A certain amount of non-selling time for your more efficient salespeople is inevitable. But for most salespeople and organizations, there’s still plenty of opportunity to tighten up processes, workflow and general productivity in a finite amount of time to increase the percentage of the day and week your best reps are spending in front of customers and prospects.
Think about the difference between 55 and 65 percent active selling time across a 100+ person inside sales team. Just that 10-point improvement could mean significant additional sales without impacting cost, lead requirements or other expenditures.
How do you get there? Every selling environment is different, but these 10 opportunities are relatively universal.
1. Batch admin work
Don’t get in the habit of making a call, leaving a voicemail, then disrupting your phone time to record the conversation in CRM, send a follow-up email, etc. Batch work items together to get and keep yourself in a groove. For example, make 10 calls all at once. Keep notes on a pad of paper for any unique follow-ups. Then do all of your CRM and follow-up work at once. This batching of activities is proven to be faster and more efficient than doing everything in a linear sequence over and over and over again.
2. Automate parallel or redundant tasks
For example, every Salesforce.com user has a unique email address assigned to them. If you blind-copy yourself with that email address on any outbound email to a customer or prospect, it’ll automatically record that email as an activity in the contact or lead’s record. No need to go in and mark that separately. Anywhere you can automate activity on parallel tracks, you save steps and save time.
3. Automate buying signal and trigger event alerts
Driving efficiency on your floor is about more than cutting or eliminating steps and tasks. It’s also driven by automating the filtering, highlighting and execution of prospect touch-points that are more likely to generate a response and conversation. Every day, there are buying signals and trigger events among your prospects and customers worth following up on. But rather than search through your social channels for hours on end, set up a series of alerts via LinkedIn, Newsle, OFunnel and more to bring those alerts right to your inbox. Dedicate time each day (first thing in the morning is ideal) to process through these alerts, thereby increasing the likelihood that you get a response later that same day.
4. Develop and follow a prospect/account research process
Do you leave your sales reps to their own devices to research a prospect before a meeting or call? How much time should this take anyway? Create a standardized system or process and you’ll increase both consistency and success of these efforts while significantly reducing the time it takes to complete. For example, design a three-minute process for each rep to follow prior to any new prospect call. Have them check LinkedIn profiles, do a quick Google search, etc. to identify a specific set of information to leverage in the call – as an ice-breaker, to begin a consultative conversation, etc. Train the team on how to do this quickly, cleanly and efficiently. This alone could cut up to an hour a day of non-selling time for some of your reps.
5. Invest in better tools (penny wise, quota foolish)
Don’t be penny-wise but quota-foolish when it comes to tools investments. Think about that increase in sales output for the 10-point productivity gain referenced above. What would you spend to get there? Take Velocify, for example, which could help your sales reps more quickly decide who to call next. How much time do your reps currently waste deciding who to call? And what if they decide to call someone that’s not as ready for that call, and that decreases their connect and success rates? All of a sudden, that tool investment looks mighty attractive.
6. Fewer victory laps
This can be hard to enforce, but a disciplined sales rep can save themselves a ton of time by simply staying in their seat and moving to the next task. Breaks are fine, but we’ve all seen reps get an ounce of momentum on the phone, then get up and refresh coffee, flirt with the receptionist, etc. Encourage your reps to stay in the zone longer, and establish some rewards at the end if necessary.
7. Better leads
Not more leads. Better leads. More leads might mean the reps are calling prospects who aren’t ready to buy. Their dials and talk time might increase, but their conversion rates will suffer. Many sales organizations see dramatic increases in productivity and output by delivering fewer leads to the sales team, but ensuring that those leads are qualified and ready for the conversation.
8. Invest in great sales operations teams
We’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating that a great sales operations can be the most important investment in sales productivity you can make. Read more about why we think that here.
9. Improve the organization and availability of good content
How much time does your sales team waste looking for the right piece of content to get to their prospect based on their unique stage of the buying process? When they find it, is it the most accurate and up to date content? Does your team know which piece of content (or type of content) is most appropriate for each prospect at each stage? Enormous efficiency gain potential here.
10. Structure meeting time better
This applies to both 1:1 meetings with your reps as well as group meetings. In your 1:1 time, have a specific agenda and keep your time focused. If you complete the agenda early and there’s nothing left to discuss, give everybody their time back. In group meetings, have an agenda as well and ensure that what’s covered is relevant to as many people in the room as possible. Pipeline reviews for example can be highly inefficient for the rest of the room if all you’re doing is focusing on one rep’s pipeline at a time with little to no value for the rest of the room.
What would you add to this list? What have you seen particularly drain productivity from your sales team, or work well to increase their active selling time?