Increasing sales productivity and performance is a top challenge for any sales leader. According to a survey conducted by The Bridge Group, it outweighs recruiting, hiring and onboarding even. Now, add in that many sales organizations are operating on limited headcount, increasing rep productivity is even more important.
But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Data suggests that an average salesperson can spend as little as 23% of their time actually selling. What do they do with the rest? Well, there are proposals to write, calls to prepare for, meetings to attend and reports to populate… you get the point.
Sales managers try a number of things to hit their targets: hiring more reps, reassigning territories, changing comp plans… and so on. Yet there’s one lever, that if you pull it correctly, can accelerate sales productivity: increasing the amount of revenue generated per rep.
This isn’t a simple equation of more pipeline or deals. Instead, this guide will help you understand the different ways to increase sales productivity without considering volume alone.
Part I: Strategies Relating to the Sales Process
At times, your sales process can hinder performance, but that doesn’t mean the process itself is flawed. It may be that your reps don’t understand all of the steps or they lack the collateral that could push leads further down the funnel.
Below are some suggestions for strategies that can help you eliminate the issue by simplifying steps of the process and reducing time spent on non-selling tasks.
Create a Sales & Marketing Content Repository
You may be thinking, “Well, my reps know where to find what they need.” Yet they’re still messaging the marketing team asking where the X competitive differentiation document is. You just don’t know it.
Cut out the marketing middleman by providing your reps with a clean, organized content repository. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet or you can bring in a digital asset management solution. No matter what path you take, make sure it’s easily searchable, accessible, and most importantly, helpful.
Encourage marketing, sales enablement, and product teams to provide insight into why a document exists—consider including the following information in the content repository:
- What topic does this asset cover
- Who is the intended audience
- Where is it useful in the buying process
- How would it help the reader/what is the goal of this asset
Reps should also feel comfortable providing feedback about the content and how they access or use it. This is critical because if it’s not intuitive or useful for them, they aren’t going to adopt it, which can stall deals if they cannot find integration information or a specific sell sheet.
Increase Funnel Velocity
Stalled deals are a massive problem. It affects your average sales cycle and can easily cause reps to miss their targets if they’re not attentive to it. Increasing funnel velocity may require collapsing certain opportunity stages or it could be as simple as rapidly disqualifying leads.
Make sure your reps identify their decision makers early on while also bringing in other key stakeholders. The vast majority of solutions require more than one person on the prospect side to close, so don’t let reps progress opportunities without enough buy-in.
It’s also important to arm your reps with the tools they need to accelerate deals. Obviously this includes content, but you should also provide compelling offers like trials or evaluations for prospect consideration, as well as make it easy for reps to view their funnel and understand last date of outreach for each opportunity.
When faced with hard data, such as 10 deals stalled in stage 3, many reps will self-identify issues and make efforts to find a solution. In pipeline meetings, don’t be afraid to ask the rep for their thoughts first before jumping into areas you’d like to address.
Shore Up Your Tech Stack
We all buy technology with the idea that it will make something easier, but that’s not always the case. Don’t let your tech stack become a bottleneck for your sales reps.
For some revenue teams, there’s too much manual work for reps. If they have to prepare a contract themselves, email it to legal and finance, then send it to whomever for signature before it reaches the prospect, it’s going to delay the deal closing. And there’s plenty of software on the market to automate this.
In other organizations, there is too much tech. Reps aren’t sure what to use or they come up with their own “best practices” that leave them with two dozen tabs open and a few tools they’ve never signed into.
Regularly evaluate how reps use the tools they’re given. Are they filling out all of the fields in the CRM or are they skipping over custom fields you thought would help? Do some reps still rely on manual processes when you have sales engagement software for emails and dialing? This continuous monitoring of your sales tools will help identify if limited usage can be remedied through training or if the tech is turning into shelfware.
By the way, shoring up the tech stack includes reporting, too. Don’t make reps dig for their activity dashboard or click into three different places to see lead scores.
Part 2: Strategies to Boost Deal Size
You don’t need any back-of-the-envelope math to figure out that reps closing larger deals increases revenue. Where you may need help is teaching and encouraging reps to find opportunities to increase contract value.
Set Contract Minimums
It’s easy for reps to waste time on small deals. They appear easier to close on the surface, but can turn into as much of a challenge as your white whales.
Help your reps increase their deal size by establishing contract minimums. This might look like a set number of seats or a set minimum for the cost. These standards protect your reps’ time and help improve opportunity quality over time.
Encourage Upselling and Cross-selling
To some, upselling and cross-selling is a fundamental sales skill. Yet many reps struggle with it because they’re so focused on closing the initial deal, they forget to bring it into the conversation.
Upselling may look different from company to company. For example, you may have a higher-tier offering with better customer support and onboarding. Or, you could have additional features that are only available at higher price points. In software sales, it could be adding additional licenses or teams into the deal.
Get reps comfortable with upselling by training and coaching them on asking specific questions during discovery that may reveal opportunities to increase the contract. By spotting these opportunities early on, reps have more time to formulate how to broach the subject with the prospect, especially if it involves bringing in new stakeholders from another department.
Cross-selling is more about product mix. If you offer multiple solutions, cross-selling can provide value not only in the initial deal, but for expansion and renewal as well. Reps should be familiar with how your offerings can work together and the additional value a package can provide to different customers.
It’s important that both pre- and post-sale teams are trained and coached on upselling and cross-selling. Otherwise, you could be leaving revenue on the table, simply because no one knew it was there.
Sales productivity is important to frontline managers and senior executives. Yet it can be difficult to improve performance that directly correlates to revenue dollars. The strategies above should help you grow each rep’s contributions to revenue.
As always though, this is not a quick-fix approach. To increase revenue per rep, these strategies must be combined with ongoing training and coaching to provide long-term, measurable impact. Listen to their calls and identify missed upsell opportunities. Begin pipeline reviews with questions, not your own observations. And please, praise reps for a job well done, whether it’s one time on a call or after a strong quarter close.