6 Strategies to Increase Sales Productivity This Quarter

April 28, 2023
Praisidio Inc
6 Strategies to Increase Sales Productivity This Quarter

It’s no secret most companies struggle with how to increase sales productivity. 

We’ve known for years that salespeople only spend a third of their time selling. Five years ago, Forbes wrote a study revealing this statistic and breaking down the dollar loss: the average sales rep's salary was $105,482, and 64.8% of their work hours weren’t spent selling. 

By this measure, the average company pays their reps $68,352 each year for non-revenue generating activities.  

And this was five years ago. 

Today, the same studies are being conducted and finding the same results, plus inflation. Increasing sales productivity continues to be a huge problem. A problem that leaves a lot of money on the table.  

But how do you increase productivity in sales without creating a toxic, unsustainable environment? (The same environment that causes sales burnout in such high numbers.) 

In this article, we outline six strategies to sustainably increase sales performance. These strategies are intended to increase sales performance while also fostering a healthy work environment — one in which sales employees thrive and, most importantly, stick around.

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1. Automate, streamline, and scale non-sales activities

As we said, the first order of business is to get your reps selling more. In practice, this means figuring out what your sales reps are spending the other two-thirds of their time doing. 

Common non-sales activities time is spent on:

  • Writing emails
  • Entering data into the CRM
  • Creating reports and presentations
  • Prospecting and researching clients
  • Attending meetings
  • Completing admin tasks

Of course, many of these activities are necessary. A sales rep can’t effectively sell if they haven’t first done due diligence with prospecting and research. Follow-up emails and other relationship-building tasks might not be considered direct selling, but they are still an essential part of the job. 

But by taking a hard look at where your reps spend their time, you’ll likely discover places where you can trim the fat. 

For each task that doesn’t involve direct selling, ask yourself:

  • Do my sales reps need to be the ones doing this? 
  • What can be sequenced and automated?
  • What can be scaled?

How to put this into action

An example from Harvard Business Review paints a clear picture of how this process of auditing and streamlining can work in action. 

After auditing the way her reps spent their time, one sales manager at Cloud Analytics realized her reps wasted a considerable amount of time trying to get meetings with new customers. Despite all this time spent, their success was often low.   

The sales manager discovered that two highly successful reps were sending meeting request emails using templates and attaching standardized sales collateral to those messages. 

The manager decided to scale this idea. Reps were given several templates to choose from, based on the industry and functional role they were targeting. Not only did this save reps a considerable amount of non-selling time, but the company also saw a significant increase in new customer responses, interactions and interest. 

2. Leverage available technology 

Another big time waster is not using readily available technology to its full capacity. Sales enablement technology can exponentially increase the productivity of your manpower. 

Not only does tech reduce the time your sales team wastes on jobs that can be automated, but tech also improves employee satisfaction – which in turn improves productivity.

Basic must-have tools to increase sales productivity:

  • CRM
  • Data and list services
  • Integrated online workspaces
  • Synced calendars 

High-impact performance tools:

  • Talent intelligence

How to put this into action

Streamlining your systems can be as simple as integrating your scheduling and organizational software and making sure your sales teams are well-trained on how to use your CRM and lists services to their full capacity.  

If you want to go further than these basics, talent intelligence is the most effective and simple way of making technology work for you. 

Remember how we suggested you audit the way your reps spend their time? Talent intelligence automates this process by taking all of the data you already have and applying machine learning to identify areas of concern. 

With a talent intelligence platform like Praisidio, you have access to a Productivity Dashboard that shows you which individuals and teams are at risk of chronic disruption. Easily identify the sales reps who lack focus hours or suffer from meeting overload, and get targeted suggestions for improvement. 

Learn more about how a Praisidio can help. 

3. Scale, but scale selectively 

Scaling every win is a punter's mistake. Not every good thing needs to be repeated. Sometimes the effort isn't worth the return. Sometimes a big win isn't in line with company goals. 

How to put this into action 

For this, we return again to Harvard Business Review and the Cloud Analytics example. When looking at how Cloud Analytics increased their sales productivity, HBR identified four key questions that companies can use to determine if a particular strategy should be scaled.

Does the activity align with corporate sales strategy?

To figure this out, asses:

  • Industry alignment
  • Spend level
  • Customer location
  • Company size

Does it allow salespeople to spend more time with customers?

As we said earlier, the first step of increasing sales productivity is getting your salespeople selling, so this is a big one.

What is the return on the investment to scaling?

At the end of the day, your salespeople are there to earn money for your company, so make sure that you're scaling the most lucrative options that align with your business goals.

If they're not lucrative, they may still be worthwhile if they provide other insights that will ultimately assist your bigger company plan.

Can leaders create the right incentives to drive adoption?

The fact that hypothetical productivity solutions exist isn't going to magically start hauling in the big bucks. Training needs to be accessible, rewards need to be in place, and the strategy needs to fit into surrounding systems so that implementing it isn't too difficult and pushed by the wayside.

4. Drive better alignment

The adage alone we can do so little; together we can do so much doesn't mean much if your team is out of sync, working towards different goals, and chopping and changing projects.

While it's important to always refine and improve your strategies, introducing entirely new strategies and management processes can cause your sales reps to waste their time figuring out the new processes when they could be honing just one strategy. 

There needs to be consistency and alignment, particularly when it comes to:

  • Goals
  • Content/Comms
  • Processes
  • Ideal customer profiles

Statistics show that when marketing and sales are synced up:

How to put this into action

As an example, having aligned goals and ideal customer profiles means that everyone knows what qualifies a lead worth pursuing. So much time is wasted on unqualified leads. Not to mention the damage to confidence and morale when close ratios drop. 

Being on the same page to generate strong, bottom-of-the-funnel leads will increase sales productivity, morale, and closed deals. 

5. Invest in training

A direct route to improving sales productivity is via training and development. 

High-performing sales teams are two times more likely to be regularly upskilling than lower-performing ones. Plus, consistent training results in 50% higher net sales per rep, and coaching sees an 88% increase in productivity. 

Why training increases sales productivity: 

  • Well-trained reps make the most out of their time with potential buyers. 
  • The sales landscape is always evolving. Ongoing training allows your reps to stay on top of changes. 
  • Asking reps to increase their productivity will do nothing if they don’t know how to go about it. 

How to put this into action

As you invest in training for your sales reps, here are several key areas to keep in mind:

  • Product knowledge
  • Company-specific sales process
  • General process and closing deals
  • Product and industry changes and developments 

It’s not always about hiring great talent. Hiring is heavy on time and resources — and it’s always a gamble. Plus, even when you hire excellent sales reps, they can't sell a product or service they don't understand. A thorough training model is non-negotiable.

6: Focus on recognition

Recognition is one of those deep-seated needs we all have thanks to evolution. It's universal, and a powerful productivity driver.

How recognition directly affects productivity:

A 10-year study on over 200,000 people asked the question, does your organization recognize excellence? Companies that scored in the top quarter had a 3x higher average return-on-equity compared to companies that scored in the bottom quarter.

Translation: companies that recognize excellence are far more profitable. 

How recognition indirectly affects productivity: 

This same study found several factors that indirectly affect productivity.

  • 94.4% of people with the highest morale at work said they received effective manager recognition.
  • Only 2.4% of people with low morale have a boss who is effective at recognition.
  • Almost 80% of people who quit their jobs said "lack of appreciation" was part of the reason.

How to put this into action

Create a wide variety of recognition activities, including: 

  • Public: company-wide thank you emails, award nights, events.
  • Peer-to-peer: a culture where recognition is constantly communicated.
  • Private: meetings with managers, skip 1:1s, private thank you emails.

Recognize sales reps who:

  • Behave in a way you’d like to encourage more of.
  • Working in alignment with company values, mission and goals.
  • Going above and beyond.

Why increasing sales productivity is about more than just meeting targets

Increasing sales productivity is your direct line to increasing revenue – the lifeblood of any company. But a more productive sales team is also a happier, more connected, and more fulfilled sales team. 

A thriving sales team is built on a culture of feeling successful, supported, and engaged. It's a loop of employee satisfaction, high performance, and retention. When your sales employees feel successful, supported and engaged with their work, they are more likely to stick around. 

In this way, increasing your sales productivity can directly and positively impact your ability to retain your sales employees. And as we all know, a more stable sales team is a more successful sales team. 

Talent intelligence for sales productivity 

You currently hold underutilized data that can significantly boost your sales productivity by giving you precious insights into how your team is functioning, and how to improve it. 

It's not enough anymore to rely on guesswork when the industry is evolving to rely on technology for specific and targeted guidance. 

Particularly in an industry that is so vulnerable to attrition and turnover, the best way to improve productivity is to create a flourishing work environment where productivity is just one of the many happy by-products of a seasoned team who is in it for the long run. 

Praisidio’s talent intelligence platform takes the data you already have on hand and identifies sales employees who are underutilized, lacking maker time, or otherwise at risk of attrition. You’ll receive targeted strategies to address the problems before they become larger. 

It’s common for Praisidio clients to reduce employee attrition costs by as much as $10 million per 2,000 employees.

Book a demo to see how Praisidio can help you avoid sales burnout on your team.

Prevention is always better than cure. Book a demo with one of our retention experts to see how Praisidio can help you solve turnover 6 months before it happens.