Traditionally, sales reps have been tasked with doing one thing—selling. Today, that's no longer the case. Today's sales reps have a growing set of responsibilities in their roles. Administrative tasks are becoming a larger part of day-to-day sales responsibilities. As a result, sales productivity takes a hit, and, according to Salesforce, reps spend only 34% of their time selling. That's not ideal.
This isn't surprising, considering that 57% of reps are expected to miss their quota this year. When any team is less productive, performance will always suffer. So what can organizations do to increase sales productivity and keep reps on track to hit their goals? Before you can improve sales productivity it's important to derive the root of the problem and understand the cause.
The Causes of Low Sales Productivity
Low sales productivity is a problem no company wants to face because it means we could be doing better and performance could be higher. Ultimately, low sales productivity is the result of two main problems:
- Poor morale: Low morale and poor productivity go hand-in-hand. When sales reps are unhappy at work, they're unmotivated. This can result from sales burnout, disengagement, or even poor territory planning. Either way, when morale falls, productivity and performance often follow suit.
- Inefficient processes: When reps spend their time doing things besides selling, their productivity suffers. While Salesforce data shows that much of this hinges on administrative tasks, low productivity can also result from non-administrative tasks, such as shadow accounting commissions if payments are inaccurate or not on time.
Once you know the cause of the low productivity, you can take steps to eliminate the barriers—whether it be poor morale or inefficient processes—and increase sales productivity. Ultimately, this allows you to be a more strategic organization and operate more efficiently. (You can get more tips to improve employee morale in this blog post).
Using Sales Performance Management (SPM) to Increase Sales Productivity
The number one way to increase sales productivity is by optimizing sales planning and execution processes. How do companies do this? Sales Performance Management (SPM) platforms enable organizations to create a central source of truth.
By automating processes, leadership from sales, sales ops, finance, and all other departments can access data in the same place—meaning teams are better aligned and on the same page. However, SPM technology does more than just automate processes.
Here's a high-level of SPM helps companies do:
- Increase productivity more than 12.5% (Gartner)
- Achieve 20% higher gross margin (Harvard Business Review)
- Be 2.6x more effective at connecting sales efforts to revenue (Aberdeen Group)
Streamline Sales Processes
Because SPM platforms create a single source of truth, planning becomes much more strategic and leadership can make better-informed decisions. When using data, sales can ensure plans are based in fact rather than a best guess based on gut instinct. Finance can also ensure sales forecasting accuracy and that data is accurate for compliance with commission expense accounting requirements.
Automate Compensation Administration
Compensation errors can wreak havoc on sales productivity and can be a costly mistake. For example, paying 5,000 reps $100k equates to a $500M investment. Operate with a 3% error rate and that means $15M is being mishandled and incorrectly paid in compensation. That's a large amount of money—considering the average company spends at least 10% of annual revenue on incentive pay.
Automating incentive compensation increases sales productivity by eliminating the need for sales reps to shadow account. In fact, one company—Cox Automotive—automated their incentive compensation and was able to:
- Achieve 99% payout accuracy
- Save 172 hours per month of admin time
- Reduce expenses by $2.5M
Gain More Visibility
When you have more visibility, you can use your data more effectively. With access to real-time analytics, reps see up-to-date earned commissions and leadership can measure sales performance fully and completely. This also gives leadership access to customizable reports and in the event a problem arises, plans can be course corrected to keep on track with goals (You can learn even more about the benefits here).
Integrate With Your CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are perhaps the most robust tools for increasing sales productivity. CRM helps to manage leads and prospects from the beginning to the end of their sales cycle. Each time you make a call, send out a note, send a newsletter, have a meeting or qualify a lead, you can enter the details into your CRM.
Perhaps the most well-known and popular CRM is Salesforce. When you automate processes with SPM, you can easily integrate with Salesforce to ensure your single source of truth feeds into one of your most crucial sales tools, reducing the time reps spend on administrative tasks like data entry.
Then, when a customer calls in, all you have to do is instantly pull up their information to ensure you understand what they are talking about. No more searching through emails or files to figure out where the customer is in their buying process or when was the last time they were contacted.
Uncover the Real ROI of SPM
Sales Performance Management (SPM) can be an extremely useful tool to increase sales productivity, but it does more than that. The true benefit of ROI is taking advantage of the wealth of sales data your organization has and turning it into your biggest strategic tool and become a data-driven sales organization.
Want to see how you can use your data more effectively with sales performance management? Download this interactive workbook to "Unleash the Potential of Your Sales Team."