Sales Management

5 Keys to a More Productive Sales Team

July 27, 2022

9 mins read

Productive Sales Team

5 Keys to a More Productive Sales Team

Productivity is universally sought after — no matter where you work, what you do, or how much experience you have. Optimizing for productivity can feel like a never ending mission.

Those working in sales know the importance of productivity — and the impact of productivity loss — all too well. Because when salespeople aren’t productive, it’s quickly and easily visible in the numbers.

Earlier this year, we built a report:The State of High Performing Sales Teams. The report uncovers how productive salespeople are feeling and what the major factors are playing into their productivity. Fortunately, 84% of people agree or strongly agree they’re productive at work. What are the biggest factors contributing to this? And what’s needed for the remaining 16% of people to get there?

84% of people working in sales strongly agree or agree they're productive at work

In this article, we’ll walk through:

  • Why sales productivity is important
  • The 5 most important factors for sales productivity (according to data)
  • Strategies for increasing the productivity of your sales team

Why is sales productivity important?

Sales productivity is imperative to the health and growth of a company. While different teams focus on different KPIs, sales productivity is ultimately about efficiency of output. How many calls are you booking? What’s your close rate? And, ultimately, are you hitting revenue targets? Numbers don’t lie, and when your sales team isn’t productive, it’s clear.

While it’s evident when sales productivity isn’t up to par, it’s not always as clear what’s causing it. How productive your sales team is relies on a lot of different factors — and they vary by person and team.

At Hypercontext, we recently collected data on the top factors that impact productivity, according to salespeople. In the next section, we’ll look at the findings.

5 things sales teams need to be more productive

In our recent report on the state of high performing sales teams, we asked salespeople what 3 factors most impacted their productivity. The top 5 results were:

  1. Clear expectations and goals
  2. Seeing how work impacts the bigger picture
  3. Access to resources
  4. Well-defined process
  5. Flexibility (in terms of where and when they work)

61% of salespeople agree "clear expectations and goals" is a top factor impacting productivity graphic

1. Clear expectations and goals

Clear expectations and goals is a top factor impacting productivity, no matter what team you work on.

This finding isn’t surprising.

The first step to getting stuff done is an understanding of exactly what needs to get done. For example, what numbers need to be hit? What accounts should be prioritized? Who’s responsible for what?

When salespeople understand their goals and what’s expected of them, it creates a sense of accountability and ownership which leads to greater buy-ins. And rather than spending time trying to figure out what they should be doing, they can spend their time and energy actually doing the work towards hitting targets.

2. Seeing how work impacts the bigger picture

Building on the need for clear goals and expectations, it needs to be clear how those goals impact the bigger picture.

The majority of salespeople agree: Transparency is key!

The reality is, the closer you are to the frontlines, the less likely you are to have visibility into the bigger-picture company goals and vision.

This is a huge miss.

People want to feel like they belong and are contributing to something bigger. Not only is it important for their own motivation, it’s important for buy-in. Your salespeople are customer facing, and if they don’t buy into what the company is doing, how will they convince customers to be? This is why you need to make the impact of individual work known, and provide visibility and insight into what’s happening at a company wide level. Michelle Pietsch, VP of Revenue at Dooly, explained the importance of transparency best in a recent panel discussion:



3. Access to resources

Access to the right resources is one of the top 3 factors that impact productivity. What’s more, this is actually unique to salespeople. When looking at data from a variety of teams working in tech, access to resources is listed as the 5th most important factor. When we narrow it down to salespeople specifically, it’s the 3rd.

Having the right tools in place has a huge impact on sales efficiency and preparedness. Time kills all deals. You want your team to be ready when they’ve reached the “moment of truth” with the customer. Proper tools and resources help support a smooth operating cadence that allows salespeople to close deals. Oftentimes, this includes:

The thing is, no two people are the same, and your team members will all have their preferences when it comes to the tools and resources they want. It’s important to take into account what each of your reps is looking for, but also narrow it down to the essentials. Because having too many resources can be just as bad as not having enough. Figure out what will work best for everyone collectively.

4. Well-defined process

Merriam Webster defines process as a “series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.”

With so many moving parts, from prospecting and outreach to internal alignment and hitting goals, it’s no wonder a third of salespeople agree a well-defined process plays a huge role in their productivity.

The best sales leaders I know have a well defined buyer process and strong internal operating cadences in place. These allow information to flow smoothly throughout the organization, and they help salespeople focus their time so they can hit their targets faster.

5. Flexibility

While a well defined process is important, so is flexibility. Flexibility in this case refers to where and when people work.

In fact, according to this ADP survey, two thirds of workers would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full time. The freedom to work where and when you want isn’t only essential for productivity, it’s a core part of retention. And if you can’t retain your team, you’re definitely not going to be as productive as you want to be.

Everyone works differently, so the more freedom you can give people to work in a way that suits them, the better.

The most common reason why so many employers remain rigid, despite what we’ve learned in the last couple of years, is a lack of trust. When there’s a lack of trust, micromanaging increases, and flexibility decreases. It’s a recipe for turnover and loss of motivation.

My best tip for building trust? Have consistent one-on-ones.

Strategies to increase sales productivity  

Based on the above data, I’ve put together some strategies you can start implementing today to increase sales team productivity.

Talk about goals weekly

According to The State of High Performing Teams in Tech report, discussing goals weekly or bi-weekly increases confidence in hitting them by 2.7X.

If you’re not repeating your goals to the point where you feel redundant, you’re probably not talking about them enough.

I’m not only talking about your targets, I’m talking big-picture company goals. It may feel repetitive to you, but people forget most information. While goals might be clear to you, if you’re not talking about them regularly, they’re likely not clear to your team. The more you talk about your goals, the more likely your team is to remember them, and ultimately, understand how they impact them.

Hold a weekly team wide fireside

This is a tactic recommended by Nathan Sparks, CRO at Kandji, and one that I love. He hosts a weekly fireside chat with his entire revenue organization to keep them filled in on the “why” behind the “what.”

In other words, it’s a time to share learnings from the week and keep the team informed on company- and team-wide goings on — allowing everyone to better understand where they fit into the bigger picture.

If you want to improve transparency on your sales team, it’s worth giving his weekly fireside template a try.

Survey your team about what they need

Access to the right resources is imperative to the success and productivity of your sales team. But what does “the right resources” mean? While there are some foundational tools and resources that are commonly considered useful, everyone’s different.

The first step is asking your team what they need. Try doing a survey and evaluating your current tech stack to see where it can be cleaned up and identify gaps.

Do a meeting audit

It’s clear that process is an important part of sales productivity. A good place to start looking is internally. What does your flow of information look like? If you’re not aligned with your team (and the organization at large), it’ll be difficult to establish an efficient process.

Start by doing an audit of your internal sales meetings. Take into account the timing of each meeting and cadence. Maybe team meetings need to happen more regularly or be combined. Maybe you need meetings with your frontline staff earlier in the week so you can address field feedback quickly and are equipped with the right information to share with execs.

Take a look at all the meetings happening on your team, and identify where efficiencies can be found — don’t leave it to chance.

Have one-on-ones

Last, but definitely not least, having consistent one-on-ones is a strategy that can increase productivity. There’s a clear correlation between one-on-ones and company growth. 100% of people working at a company with 3X growth in the last year have one-on-ones. On the other hand, only 38% of people working at companies experiencing stalled growth have one-on-ones.

Why is this? It’s an important part of building trust — which leads to more flexibility. It’s also a dedicated space to stay in the loop and have conversations around goals, expectations, impact, and more. One-on-ones give you the opportunity to help your team members maintain their productivity, rather than trying to fix it in retrospect.

Moving forward, productively

As a sales leader, a lot of the top factors impacting productivity are in your control. Talking about goals and expectations often, keeping your team in the loop, asking your team what they need, and creating a dedicated space to touch base regularly are a few strategies you can implement on your team today.

For more on how to create and retain a high performing sales team, you can check out Hypercontext’s recent report — The State of High Performing Sales Teams — and tune into our LinkedIn live on August 11.


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