Are your sales reps productive?
Now, that’s a loaded question, right?
They may be busy, but not in a way that positively impacts your bottom line. What do you think they would say if you asked them?
Their answers may surprise you as according to surveys, sales reps only spend 33% of their time talking to prospects and actually selling.
That means that even when your sales reps are showing up for work and working every hour of the day, they might not be as productive as they could be.
So, how do you get the most productivity out of your sales team?
I’m glad you asked.
- 1. Start with Sales Rep Onboarding
- 2. Encourage SDRs by Building a Thriving Team Culture
- 3. Align Sales and Marketing Teams
- 4. Develop a Repeatable Sales Process
- 5. Leverage Sales Technology
- 6. Deny the Urge to Multitask
- 7. Reduce Distractions and Learn to Say No
- Final Thoughts
1. Start with Sales Rep Onboarding
Day one is when you have the greatest opportunity to set expectations with new hires.
If you take a “sink or swim” approach to onboarding new sales development reps (SDRs), you’re setting them up for the first step in a pattern of inefficiency and low productivity.
When you don’t take the time to provide new employees with proper orientation and training, you’ve essentially signaled that “we don’t care if you have a hard time figuring things out.”
Ensure that every new hire gets appropriate training on your products, services, industry, personas, and tech stack.
Take time to set expectations and explain what a successful SDR looks like.
So, talk to them about the following:
- how will SDRs get measured?
- what does an SDR do each day?
- what KPIs should an SDR monitor?
- what resources should reps use?
Another useful piece of advice would be to assign a senior rep to act as a mentor to your new hire.
Finally, check in regularly with your new hires to make sure they are acclimating.
2. Encourage SDRs by Building a Thriving Team Culture
Studies show that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform companies where employees have low levels of engagement.
Moreover, companies with strong cultures experience a 4X increase in revenue growth.
This is true at the department or team level, too.
When your SDRs feel engaged and dedicated to company success, they will perform better.
Motivate your SDRs and inside sales representatives through:
- friendly competition and gamification
- performance rewards
- team building activities
- sharing sales effort results
- routine training
- continuous coaching
3. Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Marketing generates leads.
The sales team follows up with them.
Except when they don’t.
Time to beat the “sales and marketing alignment” topic to death again.
Sorry, folks. This topic is one that will not, — and should not, die.
How much time and money gets wasted every day across sales and marketing teams worldwide when one side says, “your leads are garbage,” and the other side responds with, “no, your follow-up is garbage.”
Okay, so maybe they don’t verbalize these ideas (at least not across team lines), but their actions and passive-aggressive behaviors belie their true feelings.
Sales and marketing leaders who don’t guide both sides toward harmony not only waste marketing budget and resources; they also reinforce sales rep inefficiencies and lack of productivity.
When these teams aren’t aligned, sales reps will:
- spend time creating their own content
- cherry-pick leads instead of calling the ones provided
- look for their own leads to call
- don’t allocate enough time for persistent follow-up opportunities with existing leads.
4. Develop a Repeatable Sales Process
When you take time to develop an easy-to-repeat sales process, you enable your SDRs to be more productive and increase efficiency.
A sales process ensures that sales team members follow proven steps to maximize the likelihood of success. Ideally, your sales process will include:
- A sales playbook that provides details such as common objections and rebuttals, buyer personas, typical decision-maker behaviors during each stage of the buyer’s journey, competitor analysis, and more
- A sales cadence (preferably automated through a sales engagement platform) to time each touchpoint to improve sales engagement and maximize deal flow
- Scripts that help SDRs stay on message
- Email templates for every situation, so reps can spend time personalizing messages rather than writing new emails from scratch each time
- Information about and access to training materials on your organization’s chosen sales methodology.
A secret ingredient to making your sales process work is to remove non-sales activities from your team’s plates.
How much time each day gets filled by administrative tasks?
Remember that statistic we started this post with — only 33% of reps’ time is spent selling — so chances are quite a bit of time is dedicated to admin work.
What can you cut and what can you give to a sales admin assistant?
5. Leverage Sales Technology
With the right sales technology, you can free up sales reps to focus on following up with qualified leads.
Here are a few examples of sales tech you should consider using in your organization.
Chatbots can help engage prospects on your website. After the bot asks a few qualifying questions, you can hand off promising leads to sales.
Leads that can’t be immediately qualified by the bot can be added to an automated nurture process instead.
Dialing a number doesn’t seem like it takes a lot of time, but those seconds add up when you make a lot of calls every day.
Automated call systems quickly produce a continuous stream of calls via the computer. Since the calls are automated, sales reps save time between calls by not having to worry about dialing each number.
There are two types of auto-dialing software that automatically go to the next call after the current call ends: predictive and progressive dialing, and both help improve call productivity for your sales reps
- Progressive dialing supplies sales reps with a continuous supply of leads with queue-based routing. The next-best lead to call, as defined by management, is automatically routed in the queue, giving sales reps the most relevant leads first. This is perfect for web leads or leads that management classifies as hot.
- Predictive dialing randomly calls several lines at one time per sales rep, waits for the prospect to answer, then connects a rep, hoping that the prospect didn’t hang up while waiting for a rep to speak. Predictive dialing involves the added pressure of adhering to FCC regulations for abandoned calls. Many leads are wasted while trying to find an available rep.
Of the two types of automated call systems, using next-best call logic, progressive dialing will enable sales reps to connect with the most important leads before the call.
With predictive dialing, reps have little notice of who they are speaking with before being connected, and leads are chosen at random to present to the sales reps based on who answers the phone.
Out of the two types of auto-dialing systems, progressive dialing will enable sales reps to quickly connect with prospects.
Voicemail drop saves reps valuable seconds by allowing them to leave pre-recorded voicemail messages with a single click.
A lot of people hate the idea of using canned material in their daily operations. They believe it’s not authentic and that contacts will notice, but using canned content can improve your productivity if you do it correctly.
Craft generic voicemail scripts that cover the key points you want your reps to cover. Rather than having them use the scripts or templates word-for-word, allow them to make small changes so that the message is personal and personable.
If you really want to reduce the time your sales reps spend on emails and voicemails, invest in a sales engagement solution such as VanillaSoft that offers voicemail drop to minimize the time spent on these tasks.
Intellective routing and prioritization
A sales engagement solution that automatically routes the next best lead to SDRs saves time and increases productivity.
Combined with dynamic filtering, this queue-based technology significantly improves lead prioritization and routing. Using key indicators, IR dynamically serves up prospects to your sales reps based on which one is most likely to close.
Thanks to geolocation data, IR is capable of precisely targeting contacts based on their address. Appointment setters, inside sales teams booking for field reps, and field reps booking appointments for themselves can greatly benefit from this feature.
Integrated emails enable your inside sales team to stay top of mind with your customers and prospects in between phone calls by integrating emails with your personal calls, and help them educate, qualify leads, and build a brand.
You can quickly communicate via email with prospects and customers by using prebuilt email templates, automated email drips, and email campaigns.
Sales reps can still personalize the emails, but the core messaging and attachments are created and preapproved by management, ensuring that the messaging is clear and consistent.
You can automatically send emails upon a web inquiry, or right after you finish a call based on the result of the call. In addition, an alert right after the email is opened will send the customer to the right place for follow-up.
Adding the ability to do integrated emails helps sales reps engage with customers, build your brand, reduce workload, and save production time since they can send an email with one click.
An important factor in simplifying the production process is queue-based lead management.
Managing leads is one of the most confusing areas for most inside sales teams.
Efficiently and properly managing leads will help you increase sales, yet many important leads fall by the wayside and get lost in the system because inside sales teams do not have an efficient sales CRM system to keep track of them.
In this system, managers take qualified sales leads and add them to an automated call queue based on the next-best lead priority.
When a sales rep finishes a call and enters the call result, the next lead is presented immediately.
Queue-based platforms enable sales reps to nurture prospects and connect on a deeper level, as previous contact information, preapproved smart scripts, and emails can be tailored for each record based on result code triggers.
This way, sales reps can easily communicate the perfect message to prospects at each stage of the sales cycle, thus increasing the close rates.
6. Deny the Urge to Multitask
You have tons of emails to read and tasks to complete on top of making sales calls.
With a lot to do and not enough time, you feel compelled to multitask.
Many high-performance sales teams opt for this path and believe they are getting much more work done than they would otherwise, but multitasking rarely plays out how you hope.
In fact, most experts agree that multitasking reduces your productivity by about 40 percent.
The reason for the lost productivity is that you can’t give much attention to more than one thing at a time, and switching gears makes it even harder for you to give each task the attention it deserves, especially when it comes to client-focused duties.
Set your sales team up for success by giving them the tools they need to manage their tasks efficiently.
A sales engagement solution can help streamline their selling efforts while a task management solution can help manage any other projects your reps need to work on.
There are free tools like Trello, Wrike, and Asana that can help your sales team get organized and start improving productivity for those tasks that aren’t explicitly related to selling.
7. Reduce Distractions and Learn to Say No
From smartphones and emails to news feeds and push notifications, the modern world is full of distractions that will prevent you from getting the job done.
Even if you don’t realize it, this problem will hurt your sales and prevent your team from living up to their full potential.
Turning off your phone, closing your email client, and removing other distractions will keep you in the zone during sales calls.
Give your sales reps the freedom from always having to be connected to internal communications platforms, so they can focus on connecting with their prospects.
Similarly, upper management will try to get as much performance from you and your team as they can, and your team will try to get you to do more than your share.
Spreading yourself too thin will stop you from getting things done and harm the quality of your work.
For your sake and theirs, learn to say “no” and teach your sales reps that saying “no” is OK when the request harms your ability to meet quota or advance the company toward set business goals.
It would be easy to just tell your team to work harder or focus more on selling, but those demands don’t jibe with reality. The modern sales team has become bogged down by administrative tasks, meetings, and technology that just doesn’t promote sales productivity.
As a sales leader, it’s up to you to identify tasks that get in the way of selling, provide access to tools that enhance outreach rather than hinder it, create a team culture that motivates and encourages team members to achieve their quota, and streamline the sales productivity of your team.