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A salesperson’s job will never be done. This is universally true and especially relevant in B2B sales. Even if a salesperson closed the largest deal in your company’s history last quarter — or even last week — and hit their quota early, it doesn’t mean they can go home for the rest of the month. Working in sales often evokes the adage: “What have you done for me lately?”
Organizations hire sales teams to push inbound leads through the funnel and approach prospective clients. The latter requires a certain number of “nos” to reach one “yes.” But to help managers understand the messaging and the number of dials, emails and other touches it takes to get to that one “yes,” sales teams need to capture more information than ever before. Everyday duties include prospecting accounts, finding new contacts, reaching out to accounts, generating conversations and building consensus, opportunities and revenue, all while logging every interaction and data point.
According to a 2017 study by InsideSales.com, only 37% of a sales representative’s time spent is on revenue-generating activity, and 18% of time is spent in their CRM. In other words, if your salesperson works 40 hours in one week, about 15 of those hours are spent attempting to bring in new business, while at least seven hours of the week is in your CRM. That’s a lot of time spent doing low-value activities, especially for a person whose job focuses on generating revenue.
If your company’s sales reps are already treading water with their workload, it can be challenging to find the head space to introduce them to any new tool or process. But not introducing a method to help them set their priorities will continue to impact your organization. As long as your sales reps are wading through low-value activities as they attempt to hit their quota, they will lose energy, affecting their ability to do their job effectively. As a result, your company’s top-line growth will continue to stall as employees lose motivation and eventually burn out. This inefficient setup leads to high employee turnover, opportunities that get lost in the shuffle and a never-ending feeling of playing catch up.
How do we make sales teams more productive?
First, we need to help our teams focus less on low-value, non-revenue-generating activities and more on high-value activities that contribute to their pipeline. Examine the sales process and workflow; remove friction points wherever possible. Free your sales reps to focus on higher-value activities, like personalization and relationship-building rather than data entry and switching between endless tabs in their browsers.
Don’t just ask, “What are we having sales do?” And then say, “We’re only asking them to do these two, three, or four tasks…” Instead, go through the steps your salespeople must take to make contact and think about it as if you are a UX designer. How many clicks, minutes scrolling and tabs does a salesperson have to have open to add one contact at one account to a sequence and into your CRM? Then think about how many contacts each account needs for a successful outbound motion. Is it two? Three? Five or more?
A complete audit of your sales team‘s outbound motion will introduce you and your sales ops teams to a bevy of unnecessary steps that can be automated and or transformed. This process will, in turn, result in a larger quantity of high-quality activities: every day, with every salesperson.
Selling today might seem complicated, but in the end, it’s still about building relationships, building consensus and empowering mobilizers. According to TOPO’s 2019 Sales Development Benchmark Report, 39% of respondents indicate that using tools that increase activity contributes to sales development success. But there’s a new tool out there for every issue a sales team faces. Trying to solve problems with more money is a quick-fix solution many companies are tempted to pursue — that’s why there are so many vendors available. But the bottom line is that throwing money at a problem won’t solve it unless you have a clear insight into what you’re trying to solve.
If the goal is to optimize your sales team’s workflow and enable them to do more with their time, integrations are critical. Assess what tools your team currently uses. Do they all work together? Are there errors that need to be addressed by your sales/rev ops team? Any sales tool added to your stack should either work alongside your existing tools without disruption or directly integrate with them seamlessly. The most common integrations to boost sales productivity do so by connecting the CRM (Salesforce, Hubspot, etc.) to the sales engagement tools (SalesLoft, Outreach, etc.). But what about LinkedIn Sales Navigator (LISN) and your old school data provider? Think about how many steps your team currently takes to go between CRM, LISN, sales engagement platform and a data portal. Having a frictionless way to capture target buyer personas from LinkedIn and simultaneously connect that data to your CRM and sales engagement tools will save your team countless hours every week. You as a leader can then reallocate their time to higher-value revenue-generating activities.
Before buying the next cure-all tool, remember: Your sales tech stack should only disrupt friction points of prospecting, not cause more. Their job, after all, is to build their book of business, not be techno wizards.
Introducing a tool that can help your sales reps shift their focus from low-value activities to high-ones will help your organization enormously. The time sales teams spend on a disorganized workflow will be given back to them, freeing them to focus on the tasks that matter. When work becomes simpler and more effective, employee morale boosts, helping salespeople continue feeling motivated and invested in their work. Finally, your company’s top line will benefit as your sales teams become more skillful at hitting their quota. Simplifying and prioritizing a sales team’s workflow can only benefit your company—no overthinking needed.