The job of a sales manager is a challenging one. One of the biggest challenges that they face is how to keep a team of sellers motivated and producing quality results.
Some of the best ways to make salespeople more productive don't include spending a fortune or sending them through another training class. A few of the best ideas are ones that help to reduce administrative burdens and increase time in the field or on the phones.
The following are 10 ways to increase a B2B salesperson's productivity:
1. Make Sure They Have Up-to-Date Technology
No, you don’t have to equip salespeople with the newest gadget, but what sales managers do need to do is to give them the tools to do their job effectively and efficiently. If they are working on sub par technology that’s outdated, or doesn’t run the programs they need to use, it can end up being something that distracts them from selling, and keeps them on the phone with tech support more than with prospective clients.
Two items, seen time and time again contributing to the productivity of sellers that are in the field, are tablets and the use of personal WiFi hot spots. This keeps the salespeople connected to internal systems and the Internet, which can be used for a number of things while out of the office.
Each year it’s good to take a technology inventory to see what new productivity tools and technology are available and what might best help to make salespeople more efficient.
2. No More TPS Reports
The movie Office Space had a continuous joke throughout the movie that had to do with the “TPS Report” that the employee’s managers kept asking the main character for and focusing on. Salespeople are on the front line and if they are bogged down with administrative duties that keep them from selling, productivity will suffer. Hire an administrative assistant to work with several of the salespeople so that the focus can be on selling and not pushing paper... unless it’s sales orders.
3. Get Out of Their Way
This tip is similar to the first two tips in that it entails the overarching concept of removing any obstacles that might be distracting salespeople from making appointments, seeing prospects, and closing business. It doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, as a sales manager you need to be constantly looking out for obstacles and finding ways to overcome them.
4. Remote Sales Meetings
If you are like some sales managers and like to meet with the sales team each week and give them an update on revenue numbers and hot prospects, it’s a good practice every once in awhile to cancel the in-person sales meeting and arrange for a teleconference, or just send a quick note to the team with plenty of advance notice that the sales meeting is cancelled. In some organizations this might be seen as instability, but if it’s clearly communicated that the intent is to create more time to focus on new business or closing prospects it can be seen as a positive step.
5. Send them to TrainingEven though training is typically something that keeps sellers away from selling it’s sometimes what they need to increase productivity and to focus on selling. Maybe the training isn’t standard sales training but having an expert discuss how certain technology can make a salesperson more productive.
6. Hire Appointment Setters
Instead of having your top paid salespeople “dialing for dollars,” you can find some outbound marketing companies offering “Appointment Setting” as a service. Appointment setters do just that… they arrange for appointments from a list of qualified prospects during times that the salesperson(s) has available. This keeps the salesperson involved in meetings with prospects and closing more business as they can focus more on the bottom of the sales funnel.
7. Make Time for Introspection
Most sales managers have a few good people on their sales team, a few great ones and also a few not so great. As a sales manager, understanding what makes the top performers perform, and what inhibits the bottom performers from making their goals, is crucial to the success of the sales organization. Without singling out anyone specifically, pointing out the best practices within a sales team and learning from the sales team’s experience is a great way to increase productivity and build on successes.
8. Walk in Their Shoes
Ask salespeople regularly what challenges they are seeing in the marketplace and what objections they are getting. If not enough insight is gained by simply asking the sales team, take some time and shadow or accompany them on a few appointments. This will truly provide insight into what they are experiencing so that it can be determined how best to support them.
9. Start an Inbound Marketing Program
One of the biggest challenges that sales managers face is keeping their sales teams’ calendars filled with appointments and keeping them in the field following up on leads. Generating qualified leads with inbound marketing through the use of blogging, social media and email marketing can increase the quality of leads, productivity, and revenue.
10. Keep Them Motivated
Every salesperson isn’t motivated by the same things. Unfortunately, not all of them are motivated by closing more sales and making more money. A good sales manager keeps their finger on the pulse of the sales team and knows when to push and when to encourage. Finding what motivates each specific seller can go a long way in making sure the entire sales team is motivated. What works for seller A might not work for seller B and knowing that can make the difference in how motivated they are.
Following these ten steps for increasing productivity of your salespeople won’t guarantee that sales forecasts will be met or exceeded. However, it will insure that proactive steps towards improving productivity are in place, and should help set up your sales organization for long-term revenue growth.