Through a boost in productivity, B2B sales teams can improve not only their revenue numbers but also their quality of life.
Usually, the dreary, repetitive parts of the sales job are the ones that can be streamlined or automated.
When tasks like prospecting are removed from the calendar, reps have more time to talk with potential clients and do the most fulfilling part of the job: selling.
Additionally, more revenue/won in fewer hours means a higher earnings/hour rate.
When reps start beating quota halfway through a quarter, they have lots of free time on their hands.
They can use that time to win even more customers, enjoy life outside of work, or a combination of the two. With productivity comes choice.
So, let’s go over what sales productivity is and why it’s important, and look at 12 proven ways to increase it.
What Is Sales Productivity
Individual sales productivity is the measure of the revenue generated by a sales rep per the number of hours they work. You can calculate your sales productivity using this formula.
Sales Productivity = Individual Rep Revenue for a Period ÷ Number of Hours Worked in that Period
So, if you worked 200 hours in a month and closed $20,000 in revenue, your sales productivity would be $100/hour.
Sales productivity is a telling figure. If you calculate it routinely, such as each month, you start to notice patterns. You start to figure out what increases productivity and what hampers it.
For instance, perhaps you notice that your team’s sales productivity has increased in the months after you acquired a new prospecting software.
That tells you two things.
First, the investment was worth it. Second, more investments in technologies that handle admin work should further increase your sales productivity.
Digging down into why your sales productivity is increasing or decreasing over time will help you move steadily towards peak efficiency, which should be your goal as a sales professional.
Why? Because when you are extraordinarily efficient, you have options.
You can choose to work the same number of hours with the higher per hour rate, thereby earning more in total.
Or, you can choose to dial back your work hours and spend more time doing other things like hanging with friends, traveling, or working on a side project.
The Challenges of Sales Productivity
Sales reps have a lot on their plates. In general, about one-third of their time is spent actually selling.
The rest is divided between attending internal meetings, updating CRMs, sourcing leads, doing research, and other administrative work.
All of these responsibilities make it difficult to attain high productivity.
Sometimes, sales managers struggle to increase sales productivity. They know how important improving it is to their company’s health. They know it’s a must-do.
Still, that obsession over the metric can lead them astray.
Sometimes, in a rush, they will opt for expedient methods — methods that just don’t work. Here are some examples of things to avoid doing when trying to improve sales productivity.
- Raising Quotas Without Making Other Changes: Never raise your reps’ quotas without giving them new means for achieving those quotas. It will only raise the number of hours worked, not productivity — while causing burnout and internal dissension.
- Implementing New Training Without Understanding SDR’s Sales Process: Managers need to understand which parts of their sales process are lagging and why in order to choose the right training.
- Rolling Out New Tech Haphazardly: Rolling out new software without getting buy-in from your reps is a sure-fire way to get low adoption and usage out of them. Plus, if they aren’t trained correctly, the system might even slow them down. Technology adoption is not just a commitment of money, but also time.
Here’s what to do instead.
Tackling the Challenges of Sales Productivity
To actually raise the efficiency of your team, you must create a system that tracks and measures the effect of an internal change, such as buying a new CRM, on the sales productivity of your team.
That way you know what is speeding reps up and what isn’t.
Your measurement system should have:
- Strict definitions of input and output. For BDRs, meetings booked could be the output, while time is the output.
- Weekly or monthly documentation of sales productivity numbers.
- Feedback systems for detecting whether a corrective action really produced the desired result. “Did our emailing software actually lead to more emails sent by reps? And, if so, did those extra emails actually lead to more revenue?”
What you don’t measure, you cannot improve — so make sure to track your sales productivity and the effectiveness of sales process changes, technology adoptions, and any other efforts.
12 Tips for Greater Sales Productivity
Now, let’s give you some changes you can implement that should lead to upward tugs on your team’s sales productivity.
Don’t worry, you won’t find tips like “drink green tea instead of coffee” or “do 50 jumping jacks every 20 minutes”.
No—these are some effective, sales-focused tips to help you make more money in less time.
Qualify Your Leads and Prospects
If you spend a lot of time presenting or holding demos for unqualified leads, you are wasting time. Permitting fewer leads to enter your pipeline and to-do-list is an effective way to increase sales productivity.
Ideally, you want to let in only those who are close to your ideal customer profile: a description of your best-fit customers.
That’s because those will be the people who are most likely to buy your solution.
For instance, a company selling proptech software with a client-base of mostly large property management companies with thousands of units might disqualify a smaller company,
They know, from their experience and ICP, that, no matter their sales skills, the mom-and-pop shop is probably going to end up saying “the price is too high” or “we don’t need all these features”.
It is more efficient to get the bad leads to say “not a fit” earlier in the sales process, rather than later when you have already spent hours on the phone and in email correspondence with them.
To fine-tune your lead qualification process, check out this pocket guide to qualifying sales leads.
Establish Clear Sales Metrics
Sales metrics are data points that elucidate an individual’s or team’s sales performance. Establishing clear sales metrics and quotas that your sales reps must hit is a good way to ensure higher productivity.
For example, if you know that LinkedIn social selling is more efficient for generating quality leads than cold emailing, you might create a high quota for LinkedIn messages sent (an activity sales metric).
This will ensure your reps spend more time on LinkedIn than email, thereby improving sales productivity.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that tell you if a team or individual is performing well. These are especially helpful when you make an internal change, such as a restructuring or a shift in the sales process.
They can inform you on whether or not the change improved your sales productivity or not.
Here are some KPIs many sales teams track:
- Revenue per product.
- Percentage of revenue from new business.
- Percentage of cold calls that generate a lead.
- Percentage of sales reps attaining revenue quota.
When you track KPIs you will surely find some that aren’t met. But, that is okay. At least you know where your weaknesses lie.
That means you can address them.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, states that 20% of your effort produces 80% of the results, and vice versa.
This holds true across many domains of life: 20% of your clients likely produce 80% of your business’s revenue, while 80% of them supply the other 20%.
Similarly, it is often said that 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the company’s success.
It’s an important rule because it makes you aware that there are certain activities you should be focusing on, the ones that produce 80% of the results.
In sales, these are usually your direct selling activities like hosting demos, running discovery calls with prospects, etc.
Meanwhile, you can spend less time on other less valuable tasks, such as attending meetings or researching decision-makers with whom you never even connect anyway.
Of course, what fits into that 20% differs between people. So, figure out your most impactful tasks, and adjust your workday to spend 80% of your time doing them.
Manage Your Time Well
Learning how to manage your time will contribute to your productivity. One of the best strategies for time-management is called task-batching.
Task-batching is when you group like-tasks together into time-slots. You don’t let yourself get distracted. You only focus on the task-at-hand.
Adherents state that different types of tasks require different types of thinking — and you want to avoid switching between different thinking modules in your mind.
The transitions back and forth will slow you down and also disallow you from entering your flow: a state of mind where work feels effortless and you are performing at a high level.
Some examples of task-batching include:
- Doing 1-hour cold call blocks twice a day.
- Sending emails from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM each day.
- Scheduling your web-demos for the morning.
- Updating your CRMs every day from 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM
- Researching companies for 1 hour straight.
Doing a 1-hour cold call block with no interruptions or multitasking will result in more dials. Plus, the conversations you have will be better.
You will operate at a higher level, simply because your brain is intensely locked into the correct habits of mind for cold calling.
On the other hand, if you had a call, did some research, sent an email, then made another call, you would be out of the right state of mind by the time you hear the next lead’s voice.
It would be like a chess player breaking their concentration mid-game to go watch an episode of Game of Thrones.
It’s unlikely they will return to the match with the same level of thought and creativity as before. They will probably also be distracted by the huge plot twist they just witnessed.
Approach Sales Calls Like Meetings
If you approach your sales calls like you do face-to-face meetings, you can often progress further down the sales cycle in one call than you usually would in two.
For instance, if a prospect said they want to have a quick introductory call to go over the solution, you should treat it as a discovery meeting.
Instead of just rambling off a pitch while looking at your emails, come prepared with the right questions to ask to assess if they are a good fit.
You will learn about their business, their goals, and their pain points.
If you get a good understanding of their situation in the first call, you can move them right into the presentation phase.
Also, make sure you are safe from distractions, just as you would in a face-to-face meeting in your office.
Close the tabs on your browser. Silence your phone. Hide email notifications. Shut the door.
Do everything you can to safeguard your attention so you can keep it on the prospect. Attention to a deal is like nutrients to a plant. The more it has, the faster it will grow.
Train Your Team
Training reps in your product, industry, and customers will help them form a rapport with clients and position the value of your solution more effectively.
However, training doesn’t stop there. You have to also teach them universal sales skills, including objection handling, competitive selling, sales methodologies, and much more.
It sounds like a lot, but if you schedule weekly training sessions with your team, you can cover more than enough overtime to make a positive impact on their productivity.
Every learning counts. Here are some sales training ideas you can implement.
Create a Centralized Resource Library
A centralized library of your training content will make it easy for reps to learn on their own time.
For instance, you can upload your battle cards (outlines of how to beat specific competitors), sales decks, and other reference materials into one easily accessible location online.
This eliminates back-and-forth questions when a rep is trying to close a deal. They can find the answer themselves.
Facilitate Peer Learning
Your newer reps can learn a lot from veterans at your company, So partner them up, or encourage your newer reps to sit in on calls and presentations.
They can study the veterans’ method, the customers’ questions, and objections, and more. It’s surprising how much a rep can learn just through absorption.
Run Mock Demos
Your reps can run demos to mock ideal customers (you pretending to be one) with certain pain points and attributes. Then, you can deliver feedback.
This will help your new reps familiarize themselves with the sales script thoroughly, while also practicing how to reply to the most frequently asked questions and counter the most common objections.
Give Them Access to an Online Course
Online courses and training materials have the added benefit in that your reps can access them when it’s most convenient for them.
Write Better Emails
When you improve your email copywriting skills, you can generate more opportunities from your cold outreach in less time.
Moreover, having more opportunities in the pipeline usually leads to higher revenue per time period. Here are some tips for writing better cold sales emails.
Craft an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
Your subject line should be short and to the point.
It’s often a good idea to put a benefit in the subject line, as well as their name.
Of course, what makes your prospect reply depends on what they value. So, for a more in-depth guide, check out our Best Email Subject Lines for Sales.
Lead With Something About Them
Stroke their egos a bit. Your first sentence should hook them in, and nothing does that better than something about them.
Use your previous research to personalize your email by mentioning a recent achievement or something relevant to their professional interests. It could be a blog post they wrote or a job responsibility they have.
This will help you establish a connection.
Mention a Few Customer Pain Points
Early in the body copy, mention some common pain points suffered by companies like theirs. Consult your ideal customer profile to figure this out.
If you successfully bring up a pain that they have, they will want to read the rest of your email to learn how to solve it. Plus, this paints you as a problem-solver.
There are a ton of sales scenarios other than prospecting in which you will have to write a good email — follow-ups, referrals, post-cold calls, LinkedIn messages, to name just a few.
If you want templates for each, check out Sales Email Templates for Common Sales Scenarios.
Don’t Forget the Follow-up
According to IRC, only 2% of sales are made during the initial contact. It never really happens like in “Wolf of Wall Street”.
So, if you never follow-up, you are potentially missing out on the other 98% of sales opportunities.
You have to consistently follow-up and show resilience if you want to increase your sales productivity, for the following reasons:
- It Spreads Confidence: Persistence suggests confidence in your company’s ability to help the prospect. And this confidence is contagious.
- It Reminds Buyers: This is true especially in cold outreach. Sometimes buyers will look at your email and just forget to answer. Following-up gives them that extra nudge to respond.
- It Ensures Adequate Communication: In B2B sales, buyers have a lot they need to figure out before making a purchase (align their budget, learn about your product, and tease out the ROI it will produce). Therefore, they have a ton of questions and you need to facilitate that communication.
If you want to learn how to write the perfect follow-up email, read How to Write a Follow-up Email (With Examples).
Automate Your Sales Process
Some of your sales processes can be automated, including your lead generation, cold outreach, and all the record-keeping and contact management that goes along with such steps.
Handing the repetitive portions of these tasks off to a friendly software program can save a sales team loads of time.
That said, here are some productivity-increasing sales automation tools.
Soleadify — Lead Generation
Tired of scouring the web for email addresses and companies that might be a good match? Soleadify can help you automate the process.
It’s a B2B lead database with contact information for over 43 million businesses.
Leveraging data science, the software helps B2B sellers find thousands of ideal customers who are the perfect match for their product and service.
Salesloft — Cold Outreach
Salesloft is a sales engagement platform that helps sales reps send out more emails in less time.
It automates the email process by allowing you to use email templates that auto-populate information about the prospect and the company you are trying to reach.
Salesforce — Record-Keeping
CRMs can help you track information about your clients, prospects, and leads. This gives you the power to grow your relationships and spot opportunities for upsells, cross-sells, and more.
Salesforce is one of the best out there if you are looking for automation features.
Hold Effective Team Meetings
Team meetings can be huge time-sinks for salespeople. Mismanaged, they can easily turn into ramblings and debates that produce absolutely zero results, aside from a boost in the speakers’ egos.
The first rule of leading effective team meetings is to hold as few as possible.
Unless the meeting is absolutely necessary, avoid it.
Of course, if you are doing it for team-building, that’s another story.
However, if the goal of a meeting is to make a decision about strategy, such as how to implement new technology, make sure you are actually using the time to make a decision, and really think long and hard about if you need to include every rep.
The heavy lifting of brainstorming, analysis, and creating arguments in favor or against certain decisions, should be handled in smaller meetings of two leadership members or on your own.
Your entire sales team doesn’t have to be involved in listening to you reason out which CRM is the best fit.
However, they do need to be there to learn why a specific one was chosen, the benefits of the tool, and the next steps for learning how to use it.
And, of course, there will be other times when you need to have a meeting that includes sales reps, like the following:
- Current sales performance
- Competitive insights
- Sales process changes
- Company-wide changes
Whatever the goal, you have to make sure you’re utilizing your team’s time in the best way.
The Steps to an Effective Meeting
To make sure these meetings are productive and not wasteful, follow these tips.
- Write an Agenda and Goal: Tell everyone the goal of the meeting. And give them a schedule of how the meeting will unfold. This will make sure everyone is staying on track.
- Brief Your Team: Give them the information that they need to review in order to come prepared and informed to the meeting. That will limit the number of questions asked and moments of disconnect.
- Give Everyone a Chance To Speak: In this world, some people are just more inclined to speak up in a meeting, while some people are more shy. This is especially true for newer reps. So, go around the table and give everyone a turn to share their wins, learnings, questions, etc.
A well-structured meeting in which everyone is given the necessary information in advance, and everyone is given a chance to share their opinions will benefit the company the most.
Motivate Your Team
A motivated team is a productive one, so it pays to create a work environment that makes them feel free and excited to come to work.
Besides financial incentives, here are some ways to motivate your sales team.
One of the easiest ways to motivate someone is by acknowledging their hard work. When what they do is appreciated, they will want to do it again.
To amplify the effects, praise them publicly, either out loud in the office or during a company-wide meeting where you give rewards.
People want to contribute to their team. They also want to go out and have some free fun. So, team events are perfect motivators.
Set a goal of revenue or meetings booked for your team and promise that if they hit the number you will take them out to a fancy dinner or anything else exciting.
Sales People are naturally competitive. Make use of this competitive spirit with sales leaderboards.
Side by side, these display sales reps’ performances and rankings in different categories, from meetings booked to demos hosted.
Your sales reps will take pride in ranking well in the leaderboard so their productivity will improve.
Everyone wants a little more free time in their lives.
Your sales reps work hard. Give them the opportunity to win extra vacation or work-from-home days if they hit a certain number.
Keep in mind that every employee is different. So a diversified incentive plan will work best.
Align Sales and Marketing
When both sales and marketing teams are aligned, your sales reps will benefit from having access to effective sales enablement content and inbound lead generation.
Sales reps will have the case studies they need to push a prospect through to the pricing stage.
They will have the luxury of receiving demo requests from qualified inbound leads who filled out marketing forms.
Here are some best practices for making sure your sales and marketing teams are working in harmony.
- Meet Regularly: Sales and marketing managers should meet monthly to talk over metrics like MQLs, lead generation, and lead-to-customer conversion.
- Create a Team Email Alias: Use an email alias that is sent to both marketing and sales teams. Use this to share important information, initiatives, problems, and other strategic information back and forth.
- Communicate About Content: Your sales reps know what content they need to drive deals forward. Whether it’s a new case study or video, they need to inform marketing they want it made. Try holding monthly sessions to go over content ideas.
- Set Some Shared KPIs: If you both have totally different KPIs, you might end up with different goals, and therefore different ideas of what’s important and what’s not. Some examples of KPIs to share are conversion rate and lead value.
- Grab Lunch: Get to know each other. It makes collaborating so much easier when you have a personal relationship.
When sales and marketing work in unison, your entire business yields better results.
Productivity = Freedom
When your sales team improves its productivity, they are generating more revenue in the same amount of time.
Not only is this good for a business and upper management. It is also excellent for individual reps. It can be freeing.
When a rep is producing more in less time, they can spend extra hours in their days doing what they love.
That could be making more sales calls. However, it could also be taking more vacation days, going on a hike on a work-day morning, or just clocking out early to be with their family.
Productivity is a path to more freedom in life, and it should be prioritized.