Did you know that in an 8-hour workday, the average employee is only really productive for three hours?
Yes, this is what a study has revealed. And the anti-productivity culprits include social media checking, reading news websites, and chatting with colleagues (and not about work).
For a sales team, sales reps working for just three hours will not cut it. Add to that this other alarming statistic: salespeople spend less than half their day selling. This basically means that those active three hours have been further slashed down. Most likely, your sales reps are spending less than two hours actually selling. The rest of the time they spend doing administrative work.
That is not great news.
Distractions are common, but you can proactively avoid them, so says Jill Konrath.
So is your sales team guilty of being unproductive? Why not measure their productivity level first?
How is Productivity Calculated or Measured?
There are many ways to measure work productivity. But in sales, one good way to measure a team’s productivity is by computing for the sales force cost.
You can compute for it by adding up all the costs to maintain the team. This includes salaries, benefits, commissions, allowances, and other perks. Then divide the revenue brought in by the team by the sales force cost to get the revenue to cost ratio. (Note: It’s important to be computing for the same period, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.) A good ratio would at least be 2:1.
You can also compute for each sales representative’s productivity using the same formula.
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
How to Improve Your Sales Team’s Productivity
So given the statistics above, how can you make sure to improve your sales team’s efficiency?
We’ve discussed eight really effective productivity hacks before. But this time, we will break down specific sales activities or tasks that should be prioritized so that your team is more productive at selling.
1. Prioritize prospecting
Prospecting gives you the opportunities. Without the opportunities, you really have nothing to work on, right? So we recommend that you prioritize gaining opportunities and spending the first part of your morning on prospecting.
2. Be more fastidious with qualifying leads
While prospecting, remember to qualify your leads… and to do it really well. Know your ideal customer profile (ICP). Build your buyer personas. Score your leads and know which ones are worth prioritizing and pursuing.
Why is this important? You don’t waste time pursuing low-quality leads. By being fastidious with qualifying leads and scoring them, you improve the quality of leads you will work on. This will ultimately have an impact on your productivity.
3. Closely align sales and marketing
Here’s another way to qualify leads better: closely align with marketing. Marketing helps in sending more high quality leads your way. This could also help lessen your load on generating leads. The bottom line: Marketing is essential to sales, and if there’s a perfect and strategic alliance between the two, both departments will end up being more productive.
4. Then, follow up. And follow up some more
Spend the next hour or so following up. And do not get tired of following up. According to MarketingDonut, 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes.
5. Automate, automate, automate
Following up on opportunities involves a lot of calls and a lot of emails and messaging. It’s very possible to get overwhelmed. The secret is to automate, automate, and automate!
Automation tools in a CRM can trigger tasks so you don't miss out on any. Some things you should delegate to automation include:
- Call Dialing
- Appointment setting
- Task list building
- Activity tracking
- Leads tracking or monitoring
You can even take it a step further and activate artificial intelligence to serve as a personal assistant.
6. Allot a time period for email checking.
We believe in allotting time for email checking. Most experts recommend checking your email twice a day. If you use emails a lot to stay in contact with clients, you may find it difficult to maintain this schedule.
The best way to tackle this is to ask yourself these two questions when you receive an email:
- Will replying to this take time away from what I’m doing now?
- Is replying to this email more important than what I’m doing now?
If you answer “Yes” to the first and “No” to the second, then set aside that email for now.
7. Allot a time period for meetings, and reduce meeting time
You should also allot a time period for meetings. You will constantly be disrupted by people who pop in and ask, “Do you have a few minutes?” You can follow the two-question process mentioned above and politely say “No” to the ambush meeting. But you can also be direct and ask the person, “Can it wait until later?” More often than not, it can.
Also, try to reduce meeting times. We find that 15-20 minutes is usually more than enough.
8. Be precise with all your messages
Going back and forth eats up minutes which eventually turn into hours. Want to eliminate the back and forth? Be precise in all your messaging, whether that’s in emails, SMS, or verbal communication.
For example: When setting an appointment, don’t wait for the second email to say when you’re free. Already indicate the dates and times you’re free in your first email. In meetings, come prepared by knowing the agenda beforehand. That way you’ll know exactly what to say to address the goals of the meeting.
9. Write things down
Your mind is constantly racing, and ideas sometimes overflow. But you don’t always have the time to act on these ideas as they arise. We’ve found that writing things down when ideas strike helps you stay focused on what you’re doing. But it also helps in making sure that you stay productive after you’re done with that task. It’s a win-win.
10. For sales managers, train your sales reps well
Sales managers won’t be productive themselves if they’re constantly hovering around their sales reps. Make sure that you train your team members well and have them practice the best sales practices (including these productivity tips) on their own.
Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash