4 Steps to Jumpstart Sales Productivity

Anand Shah

Sales reps take heed: One of the greatest predictors of your potential underperformance is the feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day.

Sales reps take heed: One of the greatest predictors of your potential underperformance is the feeling that there isn’t enough time in the day.

Racing the clock to complete tasks isn’t a sign of an overfilled to-do list. It’s a glaring indicator of inefficiency. To be highly productive, sales teams must be able to streamline their tasks so they can get more done in less time. That has nothing to do with the clock, and everything to do with focusing your efforts and having the right tools and plan in place.

Here are four critical steps toward elevating your efficiency to get sales productivity on the right track.

1) Restructure your sales cycle

sales productivity optimization | strategic sales network
In general, aim to spend 50% of your time in front of customers, 35% on account research and administration, and only 15% on sales training and enablement.

Account execs often disproportionately spend too much time in account planning, research and discovery before getting to a specific opportunity that has budget or can be quickly funded. 

In reality, an account exec’s number one priority should be getting more time in front of customers. Period. The more time you spend with your customers, the more meetings you can schedule, the greater your opportunities, the faster your sales cycles, and the higher your ACVs. In other words, the more time you spend in front of customers, the more productive you will be overall. Getting more time with customers is a function of how helpful you and your product/solution is to their specific needs. Bring a carpenter a hammer and he or she can build a house. Bring them a basketball and don't expect to get a call back.

2) Prioritize your accounts

If you want to cut the amount of time spent in the early discovery phase, you clearly need a faster way of determining which accounts will pay off--and which won’t. Then you’ll be able to target your attention more productively on the companies with the greatest propensity to buy.

Efficient account prioritization requires you to have access to real-time data, as well as the ability to translate that data into meaningful insights. Done manually, this task is incredibly tedious and time-consuming, not to mention inaccurate, outdated, and incomplete. For example, companies like Delta, Hertz or even Performance Food Group were prioritizing completely different investments in February than they were by April or even August. Instead of relying on manual methodologies, therefore, sales reps should look for technology solutions that leverage advanced machine learning. With automated AI in place, a task that previously sucked hours from each day can now be accomplished in minutes.

Pro tip:  Make sure your technology solution does more than simply sort data. You need a real-time dashboard view that makes it easy to pinpoint a prospect’s propensity to buy, backed by data that highlights specific needs, management intent, and a budget cycle history.

3) Make the most of your time with customers

As you position yourself to spend more time in front of customers, your next step is ensuring that you’ve properly planned your strategy to make every meeting as productive as possible. 

Remember that one of the primary benefits of knowing which customers have the greatest buying potential is that you no longer have to wait for them to come to you and request a proposal. Your job now is to inform them on how you can help solve a critical problem--and that means creating a compelling point-of-view that demonstrates your keen understanding of their unique pain points, competition, industry, and objectives. 

To accomplish this, you need the ability to quickly and easily transform your vital account data into a strategic communications plan that speaks directly to the decision-makers you want to meet, in the language and formats that best suit their individual and professional needs. Bottom line: For every minute spent in front of a customer to be purposeful, it has to be personalized

4) Put sales productivity tools to work

Ultimately, your productivity as a sales rep comes down to the tools and technologies you use. Spending your time efficiently means having the right systems in place to eliminate manual guesswork, automate high-volume data compilation, and intelligently extract insights from real-time analytics. 

Furthermore, you need tools that cut down time spent preparing key deliverables like sales presentations or executive summaries--not only for yourself, but for your entire go-to-market team. Maximizing productivity means implementing technology that empowers you to work cohesively, so everyone progresses toward a common goal without wasting anyone’s time.

Want to dive even further into these tactics so you can really boost your productivity? Learn how to pinpoint a customer’s most urgent business needs using public investor data, then craft a specific point-of-view to grab C-suite attention with my Business Fundamentals video series. No MBA required--but your customers might think you have one. 

About the Author
  • Anand Shah

    Anand Shah is CEO and Co-founder of Databook. Anand brings to Databook more than 15 years of experience as an expert in consulting Fortune 500 CXOs on how companies drive top-line growth for the enterprise. Before founding Databook, Anand was an Engagement Partner at Accenture Strategy, leading their engagement with the World Economic Forum on Digital Transformation, and a global lead for Accenture’s Strategic Insights group. Anand holds a dual-MBA from Columbia Business School and London Business School, a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Reading, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Imperial College London.

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