According to Salesforce, 68 percent of the average sales rep’s time is spent not selling. Think about that for a moment. If you can reduce downtime and double sales productivity, that’s the equivalent of doubling your salesforce without adding headcount. This is good for the company, and it’s even better for the employee who would much rather be in front of customers than doing non-value-added work at their desk.
All sales people are encumbered by myriad activities that take them “out of the field,” including keeping their CRM records up-to-date, staying on top of email, making appointments, securing special pricing, generating quotes, managing collections, gathering team members to do a demo, supporting after-sales questions and issues and keeping management updated. Many of these actions need to take place, but there is a clear distinction between value-added activities and non-value-added ones that could be delegated, streamlined or eliminated altogether.
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Productivity has been a priority over my entire career, starting with my days as a channel reseller representative and continuing until today in sales operations. My responsibilities include improving efficiencies and simplifying processes for our customers, partners and sales team. I believe productivity is even more challenging for channel sellers, since their role is to develop a complete solution for their customers, which involves putting together hardware, software and services from numerous manufacturers. This requires managing each vendor’s policies and programs to ensure they’re offering the right promotions, the best products, accurate pricing and an effective value proposition on your behalf. For solution providers to enhance work efficiency and make the most of their time, it’s crucial to follow these productivity tips.
1. Select the best vendors. Understand and communicate which vendors are simplifying the experience for your team — from enablement to resources, from demand to support. Give your vendors feedback on what is working and what you need from them to simplify every process and program for your channel sales reps.
2. Implement delightful technology. Deploy technology that improves productivity, along with business rules that make the technology delightful versus burdensome. These include:
- A CRM that makes it easy to manage customers and opportunities.
- Mobile tools to do the job any time, anywhere.
- Security strategies that enhance productivity, but aren’t so overbearing that employees circumvent the policies.
3. Deliver insights and analysis. Provide information regarding assignments, customers, territories, market trends and predictive analysis. With tools and data, you can rapidly increase sales productivity. For example, letting reps know that “customers that buy x typically add y in 6 months,” or “this list of customers is ready for an upgrade,” saves hours of time and gives your reps a ready-made script.
4. Use incentives judiciously. Incentives can be used to prop up productivity: e.g., contests for completing tasks that are productivity basics, or spiffs for specific products. Using incentives wisely can focus your sales team on the critical few items for a specific time period.
5. Make resources available. Provide all the necessary resources — along with clear expectations of when and how to engage — in order to ensure optimal productivity for all of your teams.
- Engineering: When should presales be used? What are the expectations for a sales rep before engaging presales? When can a rep engage a support engineer and how?
- Management: Is the rep expected to bring executives into their top accounts on a regular basis or only when there is an escalation?
- Marketing: Make sure your sales reps understand what they can expect from marketing — everything from pipeline contribution to value propositions, blitz scripts and special offers. A partnership between sales and marketing is a big productivity enabler.
- Vendor information: Since channel reps need to compile pieces from many vendors into a complete solution for their customer, they need easy access to vendor resources.
Ultimately, building up a successful sales team for both vendors and channel resellers takes time, collaboration and investment in productivity — on an individual and enterprise level. Fast Company shares 15 habits, Entrepreneur offers 10 tips and Harvard Business Review has addressed this topic in many articles. No matter what source you go to for productivity tips, find a few that work so you and your team can close more channel sales this year. Good selling!
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