5 Effective Strategies To Drive Sales Productivity in 2021
Adapting to disruption in business is simple. If you’re not riding the wave of change, you’ll find yourself beneath it. While the way businesses function changed dramatically during the pandemic, the adaptation to this change was not uniform.
Businesses that rapidly made changes and adapted thrived, while those that didn’t crumbled. At the heart of all this change and adjusting to it, is sales productivity.
What exactly is sales productivity? And how your business can optimize for it are challenging topics that we’d like to tackle in this article so that you can be on the right side of the line and quickly adjust to a post-pandemic business world.
What is sales productivity?
To understand what sales productivity is, we must also understand what it is not. It is often confused with sales efficiency and sales effectiveness, among other terms; however, it is neither of these things.
Simply put, sales productivity is defined as a ratio. It is the results achieved, divided by the resources used to achieve this result. To simplify it even further, improving sales productivity means improving your total sales result while utilizing as little resources as possible to achieve this result. Resources used can include time, money or both.
Now, to understand some terms often confused or used interchangeably with sales productivity, let us define sales efficiency. It is the amount of new revenue that your business can generate for every dollar you invest into promoting or selling your product.
Simplified further, being sales efficient means bringing in more revenue in sales than you spend in acquiring or trying to capture your market. The larger the revenue you bring in and the smaller the amount spent to achieve it, the more sales efficient your business is.
Finally, let’s clear up what sales effectiveness is. Sales effectiveness is ensuring that your business focuses on the most profitable or the most beneficial sales tasks that can generate the most return. Essential to be sales effective means you don’t waste time on high effort, low reward tasks and instead focus on low or medium effort but high reward tasks.
Now that the difference between sales productivity, sales efficiency, and sales effectiveness has been cleared up, we can move on actually understanding how to increase your sales productivity so that you can thrive in the current business environment.
Common sales productivity challenges
Let’s dive deep into some of the most common barriers to achieving higher sales team productivity:
Untrained or Badly Trained Sales Reps: If you think training employees is not worth it, because they might leave, wait till you find out what happens when you don’t train them and they stay! Untrained staff or inadequate training can be a death sentence. Not only will they tank your sales performance, but they will make it harder to achieve increased sales productivity as well.
Unproductive Tasks: It’s pretty simple, increasing sales productivity means making your sales processes better. Sales professionals wasting company time on tasks that don’t help you meet your sales goals is a serious problem.
Improving sales productivity means your sales training needs to focus on identifying and completing the right tasks that actively boost productivity. In a nutshell, focus on high-value activities and keep track of them with a tracker or work management software.
Ignoring Key Metrics: A sales strategy that ignores the metrics and the big picture is destined to fail. You just can’t achieve more sales if you don’t stop to analyze what’s working to help you meet your sales target and what is a waste of time. Metrics will tell you the whole story. Properly used, they are the best sales productivity tools. Pay attention to them!
Lack of Internal Communication: Communication within the team is essential to lead generation and conversion, closing deals, meeting your sales goal and helping you improve sales productivity in general. If your sales team can’t communicate effectively, that’s a problem to be solved ASAP. Consider streamlining communication or using a team management software.
Outdated Software Tools: As businesses adapt to a more digital presence, sales tools need to keep up. Ensure that your sales team’s using the latest software wherever possible. Outdated tools often accompany outdated sales strategies. Make sure you keep abreast with the latest tools.
Sales Teams and Marketing Team Out of Sync: This is self-evident. You want your marketing team and sales teams working like a well-oiled machine.
Unenthusiastic Sales Rep: There’s nothing worse than sales reps, a sales manager or even worse sales leaders who just don’t care about selling. Lack of enthusiasm hinders everything from generating leads to customer enthusiasm. Avoid hiring people who just aren’t passionate.
Sales productivity strategies to drive business revenue
Now that we’ve covered some of the hindrances and challenges faced by a sales team that don’t help increase sales productivity, let’s look at what team members can do to add more value, as well as some strategies to improve sales.
With the right strategies to increase sales productivity, a brilliant product, and adequate time spent marketing to the target market, it’s inevitable that your sales productivity will hit an all-time high. Now let’s take a look at some great strategies.
#1. Making the best of training and coaching
When starting out with a new sales team, you can’t expect too much. Initially focus on time spent to properly train and equip your sales team with the skills they need.
Training has to be a continuous process with a focus on sales enablement. Spend time refining the sales pitch and teaching them the sales process in depth. Encourage new staff to sit in on sales calls with more experienced reps.
Now in case you’re wondering about the ROI involved with training a sales team, it stands at 353%. That means, for every dollar a company spends on training, it receives about $4.53 back. But don’t just blindly follow a statistic, if you need to, calculate the ROI for your own training programs in the past and see for yourself.
That means if you’re not training your team, you’re setting yourself up for failure because training is one of the best ways to increase sales. Keep in mind that most employees will forget what they learn as time goes on. So not updating and reviewing their training is almost as bad as failing to train them.
#2. Leveraging the right tools
In today’s sales world, it’s crucial that you use the right tools for the job. Fortunately, good software can be found for almost all purposes making the entire sales cycle much easier to manage.
Software can be used to generate leads, manage your sales funnel, entire sales team, and sales process all the way to customer retention and relationship management. You could even use a sales prospecting tool. Wherever possible, create useful sales videos that can be rewatched by new staff and rely on automation, so you free up your sales team to focus on more important tasks and handling more deals.
Avoid relying on older tools or software and try to stay up to date. This will be a continuous process but well worth the investment. Remember that outdated technology costs businesses more than it saves. If you’re playing the long game, then make sure you’re equipped for the long haul.
#3. The power of virtual selling
Virtual selling is an area you might find some difficulty adapting to however, it’s adapt or die. As more and more selling happens online, experts expect online sales projections to hit $145.8 billion in 2023.
This means you have to optimize for selling virtually. The good news is there’s plenty of room to get creative. You are no longer restricted to the age-old sales tactics and can possibly close more deals online with the right sales team.
Try grabbing your customers’ attention with a great website, online store, social media marketing, or just using the right platform. Make creative videos, experiment, and find out what works best for your brand. There’s no one size fits all formula here, so you’re going to have to keep trying until you find something that works best.
#4. Set smart goals and continually reassess
Goal setting is key to ensuring you increase sales productivity. Goals combined with strategy is an unbeatable winning combination. While hitting your targets can seem like a marathon at times, the best way to go about achieving it is to break them down into smaller steps and achieve these sub-goals.
You can ensure that you’re on track to meeting the smaller goals first. This can also help prevent paralysis by over-analysis, which often happens when a goal is too big, and you can’t measure your progress regularly.
You also need to continually re-assess your progress because if you’re straying off track, re-assessing can help quickly fix any issues that crop up.
A good yardstick for the kind of goals you should be setting is S.M.A.R.T goals. This stands for goals that are:
Specific: Make sure your goal is clearly defined and very specific. Knowing exactly what you want is the first step to getting there. Not only does this make achieving the goal a lot more attainable, but many goals aren’t achieved because they’ve never been properly defined in the first place.
Measurable: The ability to track your progress is crucial to knowing how far you’ve come. You also need to know when you’ve met your goal. Your sales team’s progress should be easily measurable if you want to increase sales productivity. This means tracking everything from individual rep revenue to measuring an overall increase in performance. Metrics are your best friends.
Achievable: A goal needs to be achievable and within the sales team’s scope; otherwise, there’s no sense in setting one. Ask yourself if you can truly achieve the goal that’s been set. If not, then adjust the goal a little. It’s okay to be ambitious, but being unrealistic is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Relevant: An irrelevant goal may sound great, but it probably does nothing to increase sales productivity. In other words, this sort of goal is just a waste of time and resources. Once you’ve decided upon a goal, ask yourself if this is truly relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. This quick step can help prevent loads of wasted effort down the line.
Timely: Finally, a goal without a timeline or deadline is just a wish. There’s a reason 92% of people don’t achieve their goals. Having a deadline can help you stay on track, focused, and motivated. The absence of a deadline can make you feel like you have all the time in the world. This usually means procrastination and putting things off. Not something you want to be doing if you have a goal to achieve.
#5. Know your target audience
Finally, know who you’re selling to. There’s nothing worse than a great product marketed at the wrong audience. Understand your ideal customer, what their wants and needs are, and what you can help them fulfill.
Deeply understanding your customer will put you miles ahead of the competition. This is best achieved by creating a customer database. It lets you fine-tune and focus your pitch and tweak it according to whom you’re selling to. Instead of wasting time being general and using blanket techniques, you can now make sure you’re telling your buyer exactly what they want to hear.
Ace your sales productivity today!
Properly implemented and optimized for, sales productivity can make a massive difference to how your business adapts and performs. While it can take a while to make sure you’re doing everything right, remember that getting started is the most important part.
Focus on the key aspects outlined here. Avoid the major mistakes that hinder your business from optimizing it’s sales productivity. As much as possible, double down on what works. Train your employees to perfection, make sure they receive feedback continuously. Equip them with the right tools and latest software.
Adapt to virtual selling because it’s here to stay. You can get creative about how you sell and always find what works best for your business. If you’re doing everything right, you should see a turnaround fairly soon. If not, come back to the basic framework and see where you went wrong.
Make sure you set the right kind of goals and couple that with an in-depth understanding of your target audience and what they want. Finally, feel free to innovate a little and see what you come up with. You might find something that works wonders for you.
Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIN or twitter.
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