Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Highspot’s blog here.
Prospecting, pitching, tracking engagement — there’s no question that modern technology solutions have made it easier for sellers to complete these essential tasks. But even as the tools have improved, selling has become more complicated as buyers’ expectations have risen. With increased access to information, buyers today do more of their research independently and invite more internal stakeholders into buying decisions. To capture and win buyers’ attention, sellers must now research and present insightful solutions tailored to multiple decision makers’ needs. The result is that reps end up spending more time trying to keep up with increasingly complex sales processes, impacting overall sales productivity.
Sales Productivity Definition
Sales productivity is calculated as the ratio of effectiveness (outputs) versus efficiency (inputs) and is a baseline factor in the success and health of a company. Put another way, optimal sales productivity means maximizing sales results while minimizing resources expended (such as time, money or effort).
As our State of Sales Enablement report shows, nearly 70% of respondents report their company’s sales processes are becoming more complex, and 55% say that increasing complexity negatively impacts their sales performance. In the face of this challenge, it’s important to have a plan in place to safeguard sales productivity and keep reps focused doing what they do best. Use the following five strategies to provide your sales team with the sales training, guidance, and technology they need to sell effectively and efficiently.
- Provide efficient sales onboarding and ongoing coaching
- Leverage AI-powered sales guidance
- Implement interactive and integrated sales playbooks
- Optimize using engagement analytics
- Centralize everything in a single system of truth
Provide Efficient Sales Onboarding and Ongoing Coaching
Start new sales reps off on the right foot with sales onboarding that teaches good sales productivity habits from the get-go and evolves with sellers’ needs. The tips you teach will differ depending on your sales processes, but it’s important to get the delivery of the training right. The first step is to move beyond thinking of sales onboarding as a “one-and-done” task. So many new employee onboarding programs rely on one-time presentations to train sellers, but research has shown that sellers forget 87% of content within one month of training. Plus, the sales environment is constantly shifting, and sellers’ individual needs change, too.
Training on best practices, buyer personas, and products will help sellers stay up-to-date as information changes over time. Instead of expecting sellers to attend and remember one-off training sessions, provide them with in-context virtual training and guidance that they can access any time to stay on top of the latest best practices. With a proactive, ongoing sales onboarding and coaching strategy, your reps are sure to stay productive and prepared to sell effectively.
Leverage AI-Powered Sales Guidance
Strong sales training goes hand-in-hand with sales guidance, which boosts sales productivity by saving sellers time and providing dynamic assistance. Guided selling tools surface critical templates, scripts, data and content when and where reps need it. They also cut down on the number of tasks that sellers must remember by providing timely recommendations on who to call, when to call and what content to provide in order to achieve optimal sales results.
The best sales guidance solutions use artificial intelligence to predict, learn and serve the best information to sellers for any given selling scenario. Like sales training, it’s important to implement sales guidance that can meet sellers’ shifting needs. After all, no buyer or conversation will be the same, and sellers will need tools that can help them navigate unexpected sales interactions, shifts in stages and new stakeholders. An effective guided selling tool will provide the map that sellers need to locate and share the right information at the right time.
Integrating guidance into sales workflows saves sellers time and energy by providing the relevant content, training, and tools they need to have effective sales conversations.How can you get the most productivity out of your sales team? @Highspot's @ebwilkin explains the 5 best strategies to get the most out of your team: Click To Tweet
Implement Interactive and Integrated Sales Playbooks
Sales playbooks lie at the foundation of any guided selling strategy and boost sales productivity by laying out the steps of sales plays and aligning sales methodology with steps of the buyer’s journey. With sales playbooks, sellers spend less time and energy figuring out what to do and when to do it and can instead focus on putting their plays in motion.
These five steps describe the process of creating modern sales playbooks:
- Define your sales methodology
- Map your sales process to your buyer’s buying process
- Design clearly defined plays, making it straightforward for the seller to take effective action in a given specific scenario
- Emulate your “A” players and harness their knowledge within the playbook
- Keep it succinct and don’t make the seller have to sift through and consider which content is most pertinent
Reps shouldn’t have to think about where to find the sales playbooks that best fit their situation. Rather, sales plays and guidance work best when integrated seamlessly into sellers’ workflows. Sales enablement platforms make it easy to design and share interactive playbooks that are integrated with sales reps’ everyday workflows. With practical, easy to use, and adaptive sales playbooks, sellers will have what they need to work productively within the context of their everyday workflows.
Optimize Using Engagement Analytics
You won’t be able to improve your sales team’s productivity without a way to measure it. Analytics provide the data you and your reps need to investigate trends and gain valuable insights into sales rep activity and performance. Start by determining which metrics are most important, such as:
- Call rate
- Win rate
- Sales cycle length
- Pipeline conversion rate
- Average number of touches
Then, build dashboards to track and display the data you need to figure out what makes top performers successful and what is holding back the under-performers. With the engagement analytics available in sales enablement tools, you and your sellers will also be able to see how sales content is performing, which decision-making buyers are active and what content engages buyers the best. This real-time data can then form best practices for the rest of the team, increasing sales productivity at scale.
Centralize Everything in a Single System of Truth
Email, social media, chat, customer relationship management platforms, and more: with so many tools to manage, it’s no wonder that sales productivity can suffer if reps don’t have a single system of truth to enable their selling.
Take a look at your sellers’ workflows. If they are consistently forced to sift through multiple systems and databases to find the sales content and support they need, it’s time to look into solutions that will help consolidate and streamline their sales processes.
Sales enablement platforms like Highspot can provide a single system of truth to store, update, and track sales content so that sellers know exactly where to go to find the right guidance and content at the right time.
As sales processes continue to grow in complexity, your sales strategy will need to evolve to help reps overcome new challenges that impact their ability to sell. No training, guidance, playbook, or plan can stay stagnant; they must remain flexible enough to adapt and respond to changes in buyer and seller needs. With these five steps, you’ll have the building blocks you need to support sellers and continually discover new opportunities to optimize sales productivity.