case with most businesses today.
According to the most recent Global State of Sales Report by LinkedIn, sales professionals—for emphasis, the people you hire to sell your product or service—spend less than 30% of their time selling.
To paint a picture of what that means, here’s an example: If you paid your sales reps for 40 hours of work, you would have received the selling value of fewer than 12 hours.
In spite of this, sales inefficiency is more than just inefficient time management. A poor onboarding process, an inadequate technology stack, a lack of cohesion between sales and marketing, and other factors all play a role.
If you're looking to improve the performance of your salespeople, we've got you covered. We'll teach you everything you need to know, from how to measure sales productivity to practical tips and strategies for increasing it.
But let’s begin with a simple definition.
What is Sales Productivity and what are the benefits?
Sales productivity measures your sales team's effectiveness (revenue-driven) against their efficiency (cost and time spent).
There is no universal definition of "sales productivity," but it refers to the process of driving more sales without hiring more sales reps or working extra hours.
Keeping track of sales productivity has tons of benefits. For example, a constant decline in the number of deals closed despite an increasing number of leads could indicate that marketing is bringing in poor leads and, therefore, more cohesion is needed between the sales and marketing teams.
On the flip side, if your sales team is productive, this can serve as validation of your business idea (particularly for startups), allowing you to secure investment and move into the growth stage.
But let’s put this into context. The following are some of the most notable advantages of increased sales productivity:
It boosts employee satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is linked to their ability to deliver in their line of work, according to research.
A survey by Survey Sparrow found employees want their work to be meaningful and have a positive impact on the company. Consequently, they are happier and more engaged at work.
If your salespeople see their work benefits the company, they’ll have more job satisfaction, which will lower your turnover rate and increase your revenue.
It prevents money loss
The opposite of sales productivity is sales deficiency, and deficiency means shortage.
This shortage can manifest in many ways. For instance, if your sales reps aren’t using their tech stack effectively—say they are only using ⅓ of it, for example—you are losing money on tech, and that isn’t productive.
Measuring sales productivity can reveal this leakage, enabling you to plug it and save money.
Another example of a shortage is when salespeople spend more time on administrative tasks and meetings than selling. Every payday, you lose money on the hours they spend on non-revenue-generating tasks.
It impacts your bottom line
Improving sales productivity ensures your sales reps bring in more revenue.Your sales performance reflects your company's success in the marketplace and paves the way for predictable, sustained growth or otherwise.
Now, the big question is…
How Do You Measure Sales Productivity?
Sales productivity should be assessed at both the organizational and individual levels because each has its own merits.
While measuring sales productivity at the organizational level gives an idea of your overall sales performance, it’s the measurement of individual performance that gives you the full picture of how your sales department is faring in terms of
- Individual performance
- Revenue generated per each hour of work
- Employee redundancy
- Missed/exceeded quotas
- Individual strengths and weaknesses
- Areas for improvement, and so on.
This breakdown of your sales performance will help you make adjustments to your sales process and tailor training to each salesperson’s needs. For that, though, you’ll need our CRM reporting.
So, organizational sales productivity is the amount of revenue generated for a specific period of time (output) per total number of sales reps on your team (input).
You can calculate your organizational sales productivity with this equation:
Total Team Revenue ($) for a Period ÷ Number of Reps on Your Team in that Period
For example, if your sales team generated $100,000 in revenue during the last quarter and you had three sales reps on your team during that period of time, your team’s sales productivity calculation would work out to $33,333.33/rep.
At the individual level, sales productivity is defined as a rep’s amount of revenue generated (output) per each hour of work (input).
Rather than our previous calculation that spits out an average sales productivity figure spread across your entire team, this measure is designed to drill all the way down to exactly how much revenue each rep generates per hour of work—and that’s extremely useful.
You can calculate an individual rep’s sales productivity with this equation:
Individual Rep Revenue ($) for a Period ÷ Number of Hours Worked in that Period
Let’s say sales rep Alison brought in $50,000 in revenue during Q2. She’s a salaried employee who works an average of 40 hours per week, and there were 13 weeks in Q2 this year, which translates into a total of 520 hours worked. If you divide her revenue by the total number of hours, that gives her a revenue figure of $96.15/hr. (Granted, if you offer sales incentives, you’ll need to add those to your calculations.)
It’s natural to see daily, weekly, and monthly fluctuations in your individual rep sales productivity figures, but across greater spans of time, you’ll be able to safely rely on these calculations—and most importantly, begin taking action.
Besides revenue, there are several sales KPIs and performance metrics you should track to help you make improvements on an ongoing basis.
At the organizational level, you should track:
- Hours spent selling
- Time spent on administrative tasks
- Number of sales made
- Level of technology use and adoption
- Number of marketing collaterals
- Number of follow-ups from high-quality leads
At the individual level, the following metrics are important:
- Number of phone calls
- Number of emails sent
- Number of scheduled meetings
- Referral requests
- Proposal generated
- Lead conversion rate
- Sales representations
With that said, let’s get into action.
9 Strategies to Increase Your Teams’ Sales Productivity
Once you've identified the bottlenecks in your sales productivity using the equations and metrics presented above, you need to remove those bottlenecks.
To help you achieve that, here are nine practical sales productivity tactics, strategies, and processes you can implement and start closing more deals today.
1. Evaluate Your Tech Stack and Match Them to Productivity Goals
There is no sales productivity without the sales tools and the goals that fuel it. The quality of your salespeople's tech stack, therefore, plays a significant role in their productivity.
This is backed by LinkedIn research, which states that 73% of sales professionals use sales technology to close deals, and of those who do, 97% consider it critical to their success.
However, assembling a thoughtful sales tech workflow isn’t an easy feat. According to one study, the average sales organization uses ten tools, whereas another discovered sales reps only use two-thirds of their tech stack, citing a lack of useful integration between tools.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
To put together a tech stack that enhances your sales reps’ performance, start by evaluating your company's needs (or goals) to see if your tech stack satisfies those needs. The best way to do this is to look at your business stage and the resources available to you.
Are you in the startup stage, the growth stage, or the maturity stage?
The tech stack needs at these various stages of growth would vary as the goals differ, and we’ll define them for you.
The startup stage is usually a period of low revenue, high startup costs, a lean sales team, and tight budgets. Your priority in this stage would be to generate more leads and deliver high conversion rates, both of which are necessary to secure funding for your business and move into the growth stage.
An appropriate sales tech stack for this stage would include a lead generation tool, a CRM, and automation tools. We recommend Growbots for lead generation; Close, a CRM tool; Google Drive, a people and resource management tool; and HelloSign for contract management.
In the growth stage, your business has secured a foothold in the marketplace and has a growing customer base. Your focus here should be on demonstrating value and closing deals through demos, case studies, and solution selling—and doing so faster.
Therefore, your tech stack must provide more features than free tools, have integrations, be scalable, and support work-from-home employees.
Our #1 recommendation for this stage is Close (because it isn’t just an affordable tool for startups, but a dynamic one that’s useful across all stages of business growth), an all-in-one CRM that’s designed by and for salespeople.
Here are a few of our features that maximize sales productivity:
- Smart Views and Dynamic Lead Lists: This feature lets you filter prospects based on predefined criteria such as location, lead status, recent interactions, and source. This helps your team to be very specific about the types of leads they target and prioritize. Close also includes transparency by default, allowing every rep to closely monitor your hot leads.
- Bulk Email, Automated Sequences, and Shared Templates: Long gone are the days of individually emailing every lead on your list. By leveraging intelligent bulk email sending to custom lead lists based on dynamic filtering, you can personalize your email (at scale), and target leads who will be most receptive. This means you can create high-impact campaigns and send them to thousands of targeted prospects with one click. Plus, our Email Sequences let you create a drip sequence of customizable emails that are automatically sent to prospects and leads over the course of days or weeks.
- Follow-Ups: By using our one-click follow-up reminders, tasks, and email snoozing features, you’ll never forget to check in on the prospects in your pipeline, even after they’ve left your automated sales sequences. We’ll remind your team when to follow up, so you can focus on the more important tasks.
- Built-In Calling: Our CRM is the only one on the market with built-in calling that keeps your reps inside one application to do all of their core tasks, saving even more time. Plus, our predictive dialing call automation software helps you drastically reduce the time spent listening to dial tones. Your sales team can now dial multiple numbers at once, and the technology behind the predictive dialer detects when a real human answers the phone, then immediately routes an available sales rep to that call.
Furthermore, you can use Reply to automate multi-channel cold outreach, PandaDoc for contract management, UpWork for people and resource management, and Demodesk for scheduling meetings and demos.
The final stage is the maturity stage. By this time, you’d have become one of the big players, and your market would have grown smaller due to increasing competition and market saturation. Here, you’d want to focus on retaining existing customers, account expansion, cross-selling, and up-selling.
Here we recommend ZoomInfo for automation and engagement, Guru for resource and people management, and Close as your CRM. You might also want to implement an automatic time-tracking tool to better understand how your employees spend their time at work.
2. Invest in The Sales Team Onboarding Process
The sales onboarding process is the exercise of training sales employees and getting them integrated into your company's system and culture.
It provides them with everything they need to succeed in their new role, including understanding your company's mission and policies, setting up their tech stack, and getting to know your customers and product or service.
There is no better way to speed up ramp time, increase employee retention, and boost productivity than having a standardized onboarding space in place.
For successful sales onboarding, you can do the following:
- Have a regimented sales onboarding process: Sales onboarding isn’t a one-day process. It could take weeks, months, or even a whole year, depending on your company’s size and verticals. A standardized process will smooth the process. One way to do this is to create a checklist of activities to be completed within a specified time frame that’s documented and given to new hires.
- Set up their workstation and tech stack: Earlier, we talked a great deal about the evaluation and selection of a tech stack for your sales team. Part of what your new sales hire should be trained on is how to use the tech stack effectively. Remember, irregular use of a tech stack is a leading contributor to money loss and poor sales productivity.
- Train them on your product and service: Cover the technical aspects of your product, specifically the features and benefits, how it works, what it does, and the value propositions. This is also the right place to explain the customer’s pain points, buyer personas, types of customers, and product or service types. You can do this in many ways, such as one-on-one coaching, seminars, training modules, or pairing them with another employee who is a company or product veteran. You should also provide product documentation like white papers, brochures, and user guides for future reference.
- Train them on your sales process: Sales process training should typically cover the processes for getting new leads, entering them into the CRM, nurturing leads, scoring leads, closing deals, and onboarding new customers. Also provide them with training on how to use your CRM, how to conduct a sales presentation, how to pitch, and how to conduct a product demo.
- Pair them with a mentor: This is typically someone they can shadow to gain real-life experience of how the job is done, ask questions from, and interact with on how their work is progressing. It could be from among your sales leaders or the A-list team members.
- Hand them their quota: The next step is setting personalized goals and the expected performance standard. Let them know what the sales department is presently trying to achieve and how their role fits in. Then, outline specific metrics they need to meet in a specified period and explain the consequence of not meeting them (as well as the reward of doing so). For new hires you might track the number of calls to be made, the number of demos to be booked, or appointments scheduled rather than revenue.
3. Schedule Ongoing Training For Your Sales Team
Sales training should be a continuous process, not a one-time deal. Ongoing sales training keeps your sales reps up to date on the latest techniques and best practices. It also helps refresh older training.
Through ongoing sales training, they’ll get better at rejection handling, communicating, and sales methodologies.
So, how’s it done? Here is a step-by-step guide.
- Identify their training needs: Knowing your team’s needs will help you hit the bull’s eye and develop a training process that’s beneficial to them. To do this, identify performance gaps to find clues on what your training should focus on, and then build training modules and documents tailored to fill those gaps.
- Develop a training plan: Decide how the training would be in line with your company’s short-term and long-term needs, resources, and structure. The plan should include training objectives, topics to be covered, and the methods of training (e.g., in-person workshops, conferences, online course modules, and webinars).
- Supplement with one-on-one coaching sessions: In their line of work, sales reps will encounter new, challenging scenarios they are unprepared for. One of the best ways to help them navigate such moments is through regular one-on-one coaching. If you run a remote team, you can use Whisper in Call Coaching, a feature of Close that lets you listen in on sales calls and speak directly to sales reps without being heard by the prospect.
- Ask for feedback: To improve future training sessions, ask for feedback on how training impacts their performance. Use that input to optimize your sales training techniques and strategies.
4. Use Sales Automation to Streamline Routine Tasks
If rote tasks are eating up tons of valuable time, sales automation can help.
There is no doubt that routine tasks eat deep into the fabric of your sales productivity, as the graphic below breaks it down:
Source: How Reps Spend Their Time - Pace Productivity
According to recent strides, the average time a salesperson spends selling has increased by 8%, but this graphic shows sales reps are still wasting a ton of time. So, why would a person whose job is to sell—to bring more revenue in the front door—be spending only ⅕ of their time doing that task?
Because most companies don’t know how to optimize productivity. Why aren’t salespeople at maximum productivity yet?
The harsh truth is that most sales teams don’t know:
- How to effectively automate non-essential tasks
- When to outsource duties that can be done by lower-paid assistants or contractors
- How to teach their reps to batch less time-sensitive activities into blocks of dead time at the end of their days
Accomplishing these begins with learning how to identify which activities can be automated, outsourced, or batched in the first place. Here’s how:
Automate Non-Essential Sales Rep Tasks
When it comes to determining which tasks your reps should automate in the name of sales productivity, begin by categorizing the activity from one of the classifications in the image above—does it fall under planning, administration, or order processing? Those are low-hanging fruits to searching for automation solutions.
Much of your automation ability will be determined by the CRM you choose—and it pays dividends to invest in one (like Close) that already has intelligent automation like call logging, call automation, and automated email follow-up sequences built directly into the product.
Still, an increasing number of sales tools now integrate with apps like Zapier that’ll allow you to connect the various products in your tech stack, in order to let them seamlessly pass data between each other and automate different types of workflows.
For example, if you’re following up with prospects from an event and want to ask them to book a call, this process could be automated by using a scheduling tool like SavvyCal that has full visibility into your calendar. Best of all, SavvyCal will automatically create a Zoom link for you to meet and connect to Close for automatic syncing of your newly booked meetings.
Outsource Low-leverage Activities
If the amount of time your sales reps spend doing non-selling-related activities is reaching an unsustainable level even with the right automation in place, hire either an in-house administrative assistant or a virtual assistant to help with the more routine tasks like booking demo meetings, preparing pitch decks, and generating invoices.
If your sales team is remote or distributed, start by hiring a contract-based virtual assistant in a compatible time zone and see if that structure can meet your needs. If your team is in a single location, you’ll likely experience a massive leap in productivity gains by having your sales assistant sitting in the same office as your team members (and proactively pitching in when there’s a need).
Batch Less Time-Sensitive Duties
Batch processing is the grouping of similar tasks—that require (often repetitive) similar resources—in order to streamline them.
For example, if you’re responsible for generating a weekly sales report for your manager to review, it’d be the most efficient use of your time to batch all of your sales tallying into just one block of time at the end of the week, rather than manually updating your report after every single new deal closes throughout your week.
Batching can even be applied to countless mission-critical sales-related tasks too. Consider grouping together the sending of your day’s manual follow-up emails into one chunk of time at the beginning of your morning, or grouping the day’s sales calls into just one or two major blocks of time. This allows you to get into a state of flow work more efficiently.
5. Improve Lead Scoring Process
When leads are better, sales reps spend less time chasing bad leads. However, there is no universal way to score leads. You need to identify what works for you.
For example, here at Close, we automatically place a higher lead score on new trials that sign up from countries where we’ve historically acquired the highest number of ideal customers.
Other factors like team size, annual revenue, and referral source also play into how a lead is scored—and thus how quickly our sales team reaches out.
Lead Pilot’s lead scoring system is another good example. They assign a lead a score from 1 to 100 based on their interactions with your company, such as content read, pages visited, actions taken on your website, interactions with your sales team, and so on.
They then use these interactions, plus the feedback you provide, to update scores in real time. This allows you to know when a contact’s engagement is at its peak so that you can reach out.
Here is an example. Suppose you sell travel management software, and a prospect takes the following actions:
- Conducted a site search (let’s score this 4)
- Downloaded an eBook (let’s score this 10)
- Enquired from your sales rep about holiday destination (let’s score this 30)
This lead scores 44 and is closer to selling than a prospect that’s only downloaded an ebook.
To make your lead scoring model more accurate, incorporate both explicit information (data points like company size, industry segment, job title, or geographic location) and also implicit information.
Implicit scores are generated from tracking and monitoring your prospect’s behavior beyond just what they’ve told you about themselves, such as the activities of the travel management prospect in the example above.
What’s more, you can now use website personalization tools like RightMessage to customize your prospects' experience on your website based on their lead score and other relevant data you collect—thereby surfacing the most applicable offers, tweaking headlines and testimonials to resonate more with their specific industry, and more.
Ultimately, your ability to improve your lead-scoring efforts will greatly improve the quality of leads your sales team gets to work with. Now that’s a direct impact on sales productivity.
6. Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment affect two critical aspects of your sales productivity, namely: lead generation and conversion.
A lack of alignment can result in a cross-functional problem in which marketing is unsure of what types of leads to bring in and salespeople are unable to convert the leads effectively because they are the wrong leads. This hampers your efforts to attain your sales goals.
But don’t take our word for it. This survey found marketing and sales alignment can drive more than 200% growth from marketing tactics and increase customer retention by 38%.
Furthermore, without proper alignment, sales will struggle with sales enablement, because it’s marketing's job to create resources that allow sales to do its job better and faster.
So, how do you set the tone for fruitful marketing-sales alignment?
To begin, allow the marketing team to interface with their sales counterparts on a weekly or biweekly basis to discuss lead quality and analyze your conversion rate by channel. Marketing can then devise experiments to try to induce changes in lead source (and quality).
The marketing team also requires preliminary insights from the sales team in order to develop a marketing strategy that attracts the most relevant leads. They also need it to create customized sales enablement materials.
This is because customers' pain points, queries, frustrations, and factors of satisfaction are all part of a good marketing backbone in a pain-point-led marketing world. And no one knows it better than salespeople, who interact with them on a daily basis.
Conversely, during cross-team meetings, marketing can share upcoming campaigns, content coming through the blog pipeline, offers that’ll be promoted during the week ahead, and gather feedback from sales at each stage.
Take the content brainstorming to the next level by creating a shared Google Doc for your sales team to quickly pop in and add ideas or case study resources anytime they hop off a call with a new insight for marketing to run with.
But the mode of collaboration can be designed any way you deem fit. The real hard work is in guaranteeing the value exchange needed for the success of this alignment.
Letting them collaborate on the following tasks can help you ease that:
- Creating the ideal customer profile
- Identifying customers' pain points
- Segmenting the leads by conversion rate
- Listening in on sales calls
- Assessing past customer behaviors to identify patterns
- Conducting bi-departmental customer surveys
- Sharing analytics and data
- Examining conversion rate by channel
- Examining lead sources
This will guarantee an inflow of higher-quality leads that have a much stronger likelihood of converting.
7. Use Templates and Sales Scripts
A sales script (also known as a cold calling script) is any pre-written strategy, questions, talking points, and discussion structures that your sales reps and telemarketing agents use when speaking to prospects.
Sales scripts often get a bad rap because of their robotic tone and lack of customization.
Executed well, however, sales scripts and templates can be a sales growth engine. Among their many benefits are:
- Providing sellers with hands-on information.
- Helping them answer frequently asked questions.
- Enabling them to pitch your product or service in a standout, attractive way.
Having one handy can also help your ramping salesperson get into action faster by allowing them to pitch products successfully and shape conversations with prospects.
The key here is to understand that it doesn’t have to be used word for word, but rather as a basic guide to shape the flow of conversations between them and prospects.
Therefore, we highly recommend using sales scripts and templates. You can grab our free sales scripts here. But in the meantime, here is a guide on how to use sales scripts.
- Personalize each sales call: Not knowing your prospect well is a surefire way to get hung up on. Before you jump on a sales call, make proper research on the prospect to understand how to break the ice and keep the conversation going. You can take clues from the information they provided, plus look them and their business up on social media to get a feel of more pain points and pinpoint subtle and not-so-subtle things they care about.
- Make it value-driven: As Steli Efti puts it, “you are not selling your product, yet.” The idea is to first get them to agree to continue the conversation with you. So, focus on showing them the value of the call and the benefits of the next step, i.e., meeting, demo, and discovery call.
- Establish an effective formula: one of the best ways not to falter when using a sales script is to have a tested formula in place for different scenarios. That way, sales reps know how to flow with the conversation.
8. Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings
Too many meetings do not bode well for sales productivity. As a matter of fact, they have quite the opposite effect, and several articles have been written on the negative effects of unnecessary meetings.
To be more efficient with the one-on-one meetings you do have, come to the table with a very specific agenda, keep your time focused and avoid tangential discussions whenever possible. If you can get through everything on the agenda early and there’s nothing left to tackle, end the meeting early and let your rep get back to selling.
In group meetings, it’s even more important to prepare an agenda and make sure that the topic of conversation is relevant to everyone in the room.
For example, running a pipeline review can be extremely helpful for the rep whose leads are being worked through and evaluated. However, it’s largely a waste of time for the rest of your sales team to sit in on—gathering little to no value as passive observers without a stake in the conversation.
Stick to the rule of minimum possible attendance when sending out invitations for every meeting, and think twice about whether or not a meeting can be avoided with just an email.
9. Track Your Progress
To know whether your sales productivity effort is bearing fruit, you need to measure it. Compare your results after making each successful adjustment to your sales productivity strategy.
Keep in mind that you can’t succeed if you don’t measure. And accurate measurement starts with using the right tools…
We built Close to help sales teams measure and improve both individual and organizational sales productivity—to empower sales teams around the world to close more deals without needing to hire additional reps or work overtime every day.
Our reporting tools eliminate the distractions that lie in ultra-complex reporting, and scale it back to just the insights that’ll help you take action to grow your revenue.
From viewing your entire team’s pipeline overview to zooming in and identifying gaps where prospects tend to fall out of your sales funnel, to measuring individual performance and more, the right CRM will be designed to help your team increase sales productivity at every turn.
Better Sales Productivity Means Happier Reps and More Deals
If sales performance falls short of expectations, look for inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. And the most effective way to do so is to track sales productivity at both the organizational and individual levels.
Once you've done that, you'll be able to locate the leak and plug it using the strategies we outlined above.
Above all, keep a close eye on your sales team's performance at both the individual and organizational levels.
Close was built to increase sales productivity by streamlining sales tasks and simplifying reporting so your sales team can work harder and smarter.
Try a free 14-day trial of Close (no credit card required) today and see the difference for yourself.