Sales is an incontrovertibly competitive field. So naturally, the competitive people who make up that field are always looking to improve their performance, from first contact to close. This article will detail how the combination of empowered salespeople and effective processes (such as click-to-dial) can light a fire under a sales department’s productivity.
Boosting sales productivity is a matter of enhancing both the salespeople’s performance and the tools at their disposal.
The sales metrics that matter to productivity
The evaluation of a sales team’s performance is driven by metrics. Potentially countless metrics. To avoid buried under raw data, it’s important to decide which to take into account. The following indicators are proven ways to appraise a sale team’s effectiveness, both as a whole and per salesperson.
Lead response time
When it comes to following up on sales leads in the hopes of closing a sale, time is of the essence. Moving quickly doesn’t give the lead time to get cold, since prospects themselves view a company with a prompt response rate as more professional. In the study linked above, the Harvard Business Review found that salespeople who sprung into action within an hour were seven times more likely to qualify the lead.
Rate of contact and follow-up
The rate of contact measures the ratio of generated opportunities to total outbound calls. If salespeople are struggling to reel in opportunities, then it may be time to review their process and make it more impactful.
Persistence is also important to a sales team’s success. On average, a sale requires five follow-up efforts, yet almost half of salespeople give up after one “no”.
Cost of sales/revenue ratio
This metric assesses the overall efficiency and profitability of your sales team. It takes into account salaries, commissions, training and coaching time, etc., to give you an idea of the investment needed to get a salesperson to a certain performance level. Measuring your ratio against industry average will let you know if you are wisely investing time and money in the betterment of your team.
The opportunity/win ratio measures the ability to close, which is a hugely important skill. A salesperson or sales team might be great at networking and qualifying a lead only to find that every deal falls through at closing time. If that’s the case, it’s time to examine emails and call recordings
in order to improve sales pitches.
Average deal size determines whether sales agents are wisely allotting their effort and time. It helps flag a deal that may not be worth pursuing, even if it seems like it will be easier to close than a more ambitious one. If your average deal size is smaller than you’d like, you’ll need to reassess your target customer and review your lead qualification process with the marketing department.
Sales cycle length
Keeping track of the average time your team needs to close a deal can identify a host of ways to improve their process. A sales cycle is made up of individual stages, all of which can potentially be tightened up. If a particular sale has been stuck in one stage for too long, that’s a red flag. Finding why sales are being delayed and remedying the problem will keep your sales cycle moving along without prospects dropping out.
Regularly gauging employee satisfaction and engagement is an often neglected in favor of more revenue-driven performance metrics. However, engaged employees perform better: they’re more focused on the right deals, more persistent, more effective, and generally on top of their game.
Employee churn can be a real thorn in a sales department’s side. If a business cannot retain its salespeople, it cannot hope to build a sustainable relationship with customers, nor plan ahead for growth. Measuring customer satisfaction and encouraging customer engagement should be a concern for every business, but employee satisfaction and engagement are no less crucial.
Taking productivity shortcuts (click-to-dial, call logging, etc.)
In order to empower salespeople and drive their productivity, the tools at their disposal need to make sales and customer interaction in general easier, not more of a chore. Luckily, there exist a number of technological shortcuts available to salespeople that are leaps and bounds ahead of a landline and a trusty Rolodex. This is where switching to a cloud-based VoIP phone system comes in.
A click-to-dial feature lets salespeople place calls more expeditiously when they’re using a virtual phone system. Click-to-dial saves salespeople the effort of manually typing in a phone number. Instead, in a single click, users are able to:
- Call numbers directly from within their CRM/Helpdesk.
- Call numbers displayed on web pages, emails, etc., as long as they are in a standard phone number format.
- Log call activity directly into their other professional tools.
This may not sound revolutionary, but think of it this way: say that manually dialling a number takes three seconds, assuming you don’t make a typo and get it right on the first try. Copying and pasting takes a similar amount of time. Assuming salespeople place tens, or dozens, or hundreds of calls a day (depending on their activity), those three seconds add up. Click-to-dial shaves off those seconds. The feature affords salespeople extra minutes each day to focus their attention on more worthwhile tasks than dialling.
That’s why we’re using the click-to-dial function as an example of a shortcut salespeople can take when seeking to improve their productivity. The shortcut doesn’t depreciate quality or the personal touch of their work, it simply eliminates effort expended on a thankless and repetitive task, freeing up salespeople to work their magic on other matters.
Automatic call logging
After placing a call, it can be logged automatically within a virtual phone system. This removes the need for mid-call note-taking, which is distracting and counterproductive. The call can also be logged across various applications, such as a CRM. This eliminates the need for salespeople to switch between platforms, and use a single, unified interface instead.
A call tagging feature labels a call with valuable information once it has been logged into your phone system and other business tools. It allows salespeople to better keep track of the advancement of a prospect through the sales funnel after every interaction.
A call can be tagged for:
- its outcome (a “no,” a “call back later,” a “call back next quarter”),
- its subject (“needs clarification,” “price is a pain point”),
- the prospect’s demeanor (“enthusiastic,” “hesitant,” “angry”).
This streamlines the reporting process; managers and sales reps are well-informed without getting bogged down in the details.
Call commenting and assigning
A good number of sales calls will require some cooperation. Salespeople will need to consult with tech, support, or management in order to present a prospect with the best possible offer. Being able to assign calls to the right person and leave an explanatory comment is invaluable in these situations.
First, being able to communicate quickly and easily with teammates and managers saves overall time for everyone, just like call tagging. Second, every stage of the sale’s progression is tracked and logged, so that nothing slips through the tracks. Assigning and commenting calls encourages and facilitates inter- and intradepartmental collaboration.
Voicemail drop can save salespeople time much in the same way as click-to-dial. Often, sales calls reach an answering service rather than the intended party; and salespeople often leave identical voicemails introducing themselves and requesting to be called back.
Voicemail drop lets salespeople record voicemail templates and leave them automatically to a prospect. As with click-to-dial, these collectively saved minutes will add up. Moreover, every voicemail will sound equally professional since your team will have carefully composed the model beforehand.
Local numbers can give your sales team a leg up, especially during cold-calling campaigns. Prospects are more likely to take a call or listen to a voicemail from an unknown number if it’s from their area. This yields a higher conversion rate, simply by tweaking your caller ID.
Salespeople can get closer to their prospects by using a number with a familiar area code. By seeming physically closer, they’ll come off as more trustworthy.
Possibly the greatest strength of modern business applications is that they are designed to integrate with one another. Integrating, say, your phone system with your CRM provides a unified interface and frees up salespeople’s time in the process.
Integrating your phone system or email platform with, say, your CRM, also expedites reporting and performance analytics. Keeping tabs on individual or collective performance is more straightforward. This enables managers to make data-driven decisions on the direction of their sales team.
Knowledge bases and marketing content
Marketing and content departments strive to produce content to entice prospects and engage customers. However, that content often goes unused or forgotten, simply because salespeople don’t know where to easily find it or even that it’s available to them. In fact, salespeople spend an average of six hours a week looking for content to use.
Knowledge bases and content should be staples tools in salespeople’s arsenals. If they’re going to be useful to salespeople and prospects alike, knowledge bases should be informative and up to date. Content should be targeted and actionable. Both should be readily available and easy to find, such as in a shared folder everyone can access. If you find that your marketing content is still gathering dust, it’s possible that your sales team just doesn’t grasp its potential, and don’t realize that, when it comes to lead-generation and conversion, content simply works.
What are your sales productivity shortcuts? We’d love to know. In the meantime, have you tried Aircall’s virtual phone system for sales teams?