Five Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

March 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

Let me begin by saying that I have tremendous respect for sales people. They have an extremely difficult and vitally important job. When they are successful, everyone benefits—customers, owners, managers, widget makers, support staff, consultants. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interests that sales people are given the support, encouragement and tools they need to succeed.

To that end, I offer the following strategies for increasing sales productivity. When they are successfully implemented, your customers and everyone in your organization will benefit. 

Integrate Sales & Marketing

Sales people are different from marketers. Outgoing, gregarious and aggressive vs. quiet, analytical and introspective. It is important for management to understand these differences and provide leadership to get marketers and sales people working toward a single goal. Productivity is increased when marketers generate high-quality leads and sales people are better equipped to close them. 

Generate high-quality leads.

Redefine the role of marketing in your organization. Use marketers to identify, qualify and track leads throughout the selling process. Ask sales people to evaluate leads and work with marketers to continually improve the process. Set a goal of reducing unproductive sales calls and eliminate “prospecting” from your sales team’s vocabulary. Productivity will increase as sales people gain more time for productive selling. 

Identify real sales opportunities.

Research has shown that 95% of all sales leads generated by websites, print advertising and trade show attendance are ignored by sales people. Why? They are unqualified leads, ones that did not necessarily represent sales opportunities. Finding warm bodies isn’t enough. Sales calls are too expensive to waste on unproductive efforts. Refine marketing techniques to identify genuine opportunities before the first sales call. 

Develop sales professionalism

It takes more than a blue suit, shined shoes and a winning smile to be successful. It’s time to get beyond the old-fashioned motivational seminars and focus on developing new skills. Encourage every member of your sales team to read Neil Rackham’s excellent books, starting with SPIN Selling. Develop a training program based on Rackham’s methods and follow it rigorously throughout the year. SPIN methods are based on careful analysis of 35,000 sales calls. Rackham gets huge fees from multi-national corporations to teach them what he knows. You can buy all three of his books for less than $100. 

Reward productivity. 

Making a sale isn’t good enough, the sale must be profitable. Use CRM systems that track productivity for each sales rep, each customer, each sale. Make sure that sales people know how decisions they make in the field will effect your bottom line and their commission checks. Teach them to focus on value before price. Base incentives on profitability, not just sales. 

It’s your bottom line. I have suggested five strategies for increasing sales productivity. How can you put them to work?

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Entry filed under: key executive coach, management, marketing, sales. Tags: , , , .

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