Nobody is a sales genius right out of the gate. The best salespeople are constantly looking for ways to improve their technique, make gains in efficiency, and generally maximize their productivity.
We asked a few of today’s most productive, efficient, and successful sales experts to share their best sales productivity tips, and they came through in a big way.
Time management, efficiency, and relationship-building were top priorities for many of the sales pros we talked to. Any salesperson who is willing to take the time and effort to incorporate these tactics into their regular routine will see awesome improvements in their efficiency and overall sales productivity.
Tactic #1: Prioritize Important Tasks & Manage Your Time
Effective time management and prioritization of important tasks is one of the main ways that the most successful sales pros stay ahead of the game.
“Most salespeople could immediately improve their productivity if they’d simply focus on spending their selling hours on selling. Eliminate all other time-wasters and put all their efforts in those hours toward tasks that move them closer to a sale. From needlessly checking email every hour to paperwork to just plain busywork, once they begin to identify these habits they’re much easier to break.”
“Sales people, good sales people, have no shortage of shit to get done, the best know which things to work on first. The key is to focus on the things that have the biggest impact on making your number, and are the least complex ie. take the least amount of time to complete. Knowing which these are is key! Then move to those things that have big impact but are more complex, (take longer to complete). After that, tackle those things that are easy or not very complex, BUT don’t have much impact, and finally do what you can to avoid all things that take a lot of time (are complex to execute) BUT offer little impact to making your number. It’s not enough to get everything done, the key is to get the things that matter done!”
“Create a habit of doing specific tasks that lead to revenues regularly, such as having real conversations with potential buyers rather than just talking about having them. Set time aside to be on the phone that is separate from planning or research time. Finally start each day with an idea of what you’re doing – and be ready to go with it. So many sellers waste an hour or two each day ‘getting ready’.”
“The best salespeople map or grid their territory by day. They then plan their appointments and calls each day, within the grid, thus reducing wasted drive time. The key is leveraging the CRM to run call lists by geography based attributes. This makes it easy to stick to the daily plan. Salespeople that utilize this methodology are many times more productive than reps that take a random approach to managing their territory.”
“According to Ron Karr, author of CEO Bestselling book Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way, there are two questions sales people should live by when it comes to increasing their productivity.
1. What does success look like to you?
2. Do your actions support your success goals?
Most salespeople are working harder than they have to. Reason is they are task oriented and not purpose oriented. That means they are doing activities that have no impact on their success. Everything we do should be towards hitting our goals. If they are not, then leave them for when you have time or maybe do away with those activities. This also means tracking all activities and seeing which ones have a real ROI for you.”
“Optimize your number of hours selling — Can you outsource some non-sales work to others so that you can increase the number of hours you spend per week in front of customers? Consider outsourcing low-return tasks such as expense reports, preparation of slide decks, editing. The top sellers I work with often pay a part time business student to help them with these tasks so they can spend more time with clients and prospects.
Improve your closing ratio — Are you asking for referrals every day from clients? Cold leads close at a ratio of 1:25, whereas referred lead close at a ratio of 1:3. Can you make a better productivity improvement than that?”
Tactic #2: Invest in relationships.
Relationship-building is a crucial part of the sales process. High performing salespeople take the time to get to know their clients, to empathize with them, and to work towards a friendship as well as a business relationship. Some of today’s top sales pros offer tips on how a little investment in your relationship with your client can pay huge dividends.
“Say “thank you” and go all the way with it. Salespeople most often thank people via email. But an email “thank you” is more like than spam than it is like gratitude. If you want to truly thank someone, then thank them. Take 20 seconds and write a hand-written note that says; “Chase, thanks very much for the time you gave me today. One thing you said really stuck with me…when you said x it made me think of y. Thanks for that. Best, Craig”
That’s it. No muss, no fuss. But it sure does thrill people to get a proper thank you.”
“Don’t use hype! Salespeople love hype language because they don’t have to invest time into understanding the product or the customer. Introverts spot the exaggerated information in these traditional types of pitches quickly, and when they find out that the salesperson doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, they shut down the conversation. To win an introvert’s respect, you need to prove your credibility using third-party endorsements, certifications and awards your product or company won. Introverts don’t usually get swept away by a sales pitch, but they can be influenced by objective reviews or media coverage.”
“Follow the money. When planning your day or week or month or year always determine which activities are closest to bringing in revenue and prioritize those activities. For example, paperwork is far down the list when it comes to generating revenue. Meetings or conversations with existing customers to potentially sell additional products or services would be high on the list. Prospecting is a high priority item although it’s further down the list than meeting with a prospect who is about to say, “yes.” Save non-revenue generating activities for off hours or better yet, delegate those activities. Too many sales professionals spend far too much time on activities that do not increase sales. Prioritize and execute on the activities that generate revenue and watch your sales soar.”
“Get crystal clear on where you (the sales professional) add the most value to your company and customers. You then structure your time in and around that activity. Take a blow torch to your time wasting activities with conviction. You then create support structures around yourself to allow you to execute. In short, do more of what works.”
“You should focus your time on finding and nurturing your ideal clients who want and need what you have to offer, rather than focusing on people who don’t think they want it and trying to convince them that they do.”
“Keeping your contacts, prospects, and customers organized, as being organized is the key to success. For those who are in sales, or who network extensively, it becomes very difficult to be productive if you have a ‘loose’ collection of business cards, contact, and customer information that can be readily be accessed, segmented, and used for marketing/sales work. Although it may be a bit time consuming to ‘load’ this data into a spreadsheet or CRM system once you receive a business card or other contact from someone, the time that you’ll save trying to find this information later will be incredible if it is readily accessible.
As a starting point, LinkedIn, with its 277 million members, and a decent basic CRM system is a great place to begin the process of organizing your contacts unless you have a CRM system in place. In parallel, it is recommended that you store this information in a spreadsheet, as well, as your contact information will not solely reside on LinkedIn. Furthermore, given the limitations of the LinkedIn contacts feature, you have the ability to store more information about a contact in a spreadsheet and can sort on selected criteria far beyond the LinkedIn Tags.”
“Prepare! Plan first on paper and then mentally just before the contact. Focus on What’s in it for Them (your buyer) during this preparation and ensure that from the first words in initiating through the final closing statements your comments are relevant to them and their situation. Use all the tools available to you to research the person, company, and situation to guide you in this focus. When you make it about Them, every minute of preparation time is gained back two to three times through that sale and follow-up.”
“Relentlessly qualify your sales opportunities. More time is wasted pursuing business that can’t be won or isn’t worth winning than any other activity.”
Tactic 3: Relentlessly Seek Efficiency
Salespeople not only need to manage their time, they need to constantly refine their sales process to weed out useless tasks, allowing them to focus on what really needs to get done. This endless quest for efficiency is a big part of what makes the top sales performers so outstanding.
“Sales people need to stop seeking time management solutions, and instead focus on allocating time to specific high value activities, and the manage their activity in the allotted time. Time already comes managed, 60 minutes, 24 hours, 12 months, etc, everyone agrees, can’t manage any further. Know what you have to do to be successful, in what proportions, the map it out, allocate the time, and do it in that time.”
“Never, ever multi-task. Your brain is incapable of doing two things at one time. Instead, it bounces back and forth between them. The result? It takes you 30-40% longer to get things done than if you were single tasking. Do one thing at a time — and focus in on it.”
“There is nothing that will make you more productive than spending time on Sunday doing a weekly review and putting the most important tasks and outcomes on your calendar. Then, like any other commitment you put on the calendar, keep that commitment. Productivity is about deciding what needs done and doing it. Productivity is about taking action.”
“I learned to keep a running task list at all times of what needs to be done, otherwise. How this works is, at the end of the work week (when everything is fresh in your mind), list bigger projects that need to be completed the following week. And, at the end of each working day, list the projects that need to be completed the following day. Even though interruptions pop up, you are on top of what truly needs to be accomplished. This process will save wasted hours each week enabling many more accomplishments through the year including fast tracking your business!”
Ultimately, there’s no single easy road to increased sales productivity. Being great at sales is hard, but practicing habits that give you incremental growth in efficiency every day can lead to incredible improvement over time.
Getting good at sales is a marathon, not a sprint, and by applying the practices of experienced pros, any salesperson can become a power-seller.
You can grab these tips in presentation form too!