Peak productivity: all sales teams aspire to it, but achieving and maintaining a productive workflow is easier said than done.
The internet is awash with strategies for helping sales reps stay focused and work smarter. But tips focused on individual changes ignore the impact that a process-driven approach can have on your business. Formalizing your productivity strategy empowers your entire sales team to regularly meet — and exceed — quota.
Keep reading for our ultimate guide to boosting your sales team’s productivity. We’ll cover everything you need to know, including:
- What is sales productivity?
- Why should you measure sales productivity?
- How do you measure sales productivity?
- How do you increase sales productivity?
- Which tools boost sales productivity?
- 7 strategies for driving sales productivity
What Is Sales Productivity?
Sales productivity refers to the relationship between a salesperson’s efficiency (inputs) and their effectiveness (outputs). Gains in productivity are achieved by optimizing rep efficiency and effectiveness — in simple terms, you are looking to maximize output by reducing inputs such as time, cost, and effort.
Sales efficiency is all about optimizing a rep’s use of time. An efficient salesperson spends time on high-impact activities like call preparation, as opposed to low-impact activities like administrative tasks.
Sales effectiveness relates to a rep’s ability to drive revenue. A highly effective rep uses available resources to win customers. Critically, these resources — content, guidance, and training — must be close at hand to close deals.
The relationship between sales efficiency and sales effectiveness can be plotted on a productivity matrix like the one below.
With a limited number of hours in a day, any task that a rep completes invariably means not completing another task. To achieve high productivity, salespeople must balance urgent tasks with important ones.
Why Should You Measure Sales Productivity?
Highly productive reps close more deals, making sales productivity an important consideration for any sales or sales enablement leader looking to improve their team’s revenue-driving capabilities. With data-informed insights, you can identify why reps are struggling and take action to help.
Take a look at these stats uncovered by Sales Enablement PRO:
- Organizations that track time spent on selling activities report win rates that are 4 percentage points greater than those that do not
- 21% of businesses track time spent searching for content
- 23% of businesses track time spent on manual data entry
Despite the positive business impact demonstrated by the 4-point increase in win rates, the low rates of participation show that many companies aren’t taking advantage of productivity data. This reveals an enormous opportunity to increase your visibility into key sales activities and gain a competitive edge.
How Do You Measure Sales Productivity?
There are three categories of sales metrics related to productivity: efficiency, effectiveness, and performance. Insights from all three of these will provide a comprehensive view of how salespeople are using their time and whether those activities are actually driving revenue.
What sales productivity metrics should you measure?
Be sure to choose KPIs relevant to your teams’ workflows and overall business goals. Here are examples:
|Sales Efficiency||Sales Effectiveness||Sales Performance|
|Time spent updating CRM||Calls made||Percentage of reps meeting quota|
|Time spent creating content||Proposals sent||Average deal size|
|Time spent searching for assets||Social sales interactions||Win rate|
You can learn more about productivity metrics in the Sales Enablement Analytics Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of what leading businesses are tracking and why.
Productivity data can be collected via a rep survey, qualitative interviews, or by using the analytics available within your sales enablement and CRM platforms. We dive deeper into this next.
Auditing your sales productivity
In order to optimize productivity, you must first benchmark your current performance. This will help you understand your strengths and uncover areas for improvement.
For the purpose of this exercise, you may find a table like the example below helpful.
1. Audit current sales activity
Start by listing all of the potential activities a salesperson may do over the course of a sales cycle. Tasks may include:
- Meeting invitations
- Call preparation
- Email creation
- Content creation
- CRM administration
- Expense reports
- Proposal generation
2. Determine impact
Impact is related to sales effectiveness; spending time on impactful activities increases your ability to close deals.
Organize your team’s activities by impact — either high or low.
High impact activities move buyers forward. Examples include account research, call preparation, and sales training.
Low impact activities are still necessary, but don’t directly move a deal forward. For instance, expense reports, CRM updates, and content creation are all low impact.
Once done, you should have a list of core selling activities, as well as each task’s relative importance to closing deals.
3. Determine urgency
Urgency is related to sales efficiency and determines how to prioritize actions based on:
- Proximity to driving revenue, and
- The ability of reps to outsource the activity
As you assign urgency to each task, consider the following examples:
- High Impact/Urgent: Account research is high impact and urgent as it directly moves buyers in your direction.
- High Impact/Not Urgent: Creating content is high impact but not urgent, because a salesperson doesn’t have to do it — marketing can.
- Low Impact/Urgent: Updating your CRM is low impact but urgent because it may affect other teams, such as marketing or lead hand-offs.
- Low Impact/Not Urgent: Weekly sales all-hands are low impact and not urgent as they don’t move the needle.
4. Calculate time spent on sales rep activities
Next, measure the average time spent on each activity. Surveys are the simplest way to do this, but interviews can provide helpful perspective as well. Much of this data can also be pulled from your CRM or sales enablement platform.
When your data is collected, add it to your table so it looks like this:
Now you have a complete benchmark report of sales productivity, including how and when your reps are spending their time and where exactly you can improve their workflows.
Compare this information to your selected sales performance metrics — with your current activity mix, is sales meeting business goals? Likely, reps are either struggling to stay focused and underperforming, or meeting quota by spending long hours in the office. The next section can help you resolve both.
How Do You Increase Sales Productivity?
When your sales productivity audit is complete, it’s time to take action. Using the productivity matrix featured earlier, you can map each activity based on its impact and urgency to see which of the remedial actions below should be taken. Remember: the goal is to focus reps on activities that close deals.
Prioritize high impact, urgent activities
Reps should prioritize revenue-driving, customer-facing tasks, but can’t due to other activities.
Use sales operations to handle administrative and technical tasks. Invest in sales enablement to boost rep effectiveness and ensure the right content, guidance, and training are on hand and easy to find.
Delegate high impact, non-urgent activities
Reps are performing customer-facing activities outside of sales’ speciality when account management, services, marketing and others can execute better.
Drive tight alignment between sales and ancillary teams. Templates and technology let other teams do the heavy lifting so that sales can focus on doing what they do best — selling.
Automate low impact, urgent activities
Recurring, repetitive tasks help close deals, but their frequency consumes too much of reps’ time.
Integrate sales tools to reduce duplicate actions (such as CRM updates). Automate early stage activities (prospecting) and end stage tasks (proposal generation). Use a sales enablement to personalize outreach at scale, and eliminate tedious tasks like searching for the right piece of content.
Evaluate low impact, non urgent activities
Status-quo processes and procedures that were once helpful have been outgrown or automated. Maintaining them wastes valuable time.
Consider whether standard procedures, like weekly all-hands meetings, still provide cultural value. Streamline what works; eliminate what does not.
Which Tools Boost Sales Productivity?
You may have noticed a common thread through the solutions listed above: technology. The right tools can supercharge your sales team’s productivity by bolstering alignment, eliminating or automating manual tasks, and offering the streamlined workflow modern sales necessitates.
There are five essential tools for an effective sales tech stack:
- Customer Relationship Management
- Business Intelligence and Business Analytics
- Sales Enablement
- Sales Engagement
- Sales Readiness
When it comes to investing in new sales technology, ensure that new tools integrate with your CRM. As this is where most salespeople live and work, robust integrations go a long way in eliminating additional steps to a reps’ workflow.
You can learn more by exploring our guide to the best sales tools for boosting productivity here.
7 Strategies for Driving Sales Productivity
In addition to the above audit, here are seven best practices you can use to continually improve sales productivity by enhancing rep efficiency and effectiveness through your core sales programs.
Understand your sales funnel
How healthy is your sales pipeline? Only data can answer that question — specifically, conversion rate by sales funnel stage. The 2021 Sales Enablement Analytics report states that “of the leading indicators, conversion rate by sales funnel stage saw the most significant growth in tracking frequency at 57%, up 17 percentage points from the previous year.” Why? Because this particular datapoint can help pinpoint issues within your sales funnel that your enablement function can resolve.
Use this data to identify opportunities to enhance sales effectiveness, like refreshing a sales play or updating your value framework — and then launch training to remediate issues. If conversion rates go up, you’ll know right away that your efforts impacted effectiveness; if not, keep tweaking until it does.
Land key behaviors with great sales training
Trial and error is hardly an effective way to drive productivity; yet in the absence of great training, that’s exactly what reps are forced to do. If increasing productivity is a priority for your business, it’s therefore imperative that you invest in not just building out sales training — but landing it too.
To do this, think about the specific actions you want reps to take, then ensure you are enabling reps with the context, practice, and guidance they need to effectively put these actions into play. In addition to training your reps, don’t forget to train sales managers on how to coach and reinforce those behaviors. This will ensure that your reps know exactly which actions to take and when, thus maximizing how they use their time and the impact their efforts drive.
Define and measure mastery of core competencies
Similarly, it’s important to measure your reps’ progress against those behaviors. According to the 2021 Sales Enablement Analytics report, “organizations that measure competency improvement notice an average rep quota attainment that is 6 percentage points higher than those that do not.” From this data, we can infer that tracking whether or not core competencies are adopted indicates a greater commitment to optimizing your enablement efforts — if you are measuring results, you’re likely invested in ensuring good outcomes.
Take the time to map out what you want to achieve from your training efforts. This simple act will create accountability, ensuring your efforts to boost productivity actually follow through.
Use enablement platform data to identify hidden opportunities
A great sales enablement platform can do more than just manage your sales assets — it should also provide you with key data rep into rep workflows and potential areas for improvement. For instance, if you have recently uploaded a critical sales play but the view count is low, it’s safe to assume that reps aren’t utilizing this resource to its full capacity. This means there’s an opportunity to increase the impact of that asset — and ultimately, increase the impact of the reps using it.
Using enablement platform data to uncover hidden challenges like this will help you further optimize your reps’ day-to-day experience, ensuring their effectiveness is enhanced, not encumbered, by your efforts.
Dedicate time for optimization
When your sales strategy is in full swing, it’s tempting to resist change. After all, won’t that upset the processes already in motion? That’s always a possibility — but what’s certain is that left unaddressed, issues, like the sales play example above, will end up costing you money.
Optimization doesn’t have to be disruptive if you plan it out. Dedicate time to maintenance of key aspects of your sales strategy whether that’s finally upgrading a core platform to a better offering, refreshing your training courses, or rolling out a new sales process. As long as you communicate upcoming changes effectively, the only thing your reps will notice is how much more productive they are post-maintenance.
Accelerate pipeline with value
What happens if your reps are working at peak efficiency, but they’re still not meeting quota? Then it’s time to evaluate the effectiveness of the messaging you are providing.
In many cases, modern selling requires that you position your product not on the basis of what you’re selling but why you’re selling it. Selling value, instead of features or capabilities, allows you to drive urgency because it attaches the purchase of your product to your customers’ key initiatives. If these initiatives are truly transformation for your buyer’s business, and if your reps connect the dots between that transformation and your product, then buyers will have no choice but to sign on the dotted line.
Make it dead-simple to be productive
Above all, make achieving peak productivity dead-simple. From your tools, to your sales strategy, to your sales processes — all elements of your sales organization should drive efficiency and effectiveness.
Often, businesses fail to evolve their sales organizations as they scale. From sentimentally, to the assumption that what worked in the past will continue to work in the future, it can be hard to embrace change. Especially when it means major shifts in how you work. But without a commitment to constant reinvention, you’ll eventually find your reps working with outdated tools, cumbersome processes, and ineffective sales strategies. To stay agile, keep asking yourself, “Is this dead-simple?” If it’s not, it’s time to find a new approach.
Make Way for Hyper-Productivity
Peak productivity is within reach. With a data-driven approach to measuring and mapping sales productivity, you can enable your entire salesforce’s success.
Take the first step and explore the productivity habits of leading businesses inside the Sales Enablement Analytics Report.