The success or failure of a sales team weighs heavily on the shoulders of sales managers. After all, it’s the sales manager who bears responsibility for setting the tone, motivating and leading sales reps to success by arming them with the tools, encouragement, and knowledge they need to close deals. Managing a sales team—even a small sales team—is no simple task.
So, when productivity is dropping, motivation starts dwindling, and efficiency starts to dwindle, it’s up to sales managers to give their reps the boost they need to get back on track to meeting goals. But what’s the best way to boost your team’s productivity? There are plenty of motivational methods, productivity tools, and the like that promise to improve your results. To find out what works in the day-to-day sales climate, we asked a panel of in-the-trenches sales leaders to share their most valuable advice for sales managers who need to boost their team’s productivity by asking them to respond to this question:
“What’s the #1 way sales managers can improve the productivity and efficiency of their sales team?”
Find out what our experts reveal about the best ways for sales managers to boost sales productivity and efficiency by reading their responses below.
Cody Clifton is the Director of Ecommerce for Challenge Coins 4 Less, a designer of high quality custom challenge coins that are perfect for commemorating events, honoring our heroes, awarding employees, and more.
“We combined our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) to help marketers on our team connect crucial campaign strategies with the financial outcomes. This provided our salespeople with better visibility into prospecting and leads. It also allowed our marketing team to hand leads over to sales without manually exporting anything. This is a huge time saver and makes the sales process flow a lot smoother.”
“As a business owner, I am always looking for opportunities for my sales manager to improve the conversion rate and efficiency of my sales team. The most effective way to improve my sales team’s productivity is by knowing the personality style of each member. When my sales manager has a clear understanding of everyone’s personality, he will know how to leverage those strengths to achieve maximum team efficiency. The key is to find a great sales manager who has the characteristics of a team leader. The sales manager will need to show their strength in planning, organization and structure to deliver the best experience for our customers. Our sales team is diverse, and everyone has their own strengths. When my sales manager knows each individual member’s personality, they have the ability to effectively communicate and bring out their strength and maximize team performance, increasing the efficiency, productivity and creativity of my sales team.”
Tim Corkery is chief revenue officer for TimeTrade. He has spent the past 25 years building and scaling sales and services organizations of early and mid-stage software companies. Tim has built successful worldwide direct sales teams as well as channel ecosystems consisting of systems integrators, VARs, resellers and ISVs.
“Always remember to provide every prospect and customer with the most personalized service possible. Customers are people, not just rungs up the quota ladder. Salespeople who put in the effort to understand and fulfill customers’ needs consistently exceed quota—and have lengthy rosters of extremely satisfied customers.
Today’s salespeople are expected to accomplish more than ever. The most successful salespeople masterfully balance their time between prospecting and working opportunities. They also expertly leverage new technologies that combine data from their CRM system with the ability to quickly engage prospects in meaningful conversations. This creates personalized, productive customer experiences and results in closing more deals faster than ever.”
“Improving the efficiency of your sales team begins with motivation. A great way to motivate your team is through competition (friendly, of course). We began using Hoopla, a software package that ties together competitive elements directly into our Salesforce platform. We have been able to increase numbers for everyone on the sales team as a result. It’s also allowed each person in the company to feel more connected with our sales process, since we are able to display sales figures (and competition standings) on a large central display in our office.”
Travis Biggert is the Chief Sales Officer for the Mid-America Region of Hub International, which is the largest privately held insurance brokerage in the United States. Prior to joining HUB, Travis served as Senior Vice President of Global Risk and Insurance for an international health care management company. In 2015, Travis was awarded Broker of the Year from Risk and Insurance Magazine for his understanding and implementation of cutting-edge workers compensation cost reduction strategies.
“Really good salespeople are great at sales and often not as good at the follow-up and follow-through part. The number one way I have found to create efficiencies is to put a strong technical team behind them and make sure that someone else comes in and manages the fine print details during the proposal process and again once the deal is closed. This allows my salespeople to do what they are really good at and what they enjoy — customer interaction and creating new opportunities.”
Christina Scalera is a lawyer, creative and entrepreneur with a passion for helping creative entrepreneurs with all things legal. She specializes in consulting on sales and streamlining business, leading clients from, “I have a sale!” to actual profits.
“Never underestimate the power of a personalized ‘ask’. I’m not sure when it became acceptable to hide behind an email list, a Facebook ad campaign or huge social media following. Speaking from experience, it can definitely be less scary to attempt to sell to an undefined, faceless body of people out there. In reality, the most powerful sales technique doesn’t involve any complicated or tedious marketing strategies. It does, however, involve making a list of potential purchasers and personally asking them if they’re interested in your service, and it means that’s your responsibility to show them the value in what you provide. Selling doesn’t have to be hard, stressful or sleazy. It just has to be effective.”
Tom Antion is an Internet Multimillionaire, lifetime entrepreneur and founder of the only licensed, independent Internet marketing school in the country.
“In the many years I’ve been training and mentoring business people, the first session is ALWAYS how to automate yourself to massively increase your speed of response. The faster you can respond, the more you impress your client, and you get the jump on your competitors. In addition, the faster you can respond, the more prospects and customers you can handle in the same amount of time. This is pretty much the definition of productivity.
Some of the tools I use are Shortkeys (for the PC) and Keyboard Maestro (for the Mac). These are Macro programs. They allow you to have pre-planned answers to questions you get over and over. You will be able to recall and send them in a matter of seconds as opposed to trying to remember where you saved them and then copying and pasting them. These short keys can be used in any program from Word to Excel, to web programs, or any program you can pull up on your computer. You can do the same thing with smart phones and tablets with the built-in programs on both Android and iPhones.
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An even greater tip when it comes to email that is right in front of the nose of most business people has to do with the signature files of your email program. Good email programs have unlimited number of signature files that don’t have to be used for your phone number and website. Even though I could use either of the two macro programs above, when answering or composing emails it’s even faster to click Insert/Signature and pick your answer from a list. Right now, I have over 100 answers ready to go that I can customize if I want before sending. This, over many years, has given me a reputation of being lightning fast in responding to customers.
A must for those that do their sales from a desk is dual (or even more) monitors. I actually have 4 monitors, and I guess I look like I belong on Star Trek. Just going from one to two monitors will change the life of most people. Prior to doing this, I would have multiple windows open, and I spent half the day minimizing and maximizing windows rather than taking care of customers.
I also make my students Google PC Shortcuts or MAC Shortcuts. I force them to pick a shortcut and force themselves to use it all day for three days straight. By the end of a month they have ten shortcuts that make them way faster at operating their computer. My philosophy is that there’s only so much psychic energy in a day and if you use it all up fighting with your computer, you’ll have nothing left to spend taking care of customers.”
“The #1 way to improve the effectiveness of your salespeople and increase sales is by focusing on providing your sales reps with the best information possible. Start by investing in high quality data sources that provide accurate names, titles, and contact information. When sales reps are asked to do this, it really reduces their productivity. After you’ve handed your reps great data, you can structure that data into groups of similar leads. Your leads can be grouped by lead source, title path, industry, company size and/or message tactic. This gives sales reps the chance to prepare one time for calls to an entire group, instead of preparing for each individual call separately. This also allows managers to customize messaging strategies to entire groups to improve results.”
Prosper Noah is a business expert who gives upcoming business men and women tips on how to grow their business and maximize sales.
“The best way to increase your team’s sales is to choose a technology that can help determine who’s engaging the most with the sales materials. One way to do this is what I call the ‘Reviewing Past Sales Technique.’
Sales managers can record past sales calls and review them with new reps, taking the time to discuss the processes and techniques used – as well as areas that were done well or need improvement.
Educate your sales team and maximize your team’s productivity, and focus on the task that matters most.”
Dennis Zink is The Business Alchemist.
“One of the best ways to increase the productivity of your sales team is to delegate tasks that you either don’t need to do, don’t want to do or can’t do well.
Know your time value (what you charge or earn per hour), and outsource low-value tasks. Keep track, measure and get better at what you do by focusing on results. Create your ‘To Do’ and ‘To Don’t’ lists. Assess and eliminate your time-wasters.
List three to five things you want to accomplish. The list can be longer, but highlight the most important items you really want to get done. Be an effective first and efficient second. Do first things first, and second things never, because the next most important item will move up when the first item is accomplished.”
Daisy Jing is a YouTube vlogger and a young entrepreneur who founded and bootstrapped a now multi-million beauty product line named Banish. She is 28 years young with knowledge and experience in business and marketing.
“In improving the productivity and efficiency of the sales team, ask them to make a project with their own ideas. Let them handle this project with a bonus in every successful project. A guaranteed efficiency will happen once they know they have good sales, which is equivalent to more rewards.”
Ruth Taylor is a Senior Consultant with Plaxonic Technologies. She has an extensive experience in business development and communications and is responsible for company’s sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities. She works with the clients to drive sustainable revenue growth by aligning their sales talent with their business goals.
“Every business owner is looking for the right way to increase sales — dramatically. No matter how bad you try, without the right strategy, it is difficult to attain success. In the blink of an eye, new competitors emerge, and products and services similar to your business are released even before you know it.
You cannot afford to lose your time for trial and error; this is the time to sell. To win over the rat race, here are the most effective sales techniques anyone can implement in their business to boost sales performance and increase profits:
Focus On Retaining Your Customers
Find out what they want and what we can do to make their job easier. Start interacting with them and understand their problems. The relationship with a customer should not end once a customer has purchased a product. Focus on keeping a strong relationship with your customer.
Upsells Are Effective
Overlooking the power of suggestion might be a bad decision. The sales person should always have an upsell suggestion ready. How many times have you ordered a beverage because the sales guy asked you, “Anything you would like to drink along with it?” Upsells are the best way to increase your sales as at that time the customer is in a buying mood.
Pick the Right Price
You can give your competitors a fight by determining the right price. If your product price is much higher than your competitors, then you might lose your customer to them. However, if your product seems superior, you can charge a higher price.
Question, Listen and Respond
Your questions must be relevant and direct. It should not confuse the client; moreover, your listening skills must be highly developed. Respond according to the client’s response and take action in the right direction.
Work On the Basics
Last but not the least, you need to work on your basics. There is always a room for improvement. Work on improving your weakness and take clients feedback in a positive way. Be more creative in fact finding and presentation skills.”
Kerry Lohrman, a lifelong entrepreneur, business owner, consultant, and writer, created the Sales Engineering System for the singular purpose of helping businesses to be more effective. Kerry has made a career out of solving business problems for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate executives for more than thirty years and has distilled his deep knowledge and broad scope of experience into the Sales Engineering System.
His clients span a wide range of industries and professional service disciplines, ranging in size from sole proprietorships to Fortune 100 corporations.
“The best way to increase the productivity of a sales team is to provide them with qualified leads. The more time a salesperson spends face to face with a prospect actually selling, the more sales they will make and the more productive they will be.
Finding leads is a marketing activity, not a sales activity. And marketing requires a different skill set than selling. Nevertheless, many organizations demand that the sales force spends a better part of each day prospecting for leads to sell to. It’s a bad use of time.
Now of course, many old-school sales managers will label this suggestion as blasphemous, because everyone knows that the way to sales success is to just keep on smiling and dialing. Unfortunately, if you think this true, you’re wrong. The reality is that a skilled lead generator can keep several sales people busy all day, every day. The lead generator is a marketer who fills the pipeline. The sales person is the expert who solves problems and closes sales.
The bottom line is that sales and marketing are two separate functions, and very few people are an expert at both. By recognizing this and by allowing the sales team to do what they do best–to sell–sales productivity will go through the roof.”
Neil Napier is the founder of JobRack. He is a digital nomad and has created multiple SaaS solutions to help small and medium businesses with lead generation and funnel building. His current focus is helping businesses create better growth systems.
“The number one way sales managers can improve the productivity and efficiency of their sales team is by decluttering all their excessive dirty work and introducing as much outsourcing and automation as possible. Of course, selling is a process that requires 100% human input, but I see many sales reps still handling way too much manual work instead of focusing their activities on closing the deals and creating opportunities.
Introducing a VA into a sales team would bump their productivity massively — helping them organize, prepare contracts, scrape leads, etc. Sales tools would help the sales team keep the leads warm by sending automated follow-ups at a scheduled time, so they don’t lose time and energy on clicking the send button. Give your sales reps space to breathe and close the deals, that’s my number one piece of advice.”
Trushar Mody is the CEO of Encore Consulting Group, a corporate training company with a focus on sales training and leadership development. Mody develops training that affects lasting change. He is a motivated and empathetic consultant with a passion for helping people live their lives with purpose and without fear. One of his greatest assets is his ability to help clients think in emotionally intelligent ways.
“Without a doubt, increasing the efficiency of your sales team comes down to training, practice, and reinforcement. Many sales managers we interact with are looking for a magic bullet… better leads, better software, or better incentives for the sales team. But nothing beats better training, more practice, and targeted reinforcement over time. And this extends to the whole sales process.
Did she lose the sale because she didn’t seem knowledgeable enough about the product? Train her in every aspect of the product, quiz her, and reinforce the knowledge over time until she’s an expert.
Did so-and-so lose the prospect because he didn’t follow up in time? Train him to better manage his list of prospects and his time. Implement mandatory guidelines. Then strictly enforce this behavior over time until it’s second nature.
Is your sales team struggling to overcome buyer objections or price resistance? Role play and rehearse objections with them over and over again. Then follow up and make sure they’re actually using their new skills in the real world. Rinse and repeat until your sales team is slicing through objections like butter.
Training, practice, and reinforcement over time. Nothing beats this strategy.”
“It’s actually pretty simple to improve a sales team’s productivity and efficiency. There’s an emotional and a financial element.
First, provide positive encouragement. Pump them up, encourage friendly competition, and provide them with the tools that they need to succeed. Secondly, offer financial incentive. Reward them for their talents, and have monthly sales target bonuses and random daily spiffs. A methodology using both of these approaches will go a long way towards keeping your team happy and motivated.”
As the CEO and Co-Founder of RFPIO, Ganesh Shankar strives to change the RFP response approach, with cloud-based automation technology that helps businesses increase close rates through quality responses and intelligent processes. A highly experienced Product Manager, Ganesh has successfully implemented software at Fortune 500 enterprises. It was in this role, surrounded by the inefficient method of Request for Proposals, that he chose to pursue a dream and create RFP management software that would positively transform the way companies do business.
“We know sales enablement technologies can benefit busy teams; however adopting any new technology is often seen as a source of friction by salespeople.
Learning a tool takes them away from selling time, but sales also spends too many hours on administrative tasks. Take RFP response as an example—companies are still working inefficiently with a manual process, spending hours they don’t have on repetitive tasks. This is where an RFP management solution can make a positive impact on productivity, helping teams save an average of 40% for each RFP response. At the end of the day, salespeople need to adopt some technology to be successful.”
Alexa Lemzy is the customer service manager & content editor for TextMagic.
“Sales are all about communication, and salespeople spend most time crafting and sending messages; email, voicemail, text. Implement automation solutions to save time your team devote to routine messaging work and let them free up more hours for what they actually need to do – to sell.
Templates, canned responses, personalization, segmentation of prospects, automatic scheduling follow-ups – these are just a few things you can use to increase the productivity of your sales department. Test tools offering what you need and choose the one which is the best fit for you.”
Judah Ross is a leading sales expert based in Austin TX. He has helped build out successful sales at a number of startups and enjoys sharing his experience and teaching others.
“My absolute top recommendation for sales managers who want to boost their team’s efficiency is to use gamification to increase competition – Sales people are competitive by nature. If you harness and use that drive correctly you can create an extremely efficient and hard-working team. The funny thing is that you don’t even have to put up cash or big prizes for it to work. The thrill of winning, or just being at the top of the leaderboard is usually enough.
Also, give them the right tools to do their job. If you add click to call or automated emails you can increase their productivity 5-10x. There is a lot of garbage out there however. Make sure you do the legwork so your reps don’t spend frustrating hours trying to figure out a poorly build software program.
Lastly, limit information. This may sound counter-intuitive, but in many cases, more is not better. Spending hours researching a prospect is often not a good use of time. Set clear expectations of what they supposed to be doing and nip this procrastination habit in the bud.”
Eric Quanstrom leads all Marketing efforts at KiteDesk, from Awareness to Zealous fans, bringing a unique combination of marketing, digital media, technology and strategic experience to the role of CMO.
“The best way to improve the productivity and efficiency of ANY sales team is to provide them with the right tools to do their job. Today, that means software to discover prospects, then work those accounts in personalized, sequenced communications towards outcomes.
Productivity and efficiency essentially break down to time-on-task. The more time spent on the right and less on wrong activities — this includes figuring out what to do — the better their results will be.”
“We have created a weekly contest where our sales team competes for who can sign up the most customers for our service. We started in February, and each week the loser on the team has to throw $50 into the vacation fund.
By the end of the summer, we should have a few thousand dollars saved up to go towards our end-of-the-year company vacation; we’re already up to $1,000.
This makes our work more fun and give us something to look forward to. It has really boosted the productivity of our sales team and eliminated my need to micromanage everybody. Nobody wants to lose that contest and have to pony up the 50 bucks.”
Bryan Koontz is the CEO and Founder of Guidefitter. Prior to Guidefitter, Mr. Koontz served as the Vice President of Vast, a web search and analytics company providing consumer search solutions for companies such as Yahoo, AOL, and Southwest Airlines.
“In order to get the most out of your sales team, there are a few simple steps to consider. Regardless of the industry, sales roles present many challenges. Most notably, the rejections and difficult customer conversations. All productive sales teams share a high morale, and this starts with letting your teams know you understand their struggles or roadblocks. This can be achieved by jumping in on calls, assisting with customer visits, or anything that ‘gets your hands dirty’ helping out with daily sales activities. Boosting sales productivity also comes from setting quantifiable goals. Each week, we set weekly individual goals which are written on our company whiteboard. This sets the tone for the week and helps our sales teams target specific and actionable tasks to achieve.”
AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Tutors, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.
“The main method for me to improve the efficiency of the sales team is by offering team incentive awards. For example, I offer my team members all awards based on the number of sales each of them get.”
Michael Johnston is the Group Sales & Strategy Manager for Schrole Group.
“We have a small startup business and right now run extremely lean because we are selling around the world, we are often in tight time constraints about when we have the window to sell, and with a small number of sales people, we need to maximize the use of their time. The quickest way we can do that is to make sure when possible that they are talking to people who are ready to buy.
We use our marketing and a series of autoresponders to indicate when a client is ready to buy. The sales people are told not to waste time with people who are not ready; we simply re-market these people. Once we get an indication that they are ready to spend a significant amount of their time, or some money, then we know that they are closer to the buying phase.”
“One of the best ways to boost your sales team’s efficiency is to recognize a job well done. Motivation is one of the keys to efficiency. People, who are motivated to do a good job or simply earn their manager’s praise, are more likely to get things done. Never underestimate the power of praise.
Respect your sales team, get to know them, work with them individually, nurture their talents, give them room to grow and develop, and they will certainly repay you with their productivity.”
“There are a few valuable strategies for sales managers to help boost their sales team’s productivity. First, schedule meetings in a row. Meetings are crucial, but they can also waste time. Have you ever had multiple meetings back-to-back with less than an hour in-between? For most of us, that “in-between time” usually gets wasted. One of the best things you can do to get this time back is to schedule your meetings back-to-back. This will help you add time to your work day, and it will keep you from interrupting your flow.
Second, streamline time spent on email. One of the most common problems we face at work is the temptation to constantly check email, even while we’re in the middle of other tasks. An easy fix is to manage your email in chunks. Block off some time every few hours to go through and respond to emails. This way you’ll be able to move on to your other responsibilities knowing you’re inbox is taken care of until the next block.
Finally, schedule “distraction time.” Long days at the office can be tough, and if you don’t give yourself time to relax or unwind, you can burn out. Try adding “distraction time” to your schedule. It can be anything from checking your phone, social media, going for a walk, etc. Every few hours you should have at least a few minutes to take a break. By scheduling these “distractions,” it helps keep them out of your work time.”
Taylor Dumouchel spent her first years in the recruiting business helping employers find top-performing sales executives, and then worked her way up through the ranks, becoming a specialist in marketing and an expert in B2B sales and hiring matters. A graduate from the University of Ottawa, she regularly contributes to the Peak Sales blog.
“The best way to increase productivity is to overcome distractions and then optimize time regained. I learned of tips and tricks on how to do this in Jill Konrath’s latest book, More Sales, Less Time. In order to overcome
distractions, Jill suggests avoiding checking email constantly, building a firewall, and using online tools to help you focus on one priority at a time. Some tools she suggests are:
- me – helps you unsubscribe from the hundreds of subscription emails you get
- Freedom – an app that blocks you from certain websites and other apps for a period of time
- Rescue time- investigates how you’re spending your time online so you can realize what it truly distracting you
Once you are freed from distractions, the book continues to explain how salespeople can then optimize the time they’ve regained. Simply by prioritizing, blocking off time, taking breaks and leaving your computer, etc.”
Michael Steinberg is the Head of Business Development at Beamium, a platform to capture leads and smart statistics through online presentations. He graduated from the Master in Business Administration and Technology program at the Technical University in Munich, and has worked with various companies in Germany and Latin America focusing on the business development, marketing and social entrepreneurship fields.
“The 21st century is all about automation. Why should you invest time in tasks that your tools can do for you? A clever sales manager investigates which tasks require a significant time investment from the sales reps and find tools that can accelerate such processes. Customer segmentation, automatic lead qualification and analysis, and even certain customer interactions are all activities that can be automated by bots or CRM solutions such as Salesforce, HubSpot or Beamium. It is proven that sales acceleration and automation technologies significantly increase the conversion rates of businesses. Thanks to such solutions, sales reps can focus on what really matters: closing deals.”
After receiving his MBA from Stanford, Steve Benson worked in Sales at IBM, HP and Google where he worked in the enterprise sales group. Steve was Google Enterprise’s Top Sales Executive in 2009. In 2012, he founded Badger Maps, the #1 Sales App in the Apple App Store, which helps Field Sales People be more successful.
“I think that the best way to boost sales productivity is by a sales training activity that focuses the sales team on the customer’s pain and the ways the customer uses the product to solve that pain. In my experience, I’ve found that most sales organizations only provide training on their own product details. By keeping the sales team focusing on the customer’s problems and pain points, and having conversations about that, they can better understand the customer and better communicate and argue why they should take action on making a purchase sooner rather than later.
Most sales are not lost to a customer, they are lost to doing nothing — so you need to focus on the customers’ pain to get more of your prospects to take action. I work with field sales teams all the time, and I see sales people who are too focused on their own product and its features as opposed to the customer and their problems over and over again. By training your sales team to be customer pain-focused, you will increase productivity and ultimately sales.”
Robin Jimerson is the vice president of sales and marketing with Process Retail Group, a leading designer and manufacturer of in-store retail experiences, displays and fixtures. A seasoned leader with nearly 30 years of sales experience, Robin’s passion for helping others sell and achieve success is evident in her integrated, collaborative approach.
“Many sales managers will talk about the importance of training, motivating your team, and providing the right tools. While all of these things are important to build a foundation for productivity and efficiency, for me the #1 way to improve is simple: be present.
As a sales manager, you need to be present in multiple ways for your team. Spend time with your team whether on sales calls, whether training or whether through providing inspiration and motivation. Sales is an ever changing and evolving profession. There are teaching opportunities at every turn and spending time with your team affords you those critical teaching moments. If done correctly, these moments can be inspirational, educational, and a solid tool for continuous improvement.
Live in the trenches with your team. Understand the challenges they face. Improved productivity and efficiency do not come from sitting in your office. By being present, you are investing in the team’s development. This will breed confidence which will breed productivity. Model the behavior you want to see in them and set a good example. The team will feel supported and empowered. At the end of the day, they will respect you, be motivated and most importantly, sell.”