A guest blog by Anja Jeftovic (Digital Marketing Manager at TaskDrive)
After spending so much time and resources recruiting and hiring the best salespeople, the last thing you want to do is waste their time. You want your salespeople to spend each hour of their day as efficiently as possible so that they can close a maximum amount of deals.
Unfortunately, too many salespeople end up wasting time on unimportant tasks - ones that could easily be put aside or handled by someone else.
To improve the sales productivity of your sales team, have a look at our checklist of things that are slowing down your team. You might be able to save some valuable hours every week!
1. Spend less time checking emails
One study found that the average person spends 3 hours a day checking work email. Each time you do, it interrupts your workflow and distracts you from the important tasks at hand. And when you have dozens of emails coming in each day, it’s practically impossible to focus on sales for an extended period of time.
A better strategy is to set aside a few times each day to check emails. Check them in the morning when you arrive, around lunchtime, and then before you leave. Other than that, your email notifications should be turned off, so you can fully focus on sales tasks.
2. Limit your time on social media interactions
Social media is also a huge time-waster for salespeople and can have a huge effect on the productivity of your sales team.
With social media, it’s easy to reach out to leads, current, or past clients. However, it’s also easy to get caught up in it and spend an entire day interacting on social media, without actually getting tasks done.
So just like email, try restricting the time you check social media and move conversations to a different form of communication, like a phone call or in-person meeting. If you are going to use social media after all, find some social media tools that allow you to interact on multiple platforms at once.
3. Prepare the agenda for the meeting beforehand
Another thing that impacts sales productivity is unproductive meetings. Each minute your sales team spends in a meeting is less time they have to close sales. On top of that, one source says that people can also spend up to 4 hours just preparing for status update meetings each week.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have any meetings. It means that when you do have a meeting, it should be laser-focused only on important topics.
Go into each meeting knowing exactly what you want to talk about and keep the meeting short. Your goal is to cover the important topics in as little time as possible so that your sales staff can quickly get back to being productive.
4. Delegate time-consuming tasks
Ideally, your sales team will spend all its time closing deals. This is what they are best at, so the more time they spend doing this, the better.
That means that your sales staff shouldn’t have to worry about generating new leads for the business. This task should be handled by other people - people who can find leads, qualify them, and pass off the good ones to the sales team.
If your business doesn’t already have a Sales Development department for this, now is the time to consider hiring in-house SDRs or outsourcing the work instead.
5. Don’t waste time on unqualified leads
While getting someone else to find leads for your sales team is good, it doesn’t help too much if those leads are unqualified. If your sales staff is spending a lot of their time selling to leads who are unlikely to become customers, this is a big waste of their time.
That’s why your Sales Development department should not only find new leads, but also qualify them. By separating the good leads from the bad ones, your sales team can remain focused on selling to people who have an actual interest in your product or service.
6. Spend less time on difficult clients
Some clients are easier to work with than others. In a perfect world, your sales team could spend just a few minutes on the phone with the client, answering all their questions and finalizing the sale.
However, many clients are more difficult than that. Some of them require a ton of information, others don’t respond quickly to your messages or phone calls, and some waffle back and forth on a decision.
It’s important for any salesperson to recognize when they’re working with a difficult client and to learn when to move on. The amount of time you spend trying to convert one difficult potential customer could be better used in converting 2 or 3 other prospects.
Think about how much time it typically takes to generate a sale, then about how much you’re spending on this difficult client. If it’s significantly higher, consider moving on or referring them to another department.
7. Learn how to recognize lost momentum
There’s a principle known as the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”, which is when you continue to do something based on the time or resources you’ve already spent on it.
For example, you might be staying in a dead-end job because you’ve been there for so many years and don’t want to start over. Or you might be pouring more money into a real-estate investment because you don’t want the initial investment to have been for nothing.
This same idea easily applies to sales.
Many salespeople are unwilling to recognize when they’ve lost momentum with a prospect. They’ve spent hours trying to convert this prospect into a customer, but it hasn’t really gone anywhere. Instead of moving on, salespeople will continue trying, simply because they’ve already spent so much time on it.
In sales, it’s important to know when to cut your losses. Some prospects can’t be saved, no matter how much more time you spent working on them. It may hurt to think about the time you’ve wasted, but it’s better than wasting even more time.
Recognize when you’ve lost momentum with a prospect and quit sinking more time into it.
8. Don’t be afraid to “break up”
At times you don’t even realize that you’ve lost momentum with a prospect, because they are unresponsive. After your initial talks with the prospect, during which they show interest, you stop hearing from them. You continue to reach out and either hear nothing back or the responses are vague. You keep telling yourself they must be busy.
In situations like this, it may be time for a breakup.
Reach out to the prospect one last time and let them know this is the last message. Tell them if they have an interest in the future they can reach out to you, but otherwise, you’re going to move on.
This email might spur the prospect into action, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll at least be free to focus more time on better prospects.
9. Use cutting-edge technology and tools
Something, a thing as simple as bad equipment can massively waste a salesperson’s time and impact productivity.
For example, if they have a slow computer, checking emails or using your CRM can take much longer than it should. This may not seem like a lot in the short term (only a few minutes each day), but it will have a cumulative effect in the long run.
Think about the technology and tools your sales team uses the most, then make sure it’s all up to date and running properly.
10. Automate. Automate. Automate.
Finally, if you want to save your salespeople some time, you should look for ways to automate some of their robotic tasks.
For example, there should be a process (or maybe even better, an automated CRM) in place so your sales staff doesn’t have to manually enter in prospect or client information.
Other things you can automate are follow-up emails, prospect tracking, and order management.
If you find that your sales staff is spending a lot of their day doing tedious tasks to keep track of leads and clients, look for ways to automate some of those tasks. That way they can get back to closing deals.
All of these small tips together can help to significantly increase the sales productivity of your team.
Now, take some time to analyze your own sales team’s habits and see if the above suggestions can be of any help or if there’s anything else you can find to improve.
After all, what’s most important is that they’re able to focus most of their efforts on closing deals and bringing you more revenue.
We’re looking forward to hearing in the comments what big wins you discovered!
A little about Anja:
Anja Jeftovic is Digital Marketing Manager at TaskDrive. If you’re looking to outsource some of your sales development tasks to up the productivity of your sales team, check them out!