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Building & running a sales operation is a costly affair. This is your silver bullet to Survive, Grow and thrives in this highly competitive business landscape. You nourish it with hefty one time and recurring investments in Marketing for Lead Generation, Sales Team Hiring, Onboarding, Training, and Technology etc… You know it; this is how you can make money out of it. And then, zero to below par sales revenue leaves you heartbroken and your business in shreds.You are not alone! 65% of organizations, globally, are struggling with Sales Productivity Issues.

Sales Team is unable to:

  • Generate Qualified Business Inquiries
  • Engage interested Decision Makers
  • Convert Leads into Sales

As a result, organizations are suffering with below par Revenues to wafer-thin Margins that make you wonder – why is this happening?

What is paralyzing your sales productivity?

In an effort to gain a highly productive Sales Operation, organization forgets to ‘Maintain’ it. An overdose of Sales activities, Process, Technology, Tools makes it unfit; that’s when weeds of Cluttered Sales Process, Lengthy Sales Cycle, and Sales Rep Productivity issues creep in to deliver more “Expenses” than “Revenue”.  As per a recent survey,

  1. Sales Team low utilization is the #1 challenge for 2/3 of organizations (The Bridge)
  2. Only 15% of Sales Rep time spent on engaging prospects (Alexander Group)
  3. Sales Reps spends a whopping 50 full days away from core selling activities each year (DOMO)

From the above research, it is clear that your Sales Team low utilization is pulling down your Sales Operation productivity and key factors responsible for Sales Team low utilization are:

  1. Unorganised Sales Activities
  2. Cluttered Sales Process
  3. Ineffective Training &
  4. Lack of Motivation

How can you treat it?

Operation(s) likes ‘humans’ need FITNESS too. Yes, you need to maintain Sales Operation fitness before it surrenders itself to unproductivity.  This is how you can start,

Organised Sales Tasks

In Sales, a Sales Rep can wear multiple hats – Lead Generation, Appointment booking, Lead Qualification, Delivering Presentations, Product Trials, Negotiations, Proposals, Closing. I the majority of my consulting session with B2B clients, one trend is common, Sales Rep(s) handling entire set of sales activities highlighted above.

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Don’t overburden your Sales Team with over expectations. It results in fatigue and unproductiveness.

Identify each member’s ‘Natural Skills’ and assign individual or multiple sales activities corresponding to their natural skills.

  • If Sales Rep is good with Relationship Building; assign Lead Qualification + Presentations + Trial task to him.
  • If Sales Rep is good with Information Building & handling Competition; assign him the task of cracking (Lead Generation) into competition accounts.
  • If Sales Rep is a great negotiator; assign the task of all accounts Trial + Negotiations.

This will revive Sales Rep’s interest, motivation and productivity along with delivering maximum results.

Simple & effective Sales Process

Irony is, processes are needed for a productive sales operation but cluttered processes drive unproductivity. Unorganized and cluttered processes hijacks Sales Team utilization into unproductive tasks such as Research and Data Mining, Documentation, Organizing leads and pipeline, sales proposals and the list goes on. This keeps him away from productive tasks that translate into REAL MONEY – talking to prospects. For organized and uncluttered sales process:

  • Simplify – Review sales activities & identify key roadblocks prohibiting productivity.  Then, slice and dice processes for minimum number of sales stages needed for customer engagement and customer experience. Activities such as Data mining, Research, stages such as introducing online presentations instead of customer premises meeting, daily team meetings, Reporting, breaks during ‘Golden Hours’ etc… can be organized and re-organized to drive utilization.
  • Automate – Processes that cannot be simplified can be automated.
    • Better CRM can be used for lead organizing, follow-ups and reporting.
    • Gmail plugins such as Rapportive can be used to automatically receive prospect information.
    • Tools such as Boomerang for scheduling automated email follow-ups, Salesloft for searching prospect’s name, email and phone number, Docurated for browsing best content for presentations.
  • Delegate – Processes that are not ‘critical’ to driving Sales Rep productivity and cannot be simplified or automated should be delegated. Activities such as Email campaigns/Follow-ups can be delegated to marketing team, sales proposals c to accounting team, Product Trial setup to support team etc…

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This will ensure your sales team is spending maximum time on activities such as calling leads, engaging with prospects that drive utilization, productivity and revenue.

Right Skills Training

With Sales Training, there isn’t “One Size Fit All” approach. Each member skills are different, activities are different, tools are different, sales stages are different, even their problems are different then how can a general Sales Training do the heavy lifting of making your sales team skilled and effective. Unfortunately, the trend is, leaders expect generalized & inexpensive training for sales team.

  • No General Sales Training – Imagine this, if your Sales Team member is struggling with overcoming Decision Maker objections OR building trust & relationship with prospect OR winning prospect’s confidence into product /brand then how a generalized sales ‘motivational’ training can solve his problem?
  • Regular Sales Training – Yes, Sales Skills are difficult to gain and involves overcoming lots of problems before a Sales Rep is ready to grab decision maker’s attention, understand his business challenges and showcase it’s relation with product features, establishes prospect’s trust and confidence product /organization and excites him to buy it. Regular training can help him master the art and drive his productivity into winning accounts.

High Motivation

Which problem is easy to solve? Having a motivated but not skilled Sales Rep in your team OR having a skilled but demotivated Sales Rep? Yes, nothing can be worse than having a demotivated Sales Rep in your team

You need to make sure that your sales team stays motivated to stay in the game. Its primary drivers are:

  • Clear & Transparent individual Goals and Progression Plan.
  • An aggressive incentive plan to motivate sales members.
  • Proactive feedback mechanism to constantly and proactively deliver constructive feedback to Sales Rep(s) and provide them an opportunity to overcome their weaknesses.

If the above steps are followed properly and regularly, ensure your Sales Team utilization stays high and your Sales Operation stays productive. This will easily turn around your Sales Team ‘Flop Show’ into ‘Rock Show’. All the Best.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.