You've probably seen umpteen lists of ways to increase a sales team's performance. Trust me, I know. I have probably written a half dozen of those myself.
But the more I work with sales teams, the more I've realized that what a sales manager needs is not another list of productivity tips and tricks, but an integrated process for increasing their sales team's productivity. This is particularly true for media sales, where custom solutions can require more involved sales funnels. Here's the process I've developed and implemented with success.
1. Survey Your Sales Team
It might seem counterintuitive to have your team spend time filling out a survey when they're looking for ways to be more productive. However, if you don’t know what's hindering your sales team and what their lens of reference is, it’s hard to come up with techniques and tactics that will work for your team. Asking questions about what technology they're taking advantage of already, top area of struggle, and what training they feel they need will give you the information you need to craft your strategy.
2. Align with Marketing
Early in the process of brainstorming ways to make your sales team more productive, you'll want to make sure that your sales and marketing teams are on the same page. If Sales doesn’t think that the leads coming in are qualified or that the quantity is too low, you need to get Sales and Marketing in a room together to discuss and agree upon exactly what a qualified lead looks like. This is commonly referred to as having an SLA (Service Level Agreement) between Sales and Marketing. The SLA should define goals, what an accepted lead looks like, what happens with leads throughout the sales cycle, and more.
3. Take Advantage of Technology
There are a number of ways technology can help make your sales team more productive. I like to think of these as macro technologies and micro technologies.
The list of macro technology includes things that will impact your entire sales organization, such as implementing a CRM or utilizing marketing automation tools.
Micro technology includes technology that can be implemented across an entire sales team but impacts each salesperson individually, such as providing tablets for in-the-field presentations, upgrading laptops with 4G so they're not reliant on Wi-Fi, or moving from regular cell phones to smartphones.
Regarding technology, the most important thing you can do is decide where to place your focus: should you start at the macro level through implementation of a CRM or at the micro level by giving each sales person a laptop with 4G or a wireless hotspot so they are no longer reliant on Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops while on the road? Your individual situation and sales process will determine where you should focus.
4. Determine What Training Your Team Needs
Every sales team needs training. The question is, what type of training does YOUR sales team need? Is it training on a new technology you have implemented? Do they need training on what the SLA is and how to effectively communicate their needs to marketing? Do they need specific insights and training on putting together proposals or gathering insights before meeting with a client?
There are many aspects of training, and because each sales team is different, the amount and type of training will vary throughout the year. This is one of the reasons why I outline a process vs. random tips and tactics. You would certainly want to make sure that if you do implement a CRM or provide new smartphones to your sales team that they actually know how to use the technology effectively.
5. Invest in Early Adopters
Because this is linear process, once you've put some modern sales enablement technology as your salespeople's fingertips and have sent most (if not all) of your team through a few sales training courses or programs, you should invest in those who are at the forefront. At this point in the process, you should be seeing who is embracing technology and the training and who is falling back into old, unproductive habits.
As a sign to the entire team that the success of the team depends on improvement and reaching the productivity goals you've set, rewarding or providing enhanced opportunities to the top salespeople can be a great way to encourage those that haven’t quite embraced these new technologies and processes to get on board. Providing your early adopters with even more technology or accelerated training opportunities can make your brightest stars shine brighter and give an incentive to the rest of the team.
Because this is a process and not just a list of unrelated activities, this is something that can be analyzed, refined, and repeated to continue to increase the productivity of your sales team. I recommend evaluating your metrics and making refinements once a year. Going through this 6-Step Process on an annual basis should provide some great opportunities for those that are new to your team to get up to speed on your use of technology and provide training for your entire sales team.
Now that you are done reading this post, the hardest part of the process to create a more productive sales team emerges: actually doing something to get started on creating your plan. Get started on the right path with a set of free resources we've curated from The Sales Help Desk. You can click the image below to request them.