Here’s how to take the strategic approach to boost sales productivity.
1. Have a 6-month rolling plan
Sure, you need an annual plan, but markets change. So unless you’ve got a crystal ball up your sleeve, you need some wriggle room.
Having a 6-month plan gives you the flexibility to revisit and tweak it as the year and business conditions unfold.
Here’s where tracking sales productivity really comes in handy.
Before you take on additional sales reps, you need to know whether the metrics support it. Your sales plan may mandate hiring 5 new reps in Q2, but you should only do that if your pipeline is living up to modeled amounts and can feed everyone. If there’s not enough opportunity to go around, you’ll have an unhappy sales team on your hands. Nobody’s making quota, and you’re shelling out on salaries for people who don’t perform as expected.
Instead, hire when your team is almost at the tipping point of not being able to handle pipeline volume. And never be afraid to push back on company hiring plans, even when things are going great. Realistic vs optimistic is always the way to go, but you can only be realistic when you know your business, market, and metrics.
2. Hire the right team in place, and empower it
Yes, you need to hire the right roles for each job, but it doesn’t end there. Success has to be a team effort, not just an individual responsibility.
Here’s how to fire up your sales team to live its best selling life:
- Demonstrate a commitment to their development and provide onboarding, training, coaching, and feedback so sales reps can continuously improve
- Get leadership and sales enablement (in smaller companies, this may fall to RevOps or marketing) working together to provide your teams with the knowledge they need to do their job. So, product knowledge, understanding the competitive landscape, buyer roles, and responsibilities, the competition, etc.
- Create a great team atmosphere (starting with company culture) and an environment where reps feel valued, value each other, and feel they can be successful together. Spend time building strong 1:1 relationships and discussing topics other than metrics and results to foster engagement.
- Make sure your teams know the right channels and approaches to connect with potential customers
Connecting with prospects over social media like LinkedIn can help boost engagement
- Guide them to really prepare for all their meetings: Being the better rep in the deal will increase your win rates. Spend time doing role-plays to prepare them for potential questions and objections.
- Establish expectations for performance and stick to those standards
- Provide teams with data so they can see whether they’re meeting expectations, and how they can improve
- Have reps own their productivity. “As a leader, I only want a team of a bunch of self-responsible people that will own their results,” says Bryan Whittington, Managing Member of Evergreen Business Services, “Top performers are always tracking their results and looking for ways to be more productive.
This brings us nicely to our next point.
3. Do the sales math
However you define sales productivity, and whatever stage of growth you’re at, every rep in your team should do their “sales math” to drive daily activity levels.
“It’s easy to get sidetracked in all the activities you have to perform on a daily basis,” says Mixmax Sales VP Kyle Parrish, “but sales math will keep you on track.”
Provide reps with a formula to calculate how many activities they need per day/month/quarter to hit quota. Like this example, which works for most sellers:
Copy and edit our sales math template.
Sales math isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it thing, so reps should revisit it regularly but not too often. This is because activity inputs resulting in opportunities and closed deals can vary, especially with seasonality.
4. Think quality and quantity
Sales is a numbers game, but it’s the value of those numbers that really count.
“Of the conversations you're having, how many of those convert into a first meeting?” asks Patrick William Joyce, “How many of those meetings convert into a sales opportunity? If the former is high and the latter is low, sales leaders should reconsider their targeting strategy and put the reps in a position to win by being granular about which accounts they're assigning. If you’re having reps randomly decide which accounts to go after, or giving loose criteria, they're losing efficiency quickly.”
Figure out what your team’s biggest constraints are. Time, for example, is a finite resource, so they can only have so many conversations per hour/day/week. Work out which activities take the most time, and how you can reduce it or make the time count for more. For example, if you’re using a sales engagement platform like Mixmax, the in-email dialer and two-way CRM sync saves time looking up and dialing numbers. But if your messaging doesn’t convert, you’ll need to work on that before ramping up volume.
5. Always be building sales pipeline
Sales results are a window into the past. What activities are you doing today that will contribute to improving those results tomorrow?
Take your eye off the prospecting ball when you’re in a closing cycle and you could quickly find your pipeline runs dry. So you need to keep prospecting activity as high as closing activity at all times. For longer sales cycles, you may need to look as far as 6, 9, or 12 months ahead to keep feeding reps with a steady stream of qualified prospects.
Here’s Kyle with a bit more info on this topic.
- Are your lead gen efforts bringing in pre-qualified leads that match your ICP? If not, work with your marketing team to adapt strategies and materials.
- Are you using the right prospecting sales tools and research methods to build solid lists full of validated contacts that match your ICP?
- Are your reps booking enough first meetings, scheduling demos, putting together proposals, etc.? If not, what do they need so they can do more?
6. Streamline your processes and systems
Depending on the length of your deal cycle, your current pipeline may be all you have to work with. And if it’s not enough to hit your number, you need to think about how to help teams maximize the funnel.
Make sure you're really managing the middle of the sales funnel and moving deals as thoroughly as possible to increase win rates. Take a hard look at your processes and systems and streamline wherever possible. Is there anything you can replace or invest in to boost productivity? Do all team members understand how to use your systems? If not, why not?
Invest in tech and sales automation to boost efficiency (see below for our recommendations). “Sales professionals often spend a limited amount of time engaged in true sales activities and are distracted by administrative and operational tasks,” says Vincent Burruano, President of Vince Burruano Consulting Services.
7. Enable sales engagement
Standing out from the crowd these days takes more than just shouting louder than the competition. Use sales engagement techniques instead to cut through the noise and improve the quality of conversations and the chances of getting a response. Team them with a productivity-boosting sales engagement platform like Mixmax, which top sellers will expect you to have in place.
Personalization at scale is still the name of the engagement game, and it’s easy with Mixmax email templates that autofill with prospect data from your CRM. But with everyone and their mother jumping on the bandwagon, you need to take it up a gear. Dropping a few readily available personal details into your messages may not be enough to convince anyone to give you their valuable time anymore.
Instead, do your research and make messaging hyper-relevant to prospect pain and roles. Combine deep industry insights with references to their or their company’s activity, or shared contacts. Talk about topics they really care about, lead with value, and offer them a compelling reason to change the status quo.
Here’s a great example of a personalized, relevant re-engagement email template that delivers value.
Use customizable multi-channel Mixmax sequences to engage buyers over their preferred channels. Each stage can be customized to each recipient by adapting content and scheduling, so you can be relevant at scale. Best-time-of-day scheduling and smart send alerts get your messages in front of prospects at the right time without ever looking like they were sent by a robot. And real-time engagement alerts allow you to follow up when they’re interacting with your content. This improves the chances of making a meaningful connection and developing a lasting relationship.
Customizable Mixmax sequences allow you to connect over the most relevant channels, with the most relevant content for each individual prospect
See here for more sales productivity tips like this one.
Here are a few more tools to improve sales productivity.