Strategies to maximize your sales productivity

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(This article was originally published by HubSpot.com and has been edited for both content and style.)

sales productivitySales productivity—the time your team spends selling—has decreased. According to LinkedIn, salespeople spend less than 30% of their time actually selling. Administrative tasks and non-selling responsibilities are weighing your salespeople down.

Increasing your team’s productivity is essential for increasing your company’s revenue. In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of sales productivity. That includes tips to increase the time your sales reps have to spend selling.

What is sales productivity

Sales productivity is a measure of how effective and efficient salespeople are at generating revenue. Tracking sales productivity can help you identify areas where your sales team can improve.

Why should sales productivity be measured?

Sales productivity directly impacts your bottom line. If sales productivity is low, salespeople are not generating enough revenue to cover their costs. In some cases, a low sales productivity rate can even mean that a company is losing money.

The average sales rep spends only a third of their time selling. The rest of their day is eaten by administrative tasks. That includes emails, research, training, internal meetings and data management.

The solution is two-pronged. You’ll need to:

  1. Find ways to increase the time reps spend selling.
  2. Ensure the time actually spent on sales maximizes efficiency.

By tracking sales productivity, your company can make changes to its processes and strategies that can increase the number of deals closed.

Improving productivity can also have a positive impact on morale. Reps are happier because they spend more time doing what they love and less time doing what they don’t—while generating more income in less time.

Sales productivity challenges

Before sharing the key to increasing sales productivity, let’s look at the three root causes of the problems sales organizations have dealt with for decades.

Complexity

Selling is more complicated today. There are more touch points involved and buyers are more sophisticated. Plus, the technology that reps use changes almost daily.

Chaos

Entropy is always increasing, and so does the chaos involved in managing today’s selling interactions. Differences between sellers are increasingly nuanced. Despite record investments in data and analytics, sellers face more uncertainty than ever.

Context

Online decision-making has blown up the alignment and synchronicity that existed in traditional buy/sell situations. This has put salespeople at a contextual disadvantage. When combined with modern demand generation strategies, salespeople spend more time managing administrative tasks than managing the sales process.

How to measure sales productivity

Efficiency and effectiveness are two ways to understand your team’s productivity. Sales efficiency measures how many opportunities a representative converts into actual sales. This can help you understand the steps in your buyer’s journey and potential barriers to purchase.

For example, over one in five sales professionals say that the length of the sales process is the reason prospects back out of deals. If your team is impacted you can focus on finding ways to remove unnecessary steps from your sales process.

Meanwhile, sales effectiveness measures how well salespeople close deals and generate revenue. Effectiveness can help you understand how well your sales activities work. For instance, 61% of sales professionals found setting up face-to-face meetings was the best way to convert B2B customers in 2022. This would show that these meetings are effective.

Within these categories, your team can focus on more specific metrics. The number of sales made per hour worked is one of the most popular measurements. This metric can help you see how effective your sales team is at generating revenue during their time spent selling.

Another way to measure sales productivity is by looking at the number of sales made per contact. This metric can help you see how well your sales team converts leads into customers.

Finally, you can also measure sales productivity by looking at the number of sales made per salesperson. This metric can help you see how effective your sales team is as a whole and identify areas where you need to improve.

Understanding your team’s performance can help you identify—and resolve—a productivity slump. See the most popular metrics sales teams track in 2022, according to survey data from HubSpot.

How to improve sales productivity

Provide training

One way to improve sales productivity is by providing sales training and development programs. These programs can help salespeople learn new skills and strategies that can make them more effective at generating revenue.

Implement software solutions

Sales automation software can help free up your team’s time. Find software that can assist with administrative tasks. Additionally, sales intelligence tools can help salespeople gather data and information about their prospects so that they can close more deals.

Use incentives

If morale has created a barrier to productivity, you can use incentives to help keep your team motivated. Sales contests and commission structures can motivate salespeople to sell more and close more deals.

Sales productivity tools

There are several sales productivity tools that can help increase efficiency. We’ll dive into popular solutions below to help you discover the best options for your team.

CRM systems

A customer relationship management (CRM) system can help your team track leads, deals and customers. CRMs can also provide salespeople with information about their customers so that they can sell more effectively.

Of sales leaders, 22% cite leveraging their CRM to its fullest potential as their top goal in 2022, according to research from HubSpot.

Sales automation

Sales automation uses software to automate repetitive tasks so your team can spend more time working directly with prospects and closing deals. That often includes emailing prospects, scheduling sales meetings and creating sales reports. Our recent “State of Marketing Report” found that 45% of sales team use automation.

Sales intelligence software

Sales intelligence software gathers data and information that can help facilitate the sales process. That includes tethering industry-specific talking points for contacts before you being outreach.

Sales intelligence tools can also help your team find contact information, track prospects’ social media activity and identify buying signals. Popular options include LinkedIn Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo SalesOS and Apollo.io.

Other helpful tips

Sales productivity can be improved with a targeted approach. Here are a few additional ways that you can improve sales productivity across your organization.

Map the customer acquisition process

The more complex your offering, the greater the variance and complexity in your customer acquisition process. While creating a repeatable process when the process is different every time may seem like an insurmountable problem, in reality, it’s not. The key is to view the process through an “object lens.”

Don’t build out your methodology from A to Z; instead, map the system and find the waypoints. Mapping the system in this manner enables you to find those key inflection points where adjustments occur.

This enables you to make your repeatable process a series of repeatable mini-processes that can be plugged in as needed.

Create a clearly defined service-level agreement (SLA)

Great selling organizations have crystal-clear, service-level agreements that define what every lead definition means, the protocols for managing those leads and what’s expected from every aspect of the revenue generation team.

A strong SLA enables everyone—especially salespeople—to spend their “thinking time” focused on selling situations, rather than figuring out what to do and when to do it. This creates greater discipline and velocity.

Design and execute contextual plays

Sales reps either execute their sales cadences like a poorly programmed bot or they’re forced to spend so much time thinking about what to do they have no time or brainpower to focus on the conversation taking place.

Contextual plays free up a sales rep’s genius to engage with their most important asset: the prospect/customer.

Integrate and automate your playbook

Playbooks are powerful. If you don’t have a defined and documented playbook, you’re at a disadvantage.

However, if your sales reps have to think about or refer to the playbook, your playbook isn’t going to work. Reps shouldn’t have to think about the playbook. The playbook should be integrated and automated within the existing systems.

Maximize your sales productivity

Sales productivity is an important aspect of your business. By tracking sales productivity, companies can make changes to their sales process and sales strategy to help salespeople be more effective in their jobs and close more deals. Implementing these changes can help you increase sales and revenue for your business.

The key to maximizing the productivity of your sales team is to provide them with the right tools and resources.

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