How Do You Improve Sales Productivity?
Sales productivity is the output from your salespeople. Simply defined sales productivity is the relationship between sales revenue and the cost of sales.
Obviously, sales productivity improves when the revenue from each rep is faster than the increases in the cost of sales. The best case scenario is when you improve sales output and reduce the costs of sales. As with most of life’s relationships, there are variables to consider.
Most senior executives immediately think of compensation when it comes to cost of sales. Indeed comp is a significant factor. However, I am challenging you to think differently to garner better outcomes.
Think about how your sales culture is a bundle of elements that impacts productivity positively or negatively – every day.
If you want to work on the long term fix to improve sales productivity and effectiveness, consider evaluating and understanding how well your sales organization is doing in the 7 areas below. When all 7 are aligned and known by all yield an high performance sales organization – Sales Culture!
- Company Sales Story.
- Sales Strategy.
- Sales Progress.
- Management & Coaching.
- Sales Development.
- Sales Compensation & Rewards.
You should not expect all these to be “firing on all cylinders” right now. However, your sales managers and sales leaders should be improving each area. Let’s take a look at each aspect.
Company Sales Story.
This is the messaging that your sales reps share with your prospects, customers and the community. The company sales story must differentiate your company and offering from your competitors.
Do NOT assume your salespeople have this information or know how to do this. This is the responsibility of the Company & the senior executive. Most entrepreneurs are fabulous at telling the company story; afterall it is your passion. Give your sales team an advantage, and help them craft this story.
The critical aspect with this story is the delivery must be in the context of the outcomes a buyer wants & needs. The outcomes that move the needle for the buyer, not the salesperson’s favorite feature. The context is:
- How do you save them time?
- How does your offering reduce their risk?
- How do you save them or make them money?
The strategy must be aligned with the buyer’s journey through your company. You need to match them where they are in their journey. They don’t care about features and benefits. They care about outcomes (time, money & risk). These outcomes must be compelling.
Your sellers must be in the right place, the right time and say the right words. This applies to the digital footprint and what they say in their conversations.
We must be aware of the information disparity of today. It is not a lack of information, but a thick forest of data. This data is overwhelming to the buyers. Prospects need a salesperson to guide them to a good decision by asking questions and listening, not giving more selfish information. When selling becomes helping the buyer, good things happen!
Face it. 60% of salespeople are below average & worse. You may have some on your team. Entrepreneurs who want a high performance sales team must stop accepting mediocrity; thin the herd. This blog post might help.
Hiring is difficult. Sales hiring is a bigger challenge, if you hire salespeople the same way you hire everyone else. I teach a sales hiring routine that saves time, money and avoids mistakes. At the core of the routine is a tool that only works for the sales department. If you want samples, click here.
Always be recruiting for sales talent, but hire based on standards for activity & behaviors. Define what performance is for your sales roles and have your sales managers create accountability.on the standards you require. This is a critical component of a sales culture – performance. In fact, accountability to standards must be a priority for you.
Measurement of the standards is the next major step. It does not matter if you use a CRM, and excel file or note pad – track them.
Be clear about the expectations and metrics up front; start in the interview. What are the three to five behaviors and activities the sales reps must execute each day/week/month to be successful in the role?
These are what you track and hold the reps accountable to.
Management & Coaching.
Every department in the company is managed. Sales is no different. You don’t want your sales manager with his/her head buried in a CRM, but they have to track the basics. A sales process and methodology implemented and embedded will help you get a 15% bump in revenue, but it takes commitment.
Coaching should take up 60% of your sales manager’s time. Yes – 60%! Coaching deals. PreCall plans. Debrief meetings and calls. Most sales managers do not know how to coach. They never experienced it from sales managers. Give them a fighting chance and help them. Start by giving them permission to coach and help. If you need outside help, there are plenty of sales coaches available.
There are several areas identified in the post that your team may need help. High performance requires help. Develop your team consistently, but don’t train them just say you trained them. Have a purpose and understand what the weaknesses are that you want to improve. Most importantly, make sure your sales manager understands how to support any training you do.
Sales Compensation & Rewards.
Here is the challenge for sales compensation design:
- What is the role of sales compensation among other productivity improvement efforts?
- What are common misconceptions about sales compensation?
Sales performance programs build sales competencies and reward outcomes. Both objectives play a role in improving sales productivity. Leaders use company value propositions, sales culture, talent, sales training, and professional development to build sales competencies.
Sales management uses reward programs to recognize outcomes. Sales management can use contest/spiff success to reward short-term objectives, merit increases to recognize professional growth and recognition programs to celebrate seller outcomes.
Sales compensation is to reward tangible sales outcomes. Your sales compensation plan should have output performance measures that reward expected sales outcomes for the sales job. Each job has its own sales compensation plan featuring unique measures for the sales role. These measures are carefully selected, reviewed once a year and aligned with the preferred outcomes for the sales job.
My recommendation is to look at each of these areas and prioritize the biggest challenges. Build a sales culture that is aligned with your core values, but allow for joyful competition.
If you want a free consultation on these ideas, reach out to me here. This is my passion and I would love to help.