A task.fm website visitor recently asked me to how can you increase the productivity of your sales team. As it is a question I receive regularly, I thought I would share my answer here.
The best thing a sales manager can do to increase the sales productivity of their sales team is to show them the difference between being busy and being effective. Just making more sales calls will not make a sales representative more productive, but making more of the right type of calls at the right time will. It may be an old cliché, but you just need to teach your team to work smarter, not harder.
For example, I was working with a sales representative who was a cold calling buzz saw. From morning until night, he would bang on doors, rarely stopping to even eat. Was he busy? You bet! Effective? Not even close! In fact, this sales rep was on the verge of dismissal for lack of sales production. This sales rep knew he had to make prospecting calls to be successful. The problem was that he really didn’t know how! On every call, instead of qualifying the prospect, he was just dropping off his business card at each door he called on. When you think about it, a Canada Post letter carrier could have done that for him!
The purpose of any prospecting call is for the sales representative and the prospect to agree to move to the next step in the sales process, normally the fact find. Not only must it be the right solution, it also must be at the right time. In other words, a prospecting call is considered successful if your sales representative can answer the following questions:
- Is this company actually a prospect?
- If yes, are they a prospect today?
- If not today, then when?
Whether your sales representatives are knocking on a door, telemarketing, or about to send an email to another social network contact, if they do not plan to answer these questions, they are only wasting their and the prospect’s time. They may be busy, but they simply will not be as effective as they could be.
To make your sales representatives more productive, have them first rehearse a headline that generates interest before they make their next prospecting call. Then, have them create 3 to 5 qualifying questions to help determine if they are working with the right prospect at the right time. These questions should be designed around discovering the prospect’s buying cycle and when they may be purchasing your product next.
Lastly, and most importantly, for those that are not prospects today, create a follow up file system to make sure you contact them when they will be. Most sales people take the time to enter contact information like name, phone number and email address into their CRM systems and PDAs. However many forget the most important information, that being “Next Sales Contact Date”. Without this, even the most expensive CRM programs are only glorified phone books.
Any time I coach sales people, I ensure they understand their prospects buying cycles, and change their filing method of contacts from alphabetical to the date of next contact. This simple change always improves their follow-up call effectiveness, and more importantly, their sales results improve dramatically!
For more ways on how to make your sales team more productive, check out Action Plan For Sales Management Success. This book not only discusses what to do, but more importantly, it shows you how to do it!