Top 10 Tips For Improving Your Sales Team’s Productivity
Did you know that sales is one of the careers with the highest burnout rate?
What’s the main reason behind the burnout? Most salespeople end up losing motivation. Usually, this is because they’re either not productive enough or not achieving good results in their roles.
When you’re not getting the results you want, the natural reaction is to work harder—make more calls, send more emails, knock on more doors—but that will likely just lead to more bad results. You can’t just do more of the same thing and hope better results will just magically appear.
I’m a big fan of working “smarter” and not “harder.” The key to working smarter and getting more things done? Increasing your productivity!
I know that’s harder than it sounds, so I’ve put together a quick guide for you on the must-have tips for improving your sale team’s productivity.
Prospect more effectively
Prospecting is an area where quality is definitely more important than quantity. If you’re hunting down weak prospects, then you’re simply wasting time trying to catch dead leads who will most likely never become customers.
When it comes to designing your sales strategy, it’s important to define who qualifies as a lead, from both a marketing and sales perspective. Sure, you might feel productive sending out 50 cold emails a day, but if 40 of those don’t fit the criteria, then what’s the point?
For example, if you’re reaching out to companies that aren’t a good fit for your company’s product, then you’re wasting time. Ultimately, you want to be contacting leads who would benefit from your product and would be willing to pay for that benefit.
The goal here is to always have a list of qualified leads that fit your company’s buyer persona. Take some time to narrow down the ideal customer profile with your team, so that you don’t waste time prospecting to the wrong crowd.
But how do you come up with a meaningful profile? How do you work out who your ideal customer is?
Whatever you do, resist the urge to base your buyer persona off what you imagine them to be. Coming up with your personas is not a brainstorming activity. When we interviewed the experts on buyer persona mistakes , a common theme was people making them up, viewing it as a creative exercise rather than a research one. Your personas should be based on hard data.
If you’re an established company, you should have plenty of existing customers you can analyze. Website visitors can qualify themselves as engaged prospects through following specific calls to action, contact requests or even order page visits, depending on your business.
You can then collect information about prospects through Hubspot forms or behavior segmentation. Alternatively, you can send surveys or arrange interviews with your existing customers, which will give you the necessary information you need to prevent you from losing time on any wasteful leads.
To give you an idea of what goes into an ideal customer profile, we have several different profiles we use at Reply, based on our different users, broken down into:
- Company data - Overall size, sales team size, etc.
- Demographics - Age, education, etc.
- Psychographics - Problem being solved, concerns and objections, etc.
Schedule the time you spend emailing
There’s a place and time for everything, and this includes writing emails or getting on calls. Personally, I like to block out a time slot in my day where I focus exclusively on email. This includes both cold email outreach and responding to emails.
It’s easy to let your inbox dictate your day, with the average person estimated to send/receive a massive 128 emails every single day . If you’re constantly being interrupted by emails and sending replies, you’re never going to have enough time to get any of your work completed before the day ends.
Batching up your replies twice a day is recommended to efficiently get them out of the way and stop any interruptions. Instead of emailing someone back whenever you get a reply, proactively set aside a specific time of day where you’ll be able to work on emails and focus on other work during a different time.
However, thanks to the dopamine hit we get from checking our emails, it can be tricky to keep to such a schedule. If you’re struggling to stay out of your inbox, there are a couple of actions you can take:
Turn off your notifications. Even if you don’t go in and check your email every time your phone pings or the notification pops up on your computer, it’s still a distraction. In turn, those distractions hurt your productivity.
Stop emails coming in. If you’re unable to turn off your notifications or still aren’t able to resist checking your inbox throughout the day, use a free app like Boomerang to ‘pause’ your inbox. By controlling when emails appear in your inbox, you’re more likely to stick to your schedule.
Use sales automation software
Remember we briefly talked about working “smarter?” We live in a modern age where there are tons of good and effective sales automation software available.
With the right sales automation software, you can automate your outreach process, follow-ups, and have all the calls scheduled within one single platform.
On the other hand, individual solutions such as CRMs, communication apps, and route planning apps are all great ways to organize and track the work being done. If you’re looking for ideas, we’ve compiled a comprehensive catalog of the best sales tools available, from lead generation to productivity apps.
Traditional sales teams (or the more budget-conscious) may feel they don’t need these tools. Why spend money on something you can do yourself, not to mention the time needed to set up new software?
However, by implementing automation software in your sales team, it allows them to not only contact more people but also to focus on the personalized hands-on tasks that can’t be easily replicated.
If cost is an issue, there are plenty of free apps, either completely free or with a free tier for limited or low-volume use.
The software you use should help the team organize their workflow, keep track of their data, and sell even more. Using software can also help measure and optimize your team’s performances, making it very important for any sales teams. For example, you can use software to track your team’s progress with clients, leads, time spent spelling, closed deals and so on. Use this gathered data to understand what your team needs to better focus their time on.
Of course, we can’t talk about sales automation software without mentioning Reply. Reply is our very own app that helps sales teams automate their outreach while still keeping it personalized. Yes, I may be biased, but with a 4.6 rating on G2 Crowd and over 2,000 users, we must be doing something right.
Spend time researching your prospect
If your idea of researching a prospect is knowing their name and contact details, you’re doing it wrong. You should never go into a sales call unprepared. Instead, take the time to prepare yourself before calling or meeting with a prospect.
You may not think you have the time to research your prospects, but this is usually a result of a quantity over quality mindset. Sure, you may not be able to make as many calls or meetings but, by knowing a little bit more about your prospects, the calls and meetings you do have will be more likely to be successful. A thorough understanding of a specific prospect will allow you to come up with new ideas on how you should present your offerings.
What features and benefits should you emphasize? What concerns may prevent the prospect from converting? Simply spending a few more minutes conducting research can lead to an improvement in conversion rates and will make the selling process much smoother.
A good tip for this would be to run a few Linkedin and Google searches on the prospect before getting on a call with them. Taking it a step further, databases (such as Crunchbase) and contact enrichment apps can give you an insight into what’s going on in their lives and their business. What’s important to them? What keeps them awake at night?
As well as telling you more about the client, this kind of research allows you to make a good first impression. By referring to some recent activity, you can compliment the prospect (“I saw your video on this topic, I thought you made a great point about…”) and at the same time demonstrate they’re not just another name in a list to you. Just don’t go over the top; no-one likes a stalker.
Not only will this increase your productivity, but you’ll also be well-prepared for anything the prospect throws at you.
Automated lead scoring
When’s the exact moment a marketing qualified lead becomes a sales lead? Are you following up at the right time?
If you haven’t taken the time to clearly define what qualifies your leads, you could be missing out on sales. If you’re trying to go for the sale too soon, you may put them off. If you wait too long, they may have gone with one of your competitors.
Instead, lead scoring will help you identify the perfect moments to follow up.
You can set up lead scoring with a marketing automation platform (such as Marketo), which can keep track of when your contact opens messages and interacts with your communications.
Afterward, get a notification when your prospects reached a certain score level so that you can follow up with people who will possibly convert.
Simply put, automating manual, behind-the-scene processes are a fantastic way to free up even more of your time. In this case, you can free up your time from following up on leads who aren’t ready yet, to focus on the leads who are ready to buy right now.
Align Marketing and Sales Teams
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is thinking of marketing and sales teams as two completely separate teams. In a sense, they can be, but to be successful and productive, sales needs to work closely with the marketing team.
Think about it. If your sales team aren’t able to convert and close leads due to them being low quality, they need to speak with marketing in order to figure out what’s going on. Are the leads not qualified to start with? Do they need a better lead scoring system?
The goal is to not waste time and make the best out of both channels.
Having sales and marketing as two isolated teams should be avoided at all costs, as the disconnect between the two could ultimately affect the company’s revenue.
By encouraging communication and having regular touchpoints between the sales and marketing teams, you can create a consistent funnel of highly qualified leads.
Improve team onboarding and training
Spending time onboarding and training your sales team can result in a big pay off when it comes to your long-term sales productivity.
Onboarding is all about helping new members of your sales team get up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible. While it might be tempting to throw them in the deep end, even an experienced salesperson is likely to struggle in a completely new environment.
Any new salesperson will obviously need to be familiar with their job requirements, but a good onboarding sequence will help them become familiar with your company, your products, and your policies. A great onboarding sequence will help them become a part of the team, learning about the culture behind the company. You can make the whole process much more efficient by using employee onboarding software.
A good start would be to come up with mockup calls you can practice with the new hires. This will prevent any embarrassing situations like not knowing the answers to the common questions prospects tend to ask about your product or solution.
Onboarding is the first step towards a strong sales team, but ongoing training is also important. This may be as a result of performance appraisal or regular refresher training. To help prevent that burnout that afflicts sales, it’s good to invest in your team and help them grow.
The training must also have value; each lesson you successfully teach can cause a ripple effect throughout both your sales force and the actual sales they make.
Not only can you improve your reps sales level, but your individual skills can also be improved when you share your experience with others due to regular practice.
The more you improve your skill and convert more, the better and faster deals are conducted, and sales productivity will reach an all-time high.
Check in with your team
Scheduling meetings on either a weekly or monthly basis with your employees will help increase sales productivity. Note: I don’t recommend having daily meetings. They don’t speed up sales productivity; as a matter of fact, they can actually slow things down. The best schedule is once a week for the team to sync up on their struggles and accomplishments.
Conducting one-on-one check-ins with your sales reps and seeing how they are doing and performing is also a great option. This can be immensely helpful for newly hired employees who are still undergoing training.
Meetings have a bad reputation as being a waste of time, usually because they go on for too long or there’s no clear meeting agenda. To make sure your team doesn’t resent these meetings, keep them brief and focused.
What should you cover in these meetings? The time should be used to motivate your people and recognize areas that they can improve upon. Getting feedback from your team is also a vital use of this time—use their suggestions to get even more productive. Employees will feel like their voices matter to the company, and could lead to some great ideas in the long run.
Celebrate small wins
Sure, it’s an awesome feeling to close a big deal, but if you want your team to stay motivated and productive, you should be celebrating small wins as well.
Celebration doesn’t mean you need an elaborate party every time someone closes a sale. It could be as simple as praising their good work. Who wouldn’t feel great after receiving a compliment for their hard work? The important thing is keeping your sales reps motivated. Motivation helps them become even more productive, and lead towards even more sales.
More teams are using gamification in their sales process, setting up leaderboards to encourage friendly competition and improve performance.
A lot of this comes back to understanding your sales reps and what they’re capable of on a daily basis. As well as helping them improve, you’ll also be quicker to spot and identify any issues the person is going through that could negatively impact productivity.
Focus on keeping everyone positive and supporting them to keep the atmosphere easy and keep your sales rolling on smoothly.
Understand that your people will sometimes need to receive advice about selling and working with clients. Other times, they’ll be the ones able to give that advice. Offer rewards for the best sales reps in order to further motivate the employees to gain some sweet prizes, leading to more sales.
Focus, focus, and focus
This doesn’t just apply to sales teams, but focusing is the key to achieving a higher level of productivity in all aspects of a business.
We’re already surrounded by a million distractions, and the number of things that could distract you and pull you away from achieving those daily goals is only going to increase.
It doesn’t help that most people these days have shorter attention spans, due to how fast-paced everything has become.
Try to eliminate anything that draws your attention away from your current focus (such as turning all your notifications off), or create a specific time for these tasks to be done in your daily schedule. Use project management tools to manage and track all of your tasks and keep everything aligned with your team.
Be strict with your sleeping schedules as your overall productivity depends on how well rested you are.
A lot of successful salespeople love to work in “batch times”, where they schedule a block of time in their day for a specific task and focus on it. After that block is complete, they’ll take a good 15-20 min break to relax before moving onto the next task. Hyperfocus will allow you to close more deals.
Using these tips can help you with your selling process as a manager or sales rep. Aligning your sales with these tips will help you sell more in less time, and therefore increase your sales productivity.
This is just a starting point. As you implement these tips, you’ll come across more and more ideas that will help you increase your sales team’s productivity.
Are you ready to increase your sales team’s productivity? If so, a good step to start would be to sign up for a free 14-day trial of Reply and use the team edition to automate your sales process!
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