Whenever Jane goes over to Emma’s, she notices that Emma’s house is always a little cold despite the heater being on. Sometimes Jane feels like she’s going to get cooked alive.
They turn off the heating. Then it gets too cold. So they turn on the heater again. And the process repeats itself.
Emma has a window that’s jammed and won’t slide shut all the way.
So there’s always a draught. The heater tries to compensate for it… the house overheats… Emma turns off the heating. The jammed window makes the house very cold very fast.
It's not the heater’s fault that it's operating in Emma’s not-so-optimal environment, right? In Emma’s defense, she’s got three kids and two dogs, a fairly busy job as a sales manager, and aging parents who need her often. She’s really had no time to fix that jammed window.
Sometimes, it can be like that with sales teams too. Maybe you’re not creating the best environment to enable high performance and maximize sales productivity. That’s not to say you’re not running off your feet trying to make sure your salesforce meets quotas, but maybe there’s room for improvement.
You cannot achieve sales goals unless your sales team feels driven and supported. As an effective manager, it’s your job to enhance their sales productivity by finding the reasons behind why a sales rep, or the whole team, is lagging. It’s your job to create an environment that enables high performance.
Reasons behind your sales team’s inefficiency
So what’s your sales team’s equivalent of a jammed window that’s letting the draught in? What’s keeping conversion rates from improving?
Well, honestly, you will have to start asking around to find out. You might even need to run surveys and allow for anonymity if you’re someone who your salesforce is afraid of speaking their minds to.
Here are some reasons why your sales team could be performing at less-than-ideal levels:
- Too much pressure on sales executives to achieve unrealistic targets
- A lack of sales training sessions and personalized sales coaching
- A gap in communication between the sales leader and sales reps
- Poor planning, administrative tasks (that eat into a rep’s time), and a failure to establish priorities for sales executives. For example, updating the CRM is an important part of a sales professional’s day, but technically, it isn’t selling, it comes under administrative tasks
- Inconsistent sales strategies
- Toxic sales culture
- Lack of communication or miscommunication between the sales and marketing teams
- Using outdated sales tools and technology and limited use of automation
- Poor consideration of evolving dynamics in the sales funnel
- Poorly established ideal customer profiles or incomplete buyer personas
- Low quality leads
8 proven strategies to improve sales productivity
1. Take one team member at a time
Before fixing the entire sales machine, you have to zoom in on the parts that make up the machine. Spending time talking to your reps is important. You need to hold one-on-one meetings at least twice a month to build an understanding of their challenges, strengths, motivations, and personal goals.
Pro tip: Dig deeper into their performance and map it to quarterly results. When sales reps know how much stake they hold in the sales process, they are bound to feel motivated.
Building more personal (yet professional) relationships with individual sales reps will help align them with the overall sales goals and avoid confusion.
When it’s time for constructive criticism or coaching, use real examples from their sales calls instead of offering vague or ambiguous advice. If you can say to your reps, “instead of saying ABC in your pitch, as you did with prospect X, try saying XYZ next time,” you might be able to improve sales productivity in a very short time. Why? Because you’re giving your team concrete pointers.
2. Decide on the building blocks of your sales team
Core values are the common ingredients that your sales team members use to overcome challenges and imply in their day-to-day tasks. The core values also help enforce accountability in every team member, including the sales leaders.
Accountability automatically eliminates bottlenecks and empowers individual growth, which goes a long with in improving sales productivity. People are keener to be dutiful when they know that others will be dutiful. They are keener to do their best when rewards correspond to what they’re able to achieve.
3. Create a safe space
Every team member might have a diverse perspective, which helps to think about a solution from different angles. Allowing your teams to contribute with help of a safe space, encourages them to pitch in their ideas. Each member feels welcome and takes responsibility for driving sales.
Additionally, a sales manager needs to ensure team members from diverse backgrounds feel comfortable sharing their opinions without the fear of judgment or reproach. An inhibiting sales culture directly affects a salesperson’s productivity negatively.
4. Keep up!
The market you operate in is dynamic, and your sales team has to keep pace with new technology and tools for selling. Anything that makes selling faster, easier, or more measurable deserves your attention. The same goes for anything that makes it easier for your prospect to talk to you and evaluate your product. If not, your competition is going to use those tools and take your business.
5. Be a sales manager, not a sales micro-manager
Having someone standing at your shoulder is often too much pressure. It might give your sales rep the impression that you don’t trust them or that you are being hyper-critical. This can be counter-productive.
Your reps might also channel a different version of themselves on their sales calls, that they might not be able to do with you breathing down their neck. For example, maybe your sales rep is timid and all “yessir” to you, but they’re insanely charming and effectively aggressive with the strangers to who they pitch to. You sitting in the next chair might totally damage their modus operandi.
An effective sales leader is able to balance trust and guidance. If you want to listen in on calls, listen to recordings. Check call transcripts and summaries. But be a fly on the wall about it to avoid making your reps nervous in the moment.
Pro tip: When you do have criticism to share, use one-on-one meetings with your salespeople. Don’t humiliate people in front of all their colleagues.
You do need regular one-on-one meetings, standup calls, and regular check-ins for the sales team to address their concerns and seek help with issues they might be struggling with.
6. Analyze relevant data
An effective sales strategy aimed at improving your sales productivity must set clear expectations. Set benchmarks such as how many new deals sales reps need to achieve weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly.
Use forecasting dashboards and existing call volumes, and success metrics to come up with realistic targets.
7. Review sales results together
Looking at sales results together is very important. You can either set up in-person meetings or show the sales activity or conversion rate leaderboard on the team’s Slack channel, or whatever team communication forum you use.
Leaderboards can sometimes instill unhealthy competition or a feeling of fear so the onus is on you to develop a sense of healthy competition and build a transparent culture.
8. Encourage peer-to-peer coaching
Pairing up team members to facilitate peer-to-peer coaching is a good way to set this in motion. For example, when a new hire joins the team, an experienced individual can give them the sales process walk-through or help them with onboarding.
This buddy system of sorts also helps in achieving team-wide accountability and peer-to-peer mentorship. While the more experienced sales rep can help the less seasoned sales reps with valuable perspectives, the latter can bring in new ideas and a fresh approach.
Track your sales team’s performance with Wingman
Sales teams that use Wingman automatically perform better. Wingman is an AI-driven sales intelligence platform that tracks your sales teams’ performance in real time. It stands by your reps on every sales call with contextual cues on monologue alerts and where there’s an opportunity to mention a feature or battle a competitor mention. A lot of heavy lifting like note-taking is taken off your reps’ shoulders because Wingman delivers AI-enabled notes right after the call. That’s not all, it also eases the follow-up burden by preparing ready post-call emails.
Call recordings, summaries, and transcripts help your reps to get a quick background when they’re picking up the thread with a prospect they had touched base with earlier. The fact that they can pick up where they left off, could have a positive impact on win rate.
Wingman isn’t just your sales team’s Wingman. Its your Wingman too. Wingman delivers an analysis of every sales rep’s performance on every single call. That means you can keep a close eye on your sales team without making them nervous by going and sitting in on their calls physically. You can also evaluate reps that work remotely or work out of other locations.
Wingman’s call success metrics allow you to track performance and also give you reliable data on call volumes and average call time so that you can set realistic targets and forecasts.
Automate your sales management tasks with Wingman. To meet the charming Wingman, book a demo today!