We’ve talked a lot about sales productivity on the blog, specifically the strategies you can implement to make sure that sales reps are really selling and the whole team is performing at a high efficiency level.
But how about the roadblocks that cripple your sales productivity? For your team to continually perform at an optimum level, you have to identify the tactics that boost productivity—and the issues that break it. You have to realize your strengths and eliminate the weaknesses.
There are many issues that prevent peak productivity in the workplace. We’ve categorized them into three:
- Employee- related
These are setbacks within the company. They can be systems, processes, policies, resources (or lack thereof), facilities, practices, even management.
1. Substandard technology
Today’s industry is nothing like before, when salespeople used to do everything manually. Sales today has so many moving parts, and they all move very quickly. A sales team has to be able to keep up and it can’t do that without the proper technology.
For example: Imagine having to manually dial every number in your long list of outbound calls? Not only is that annoying; it’s extremely time-consuming and counterproductive. Today’s CRM has a Power Dialer as an answer to manual dialing. Following a sequence, the system auto-dials a contact number one at a time. When a call ends or is disconnected, it calls the next. You don’t need to be going through your list, calling each one, crossing off numbers, and taking down notes. The Power Dialer will do all of that for you. Can you imagine the number of hours you can save by doing that? A power dialer is just one of many CRM features that can help you streamline and automate tasks.
Technology has changed by leaps and bounds. And with its advancements come convenience and smart processes that help us really make the most of our time.
An organization that is serious about boosting productivity should invest in smart technology.
2. Inferior data collection
Sales relies on a lot of data. Your team has to be equipped with tools that can build, extract, and dispense data with the click of a button. Data entry, for one, has to be seamless so that salespeople don’t spend hours doing it. Data should also be free of manual error. Data with a lot of loopholes will only double employees' work and their work time.
3. Lack of real-time capabilities
Information must be accurate, accessible, and on-demand. Salespeople are more efficient when everything they need is at their fingertips. Today’s technology allows that. There’s mobile CRM, for example, which allows you to work anytime, anywhere. It can also feed you the data you need for closing deals or making decisions when you need it, where you need it.
4. Poor reporting and research
Who loves paperwork? Not only is it time-intensive, it’s not sustainable (or even eco-friendly). A CRM can provide actionable insights with very little time and energy involved. No more drowning in Excel sheets. Analyze business data through intelligent reports; implement and review metrics in your custom dashboard; track each member’s sales performance; perform pipeline analysis and projections; and more. Yes, all without having to put pen to paper—and risking human errors.
Having all these reports ready and easily accessible also gives management pipeline visibility so that they can be on top of everything happening during the selling process. This makes for a more efficient system for everyone all around.
5. Lack of vital resources
A lack of vital resources slows salespeople down. They can’t be sharing equipment or bogged down by faulty tools. Whether its tools, gadgets, or facilities, a company has to be equipped with the necessary resources. You don’t need high-ticket items but do have the essentials. Salespeople would be lost without their phones, laptops or tablets, file-sharing platform, high-speed internet, and CRM. And make sure to invest in high-performing, reliable, and intelligent tools to get more value for your buck.
6. Bad management practices
Management has to be the role model for efficiency. Some management practices derail productivity, and they need to be stopped ASAP. These include:
- Long decision-making timeframes
- Ambiguous priorities
- Too many mundane tasks assigned to sales reps and teams
- Sudden changes in work scope
- Poor training
- Lack of manpower
- Unclear systems
- Poor communication and coordination
Heads and supervisors should have killer sales management strategies for boosting productivity within their teams.
Distraction of any kind slows anybody down. In the workplace, there are a lot of distractions. Supervisors should be on top of setting up systems to eradicate these distractions. Some company-related ones include:
- Noise. A proper office layout and design and good acoustics are effective ways to manage noise
- Coworkers who like to chat
- Too many meetings. Maximize meetings instead.
Some roadblocks are caused by the employees themselves. Management should be supportive of its employees, yes, and it can always rehabilitate its team’s sales performance. However, it should also watch out for these red flags in employees’ behavior—and put a stop to them.
Some people just like to delay working on something. To avoid employees from procrastinating, set deadlines and be strict about them. And do not accept work that was obviously rushed to meet a deadline. Make sure employees are aware that delivering mediocre work resulting from procrastination has consequences.
2. Social media checking and internet browsing—and not for work
This is probably the number #1 culprit for most. While social media is important to selling, sales reps shouldn’t be checking Instagram and Facebook round-the-clock. They shouldn’t also be aimlessly browsing the web. Some companies ban certain sites in the workplace. If that’s a little extreme for you, you can always just do spot checks.
3. Too many small breaks
Sometimes those 10-minute smoke breaks can slowly add up and impact the team’s efficiency. While you don’t want to police employees’ whereabouts every hour, just make sure the company has policies on taking breaks. If an employee is abusive of his work hours, call him out.
4. Personal problems
Everything from family to health or financial problems can demotivate employees. Learn to diagnose employees with these distracting problems. Management can use the resources it has to help, like assigning a work counselor.
Employee burnout is real—here are the signs. In this case, prevention is better than cure. Management has to create a work environment that allows employees to thrive. But in the event of an employee burnout, management has to assist the employee and use its resources to help improve his/her situation.
Customers—especially the difficult ones—can pose some problems to workplace productivity, too. This is a situation that’s a bit tricky to navigate. You don’t want to antagonize customers. But be aware of these possible productivity threats so you can preempt them.
Customers can have an adverse impact on your productivity when they are indecisive or take too long to decide on matters that affect your workflow. Or when they’re too demanding or difficult to please that a sales rep uses up his hours just servicing them. Sales reps should be able to handle difficult clients on their own. Follow up when necessary. Be firm yet polite.
For the demanding and difficult clients, make sure they don’t overstep boundaries or ask for more than what they’ve been promised. (The contract should be clear on deliverables.) If matters get out of hand, supervisors and managers can step in by coaching the rep or troubleshooting the issue (e.g. assign a new person to manage the account, etc.)
Photos from Pexels. Main photo by Travis Saylor