We often talk about productivity in sales and getting more work done faster. In Stacy Macnaught’s article, “Cut Your Hours and Get More Done With These 4 Small Changes”, she writes “Working smarter doesn’t necessarily mean working longer hours. In fact, working hugely inflated hours could be completely counterproductive.” She argues that we waste a lot of time during the day without really realizing it. Her four ideas to help boost productivity:

  1. Work Pomodoro. The Pomodoro technique is when you work for twenty-five minutes, completely focusing on a task. Put your phone away, music off, and close other browsers. After twenty-five minutes then you get a five-minute break.
  2. Axe Digital Distractions. “Social media, emails, online shopping, and videos are amongst the many distractions that cut productivity.”
  3. Ditch that To-Do List. "To do lists don’t work!" Macnaught says, identifying their two main problems: 
  • It is demotivating to see things added to the list faster than they are ticked off.
  • Lists do not identify priorities- and the easiest tasks always get done first. 

So swap the to-do list for a task management app or a calendar with an estimate of how long it might take.”

  1. Work during your most productive hours. If you have flexibility in your position, focus on working when you know you will be most productive. I find working in the morning and evening easiest, with a break in the afternoon. “So whenever I can adapt my hours, I get more done.” Figure out your most productive hours. 

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2. Why Your Sales Training is Failing Your Salespeople

Cian McLoughlin reminds us of this anonymous quote, “You train animals, you develop people.” Too often the first response to poor sales performance is hiring an external trainer or to purchasing a program. “Ask yourself this: If you’ve put your team through an external training or coaching program in the past 12 months, how much of that expensive information have they retained or are actively putting to use today? The likely answer would be not very much at all. Instead they will recall less than 5% of what they heard and instead will have defaulted back to their old comfortable selling habits.”

The main reason why outside training doesn’t work is because it misses the power of “why”. “Traditional sales training rarely works in the real world, because it’s based on a collection of assumptions and theoretical scenarios, as opposed to the commercial reality facing most sales professionals in their day-to-day activities.” McLoughlin further says the problem with these programs is that they aren’t tailored to the key focus of your individual sales team members.

Imagine, if our CLIENTS ran sales programs for our members based on their own experience. Why hasn’t this been done? It certainly is something to think about. Why it hasn’t been done yet:

  • We never realized it was an option
  • We don’t know how to ask for their help
  • Because hearing candid, unfiltered feedback from our customers makes us nervous

Incorporate some sort of feedback from your clients about your sales team, and work that into being your own training.

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If you are looking to break away from traditional coaching programs, Hirevue Coach offers an on-demand, easily updatable alternative that puts you in the perfect position to coach on an as-needed basis. 

 3. Boosting Sales Productivity With Sales Enablement and Analytics

Boosting sales productivity is the primary goal of every sales team. Shelley Cernel provides four ways that productivity can be boosted with Sales Enablement.

  1. Enable reps with the right content at the right time. "Sales reps spend 30% of their day looking for or creating content... yet 70% of content never gets used by sales because they can't find relevant material," Cernel says. Sales enablement tools provide this content on an as-needed basis, freeing up valuable time to make sales. 
  2. Support the team with just-in-time coaching. "87% of training content is forgotten within weeks," Cernel claims. "Sales enablement tools such as playbooks allow sales leaders to provide their teams with just-in-time coaching and best practices to ensure they have what they need to further the deal." By providing relevant information in an on-demand format, rather than that of a seminar, sales reps are not bogged down with the responsibility of recalling every minute detail. This allows them to put their focus into selling, rather than remembering. What's more, sales enablement has the capability to identify top performers and can work to replicate their methodologies across the team.
  3. Identify opportunities for improvement in the pipeline. A stalled prospect is a non-purchasing prospect. Sales enablement tools can identify trends and opportunities for improvement. "Management can gain intelligence into sales rep performance, as well as insights about how the organization's overall content mix is performing." This allows adjustments to be made as needed to improve any deleterious aspects of the pipeline. 
  4. Establish a feedback loop between sales and marketing. Cernel states that the best way for many companies to boost productivity is to work smarter- "sales and marketing need to maintain a continuous feedback loop, sharing both information and content." The insights gained by sales reps might be highly valuable to the marketing team, and the content created by the marketing team could very well make a sale. A sales enablement tool pushes recommendations from the marketing team to the sales team and creates feedback for marketing to reflect on, all in an automated fashion.

Want to learn more about sales enablement and its successful implementation? Click here

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4. How to Master the Four "Goldilocks Steps" of Sales Management

In his article "How to Master the Four "Goldilocks Steps" of Sales Managment, David Mattson paints a picture of two sales manager extremes. On one end of the spectrum lies the overzealous micromanager- on the other, the "hands-off" manager who is only interested in the end result. Like in the tale of Goldilocks, there is a middle path of sales management, one that is "just right." He provides four steps to a successful sales management strategy: 

  1. Identify clear team goals. "You can't hold people accountable to specific outcomes unless they clearly understand what it is they are working toward," Mattson says. This does not necessarily mean creating each rep's gameplan- but it does mean tying those goals to corporate initiatives and stating when goals are expected to be met.
  2. Make it personal. Tying goals to an individual provides impetus to succeed outside of corporate maneuvering. Measurable and time-bound goals allow salespeople to take a more personal interest in their own success.
  3. Set priorities. Make sure your team members know the priority of each task. Goals of high value, "that directly relate to corporate initiatives and contribute to the accomplishment of other goals," should be at the top of the list.
  4. Collaborate on an action plan. Work with your team members to build a plan of action. This is the "just right" zone- you are not delegating pre-formed action plans, nor are you leaving them derelict to their own devices. Working with sales representatives to identify milestones and ways of getting there not only builds a path to measure progress, it creates accountability.

But most importantly, let salespeople do what they do best. Top performers will be able to operate relatively autonomously, while weaker members of the team may need more assistance. Sales enablement software allows this assistance to be given at a moment's notice, and makes it easy to identify what makes top sellers perform so well. 

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5. Are you Giving Bad Sales Demos?

To ensure you’re not giving bad sales demos, Russell Mcguire gives these tips:

  • Research before you go. Call the prospect and ask what they need. Inquire as to who will be present at the demo. Then fine-tune your demo to suit those needs. 
  • Remember that they are not there to hear you talk, they want to learn about the product. Personality-boosting exercises and witty phrases will not sell the product- the product will sell the product. Work with your sales engineer to determine the best way to present the product's advantages. Think of the 'why' they are there.
  • Be engaging. Of course, shifting the attention from your personal attributes to the product's does not mean you can't tell a good story. Engage with the customer, and "recap on if the tool meets their needs." If it did not, ask what could be done to better tailor it. Do what you can to address these concerns and keep them in mind for your next demo. 
  • Set up the next steps. It could be a follow-up call, a calendar invite, or an email- but no matter the medium, ensure that steps are taken to further the potential customer down the sales funnel. Don't forget to ask the hard questions and ask if the prospect is interested in moving forward in the buying process. 

What would you add? What effective sales demos strategies do you have?

Find Russell: LinkedIn

Want to get more out of your 1:1? Check out this leader's advice here

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