Couldn’t we all use a little bit of help being more productive? Improving sales productivity may be a lofty goal, but in fact, becoming more productive in sales can be easily accomplished with the right tools. You just have to know what they are.
Improved sales productivity is a major guiding force for most organizations. On average, organizations spend $24,000 per sales rep on productivity-improving measures. And yet, for 65% of B2B organizations, sales productivity remains the number one challenge.
The disconnect between productivity improvement measures and productivity outcomes often comes down to a misallocation of resources. While organizations are spending money to increase sales productivity, they’re not always spending it in the right place.
Nor are they always tracking outputs. 12% of companies say they don’t know who owns sales productivity within their organization, and 5% of companies admit that nobody owns it. So while efforts are being made to improve productivity, sales teams are still regularly without the guidance they need to do more and do better.
Before we get in to the integrative tools that can help sales force productivity, let’s answer the big question: what does improved sales productivity even look like? Because using productivity boosting tools isn’t going to do much for your organization unless you know the distinct purpose behind them.
Defining Sales Productivity
Sales productivity is results in relation to resources. The objective is to spend less time, money, and effort achieving better outcomes in key areas like lead generation, client relationships, and sales quota goal attainment.
What gets in the way of optimized sales productivity varies from company to company. But generally, reps are spending too much time on activities that aren’t directly related to their core goals. The typical sales reps spends an average of 7.6 hours per week – about 1/5 of their total working time – on administrative tasks that aren’t related to making sales. In total, most reps are spending more than 50 full days of the year on tasks that are unrelated to their core goals.
There is a bright side. While sales force leaders might not be optimizing their productivity in the most efficient way possible, they are recognizing the need to provide their teams with tools that make their jobs easier. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most effective sales productivity improving tasks, and how tools like smart integration, Tactile Marketing Automation® (TMA), and targeted tactile marketing can help reps do more in less time.
Task #1: Make it easier to connect with prospects
Client relationships are at the heart of what sales reps do. Clients want to work with someone they trust, and who will approach their needs not from a standpoint of “what can I sell you?” but “how can I help you?” Getting there, however, takes time. And long before your reps can build that level of rapport they need to be able to get their foot in the door – a task often easier said than done.
Getting in touch, especially in the earliest stages of lead generation and client prospecting, is a major issue for most reps. It takes a rep an average of 18 or more calls to connect with a prospect and 24% of sales emails are never opened.
But your team can’t boost their sales productivity if they can’t connect with prospects. Focusing resources on lead generating tools that speed up the process of connection becomes necessary for reducing the amount of time reps waste on simply making those first conversations happen.
Invest in lead generation activities that have a proven ability to convert effectively, such as direct mail, which boasts a 2.9% response rates for new prospects versus a 0.45% response rate for email marketing.
Tools like SwagIQ, an intelligent gifting platform that sends tactile direct mail proven to make a bigger impact with leads, can help reps get more call backs and turn more leads into clients. Meanwhile, Tactile Marketing Automation® can help reps see where their efforts are succeeding and where they’re not, in turn guiding future prospecting practices.
The key here is to provide your reps with tools that help them differentiate themselves from the competition. Plenty of sales forces are cold calling and emailing, and with unimpressive results. Focus on what your team can do differently, and use integrated platforms to help them get creative with a minimal learning curve.
Task #2: Track conversion rates
Productivity is all about spending more time on tasks that meet your team’s KPIs and less on tasks that don’t. But you can’t know what’s working and what’s not if you don’t take the time to look at the data. That’s where conversion rates come in – and smart integration.
Smart integration isn’t so much a tool as a way of re-structuring your sales process to include all of the moving parts that make it work, including your CRM, sales enablement platforms, and TMA®. Once all of the data is in the same place, you’ll be able to hone in on conversion rate data that clearly elucidates which efforts are paying off and which aren’t.
Think of it this way: each of your reps has a finite amount of time they can devote to each task that leads up to a sale. Subtract from that the amount of time they spend on non-sales related administrative tasks and each minute they can spend on concentrated sales becomes highly valuable. Calculating conversion rates and using that information to guide sale-driven practices means that your reps can focus solely on the activities that provide the best outcomes for your organization and bypass the activities that don’t.
Task #3: Focus on targeted and personalized marketing with leads who are most likely to convert
At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. Blindly marketing to a wide lead pool and just trying to see who bites is a waste of effort and money, and a huge burden on your reps’ time.
This brings us back to conversion rates. And more specifically, targeting your print and digital marketing campaigns towards those leads who are most likely to convert. If you’ve achieved smart integration, you’ll be able to use real-time data to evaluate which prospects are looking for what you have to sell and where and how you can best reach them. You can then use TMA® and SwagIQ® to target your marketing in such a way that you make the biggest impact with those high-value prospects, from mail to ads to content.
Clients prefer personalized, targeted communications. 88% of marketers see a measurable lift in business results when they incorporate personalization into their marketing efforts, and 53% report a lift of more than 10%. Giving your reps the ability to sell to the people who want to be sold to in the way they want to be sold to is a huge step in increasing productivity on all levels.
Task #4: Automate administrative processes
Remember that stat from before that says sales reps are spending 1/5 of their time on non-quota attaining administrative tasks? It’s worth circling back to. Sales productivity requires a concerted effort to devote more time to activities that convert, both among individual sales reps and among the managers who guide them. And you can achieve that by taking administrative responsibilities – such as updating CRM data and finding relevant content – out of your rep’s hands and automating it.
Automation of administrative processes through (you guessed it) smart integration and TMA®, doesn’t just make your sales reps’ lives easier (though certainly that too). It also frees up a ton of hours for them to focus on their sales targets, explore new leads and opportunities, and improve their personal performance. All of these things, together and on their own, lead to improved sales productivity and time well spent.
Busy work is called busy work for a reason. It keeps your reps occupied, but not necessarily on tasks that convert into sales. Transfer those tasks on to an automated platform and your reps can work on activities that don’t just keep them busy but that also bring them closer to their quota attainments.
Improving sales productivity isn’t a one-and-done deal. For best results, modify your practices with a few different productivity-focused tools and see how they work for you individually and together. Work with your sales team to identify and address barriers to productivity so that you know what sorts of tools will go furthest for you.
Better sales productivity is possible. Keep your employees engaged and do what you can to ease their non-productivity boosting workload and you won’t have to wait long to see the benefits.