38 Sales Efficiency Experts Reveal the #1 Way to Improve the Performance and Productivity of Your Sales Team
When it comes to any business model whose primary value offering is providing products and/or services to paying customers, there is one universal truth: no matter how great your project or service is, your business will inevitably fail if you have an inefficient sales process.
Whether the sales process inefficiency lies in preparedness and training, teamwork, motivation, organization and use of sales data, or communications with the sales staff and other departments of the company, these issues have to be addressed if you ever want your business to grow and thrive.
As a company who works with many established businesses who rely on a healthy sales cycle, we wanted to find some expert advice on sales efficiency, and more specifically, the top tips from experienced sales experts on how to effectively improve the efficiency and productivity of any sales team. To do this we reached out to 38 sales managers and business sales experts to answer this question:
“What’s the #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team?”
We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on how to improve the efficiency of your sales team. See what our experts said below:
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Meet Our Panel of Sales Efficiency Experts:
Jeff Goldberg is the Founder of Jeff Goldberg & Associates, and is an award-winning sales professional with 4 decades of sales, sales management, training & consulting experience. He has had the opportunity to teach, coach, mentor and speak in front of tens of thousands of sales professionals, ranging from financially successful veterans to the most junior new hires in a diverse array of industries. Jeff delivers powerful, high-energy programs and speeches that draw on his years of experience as a performer in the theatre and stand-up comedy. He has delivered training for clients such as State Farm, Aramark, Siemens, Newsday, Cisco, Citibank, Cablevision, and others representing nearly every commercial and industrial category.
The #1 way to improve the productivity of your salespeople is to…
Train them properly, reinforce the training and observe them in the field putting it to use.
No one has a magic wand (as a sales trainer it’s what my prospects are hoping for when they meet me!) and the only thing that works is putting in the effort over time. Great training is useless without reinforcement and you must make the reps practice, rehearse and then make sure they’re actually doing it out in the real world. It takes time and effort but that’s what the sales manager gets paid the big bucks for!
George Cuchural is the VP of Client Relations at The Expert Institute, a technology-driven platform for connecting qualified experts in every field with lawyers, investment firms, and journalists looking for technical expertise and guidance. Prior to joining The Expert Institute, George graduated St. Lawrence University, received an honors degree in political science, and worked for a financial research firm in New York where he managed significant hedge fund and private equity accounts.Today, he heads a growing sales team at The Expert Institute that has consistently increased revenue since the company’s inception in 2010.
Improving the efficiency of your sales team starts with…
One of the best ways I’ve found to motivate our team is competition (friendly, of course).
Using Hoopla, a software package that integrates competitive elements directly into our Salesforce platform, we’ve been able to increase numbers for everyone on the sales team. It’s also let everyone in the company feel more connected to our sales process, since we are able to display sales figures (and competition standings) on a large central display in our office.
Stu Schlackman is the author of “Don’t Just Stand There, Sell Something” and “Four People You Should Know”. Stu is known as the Sales Synthesizer, publishing monthly sales articles for sales professionals. He is also the chairman of the Sales Professional Experts Group for National Speakers Association. He is a past president of the NSA of North Texas and is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) which is the highest earned designation of the National Speakers Association. Learn more about Stu’s work at http://www.stuschlackman.com/
The best way to improve sales team efficiency is…
By knowing and working with the personality style of each team member.
One of the key characteristics of a great team is being able to leverage their strengths. Out of the four key personality styles each has a unique set of natural strengths. Great teams know who has what strengths and knows how to leverage those strengths in order to achieve maximum team efficiency.
Those that have the strength of organization, planning and structure know how to put in place the best sales process for selling and delivering solutions. Those that have the strength of problem solving and innovation can craft the best solution for the customer. Those that have the strength of presenting and persuasion can leverage their ability to beat the competition. And those that have great relationship skills and the ability to build trust, can win the customer over.
Each personality style makes decisions differently, communicates according to their style, and is motivated when their strengths are leveraged by their peers and superiors. When a team knows each individual member’s personality, they know how to effectively communicate and work to maximize team performance.
Colleen Stanley is the President & Founder of SalesLeadership, Inc., a sales development firm that specializes in emotional intelligence and consultative sales training. Prior to starting her business, Colleen was Vic President of Sales for a national sales organization of 130 reps, which was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 200 fastest growing companies in the United States.
The number one way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is…
Teaching and having them apply the basic principles of time management and emotional intelligence.
It is amazing how many sales people do not calendar block. As a result, they show up to work with no plan, get distracted with low priority activities and confuse pay time activity with no-pay time activities. Many salespeople need to develop the EI skill of delayed gratification.. Put in the work to get the reward. Calendar blocking and time management require putting in the work to get the reward.
Vladimir Gendelman is the Founder and CEO of Company Folders, an innovative presentation folder printer. With over 7 million folders printed for over 5,000 customers, Vladimir has acquired a wealth of knowledge related to printing, design, business communications and small business management over the past decade.
Since salespeople tend to work on commission instead of receiving a regular salary, employers sometimes believe that they can¹t dictate when and how salespeople should work. I have found that in order to make your sales team more efficient…
You have to run your sales department as strictly as possible.
Set working hours and a dress code for them and hold them accountable for everything they do. That will create a more professional atmosphere‹your salespeople will feel much better about the company they sell for, and therefore be more efficient.
Jenny Vance is President of LeadJen, a B2B sales lead generation company. Jenny has over 10 years of experience in helping companies market their products and services and that experience has helped Jenny develop a set of best practices for outbound marketing, inside sales, appointment setting and lead nurturing. Under her leadership, LeadJen works with B2B companies across North America, Europe and Australia seeking to improve their marketing programs and develop successful sales leads.
The #1 way to improve the effectiveness of your salespeople (and increase sales) is to…
Focus on providing reps with better data.
A few specific things to do in that regard:
- Invest in a quality data source. Most data sources need to be cleansed to ensure titles are relevant and accurate, and contact information is correct and complete. Asking sales reps to do this detracts from their productivity, so I always recommend investing in custom cleansing so reps are handed great data.
- Structure data into groups of similar leads. Leads can be grouped by lead source, title path, industry, company size and/or message tactic. This allows sales reps to prep once for calls to an entire group, instead of prepping for each call. This also gives managers the ability to customize messaging strategies to entire groups to improve results.
- Implement a call cadence. A cadence is a structured campaign approach that includes a pattern of emails, calls and voicemail messages. This allows managers to pinpoint when diminishing returns takes place, and to identify which aspects of the cadence work best. The process becomes very predictable and efficient.
Craig Wolfe is the Founder and CEO of CelebriDucks, the first ever collectible celebrity rubber ducks modeled after the greatest icons of film, music, athletics, and history. Prior to founding CelebriDucks, Craig was the largest publisher of artwork from television commercials, creating the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Bush, M&M/Mars, etc. He eventually sold it all off to create CelebriDucks, which has since experienced massive success. To date, CelebriDucks has sold over one million products worldwide and were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly. CelebriDucks have been featured on nearly every major network including NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS Evening Magazine, CNN, ESPN, TNT, VH1, A&E, and more.
The number one way to improve the efficiency and productivity of your sales team is…
To get your sales force excited, and not by what you would think, i.e. higher commissions, etc. Instead, you have to inspire them.
People in sales are human and in the end, like all of us, need to be inspired by what they do. That’s when the magic happens. So sure, paying a fair commission is definitely necessary. But that’s not going to be enough. You have to develop a product or program that turns them on. Salespeople always want to be able to go to their clients with something that will excite them.
So bottom line, if you create something unique and cool that can get the salespeople through doors that is something special for the end user that has the potential to be highly successful, your sales force will be grateful.
Eli Martin is the Director of Sales at eZanga.com, a search engine specializing in online advertising and services. eZanga.com is a a metasearch engine that compiles results from about 20 major search engines (including Google, Yahoo, Ask, AOL, Enhance Interactive).
The #1 thing I’d say improves efficiency in your team is to…
Keep people motivated.
If you keep them motivated, they feel valued. In order to let them know you truly value them and their opinion, it’s important to ask for and appreciate their input. What motivates them? What is the goal they are working for? Know these things, and your team will know how much their success means to you and the company.
Brian Reynolds is an entrepreneur and business consultant whose specialty is helping mid-market companies understand the opportunities inherent in running their organization with a climate & sustainability focus. For the last fifteen years he has advised companies on sustainability, innovation and energy and has a client list that includes clothiers, industrial tape makers and the medical device supply chain. In addition he is a volunteer lobbyist (making regular trips to DC to talk with lawmakers on climate change solutions) and serves as the CMO for the non-profit TEDxNavesink. Learn more about Brian’s work at www.climatemoneypolicy.com.
The single indispensable practice discipline of a sales manager that will improve the efficiency of any sales team is…
The weekly one-on-one meeting.
Great managers block out regular time on their schedules every week for every direct report. Half an hour for each member of your team broken up into three segments: ten minutes for their agenda, ten minutes for yours and ten to talk about the future. What you find out very quickly is that this discipline actually frees up time for both of you. This happens because questions that come up in during the week don’t become interruptions because they can wait a day to be asked and questions that wait often resolve themselves.
The second thing that happens with weekly one-on-ones is that you really get to know your people. In their ten minutes they can talk about work or their kids or whatever it doesn’t matter. What matters is that directs see they’re the highest priority item in your work life. That pays tremendous dividends in time and commitment to the work on their part. Finally, when you block out regular time to talk about the future you get a clear understanding of where the direct thinks s/he is going with the company and you get to talk about where the company is headed.
A great sales manager would never wait for an annual or semi-annual review to talk about things like that. Yes, it’s true that the sales process is more nuanced than ever and that segmentation, specialization and hiring are critical but if you can only do one thing make it the one-on-ones. These efficiencies that arise when you schedule time, show it on your calendar and repeat the process weekly are stunning.
Rob Simpson is President/CEO of Waverider Communications, a ‘vertically agnostic’ marketing agency located in Boston, MA. Prior to launching Waverider Communications, Rob spent 17 years selling television advertising in both broadcast (10 years) and cable (7 years). He started his career selling Yellow Pages advertising in Connecticut.Rob has received many sales awards. Among them two-time President’s Honor Club member at Southern New England Telephone and a multiple 110% award winner at Comcast. Rob has been among the top billers on every team on which he has worked.
The #1 way to improve the effectiveness of your salespeople is…
Don’t make your systems “management-centric”. Demanding too many reports from your team takes up valuable time that can be used for business development. It is management’s job to put their team in the best possible place to succeed and having your team buried in reports is counter-productive.
All you need to know is: how much business is pending, what chance does it have to close, what may management do to move the process along and are there any problems on the horizon we should address. This can usually be accomplished with a spreadsheet and a 30 to 60 minute meeting once a week. It all goes to hiring and training. If you put the right people in the right places with the right tools and use efficient reporting you will enable your people to do what they do best – sell.
Jason Jordan is a Partner of Vantage Point Performance, the leading sales management training and development firm, and Co-author of “Cracking the Sales Management Code” (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Jordan is a recognized thought leader in the domain of business-to-business sales and teaches sales and sales management at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.
If you want to improve the efficiency of the sales team and increase sales, the best advice I can give is…
To have your sales managers implement a sales management rhythm.
A sales management rhythm is simply a plan that outlines the formal and informal interactions sales managers and their sales force engage in to achieve sales goals, and it essentially provides a framework for how to prioritize the high-impact activities sellers must executive to achieve sales objectives and business results.
A sales management rhythm is built around the actions sales managers need to focus on during the course of a day, week, month, quarter and year to lead the sales force to success. It defines what interactions should take place, who should be included, how frequently the interactions should take place, as well as the duration and purpose of the interactions.
A sales management rhythm helps sales managers eliminate unnecessary action items, leaving behind only the action items that are executable and linked to desired outcomes.
This creates clarity of task for sellers, and research shows that sellers who have task clarity in their role are proven to be both more motivated and more productive. In fact, research from the Harvard Business Review dating back to 1980 shows that clarity of task is strongly related to on-the-job performance and effort. A more recent study published in 2013 in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science indicates that high levels of role ambiguity had a direct negative effect on sales performance. Salespeople want clarity and perform best when managers provide that clarity, and a sales management rhythm is a great tool to help sales managers do just that.
Hank Boyer is the President & CEO of Boyer Management Group, a division of JehovahJireh Corporation. Hank has led a sales team that over a 7-year period raised annual sales from $24Million to $780Million, and in his daily work, he trains salespeople and sales managers on how to successfully increase their sales.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is by…
Using behavioral profiling to better understand existing staff and prospective new hires. In my experience, this is one of the highest return investments a sales organization can make:
- Candidate selection is improved by better matching natural selling styles to opening – account portfolios – territories.
- The sales manager sees clearly how to most effectively manage each individual on staff.
- New hires are on-boarded and up to full productivity in 1/3 less time.
- Overall communications effectiveness increases as the team better aligns around a common core.
Over the past 20 years in my own sales teams as well as those of the clients whom I advise I’ve seen a night-and-day difference in sales productivity whenever this has been done, with a 100% payback usually within 60 days.
Michael Mercer, Ph.D
Michael Mercer, Ph.D is a Management Psychologist and President of Mercer Systems, Inc.He is also the Author of several books including “Hire the Best…And Avoid the Rest” and “How Winners Do It: High Impact Skills for Your Career Success”.
The #1 way to improve the productivity of your sales team is by…
Hiring terrific Sales Reps.
A company can have good sales training & good marketing & good products & good prices, etc., — but unless the company has highly productive Sales Reps, the company will not (a) grow nor (b) profit.
Deborah Sweeney Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, a leading provider of document filing services (corporations & LLCs) for businesses and entrepreneurs, which she acquired from Intuit in 2009. Deborah is also an attorney with a JD/MBA from Pepperdine University.
I am a CEO and directly manage our company’s sales team. I would say that the #1 way to improve the efficiency of our sales team is to…
Set specific goals and follow-up.
If the goals are not met, then the sales team does not have direction. If there is no follow-up and accountability then they will not strive to reach those goals. With reachable goals and accountability along the way, the efficiency of a sales team is drastically improved.
John Pritchard II
John Pritchard II is the CEO of Venture Medical, an industry leader in supplying ambulatory surgical centers, hospitals and medical offices with quality new, refurbished and used medical equipment. Along with his company leadership as CEO, John also leads sales at the company. He has been in the industry since 1997 and has a vast knowledge of equipment in surgical, PACU, sterile and many other location in a surgical facility. He is also adept at troubleshooting and problem solving for customers.
As a CEO of a company with a small sales staff, I recognize that the efficiency of our sales team is one of our top priorities. There are a couple of things that immediately came to mind which I would advise for other sales managers…
1. We try not to bog down our sales staff with tasks that aren’t crucial to the sales process or directly related to the care of the customer. Thus, tasks such as arranging shipping, notifying the client when their product(s) ships, assisting AR with collection of past due accounts, etc., is left up to support staff. We allow the sales staff to use their time to sell and support clients. When a sales meeting is called for, we try to keep it as short as possible and even hold the meeting after business hours if everyone is willing and able. Our meetings, whether during business hours or after, are typically short and to the point, with a minimum of unnecessary content so the sales staff can spend more time focusing on what’s important; our customers. This is a luxury we can exercise due to our small size.
2. Be open minded about tech and software that can better streamline the workplace and
communications. Software programs such as Dropbox, Skype and Google Drive have not only helped in individual organization, but the communications and support materials needed for the entire team to be in one place, no matter where that specific sales person may be. The “Cloud” has become a great tool for us. Also, the ability to communicate with a our international clients and vendors through non-traditional methods such as WeChat and Skype has shortened the time it takes to receive a response and made our World a bit smaller. We have found that our international contacts are very open to these methods.
Susan Baroncini-Moe is the author of “Business in Blue Jeans: How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own Terms, in Your Own Style” and her blog, Business in Blue Jeans, has been listed by several notable resources as one of the best blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners, and she was recently named one of The Top 40 Digital Marketing Experts for 2014 by Online Marketing Institute. Susan and her businesses have been featured in Redbook Magazine, USA Today, MSN Living, Yahoo Finance, Investors Business Daily, Entrepreneur, American Express Open Forum, the Chicago Tribune, Inc., and more.
Improving the efficiency of a sales team can come in many forms: improving productivity and minimizing distractions, expanding on sales training, and providing your team with all the tools they need to educate their prospects and move them along the pipeline.
But the #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is to…
Head right to the start line and ensure that they’re working with useful and productive leads. If your sales team starts out with bum leads, they’re going to fail before they even leave the gate and waste a lot of time trying to sell to the wrong crowd.
On the other hand, if they have good leads that are well-qualified and they are effectively trained to nurture those leads, their close rate will increase and they’ll be more efficient.
If your sales team is responsible for creating their own leads, then training them to find and qualify leads and avoid wasting time on bad leads will certainly help them to be much more efficient.
Emmanuelle Skala is the Vice President of Sales at Influitive, the advocate marketing experts. Previously, she was the first salesperson at two B2B software start-ups, and her last role was running the channel globally at Sophos. Throughout her career, Emmanuelle has managed all facets of sales, from Inside, Enterprise and Channel, to Ops and Enablement.
The best way to improve the productivity of your sales team is to…
Increase the customer referral contribution in your pipeline.
What if every time one of your reps closed a deal, they could get 5 more referrals? The referrals would be high quality and the new customer would do a lot of the selling for you — it’s an immediate boost to your pipeline. Always get your reps to ask, “Is there anyone else in your network who would benefit from our solution?” Every. Single. Time.
Daniel Thomsen is Global Sales Manager at LILLY + Associates International, a multinational shipping and logistics services company, specializing in ocean freight. The company is headquartered in Miami, Florida and operates wholly owned offices in North America, Central/South America and Asia.
The number one way to improve the efficiency of any sales team is…
To have a 360 degree view of the customer from all aspects of the customer interactions.
Many sales are lost when the sales person is in front of a customer and is unaware that the customer has current issues with their company. As many companies do not have a unified Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, the sales person only has visibility into the current sales activity. If there is an issue with other departments, such as Accounting, Operations, or Technical Support, the sales person may find themselves in an “ambush situation.”
Modern CRM systems integrate the needs of multiple departments and track any communications or interactions with customers to have this holistic view of the customer. With this tool, the sales representative can see any outstanding issues with the customer and have the solution or an update on the issue before communicating with the customer.
Only by having complete knowledge of the customer history and current status can the sales potential be maximized.
Chris Demeo is the VP of Sales and Marketing at EZSolution, a firm at aims to help businesses succeed and grow through website and computer technology solutions. For over 25 years, Chris has been involved in sales management and marketing management helping hotels and resorts improve their top and bottom line through great marketing results. In addition, for the last eight years he has owned his own small business in the insurance field.
The +1 tip for improving efficiency is to…
Have a strong sales process for all aspects of the sales cycle that catches mistakes, shortcuts, or skipped steps both manually and by software.
- 1st step: Create a process for all aspects of the sales cycle. People make mistakes and everyone can do shortcuts or skip steps. Mistakes detract from efficiency. Shortcuts can leave money on the table. Processes, both manual and through software, are designed to catch mistakes and cover steps.
- 2nd step – Get ‘buy in’ for the process from the people that must follow the process as well as the peopled affected by it. All team members should understand why the process is in place and how it affects each department and ultimately the bottom line. We want ‘buy in’ because the process is much easier to manage with people that understand and have agreed to the process itself.
- 3rd step – Manage the process. Make sure the process is followed consistently. If it is not, find out why. Does the process itself need to be adjusted or does the attitude of the person not following what they agreed to? Then adjust either accordingly.
James Smith is the Founder of Zenith Apps, a firm that combines app development and business knowledge to help companies design, develop and promote their web and mobile applications. James has been in sales and software for a number of years and prior to Zenith Apps, James was in charge of raising finance for Hollywood productions, such as Iron Man 2 and Thor. His keen interest in understanding film financing and distribution work led him to the world of understanding how technology is developed and distributed. James always has an eye on the bottom line and is focused on generating a good return on investment for clients in any situation.
The number 1 way to improve sales efficiency is to…
Culture continuous improvement within the organization.
This is easy to do if you develop processes. Once a week, collate feedback on what the team did well, and what the challenges were. If you continue to probe issues, then you can start to build a picture of objections. Then, every week – strive to continuously improve – continuously document ways to improve to build up a ‘playbook’. Toyota’s 5 x Whys process is a great way to get to the bottom of any problem.
Samantha Noble is the Marketing Director at Koozai, a leading digital marketing agency specializing in PPC, SEO, Content, Social and Analytics.
The number one way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is…
Having a decent CRM system that helps your Sales Team to keep track of all the leads and opportunities is absolutely paramount.
The CRM should be set up with customized reports and dashboards so they can quickly and easily see what needs to be done and when. It also needs to have the ability for each Sales Executive to be able to raise themselves tasks and reminders to ensure nothing is forgotten and everything is followed up.
Without the use of a CRM system, Sales Executives will be using spreadsheets, calendars and diaries to keep track of what needs to be done. Although this can work, it leaves significant room for error and takes time to administer and keep on top of.
Many CRM systems come with an element of automation built into it. If you spend the time at the outset customizing it to suit your business requirements and objectives, it will save a lot of time in the future making the Sales Team much more efficient in the day to day roles.
Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Previously, he led sales and business development efforts at Cintas and Rhythm NewMedia.
The #1 way to build champions and improve the efficiency of a sales team is to…
Give constant feedback.
Many folks say that sales people are “coin operated.” This is true because money is a great form of feedback. More money means you’re doing your job better, less means you’re performing worse.
Money notwithstanding, feedback above all else, is the key to driving sales performance. If you have an inside sales team, sit next to them rather than in an office. If you have a field-based team, then touch base frequently. Deliver feedback via regular phone calls, Skype chats, or even using a mobile messaging application.
The best ratio of feedback is 5:1, positive to negative. Focus on telling your team what to do, rather than pointing out what not to do. If your team knows what to do and feels supported to perform, your team is poised to win.
Bill Rosenthal CEO of Communispond.
The #1 way to build champions and improve the efficiency of a sales team by far is to…
Persuade them to talk less and listen more.
In the most successful sales calls, the customer gets 80% of the air time and the salesperson only 20. Unfortunately, many salespeople seek to dominate the conversation, reeling off all the reasons why the customer needs the product without even understanding what the customer really needs.
The salesperson should deploy a strategy first presented by Socrates some 2500 years ago in ancient Athens. The philosopher-teacher taught his students to make a dialogue productive by asking a series of easily answered questions. Little by little, the questions prompt the other person to question his assumptions, consider alternatives and, ultimately reach a logical conclusion.
Practiced today, this strategy helps the salesperson and customer work together to create innovative ways to meet the customer’s needs. They work together to define both the selling proposition and a winning proposal.
Keep asking open-ended questions. Encourage the customer to think out loud, examine the implications of his conclusions and identify the personal implications involved in the proposed sale. Useful questions include: “Tell me more about…” and
“Give me an example of…”
The word “why” might be the most powerful word in selling.
John Cruz is Marketing Coordinator at Zumiez, a cutting edge clothing, footwear, accessories retailer with over 400 retail stores that reach across the United States. John earned his current position at Zumiez due to his success and recognition from managing retail sales teams for 5 + years. He personally brought his company more than $1,000,000 in sales revenue and has managed a team that’s accrued more than $ 5 million.
From personal experience, the name of the game in boosting efficiency and effectiveness in a sales team is…
Building the ‘buy in’ in sales goals by empowerment and incentivizing your team properly.
The leaders in our sales teams have proven themselves as effective sellers and we stress the importance in actively learning in sales and teaching these sales tactics to their team; when your people shine, you shine. Zumiez empowers our sales teams by holding them to be accountable to key performance indicators (KPI’s) and accountability measures that are very transparent and quantitative such as Average Order Values, Units per Transactions, Productivities, etc.
Improving efficiency in sales teams is improving your management’s attention on measurement. An efficient sales team is aware of their sales goals, the tools they have available to meet the goals, and that every member in the team is actively measuring their productivities in the sales day. Management is only as effective as what it can measure, so the objective is to work with your team to set your KPI’s in place so that they have a tool in place to measure their successes and be aware of their opportunities.
Karin Hurt is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and is also a leadership consultant, speaker, writer, and MBA and executive education professor. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she was recently named as a top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America. She is author of author of “Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss” and “Parent’s Guide to Leadership.” She has an award winning blog that has achieved a strong international following.
The #1 way to improve efficiency in a sales team unequivocally is to…
Get them to work as a team.
Sales professionals can be very competitive and are often rewarded for individual performance. This can lead to withholding of best practices which severely impedes productivity.
Another counterintuitive way is to reduce quotas. Out of reach quotas demoralize. Let them taste success. Most good comp plans include multipliers. When solid reps get a multiplied paycheck they understand possibility.
Debra Calvert is a sales productivity researcher, Author and Trainer with a Fortune 500 background in sales and human resources. Her company, People First Productivity Solutions, focuses on building organizational strength by putting people first. Deb was recently named to the 2014 list of Top Sales & Marketing Influencers and her book, “DISCOVER Questions™ Get You Connected”, presents a research-based approach to efficiently advancing every sale to a close.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is to…
Start by assessing the team’s sales enablement efforts.
In many sales organizations, the attempts to enable are actually disabling sellers by creating staggering inefficiencies and, even worse, impairing sales effectiveness. When the desired outcome of a new initiative is efficiency, the resulting choices can wreak havoc.
Many systems, tools, processes and practices have been implemented in an effort to gain efficiency. Far too often, the unintended consequences include a dramatic decline in sales productivity and lost sales opportunities.
For example, one sales management team introduced a new pipeline tool that produced flashy dashboard reports updating in real time. The efficiency (for managers) was at-a-glance insights into goal attainment and sales activity. The inefficiency, however, was in the expectation that sellers continually update the system. Taking time to log in, report data, schedule follow-up actions, make projections and add notes from the prospect engagement was highly disruptive. Not surprisingly, this organization saw an 18% slippage in sales in the first 3 months and a decline of 32% new contacts made.
Sellers are most effective when they can get “in the zone” and focus exclusively on the primary work that needs to be done. Interruptions impair sales, both in time lost and in distracted focus. It takes time to shift to the tasks of reporting and back into the mojo of selling.
To stop inadvertently disabling sales efficiency, leaders need to look closely at the impact any sales enablement tool has on the work of selling. Sales effectiveness ought to be the aim, and efficiency that impairs effectiveness isn’t true efficiency at all.
Billy Bauer is the Marketing Director of Royce Leather, and has served in this director role at Royce Leather for over 5 years. A graduate of McGill University and HEC Paris, Billy has been widely cited as a B2B marketing expert by several industry publications including the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is to focus on…
Not more leads, but better leads.
More leads might mean the reps are calling prospects who aren’t ready to buy. Their dials and talk time might increase, but their conversion rates will suffer. Many sales organizations see dramatic increases in productivity and output by delivering fewer leads to the sales team, but ensuring that those leads are qualified and ready for the conversation.
Andrea Berkman Donlon
Andrea Berkman Donlon is the Founder of The Constant Professional and has over 15 years of experience in the professional world and 5+ years of volunteer experience with a focus on personal brand development and job readiness skills. While the main part of her professional career has been in Digital Advertising and Sales, her skill set extends to Real Estate, industry and technical writing, Social media, networking, Business Development and Strategy, Marketing, Mobile and Social advertising, and Product Development. The Constant Professional serves as a partnership and strategy consultant for well-known endemic websites in the US as well as collaborates with executive recruiting firms nationwide.
The best way to improve the efficiency of a sales team is to…
Fully equip them with the tools required to sell the product or service they represent.
This includes any marketing material they request, knowledgeable and independent sales support staff, access to CRM software and product improvements based on market competition. Salespeople are motivated by making money so they do not request things they do not need in order to close deals.
George Athan is Chief Strategist at MindStorm Strategic Consulting, and is an expert sales trainer, and keynote speaker. George’s primary work is as a business strategy consultant helping companies, business owners, and executives aggressively grow their organizations through four key performance areas of Strategy, Innovation, Marketing, & Sales. Learn more about George’s work at www.Mind-Storm.com.
The # 1 way to improve efficiency of your sales team is to…
Eliminate as many options as possible and create very specific path to follow. This can be done many ways, for example:
If the company does not have territories set, you will get more out of your sales team if you created them. The larger the territory, more options they have- the more time will be wasted. You can have salespeople work a specific list of prospects. You can (and should) create quotas on tasks, such as, how many dials or sales calls made within the day, week, month, etc. You can create a standard script or pitch for them (or with them) so they become very good at that presentation from repetition.
The more structured your sales people are and sales process is, the more efficient your sales team will be as well as productive. The structure will only work if management is making sure that these paths are being followed. People will respect what you inspect so you must have a team leader or manager actively involved making sure the team stays within the guidelines that you set.
To really understand how important this is, let’s take a quick glimpse if the opposite were true. Imagine a sales person given no direction, no territory, no scripts to follow, there were no guidelines, he/she can work any days they wanted- but told to go get more business in. Not only would this person have poor results, but it’s a good representation of how the more freedom and flexibility we give- the less efficient our salespeople become.
Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media, an online marketing agency that develops custom online marketing strategies utilizing outside the box thinking.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is to…
Ensure that your sales team truly understands the product. An efficient sales team knows their product or service inside and out.
Have you ever spoke to a sales representative that was simply reading off a script and if you asked a specific question they answered it with a very generic response, which was also pulled from a script? It is extremely frustrating and it doesn’t help build any customer confidence.
Your sales team needs to be able to discuss every aspect of the product or service they are selling without sounding like a robot. When a sales team can speak confidently about what they are selling it builds trust and credibility. Sales is a tough game and you must be prepared. Potential customers and prospects are going to have some very specific questions, and unless answered correctly they will find another solution.
Spend time educating your sales team about what you are selling. Many organizations simply focus on having their sales team memorizing their sales script, when that time could be spent teaching them about what they are selling. When the sales team fully understands what they are selling and why it benefits the purchaser it allows them to speak to the prospect on a much more personal level. This type of interaction builds relationships and closes more deals.
Jennifer Martin is a Business Coach and Work/Life Balance expert who helps Small Business Owners Worldwide understand how to build a thriving business and life they love. Learn more about Jennifer’s work at Zest Business Consulting.
There are three things that sales people thrive on:
2. Money, and
If you want to boost sales you need to give your sales people several Opportunities to win, Acknowledge them publicly for it and Pay them a bonus for being a “Super Star”.
I recommend having weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual contests (in addition to goals for each salesperson).
Each one of these contests must be different (sales people like to keep things interesting). They must give everyone on the team a fair chance at winning.
Rather than just rewarding the top earning salesperson, reward the individual who closes the most deals in one, the person who brings in the most new clients in another and who grows revenues on existing accounts in another. You can also have local versus national contests too. If you really want to get your team engaged, have them suggest the terms of the contest.
Make sure that you publicly acknowledge the winner. Announce the win at your all employee meeting. Send out a companywide e-blast to share their success and give them some kind of trophy, poster or plaque to show off so everyone will know they are awesome. I have one client who takes an ad out in their local paper to publicly “Thank” his Super Star for helping to make his organization so successful.
Lastly, have a prize ready for the winner. This can be financial or a gift. You can also have contests where the whole department gets rewarded if you meet your goals.
Whatever you do remember to use the keys the salespeople thrive on and you are sure to be a winner!
Sarah M. Weinberger
Sarah Weinberger is the founder and CEO of Butterflyvista Corporation. She is also a professional career coach. You can learn more about her and Butterflyvista by visiting the website, http://www.butterflyvista.com/.
There is no single method to improve efficiency in a sales team, as things are dynamic, however one can use what I like to call adaptive learning. And to do that you should first…
Start off with a good team.
You need preferably Type-A personalities, who pay attention to details, has true knowledge of the product, and has an interest in the product. Most important is a Six Sigma type of cycle, namely that the team and each member evaluate after some milestone the good and the bad and make improvements in the approach and method. Phrased differently, the team should have continuous improvement and learning. They should introduce an engineering approach to sales. The manager must be hands-on to the degree that he/she will evaluate the team and results and work with the team to adjust the method and efficiency. That could be through more cold calls, or calling back existing customers with a different approach, an increase in newsletters, or something different.
Sales professionals, who have an honest knowledge and passion will convey that enthusiasm much more so than any script, as they can talk on the fly and adapt, as they hear what the prospective customer says. Lastly, they should have a “Can Do” and do not take “It cannot be done,” as a belief.
John Turner is the CEO of UsersThink and is passionate about usability, business and helping others. That is the reason why he started UsersThink, to give product and business people actionable feedback on their landing pages without any setup, hassles or configuration.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is…
Making sure sales is well integrated and works well with marketing and customer service.
While hard to integrate, having those three groups separated, or worse, competing against each other, ends up working against your revenue goals.
Not only should multi-touch attribution be a serious consideration for all sales, but increased collaboration will lead to massive improvements in all processes as information gained by one group can help increase efficiency of the others.
Yael Kochman is the Content Marketing Manager, Mobile CoE at Teradata.
The #1 way to improve the efficiency of your sales team is…
As a former sales manager turned into a marketing manager, I know first-hand that sales is a very demanding and challenging position. Sales people are the most important people in the company. Not only are they the first line in front of the clients, they are also responsible for company’s revenue.
So the #1 tip to improve your sales team would be to have the entire company work for them. Marketing needs to prepare sales materials for them, R&D needs to develop the product for them and customer service needs to keep the clients happy.
Tim Donnelly is a freelance writer and managing editor of Brokelyn.com. His work has appeared in Billboard, The Atlantic, Thought Catalog, and The New York Post. Donnelly is also a contributor to Inc.com.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from How to Improve Your Struggling Sales Team via Inc.
“One of the first steps in improving the efficiency of your sales team is to…”
Install a great sales manager.
You can’t have someone overseeing your sales team who is nothing more than a glorified cheerleader, says Liz Wendling, owner of Insight Business Consultants and Sales Coach For Women. You need to employ a manager who is not only willing to engage the team, but to also identify weaknesses and work directly with sales staff to overcome their challenges.
“It’s not somebody who can just pat somebody on the back,” she says. “They do pep talks, and pep talks aren’t enough for some salespeople.”
Many companies make the mistake of promoting their top salespeople to manager positions, but often the most skilled salespeople don’t have the coaching dexterity needed to effectively guide a whole team.
In fact, research by the Corporate Executive Board says sales representatives strongly prefer coaching to come from their direct supervisor.
“By far unless the direct supervisor is perceived as owning that coaching, the coaching is likely to have relatively minimal impact,” says Brent Adamson, senior director. “At the end of the day, people don’t leave bad companies. They leave bad managers.”
Collin Burke is a Marketing Operations Associate at InsightSquared.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 3 Steps To Increasing Sales Efficiency With Content via InsightSquared.
“One way to improve sales efficiency is through…”
Lead nurturing and scoring.
You don’t want your sales team to waste their time working low quality leads – that’s why it’s critical to nurture leads until they’re ready to be passed along to sales.
You wouldn’t ask that person you just met last night if they’re ready to marry you, so don’t ask that person who downloaded your eBook yesterday if they’re ready to buy your software. You need to develop a deeper relationship with someone before having a conversation about your future together.
But how do you know when a lead is ready to handed off to your sales team? That’s where lead scoring comes in.
Once you have clearly defined what constitutes marketing qualified leads and sales accepted leads, you should implement a lead scoring system to quantify the sales readiness of each lead. Leads are typically scored based on algorithms that consider factors such as company size, location, job title, etc. Leads that share traits with your typical buyer and interact with more of your content receive higher scores, as you’d expect.
Anna Mazereeuw is a Content Writer at LifeLearn.com. A social media enthusiast with a passion for content marketing, detailed analytics, and connecting with customers in a meaningful way, she believes that social media has the ability to create unique connections between businesses and their customers, and that these connections can lead to the best brand ambassadors.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 11 Ways to Boost the Productivity of Your Sales Team via LifeLearn.com.
“Creating a productive sales team starts with…”
Onboarding. Onboarding presents the opportunity to impact the future productivity of your salespeople before they ever make a sale. Effective training gets new sales reps up to speed quickly, but without overwhelming them. It’s also comprehensive, to avoid future time-wasting searches for information not covered in training. Great onboarding programs produce sales reps that are confident in their abilities and equipped with the knowledge they need to be successful and productive.
Kasia Moreno is an editorial director at Forbes Insights, the thought leadership and strategic research arm of Forbes Media. She writes about what gives corporations advantage in terms of innovation, technology, diversity and talent management. She also covers global wealth.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from How Efficient And Effective Sales Organizations Increase Productivity via Forbes Insights.
“Companies with successful sales organizations know that sales productivity is about being both efficient and effective, according to…”
The Power of Enablement, Bridging the Sales Productivity Gap, a recent report from Forbes Insights and Brainshark. The report is based on a survey of 216 U.S. based executives.
Four out of the top five sales productivity challenges deal with effectiveness of sales reps—onboarding new sales reps, cutting time to close first deals for new reps, shortening the sales cycle, increasing percentage of reps who reach quota, according to the Forbes Insights and Brainshark survey. Top performers have already identified these impactful areas and are less likely to have critical issues there. They have also found ways to speed up the process outside of core selling activities and identified how to make reps more efficient.
Top-tier companies know that many factors work together to drive efficiency and effectiveness within a sales team. That means that there are many things that compete for attention, as management considers how to apportion limited budgets and finds ways to simplify and streamline the selling process. Technology is part of the answer, and an aspect that requires a thoughtful approach.
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Written by Cóbhan Phillipson
Further Reading from the Docurated Blog:
- How to Improve Sales Performance Efficiency
- Best Sales Management Software
- 50 Consultative Selling Process Resources
- Best Mobile Apps for Sales Reps
- Top Sales Funnel Management Software
- Best Business Intelligence Software
- Consultative Sales Approach Tips
- Top Sales Analytics Tools
- Top Sales Enablement Tools
- Top Marketing Plan Software and Apps