No matter how great your sales team is today, there’s always room for improvement.
You could hire more salespeople to increase volume, but with no guarantee that your new hires will work out, you might see a bigger return on investment by teaching better productivity habits to your existing sales team.
Research from Salesforce last year found that salespeople spend 66% of their work time on tasks that don’t lead to more deals. Internal meetings, quote generation, and administrative work, though necessary, rarely influence close rates.
Your sales team wants to spend less time on busy work and more time selling. You want your teams to generate more revenue for your business. To meet the needs of both sides, instill these productivity practices:
1. Standardize the Tools
Use technology to track prospect progress and notify salespeople to act on trigger events. For instance, when a prospect clicks an email link or fills out a form, your software should nudge your sales team to reach out.
Every business with salespeople needs a CRM. Even if you only have a few employees, low- or no-cost options can help you keep track of the basics, enabling your sales team to spend more time selling and less time hunting down relevant information.
No two salespeople operate quite the same way, but don’t let a maverick mentality prevent your team from scaling its efforts. Get everyone using the same set of tools so the team works better together.
2. Get Closer to Marketing
Plenty of salespeople design their own brochures and sales media. The initiative is great, but most of the time, the final product leaves something to be desired. You won’t often find a sales unicorn who’s also mastered design — and you’d want her focused on sales, anyway.
Set up communication channels to help your sales team work more closely with the marketing department. Marketers typically design cleaner, more effective media than salespeople. Even better, they don’t have to take time away from selling to do it.
Design a process to allow salespeople to request new content and provide feedback on its creation. Create opportunities for marketers and salespeople to meet and talk to one another about their needs. The more these two complementary functions work together, the better the results will be.
3. Spend More Time on Existing Customers
Cold selling to unfamiliar prospects is tough. Selling to people who already know and like your products, by comparison, is a walk in the park. Not only is it cheaper to retain and upsell existing clients, but they’re also more likely to try new products — and to close — than a new customer.
Have your salespeople reserve a portion of their time to reach out to existing clients. These conversations should focus on what the clients need, not on what the salespeople want to sell. Continue to invest in existing relationships to create opportunities for upsells and complementary additions.
Don’t hound current customers to buy new products. Instead, check in occasionally to see how things are going and provide no-pressure updates on other products and services. As your clients grow, remind them that your business can help spur that growth.
4. Request More Referrals
Increase the likelihood that leads will convert by teaching your sales team to be more vocal about their requests for referrals from existing customers.
Many salespeople shy away from referral requests because they don’t want to jeopardize existing relationships. However, salespeople who make their clients feel like trusted, respected partners enjoy better two-way relationships than salespeople who only talk to clients to sell something.
Include referral requests in post-sale surveys, and teach sales teams to ask for referrals in their follow-up calls. Even if a deal falls through, see if the prospect who didn’t work out knows someone who could use your services. In a crowded sales space, friendly introductions go a long way.
5. Vet Prospects More Thoroughly
Increase the time you spend vetting prospects before they talk to salespeople to decrease the time salespeople spend on unqualified leads.
Use lead scoring tools and systems to determine which leads merit more attention. Nothing feels more frustrating to a salesperson than an hour-long chat with a highly interested prospect who doesn’t have the budget to convert.
Use content triggers to make this process more efficient. Prospects who open emails may or may not be a good fit. Those who fill out forms with budget information, on the other hand, explicitly tell the company whether they’d make good partners. This is easily done through Google Calendar.
6. Templatize Everything
Create a database of successful communications and content. When a message works well and inspires a prospect to move down the funnel, put the communication responsible into your database and label its use. This is another way of standardizing the tools your team uses.
Eventually, you’ll build a deep pool of resources that will help your sales teams sell more in less time. Encourage salespeople to consult this database for everything from introductions to objection responses. They’ll not only become more efficient; they’ll also become more effective.
For example, say your rep met a prospect at a conference. That rep could spend 30 minutes crafting the perfect post-conference email, or that rep could spend five minutes consulting the database for an email that worked in the past, tweak the details, and send it.
Your sales team is the lifeblood of your company, so don’t waste salespeople’s time on busy work. Use these tips to increase your sales productivity and empower your reps to do more with less.