In the world of sales, productivity is key to achieving long-term success.
But boosting sales productivity isn't just about working harder or longer hours — it's about creating an efficient and collaborative environment that allows your sales team to work effectively while achieving their goals.
And with sales professionals spending less than 30% of their time actually selling, most of their time is taken up by administrative tasks and non-selling activities.
To help sales leaders tackle that challenge, we’ll explore the top nine strategies that can help improve sales team productivity.
Whether it’s setting clear expectations, automating repetitive tasks, or centralizing your sales content — these simple adjustments can make all the difference in maximizing your team's productivity without overhauling your whole sales process.
Let’s dive in!
What is sales productivity?
It’s your sales team working with maximum efficiency while also achieving the goals that have been set out for them.
It's not just about getting more done in less time (although that's part of it) and meeting quotas. And it’s not at all about working harder and putting in more hours.
Productivity is about creating an efficient, collaborative environment that allows your sales team to work effectively.
How to measure sales productivity
The most common way to measure sales productivity is by tracking how well your team meets its goals. Sales teams typically have quotas for the number of calls made, emails sent, contacts made, and more.
But while this might measure the amount of work that's done by your team, it doesn't necessarily tell you how efficiently your team is working.
To measure the productivity of your team, look for indicators like time spent on tasks and the number of interactions needed to close a sale. A look into how your team fails to make a sale is also useful information since it can tell you where prospects are falling off.
Looking into a variety of metrics with an understanding of how they interact gives you an insight into the bigger picture and will give you a better idea of any inefficiencies that are preventing your team from reaching its goals.
The 9 best strategies to improve sales productivity
You don’t need to overhaul your whole process. Making small but significant adjustments and making use of good sales productivity tools will go a long way in boosting productivity.
1. Set clear expectations for your sales team
The number one source of confusion and inefficiency in any team is when everyone is doing their own thing and not moving together towards the same goal.
This usually happens when no one knows what they're supposed to be doing. They don't know why they're doing what they're doing, so their work is scattered and unfocused.
To avoid this, sales management should set clear expectations for the team. Give everyone a clear understanding of what the big picture goal is, how to get there, and how they individually contribute to the team's success.
This is where you can decide whether to set individual or group quotas. Taking into account the broader company’s revenue goals — are the goals of each member of your team different? If so, consider setting individual quotas.
Team members should also be able to keep track of their progress toward the goal with clear metrics defining their success. Using both leading and lagging indicators will give your team a good idea of how their individual efforts are contributing to the company's success.
Some examples of leading indicators are the number of appointments booked, conversations had, and demos given. These measure the activity that is happening right now.
Lagging indicators measure results. These are things like the number of deals closed, revenue generated, and the number of clients retained.
While you may want to keep it simple and focus on either lagging or leading indicators, keeping track of both allows you to see a better overall picture of what's happening, as well as where individual members of the team are doing well or not so well.
Clear goals and metrics also make your team accountable for their performance and contribution to the goal.
2. Look for inefficiencies in your sales process
All sales processes contain some inefficiencies. Taking the time to look for these can help you identify and fix problems before they become bigger issues.
Start by defining and examining each individual part of the process, from prospecting to closing the deal. Ask yourself: Is this step or activity really necessary? Could it be done more efficiently? Is there a way to speed up the sales cycle and move prospects through your sales pipeline more quickly?
A good clue is usually time. How long does it take a salesperson to complete a particular step? And is it that time actually producing results? Steps in your sales process where your prospects are often falling off are also a good indication of where inefficiencies may lie.
3. Automate manual and repetitive tasks
Once you've identified which steps or activities could be improved, see if there are any activities or processes that could be automated using sales automation tools.
This could include anything from streamlining lead routing to automating mundane tasks like appointment scheduling.
By automating manual and repetitive tasks, you free up more time for your sales team to focus on closing deals. Depending on the tool, you can also use it to help your team stay organized and quickly access relevant information.
Here are a few ideas for tasks that can be streamlined or automated with the help of software.
CRM data entry
Sales reps spend a lot of time updating records and opportunities in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Wouldn’t it be great if this could be streamlined or automated so reps can spend more time actually selling?
You can use a tool like Weflow to automate sales activity tracking, ensuring all relevant data (including notes and emails) gets added to your Salesforce CRM instance. Weflow’s free Chrome extension also allows reps to update records and opportunities from anywhere on the web.
For a long time, lead routing has involved manually checking emails, triaging, or assigning leads to the right sales reps.
Tools like Chili Piper and Leandata can help you coordinate buyer signals and route leads with automated matching algorithms. This way, you won't have to worry about leads getting lost in the shuffle.
Finding the perfect time for a meeting is a hassle that often involves a lot of back-and-forth emails and wasted time waiting for replies.
With tools like Calendly, you can let prospects easily schedule a call at a time that works for them.
Email outreach can feel like throwing bottles in the ocean and waiting for a response.
Tools like Salesloft and MixMax can help you send emails using pre-set templates and track responses, clicks, and opens. This way, you can focus on high-value tasks instead of spending time manually sending emails.
Sales reps can spend hours dialing numbers and listening to voicemails, only to receive low response rates and minimal conversions.
With software solutions such as Nooks and Orum, reps can parallel dial lists of prospects, saving hours every day. These tools will even clean and update your lists automatically based on call dispositions.
Manual compensation management can be a daunting task for sales organizations and can often lead to errors, delays, and inefficiencies.
But all of those calculations based on sales performance, quotas, and commissions, including bonuses and incentives for each sales representative, can be easily automated with tools like Forma.ai and Quotapath.
These tools can help you design compensation plans, manage comp structures, and schedule timely payments, saving sales managers time and ensuring that your team gets the compensation they deserve.
4. Eliminate unnecessary meetings
Meetings are essential for keeping everyone on the same page, but too many meetings can be counter-productive. Before you call a meeting, ask yourself: Can this be an email instead?
If the answer is yes, then save yourself the time and pain. Draft that email.
83% of US adults spend a third of their week in meetings. That's a huge amount of time that could be better used in more productive ways.
And if you truly do have to have a meeting, avoid doing it remotely if possible. Employees largely prefer face-to-face meetings, and they tend to be more productive.
5. Improve employee onboarding
While you may already know that it's not enough to push a new hire into the deep end and hope they start swimming, knowing what they need to start paddling around the pool can be difficult.
Some tips for better sales onboarding;
- Provide detailed training materials and access to online resources
- Personally introduce the new hire to your existing team and customers
- Set clear and achievable goals for their first few days, weeks, and months
- Establish a mentor relationship and provide regular check-ins
A well-defined sales process is critical in the onboarding process. Your new hire should understand the process from beginning to end so they know how their day-to-day activities fit into the larger scope.
You can also provide your new team members with an opportunity to experience other parts of the company so that they have a better idea of what's going on in the bigger picture.
6. Implement ongoing training and coaching
The training doesn't stop after the onboarding process finishes. Your team needs to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and sales strategies. Invest in a continuous training program that allows your sales reps to polish up their existing skills.
Follow these steps to implement an ongoing training program:
- Define training objectives – What do you want your team to learn? What skills will they be taking away from the training?
- Identify skill gaps and training needs – What does your team need to learn, and how can you best provide them with the resources they need? You can also ask your sales reps directly about what kind of skills they’d like to develop.
- Create a training plan – Plan out a step-by-step approach for teaching specific skills, and consider the mode of delivery. Keep in mind the broader trajectory of the training and how each training activity fits in with the overall objectives.
- Assign a coach to each sales rep – Mentors are an invaluable resource for sales reps. Have your more experienced members guide the newer ones through the training process and provide feedback.
- Evaluate your training program regularly – Check in with your team to make sure they’re getting the most out of the training program, and analyze the results. Are your reps putting those skills to use? Make sure to take notes on how you can improve the plan you devised while it’s still fresh in your mind.
7. Stop chasing rotten deals
Some deals just aren't worth the effort. Good sales reps knows how to recognize bad deasl and cut their losses.
Rotten deals usually:
- Have low revenue potential and low profit margins
- Require too much time investment
- Are too complex to close
- Have unclear objectives from the customer and too many stakeholders
- Have unrealistic time frames
Instead of wasting time chasing down deals like this, your reps can focus on the ones that are more profitable and achievable.
8. Centralize your sales content
Your sales reps' power comes from having access to the right information, in the right place, and at the right time.
This means that useful content like case studies, product cheat sheets, whitepapers, and customer success stories must be easily accessible in a centralized location.
The more organized your sales content is, the better equipped your reps will be to close deals. And having all your sales enablement content in one place makes it easier for your team to reference the material quickly and to keep all the resources up-to-date.
9. Take advantage of templates and scripts
While personalized messages have a high success rate, there's no need for your sales reps to reinvent the wheel every time they need to draft an email.
Having templates and scripts ready to go makes it easier for your sales reps to take advantage of high-value opportunities quickly. Team members can customize and adjust as needed without having to start from scratch every time.
Taking sales notes can also be a time-consuming task, so provide your reps with standardized templates to simplify the process. These may include prospecting logs, customer call notes, meeting notes, and more.
Weflow gives you an easy way to standardize your team’s sales notes and ensure reps follow your sales methodology through note templates. Simply set up the templates once and provide reps with access so they can reuse them when needed.
Boost sales productivity with these top tips
By adopting some of these simple strategies and sales tools, you’ll be able to increase sales productivity without reworking your whole process.
Start small and see how your current process is working for you. Where are your prospects falling off? What areas can you start to streamline and automate?
Don't try to do it all at once, and be patient as you try out different strategies. With a little bit of effort, you'll see your sales productivity soar in no time.