A study carried out in 2015 by The Bridge Group showed that commercial productivity is the No. 1 challenge for 65% of B2B companies. Consequently, optimizing this productivity should be one of the main points of attention for each company: the efficiency, responsiveness and productivity of the sales team have a direct and significant impact on turnover.
To get a good grasp of the subject, we must first agree on what is commercial productivity. What is it and why should you care? Commercial productivity is about maximizing business results while minimizing the resources spent to achieve it (costs, effort and time spent). On average, 20% of your sales team is really performing and regularly achieves or exceeds its objectives. This leaves a significant margin for improvement to improve the productivity of the majority of your workforce. In many cases, improving business productivity essentially means streamlining the workload and eliminating unnecessary or unnecessary tasks.
Some statistics illustrate the subject of commercial productivity for B2B companies:
- 2/3 of salesmen do not reach annual targets (source: Aberdeen)
- Most salespersons spend more than 50 days per year on non-sales tasks (source: Domo)
- 80% of sales are made between the second and fifth prospect calls. But only 20% of sales go beyond the third call (source: Thunderhead)
- The average salesperson must update nearly 300 information per week in his CRM (source: Implisit)
- B2B salespeople receive an average of 600 emails per week (source: The Brevet Group)
In short, these few figures show that most sales teams have too many things to do in too little time. Permanent overloading is very difficult to manage for sales managers and quickly uses the sales staff, even the best. Yet there are always solutions to improve the productivity of your sales teams.
Most of the studies carried out on the subject by different institutes, such as Aberdeen, for example, show that, in general, the more companies grow in size and the lower their commercial productivity. This may sound strange. As companies increase their sales force and pursue higher sales targets, it seems that they are failing to adapt the processes, best practices and sales tools to their growth.
Here are 7 tips that can help you improve the productivity of your sales team.
1- train your sales people on an ongoing basis
An Aberdeen study conducted in 2015 shows that it takes an average of 7 months to properly incorporate and train a new salesperson. This represents an average cost of $ 30,000. It’s not nothing. Strengthening and developing a sales team is therefore an important investment for the company. Moreover, the same study reveals that 87% of the lessons learned during the initial training are forgotten in the following weeks … Continuous training is therefore also essential to ensure a good level of competences (on products / services and In terms of sales process) over time. 55% of salespersons do not have the necessary skills to meet their objectives.45% of companies simply do not have a continuing education process for their salespeople. Yet, according to the Aberdeen study, it would increase the sales generated by each salesperson over the year by 50%.
2– automate secondary tasks as much as possible
On average, a salesperson devotes only 30% of his / her working time to sales. Time spent on non-productive and repetitive tasks is so much less time to sell. So as soon as you can automate an activity, do it. Give time to your sales people so they can really do their trade: sell. Reduce and eliminate administrative tasks, such as data entry, and automate processes as much as possible. Companies that implement methodologies, and especially those who apply them, are 33% more efficient than the others.
3- align marketing with sales people
It has become a real “cream pie”, but it is important to remember it again and again, as the majority of B2B companies continue to persist in a dead end: breaking silos. This mindset where marketing and sales team operate as two foreign entities to each other must cease. A study by Forrester shows that only 8% of B2B companies actually do work together the sales department and marketing. Yet the lack of communication has real negative impacts for the company: missed opportunities, losses in turnover, etc. At the end of the exercise, the addition may be severe. To learn more about this new concept of Smarketing, refer to our full article on the subject
4- provide the right content at the right time
This may seem surprising, but commercial spend 30% of their work day searching or creating content for their prospects. It can be a brochure, a commercial presentation, etc. This is one of the tasks that takes them the most time. Yet the sales people will say that it is the marketing work. But marketing will respond by stating, with supporting studies, that 70% of the content created by marketing is simply not used by salespeople. Why ? Because sales people do not find them relevant. And when we know that in B2B, 95% of cases are influenced by the contents proposed, one quickly measures the impact of such disagreement between marketers and marketers.Again, salespeople need to be accompanied by marketing. They need to know what content they can rely on at each stage of their sales cycle. And the marketing must produce these contents upstream and make them available, for example on a cloud space, salespeople at any time.
5- think “social selling”
We talk a lot about it now, but social selling is actually becoming more and more important in the strategies of prospecting B2B salespeople. Salespeople can use social networks at all stages of the sales process. To network, first, to create links, to identify people and hierarchies, then to contact, prospect, seduce, give advice, etc. Salespeople can join discussion groups where their prospects are present, engage in conversations based on the interests and expectations of their targets, and be relevant to their approach. According to Aberdeen, sales professionals who have a good command of social networks in their sales processes are 79% more likely to achieve their annual goals.
6- measure the essential metrics
Measuring the business outcome is not very complicated. Turnover is up or down. Evaluating the sales process itself is more difficult. Most companies do not improve their business productivity because they do not seek in their processes the points where they can achieve productivity gains and improve their results.Do not just look at the number of euros returned at the end of the month. Also consider metrics such as the ratio of useful calls (those where the salesperson actually had the online contact) in relation to the number of calls made, the conversion rate to appointments, A first appointment in a second decision-making appointment, the length of the sales cycles, the conversion rates of the pipelines, and the average number of contacts with the prospect until the contract is signed. Use dashboards to visualize trends, understand where are the points of difficulty in the actions conducted by your sales people. Collecting and analyzing these types of data will allow you to quickly identify opportunities for productivity improvement.
7- Invest In The Right Commercial Tools
As stated at the beginning of the article, incorporating and training your salespeople correctly is a real investment. It is therefore a good reason to invest to equip them with the tools that will enable them to quickly perform better. The first of these is the CRM. The solutions are multiple: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar, Zoho, Ines, etc.
But other tools exist to complete the panoply of perfect commercial 2.0. For more details on this topic, see Frédéric Canevet’s article on this blog . Finally, new tools, known as Sales Intelligence, have appeared in recent months. Disruptive technologies for generating and scoring leads. We are now talking about “predictive sales”. These technologies, based on the intelligent use of Big Data, allow to anticipate the demands of the target companies from the crossing and the weighting of a whole bundle of marketing data, news, segmentation criteria, business.