Sales productivity: learning to be a more productive salesperson is an ongoing process.
You want to effectively reach new leads, qualify your leads, and convert them – and you don’t want to waste time doing it. There are plenty of tips out there to help increase sales productivity, but with too much information, you might not be sure where to start.
If you’re ready to transform your productivity, check out these 20 tips from some of the top sales experts.
1. “Call people at the right time, and be thoughtful!”
Lydia Sakellaropoulou, with her extensive experience as a marketing consultant and hiring solutions consultant at Workable, notes that one of the most important elements of a successful sales call–and therefore increasing your productivity–is calling at the right time.
That may mean taking note of a breakdown by hours or dates (Wednesday and Thursday, for example, tend to be the best days for connecting with a lead), or it may mean getting to know your industry and understanding the demands of your leads. For example, if you call in the middle of a major industry event or conference, you’re definitely not going to get to talk to someone who is interested in your product or service.
Once you do connect with your lead, Sakellaropoulou notes, be thoughtful. Be considerate of their time. Provide them with valuable information, but don’t linger on the phone longer than you have to. It can make the difference!
2. “Have a positive attitude in EVERYTHING you do! You won’t win 100% of the time, but with a consistent PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) you will win more often than most in the industry. Be consistent, persistent & respectful and never give up!”.
Jeff Latomus, the SVP of Global Sales at Canonical Ltd., notes that a positive attitude is critical in reaching your goals and achieving sales productivity success.
Your positive attitude will bleed over to your clients’ impression of your company, your product, and even you–and it can make a big difference. Not only that, a positive, go-getter attitude can help you become more successful in all of your endeavours.
3. “Knowing and being enthusiastic about your product can help with sales productivity. This as well as developing a meaningful connection with whomever your target is can not only lead to more sales but a better relationship with those purchasing your product or service.”
Relationship and knowledge: according to Jack Daffern, a sales and marketing intern at JRNI, one of the best ways to invest your time is in getting to know your product and your target. As you improve your knowledge base, you will more naturally see the solutions that will help you reach your goals.
4. “Process, process, process! It all starts with a qualification – create yourself a qualification sheet and print a bunch of them to keep in your drawer. Every opportunity you find – fill in the sheet to ensure you remember all of the qualification criteria, focusing ultimately on the ROI to the client. Take a photo of your sheet from your phone and upload it to your CRM, ensuring you retain the value throughout the whole sales process!”
According to Chris Madeley, the sales manager at Access Group, it’s all about the process: moving through the qualification sheet and focusing on the details that are most important to the client.
5. “I do pre-call planning with my reps before they have a discovery call, demo or negotiation call.”
Nolan Frazier, the Sales Manager of SurveyGizmo, focuses on the pre-call tasks: setting sales reps up for success long before the call begins. As a manager, he wants to be sure that his sales reps have all the tools in hand before they begin.
Sitting down with your reps to provide them with that vital information can go a long way toward increasing overall success and making better use of their time. As a salesperson, if you don’t have a sales manager who takes care of that debriefing for you, make sure you plan out your own calls ahead of time.
When you know what you want to say and have the answers to common questions at your fingertips, you make it much easier to accomplish your overall sales goals.
6. “Always try to qualify out in the initial stage of the sales process, either in preparation for a call/meeting (send an email with discovery questions) or during the first call/meeting by asking about their buying process (if our discussion progresses well, and this opportunity proves successful, walk me through your procurement process).”
To Maxime Carenton, the Global Sales Manager of SimilarWeb, ensuring sales productivity includes qualifying a prospect as early in the process as possible. By taking the steps to qualify early in the sales process, you can often weed out buyers who aren’t genuinely interested in your product or who, in some cases, can’t afford it.
You can also get a better look at how the sales process will play out, which can help prevent you from growing frustrated when the customer’s procurement process does not match up with your sales funnel.
7. “I tackle all my ‘tougher’ tasks first thing every morning.”
Productivity often wanes throughout the day. The longer you’re at work, the easier it is to grow distracted or find yourself staring blankly at your screen, not quite ready to progress to your next task.
Donnacha Friel, Director of Sales at Wrike, knows all too well how difficult it can be to gear yourself back up for a difficult task. Not only is it harder to take care of those tasks as the day goes on, you may find yourself losing productivity during those energetic morning hours while you worry about taking on those harder tasks. When you take care of them first thing in the morning, on the other hand, they are already off your plate.
This can leave you more energized and ready to take on the other tasks in your day–not to mention the fact that everything is easier when you start your day off with the most difficult tasks on your plate!
Go ahead and schedule that tough sales call early or take the time to send those emails that you’re dreading. Simply rearranging the way you handle your day can substantially increase your productivity.
8. “Talk less, listen more. Customers want to tell you about their issues, not listen about all the things you can do to solve the issue you think they have.”
The most effective salespeople, according to Peyton Towler, Regional Sales Manager of TechSmith Corp. are the ones who listen more than they speak to their customers and prospects. Customers have problems, and they want to tell you all about them, not just listen to you go on about the features of your product or service.
You shouldn’t just zone out and let your customers go on, either: the more you listen to your customers, the more they will tell you about exactly what they want to accomplish with your product and exactly what their problems are.
As a result, when they’re ready for your recommendations, you can provide them with information that will help them find exactly the solution they need, rather than a hit-or-miss answer that you hope will fit the bill.
9. “Define 3 things every day, that you want to complete. Execute them always without excuse. That will help you to be in control of what’s happening with your customers.”
Michael Gutsch, Head of Sales Managed Service Provider CEEMEA of Sophos like many other sales representatives, understands the importance of maximizing your time management and tacking the most important items on your list every day, without fail.
It’s easy to make excuses to not complete those tasks, especially if it’s a task you’re dreading.
Each day, it’s important to take the time to define the things you most want or need to complete. These could be small tasks that you’ve been putting off or larger, more complex tasks that simply need to be handled: whatever it is that you just need to dig in and get done.
Then, prioritize those things. Do them first. Don’t make excuses for why they didn’t get done; instead, take the steps necessary to make them happen, even if it’s not easy.
10. “Stay organized. 5 minutes of paperwork will save hours per day and keep your clients happy that you didn’t forget them.”
Organization: it’s key to accomplishing all of your goals, whether personal or business-related. When you’re disorganized, you may spend all day struggling to find key information.
Worse, you may forget important details about your clients or forget to take care of tasks, which means that leads will fall through the cracks–and if you wait too long to take care of those tasks, you may never get those leads back.
Instead, follow this key advice from Sales Director, AlphaTrust at iPipeline, Steve Lance and take the time to get organized each day. Do the paperwork, even if it seems boring or unnecessary. Then, make sure it’s stored or saved in a location that you can easily access in the future. Program reminders into your calendar, if needed.
When you stay organized, everything you need is always at the tips of your fingers–and that makes it much easier to keep up with your leads and close sales.
11. “In any action or activity, recognize moment, direction, and speed. Analyze them to make decision(s).”
Italo Nava, the sales manager at Splashtop, Inc., recognizes three key elements to the sales process, no matter what activity you’re participating in:
- First, recognize the moment. Is there an important moment when the customer makes a decision? A moment when they really see your product or provide you with vital information? Is it time for you to shift your approach or move in to close the deal? Learning to recognize and act on those moments is, according to Nova, one of the most important elements of the sales process.
- Pay attention to the direction of the conversation. Customers will give you cues about their next move. You just have to learn to read them, take advantage of them, and move forward.
- Take note of the speed at which the customer approaches the conversation. Some customers are poised to make a fast decision. They know what they’re looking for, and they can be convinced quickly. Others will move much more slowly through the sales process. Respecting the customer’s speed is critical to a successful sales journey.
By analyzing these three key elements, it’s possible to enhance your success as a salesperson and better understand what your customers want to accomplish.
12. “Every afternoon before leaving the office I write a short to-do list for the following day. I score the tasks looking at both priority and importance, and whether completing it would provide a benefit for the whole team.”
Like many of the other top sales representatives, Andrea Citta, Manager of International Sales Development of Wrike, notes. For Citta, this key element of the sales process includes organizing ahead of time so that no day is left up to chance.
Do you enter the office every day knowing what you need to accomplish and which tasks are most important to the company as a whole?
Do you understand how your tasks relate to the greater sales picture?
By taking the time to plan out each day, you can put yourself in a better position to remain productive throughout the day.
13. “Using direct contact tools like Lusha to get a phone number to speak directly with someone, no email, no InMail- right to the person first time.”
Dan Shaw, Regional Director of Enterprise Sales- APJ at WalkMe™, notes that one of the most critical tools in the sales process is the ability to speak directly with a person, ideally the person responsible for purchasing decisions within a company.
Sending out emails or other communications can be an effective way to start with a lead, but it’s not often going to lead to a sales decision.
When you use the right direct contact tools, on the other hand, you can get directly in contact with a real person–and that can expedite the entire sales process.
Even if you don’t close a sale with that first contact, you can get the answers to key questions about the company or the individual, which can help you streamline the sales process in the future.
14. “Blocking time on your calendar (like a meeting) for cold calling. And NOT scheduling over it.”
Cold calling: many sales representatives dread it. You know that you’re going to connect with frustrated prospects who haven’t asked for information about your business, and that can make it difficult to get information from them. Unfortunately, cold calling is a vital part of the sales process.
Put it on your schedule and, as Paul Hochberg, Sales Manager at ConnectWise, recommends, don’t allow yourself to schedule over it with other tasks that you would rather be doing. Instead, treat cold calling like the priority it is.
This simple step can go a long way toward helping you improve your overall efficiency.
15. “Time Management. You have a very busy schedule as a sales rep. You need to find a way to organize your daily schedule to get the most important things done. You need to prioritize since it is very difficult and less productive to do everything at the same time. You also need to identify who the most important people, companies, and tasks are to increase revenue in order to stay productive. Prioritize your tasks one at a time. Email checks: can they wait?”
Meghana Darshan, National Manager – Inside Sales & Renewals (India & SAARC) at Sophos, strongly believes in the importance of time management as a sales representative. If you want to become more productive, it’s critical that you learn how to manage your time effectively and use it appropriately. It’s all too easy to let small, unimportant tasks take priority throughout the day.
Do you really need to check your email every time it dings a notification?
Does a ringing phone often get in your way?
By learning more effective time management skills, you can better prepare yourself to improve productivity.
16. “Research and identify common interests.”
In order to close with a lead, notes Aejaz Ahmed, Territory Sales Manager at Replicon, it’s important to recognize and consider common interests.
How can you connect with a lead if you have no common ground? Sometimes, casual conversation is just as important to forming a relationship with a prospect as providing key information about your products and services.
Take some time out of your day to learn more about your prospects and better understand what common ground you share. Get a better feel for what your prospects really need, both from your products and in other areas of your life.
Research is key!
17. Research, Research, Research.
Barun Chanda, Senior Territory Sales Manager at Replicon, like many other sales professionals, fully understands the importance of research in accomplishing overall goals. Notes Chanda,
“1. Actively understand the background of a prospect in an organization – specially the decision makers. If they come with a CFO background and has 20 years of the same experience – I would prep myself up different than a CFO who has become a CFO in a short span or while working in the same company. I would even check his tenure of being in that particular leadership role. For an experienced C- level Exec, I would do hierarchy mapping.
2. Calling randomly does not work these days. Calling activities have been more productive for me, if I know the work that the individual is responsible for, and then call at the right time. Example: Trying to reach out to CEO/CFO – They would mostly be working long hours but start they day late due to early meetings. I would call them later in the day. Project managers, on the other hand, come early and be at their desk in the first hour (well, mostly) – I would call them accordingly.”
This simple process can go a long way toward streamlining the sales process and helping you more effectively get to know your clients. Get to know them. Know their needs. Understand their role in the company. The better your understanding, the better you can shape your sales calls and other contacts to fit with the needs of a specific individual or role.
18. “Working hard, listening, and selling myself rather then selling the product.”
It’s all about connections when it comes to sales, notes Jeffrey Landry, Sales Manager at FareHarbor. You can have a great product and an amazing company, but if you, as the salesperson, fall short, your prospect probably isn’t going to make a purchase.
Take the time to clearly prepare yourself before every call. If you’re speaking with a prospect in person, dress appropriately. Making a phone call? Sit up straight, put a smile on your face, and sell yourself as hard as you can.
You’ll often find that this is a much more effective method for connecting with your customers than trying to sell the product alone, especially if it’s a product you don’t fully understand or don’t believe in.
Like other salespeople, Landry also recommends listening to what your prospects really want and need from your company.
What are they really looking for when the time comes to make a purchase?
What problems are you really solving?
It’s not always the problems you think–and by better understanding exactly what your customer needs, you can often provide a more effective solution.
19. “Question = Question — When a client or prospect asks a question, don’t just answer it. Rather, probe them on what situation, experience, etc. prompted them to ask that question. The more you drill into the motivation behind the question, the more you uncover the critical information that will help you make the sale.”
John Ardis, SVP of Sales | Accomplished Sales & Marketing Leader, Direct & Digital Marketing Expert of Epsilon Conversant Inc., also values the importance of listening–hard–to your clients or prospects. You don’t just want to throw solutions out there; instead, you want to be sure that you fully understand exactly what the client needs and are prepared to provide it.
Ask questions yourself. The more questions you ask, the better you will understand exactly what your clients are looking for.
20. “In the first week of onboarding, we teach our reps the importance of planning their day. Each rep uses the final 30 minutes of the day to create a detailed plan for the following day – follow-ups, prospecting lists/time, professional development. Having this clear plan helps each team member, especially those newer to sales, feel confident in their approach. This also gives their manager an opportunity to coach on how they can be more effective.”
Trey Boyer, Sr. Director, Competitive Sales at Hudl, like so many other sales professionals, highlights the importance of planning and time management skills in order to fully embrace and enjoy productivity. Things don’t get done when you tackle them randomly.
With a plan, on the other hand, you can execute a more effective blueprint for your entire day–and you’ll find that it’s much easier to stay on track and move seamlessly from one task to the next, ultimately accomplishing more of the items on your To Do list.
The experts have weighed in.
Productivity is a key part of your day–and with these important tips, you can improve your overall productivity and make it easier to meet your performance goals, connect with qualified leads, and better understand the needs of your customers.
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