13 Ways To Increase Sales Productivity

13 Ways To Increase Sales Productivity

In 2018, more than 50% of salespeople missed their quota.

Whether that’s because managers have too high of expectations, because salespeople receive too little training, or because companies hold too many meetings is up for debate.

Point is, some sales teams aren’t performing as well as their quotas demand.

(For many different reasons)

And yet, 71% of C-level executives believe sales productivity is critical to achieving growth.

So how do you increase sales productivity for yourself and/or your team?

That’s what we’re going to talk about.

What is sales productivity?

Sales productivity is a measurement of how efficient and effective a sales team or salesperson is with the resources they’ve been provided.

The business’ benefit to improving sales productivity is ultimately a better ROI on the resources spent to convert prospects, including per-hour pay and lead-gen costs.

One of the most revealing surveys about sales productivity comes from HubSpot. They discovered that the average salesperson spends only one-third of their day talking to prospects and 21% writing emails, 17% on data entry, an additional 17% on prospecting, and a whopping 24% scheduling or attending meetings.

Administrative task time percentage bar graph.

That should be concerning.

After all, salespeople should spend the vast majority of their time selling — and more specifically, doing things that a piece of software or a low-cost virtual assistant can’t do.

To improve sales productivity, check out the 13 tips below.

As for measuring the productivity of your sales team, you can use the following equation…

Total Sales Revenue ÷ Number of Reps on Your Team

You’ll want to restrict this equation to a specific period of time. Imagine, for example, that I want to calculate my sales team’s productivity for the last month and that my 5-person team made $100,000 over that time…

$100,000 ÷ 5 Reps = $20,000/Rep

This will give you an average standard by which to measure your monthly and yearly sales team’s productivity.

(Keep in mind that this metric is unique to your business and it’s almost entirely worthless to compare it to other businesses with different products, services, or price-points)

To calculate an individual rep’s productivity, use the following equation for a specific period of time.

Individual Rep Revenue ÷ Number of Hours Worked

For one month, an average rep might clock 160 hours and generate $20,000.

In that case…

$20,000 ÷ 160 = $125/Hour

This will give you an average standard by which to measure your monthly and yearly sales team’s productivity.

(Keep in mind that this metric is unique to your business and it’s almost entirely worthless to compare it to other businesses with different products, services, or price-points)

To calculate an individual rep’s productivity, use the following equation for a specific period of time.

Individual Rep Revenue ÷ Number of Hours Worked

For one month, an average rep might clock 160 hours and generate $20,000.

In that case…

$20,000 ÷ 160 = $125/Hour

This equation can help you measure the ROI of your individual salespeople and determine who your most successful reps are, who needs additional training, and/or who might not be using their time effectively.

Whatever results you find when using these equations, quantifying sales productivity is an important first step to improving sales productivity.

The Top 3 Reasons for Sales Inefficiency

Why do so many salespeople struggle to meet their quotas? Why do so many sales teams operate inefficiently?

Obviously, there are a lot of different answers to those questions depending on the business that’s asking.

But from our own research and our experience here at ClickFunnels, there seem to be three primary hurdles for sales productivity.

Top 3 reasons for sales inefficiency graph.
  1. Inadequate Training — When reps aren’t trained properly, they’re less efficient, less effective, and more prone to distractions. 
  2. Time-Wasting Tasks — A salesperson’s most important task is to sell in a 1:1 environment, through personal phone calls, text messages, and emails. Time-wasting to-dos such as data entry, internal meetings, and even researching leads should be minimized with technology and assistants. 
  3. Lack of Accountability — People don’t like to be micromanaged, but it’s still important to keep your salespeople accountable to monthly or quarterly goals and KPIs.

What does your business struggle with?

Well, the following 13 tips are methods to improve your sales productivity. Let’s dive in.

1. Build a Sales Funnel For Lead-Gen

One of the most important elements of a sales team’s productivity is keeping the leads flowing.

After all, a consistent lead-flow gives your salespeople something to do. Without leads, there’s no one to sell to.

Unfortunately, many sales teams aren’t just tasked with selling and converting, but also with researching and finding prospects.

(According to HubSpot, finding leads takes up 17% of the average sales person’s day)

What if instead, you built a sales funnel that systematically pours qualified prospects into the frontend of your sales pipeline?

This is the process we recommend.

Sales pipeline recommendation graphic.

What’s a sales funnel?

Well, it’s a series of pages that are crafted to get visitors to take one very specific action. Because of that single-minded focus, sales funnels convert better than websites and landing pages.

And there are different sales funnels for different purposes (getting email opt-ins, selling products or services, hosting an online event, etc).

(At ClickFunnels, we specialize in helping entrepreneurs build high-converting sales funnels – get a free trial over here)

For B2B sales, our Reverse Squeeze Page Funnel…

Reverse squeeze page funnel graphic.
This funnel works by drawing in your target market with a free offer so that you can get their contact information.

…or Application Funnel are perfect…

Application funnel diagram.
The Application Funnel starts with a Reverse Squeeze Page and then gets more information from the prospect. This helps to prequalify prospects.

By using a sales funnel to generate leads rather than forcing your salespeople to search for their own leads, you’ll streamline their process and automatically make them more productive.

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2. Understand Your Value Ladder

When should your salespeople try to upsell an existing customer? More specifically, what products or services should they try to upsell them to?

Every salesperson on your team should have clear answers to those questions.

That’s why you need a value ladder.

The value ladder graphic.

Here’s how this works: the bottom step represents your front-end offer that you use to generate leads, where the value and price are lowest.

The goal, though, is to ascend new leads up the value ladder, toward higher ticket products and services that provide more value.

Here’s an example of what this looks like…

The DotComSecrets value ladder graphic.

Here’s another example for what a value ladder from a dentist might looks like…

The Dentist value ladder graphic.

The reason for defining your own value ladder is so that your salespeople can, at a glance, know where a prospect stands within it.

They can quickly determine which products or services a prospect has already purchased, which they haven’t, and what the next natural progression would be.

This increases productivity and sales effectiveness.

3. Create a Clear Customer Avatar

Who is your dream customer?

More importantly, do your salespeople have a crystal clear understanding of your company’s target market — their needs, wants, fears, demographic, etc — and do they know how to speak their language?

Defining the customer avatar is a critical part of a salesperson’s training and it’s something that should be revisited regularly.

We recommend being as specific as possible with your customer avatar, to the point that you treat it as if it’s an individual person.

Outline your target market’s goals, challenges, objections, etc…

Custome avatar outline example.

Also indicate your avatar’s age, gender, marital status, and occupation. The more clearly that your salespeople understand your target market, the easier it’ll be for them to qualify leads and convert people into customers.

You might even consider naming your customer avatar and finding a picture in Google to represent this “person”.

4. Leverage Automation

Here’s something that probably won’t surprise you: firms that use technology effectively are 57% more effective at sales training and development than ineffective technology users.

Conversely, firms that are slow to adapt to technology saw their sales goal achievement drop 12% in 2017.

This is because using technology to organize, manage, and generate leads, streamline workflows, encourage internal communication, monitor KPIs, and track team-wide goals naturally improves sales productivity.

Here are some of the best sales tools for you to consider…

  • ClickFunnels — For generating leads
  • Salesforce — For CRM
  • ActiveCampaign — For email marketing
  • Intercom — For live chat
  • DocSend — For sending content to prospects and tracking engagement
  • HelloSign — For sending and signing documents
  • Aircall — For outbound calling

5. Train, Train, Train

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of training sales reps, not just for the first few months that they join… but consistently while they’re a part of your team.

To be successful, salespeople need to have a clear understanding of your products and services and their features, integrations, and critical nuances.

But that only comes with time.

How to you try to improve as a salesperson bar graph.

The good news is, though, that ongoing training pays off. According to Accent, organizations that use post-training reinforcement see 34% more first-year sales reps achieve their quota. Similarly, “companies with a training retention plan have 31% more sales reps reach quota than the industry average and a 10% higher YoY increase in corporate revenue.’

6. Set Clear KPIs

How do your sales reps know if they’ve had a successful month or not? How do they measure whether they’re improving or slipping?

Setting clear KPIs for each salesperson is an important part of maintaining accountability and encouraging daily productivity.

What are the most important sales KPIs chart.

Without KPIs, a successful salesperson might feel like they’re not doing enough while a lagging salesperson might feel like they rule the roost — without quantifying each salesperson’s effectiveness, progress is hazy.

Here are some individual KPIs to consider…

  • MQL-To-SQL Conversion Rate
  • Opportunity-To-Customer Conversion Rate
  • Time Spent On Phone
  • Number Of Appointments Booked
  • Follow-Up Conversion Rate

7. Encourage Daily Routines

On the individual level, what makes a salesperson productive?

Well, it’s the same thing that makes anyone productive at their job: a daily routine.

This is something that you should encourage in your salespeople — as a part of the onboarding process, explain that you expect them to create their own daily schedule and share that with the team.

Each salesperson should define when they’ll be calling prospects, doing data entry, prospecting, following up, sending emails, etc.

Then the rest of the sales team should respect their schedule as much as possible once it’s approved.

Of course, routines are never perfect — but it’ll help your salespeople be productive 80% of the time when unexpected hiccups aren’t distracting them.

8. Celebrate Wins

Nothing hurts productivity quite like salespeople feeling that they aren’t appreciated.

When morale plummets, so does the sales team’s effectiveness. And when they’re effectiveness plummets, with poor leadership, their morale will plummet further.

This is the vicious cycle that all sales team’s are susceptible to.

And it all starts with salespeople feeling unappreciated.

So make a point to celebrate each individual’s wins and the team’s wins as a whole. You might even dedicate an internal space (like a Slack channel) to salespeople sharing and celebrating their wins.

The lesson is this…

The more that salespeople feel like they’re crushing it… typically, the more that they’re going to crush it.

9. Set SMART Sales Goals

Goals are what guide a sales team to success.

Without quarterly goals in place, it’s difficult for a sales team to know whether they’ve succeeded or not — some might feel overconfident about their efforts while others feel like they haven’t done enough.

Clear goals remove the guesswork.

But the goals should follow the SMART acronym so that they’re specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

SMART acronym graphic.

With goals like these in place, your sales team will feel empowered to be successful with the resources they’ve been provided.

10. Improve Communication

Open communication between salespeople and even between the sales team and the marketing team is an important part of sales productivity.

Your salespeople need to be prepared to speak with every prospect — and that will sometimes include getting information from other people in the company about their past interactions with the prospect.

The easiest way to streamline communication is to use a project management tool like Asana or Monday and an internal communication tool like Slack. You can then create designated channels for salespeople to collaborate with each other and some key people on the marketing team.

11. Batch Admin Work

As much as possible, your company should make it so that admin work like data entry and prospecting is done automatically by software tools.

But in the end, every sales rep will still have to live with a little bit of tedium.

The typical problem with this work, though, is that it derails other more important tasks — sales calls, email conversations, etc — and makes salespeople less effective and productive.

The solution is for salespeople to batch their admin work into specific periods of time each day.

That way, tedious admin work isn’t interfering with the work that matters most.

12. Encourage Referrals

Here are a few stats about referrals from Forbes that every salesperson should know about…

  • “54% say that referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead than other channels.
  • Marketers rate referrals as the 2nd-highest source of quality leads.
  • 78% of B2B marketers say that referral programs generate good or excellent leads.
  • 60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads.”

So yeah… salespeople should get in the habit of asking happy customers and clients for referrals.

Here’s the simple script that Steli Efti, B2B sales expert, recommends:

“Are you excited to start using our product?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

“Perfect! Who else do you know that would benefit from using it?”

13. Create a Follow-Up System

Follow-up is a critical part of the sales process — just check out the stats below…

Sales statistics percentages graphic.

But common mistakes that sales teams make in regards to following up with prospects include A) not following up at all or B) following up sporadically.

Salespeople shouldn’t be guessing about who they should follow up with and when they should follow-up… instead, your CRM should send notifications to the appropriate rep when it’s time to contact a prospect.

This will streamline the follow-up process, ensuring that your sales team makes the most of every single prospect.

How will you increase your sales team’s productivity?

Every sales team (heck, every salesperson) is different.

And when it comes to improving sales productivity, your weaknesses and strengths will be unique — you’ll have to decide which of the above 13 strategies are most important to implement right away and which ones can wait until later.

The key is to get started.

And with enough time and effort, your sales team will be running like a well-oiled money machine.

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    1. Thank you for your support. I'm really glad you've used the wonderful resources here to move forward.