According to recent research, sales development reps are staying in the role longer than ever before, due in part to improvements in recognition and skill development. That’s understandable, as more tenured reps tend to be more productive and engaged, benefitting sales reps, the customer, and the business.
But if your current reps are underperforming, what’s the secret to creating the kind of environment where they can thrive?
Based on the research cited above, it’s easy to conclude that more recognition and better training can help. But since that’s a bit non-specific, let’s take a closer look at what it takes to boost sales productivity and create an all-star sales team.
In technical terms, sales productivity is the relationship between your salespeople’s effectiveness (outputs) and their efficiency (inputs). Put plainly, sales productivity means accomplishing more, in less time, or with fewer resources.
Any gains in productivity typically stem from reducing effort, cost, or time. It’s about using each salesperson’s time wisely. Remember, your reps have been hired to speak with customers and close deals. Anything else is just a means to that end.
In this context, boosting sales productivity could mean investing in automation tools to reduce admin work or to extend salespeople’s reach. It could also mean removing things from their plate by delegating or eliminating tasks.
For more, here are five additional strategies that’ll help you do more with the less:
Sure, experience is the best teacher. But with the average SDR in the role for just 16 months, you can’t always afford to wait around.
Continuous development keeps people in the role longer and helps prepare your reps for nearly every scenario they might face. Coaching can help quell any uneasiness about cold calling, fine-tune wordy emails, and practice objection handling, whether it’s done on a 1-on-1 basis with sales management, via webinar with consultants, or through a formal mentorship program that pairs junior reps with their senior counterparts.
The value your company provides is everything. It’s what makes your sales reps believe in the product or service you provide. It’s what customers stick around for, and it’s ultimately what lures potential customers in.
If you’re losing deals, it’s probably because your value proposition isn’t strong enough, or because you’re not positioning it the right way. The anatomy of a great sales pitch relies heavily on your sales rep’s ability to articulate not only what you offer but why it’s the best option on the market. Invest in understanding – and then doubling down – on your value proposition.
If you’re not constantly seeking out the best sales strategies, market research, or automation software available, then your sales organization is already behind. What worked 5-10 years ago won’t fly in truly top-tier sales programs. Every year, these teams run tests, try out new strategies, and lean on their tools to become more and more productive.
Without embracing technology and automation, you’re only as strong as the number of people in your sales organization. You can choose to continually throw people at your problem, but that comes with exorbitant costs and will eventually do more harm than good.
As an alternative, you can invest in technology like Mailshake that automates some of your sales processes, giving your team the bandwidth and insights they need to scale their efforts and close more deals.
The importance of sales reporting can’t be overstated. With it, your managers can monitor performance on a macro and micro level in order to make better decisions. Forecasting tools can tell you if you’re on track to hit your sales goals and can help find gaps in your processes, such as low-performing sales reps, funnel bottlenecks, or potential training opportunities. Just make sure you’re tracking the right sales metrics in the first place.
Measuring anything equates to power. Without knowledge, you’re simply making guesses and seeing what sticks and what doesn’t. When you measure something, you get critical insights that inform your decisions.
For example, if you don’t measure your salesperson’s call and email volume, it’s hard to detect if they’re working hard enough to achieve their goals. If you don’t measure how many deals fall through the cracks in each stage of your funnel, then you’ll never know which stage needs optimizing.
Measuring sales productivity can ultimately help boost your cold outreach campaigns, coach up junior reps, fine-tune your senior reps’ approach, and drive more revenue. It also gives you the ability to report progress up and down the chain of command, so that everyone’s on the same page at all times. For a growing sales organization, that’s invaluable insight.
The first thing you’ll notice when you attempt to measure sales productivity is that the amount of data you can easily track these days is staggering. It’s overwhelming just how detailed you can go.
With the right tool, you can see how many emails or calls are made in a day, broken down by the exact times they were made and the length of the calls. If you want, you can even go back and listen to them.
However, if you’re measuring everything, then you’re effectively measuring nothing, as you’ll have too much noise in your data sets to be able to detect valuable insights and patterns. That’s why most sales teams focus on a few critical metrics, such as:
These metrics also hint at the importance of leading and lagging indicators. Leading indicators predict your results. As such, they’re more difficult to measure, but are easier to influence. Examples here include activity metrics like outbound calls or emails.
Lagging indicators, on the other hand, reflect your results. They’re easier to track but challenging to influence. Lagging indicators might include top-of-funnel weakness or low quota attainment. Most sales teams focus on leading measures since that’s what they can control, but there’s opportunity in addressing your lagging indicators as well.
The problem with streamlining your sales process to become more productive is that it takes time. You have to gather data, conduct meetings, create tests, and so on. That’s all important work, but what if you need some quicker wins? Try these out to see a difference sooner:
Only 2% of the population can multitask effectively. With those odds, there’s a good chance your entire team will fall short if they try. Between email, inbound calls, Slack messages, meetings, social media, and phone alerts, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’s not distracted for a sizable part of their day.
Task batching may be part of the solution. Schedule all of your team meetings at the beginning or end of your day. Let your team know they should check email 2-3 times a day max and always at the same time. Same with social media.
Sometimes the easiest solutions are the most fun. If you want your team to get fired up and enter into sales conversations with gusto, help them get into the right mindset.
Create some high-energy Spotify playlists they can listen to before calls, or experiment with games they can play tied to sales activities (even better, let them win prizes or bragging rights). Encourage them to loosen up and enjoy the process any way you can.
We’ve all heard some variation of this advice before, and that’s because it works. When you start your day with the hardest task on your to-do list, the rest of the day feels easier.
If your sales teams hate cold calls, encourage them to block off the first few hours to knock them out first thing. Or maybe admin time is the enemy. If so, make that your top priority in the morning, and suggest that your team do the same.
This little change can have the biggest impact of all. To mitigate today’s common distractions, ask your team to hide the navigation dock on their computers, turn off all badges (the red notification dots) on their phones, and get rid of pop-up notifications. Encourage them to turn off anything that could derail them from the task at hand.
If you surveyed your teams, they’d probably say meetings are the biggest interruption of the day. Unfortunately, it’s probably impossible to do away with them entirely, but you can try cutting them in half or reducing their frequency to every other week or month. You can also cancel meetings on the fly and send out videos in your emails to replace the content.
Boosting productivity isn’t something you can do once and forget. There’s a good chance you’ll implement some changes, and then watch as your team slowly falls back into its old ways. Instead, make it a point to check in quarterly and remind people that the little things matter. In time, you and your team will find that they add up more than you think.