5 things a Sales Productivity plan can’t do without

By January 5, 2016Sales, Sales Accelerator
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Irrespective of how many skilled sales reps businesses bring on board, achieving the optimum productivity is still a challenge for many.

Optimizing sales productivity is an important aspect that businesses need to focus on. After all, the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of the Salesforce has a direct impact on the revenue the business generates over time. And this task of optimizing productivity is often assigned to sales managers.

A sales manager is not just responsible for offering sales coaching and productivity hacks to the team, but also laying down an effective productivity plan. And here are 5 things that the plan ‘must have’:

1. Sales Cadence

This is the frequency or sequence with which a sales manager meets with his or her team. It is essential to monitor individual and group progress as well as analyze the effectiveness of the current tactics used. A pre-defined and rigorously implemented cadence is a critical aspect of successful sales management.

Therefore, a sales manager must divide his  meeting cadence into 2-3 categories – depending upon the level of hierarchy of the team member he is addressing and the size of task in hand. This helps address issues at all levels and not use a ‘fit for all’ approach for better sales execution.

The meetings should ideally be conducted every week to instill and maintain a regular rhythm among the representatives, so that their work is structured and no time is wasted in executing the team’s overall plans.

Don’t just run a General Sales Meeting, segment them instead based on purpose.

A sales meeting should be broken down into the following categories for effectiveness: pipeline update meeting, master forecast meeting and learning/sharing meeting.

  • Pipeline update meeting is all about driving accuracy of pipeline. With a recommended bi-weekly cadence, this meeting should make sure your sales team is running on solid ground; i.e. all data around pipeline update is accurately updated in this meeting. This includes opportunity stages, value, close dates, next action and commits.
  • The master forecast meeting discusses about what the reps will be selling in a particular timeframe, to whom, with what confidence level and why. The sales manager should drive clarity on each forecasted deal with – “Why buy from us? Why buy now?” analysis. Separating forecast meeting from pipeline update meeting is critical to drive behaviors and tactical thinking on driving higher close rates within near future.
  • The sharing & learning meeting includes discussing the challenges the reps faced in achieving their goals, the lessons they learnt on the go and the methods they used to overcome the challenges. Sharing sessions are best run by peers, for their peers.

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2. Convert the art of sales to science

Every team definitely has a group of sales reps who always deliver outstanding results. But apart from just giving them a pat on the back, the sales managers must try to figure out “how do they do it”.

Identify their way of selling, tools used and tactics applied, a sales manager can improve the effectiveness of the team and also provide more hacks to the over-performers to boost their morale for achieving even better results.

A sales productivity plan must include codifying the performances of exceptional sales reps, developing metric-driven behaviors and then creating strategies that further improve results.

In short, the key is to quantify, codify and establish metrics around sales – a process that converts sales from just an art to science.

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3. Coaching

Every sales plan – no matter how in-depth and elaborate it is, is a failure if the sales manager hasn’t invested time in coaching his team. There are absolutely no tactics or hacks that can ever work when the team has no clue about the industry.

A sales manager possesses a lot more knowledge and experience than most of his sales team member. To ensure that this knowledge is put to good use for as effective results, the manager needs to provides sales coaching to his team with a model called, GROW.

GROW is an acronym that stands for Goals (what the reps want to achieve), Reality (where the reps stand in terms of their goals), Obstacles & Options (issues that will get in the way and their solutions) and Way Forward (steps to be taken to reach the goals).

This model can be communicated individually or to a team with the use of various tools such as Slack that help in organizing team conversations through open channels – for a project, topic or anything.

To understand what exactly a sales rep expects from your sales manager, do read our previous post: Coaching sales reps: What they really want from managers

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4. Collaboration

It is important for sales managers and the team to understand that they are working towards the same business goal. Even though there is competition between sales reps, a team collaboration is an absolute must to identify the best practices, means and markets to achieve goals.

Using team-wide collaboration mechanism tools like SlackSalesforce Chatter or Yammer, is a great way to keep everyone in the loop of what’s happening in the team, the plans ahead and for notifying them of the sudden changes that might come with business model shifts. These tools also help instill the feeling of ‘working together’ even when each of the reps are executing their tasks individually.

The sense of having a team around helps in better management and boosting sales productivity.

5. Creative Gamification

This is essential to drive productivity behaviors. The sales manager can define goals, estimate the time taken to achieve those goals and then measure the results. Gamification helps each sales rep to receive a distinctive experience that is drawn from his or her previous behavior.

This includes formal training of the reps and sales coaching in not only the skills required, but also industry and business knowledge. This helps in customizing challenges and making it easier to strategize.

Gamification improves resource adoption and utilization. Most sales teams use this technique to expand training and knowledge-sharing amongst sales reps. Instead of just focusing on a few star achievers and pitting team members with each other, gamification also recognizes individuals who put  in their best to make the ‘team’ work.

Here are some gamification tools that will help you improve your team’s sales productivity:

  • LevelEleven: With this tool, you can launch team-wide contests and reward top performers to increase employee motivation and productivity. Their ‘compete’ platform appeals  to businesses that rely heavily on sales teams to generate their revenues.
  • Hoopla: A SaaS provider that uses data analytics and gamification to bring the element of fun in a sales workspace. It uses motivational psychology and helps managers engage employees, boost productivity and drive business results. The tool uses rewards for motivation and offers custom features to keep employees focused.
  • Monitae: The software encourages employee engagement and helps instill the right mindset in your sales team. It boosts motivation to increase productivity by using contests, competitions and challenges. The tool also helps the management by soliciting the best ideas, processes, performance measures and feedbacks from the team to improve overall sales plans.

Over to you

Making a successful productivity plan is tough. It not only requires the sales manager to conduct a proper analysis, hold detailed discussions with the subordinates and estimate results, but also perform all his duties with perfection.

While a sales productivity plan might vary from business to business, the aforementioned points must definitely be covered in it.

Is there something we missed that a sales productivity plan must absolutely have? Feel free to add to this post by dropping a comment in the box below!

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by Deepanker Dua

Deep is the chief sales scientist at SalesChakra. As he experiments with sales acceleration at tech startups, he documents his learnings through this blog. An avid traveller, he has lived selling disruptive technologies in 4 continents, and speaks 5 international languages. Connect with him on Twitter @askdeepr and LinkedIn.