You need to spend less time punching numbers, updating spreadsheets and preparing reports.
If your team spends more time selling - the result will be more commissions, increased conversion rates and happier exec’s.
Sales teams have more tools, tech and processes to worry about than ever before. You need to learn how to use these to your advantage rather than wallowing in endless admin tasks.
A heightened strategic emphasis on sales at an executive level, coupled with stats like “40% of salespeople’s time is spent on non-client-facing work” means that sales managers are under increasing pressure to get the most out of their team.
We want to help you beat the board’s questioning with some simple productivity hacks to free up more selling time for your slick, well-oiled sales machine.
Try these simple time scheduling overhauls this quarter and start streamlining your sales straight away.
- No-messing military meetings and weekly planning
- Quick cheats for your team to get it right each time
- Create hundreds more man hours a year very simply
- Breakdown the big picture in small tasks, team-wide
- Ramp up and scale with specialized skill-grouping
- Get growth support with in and outsourced value-adds
1. Weekly Planning
Make regular time management part of your team routine. Whether it’s in a Google Sheet, a shared workspace or an email directly to you every Monday morning - give your team ownership of their week to help them consider how best to spend their time.
Think of SMART objectives and get your team to nail down specifics:
- What meetings are scheduled with whom
- Who is prospecting with which list
- When is each team member pipeline due to be flushed
Create a simple instructional key for the doc to make uploads simple and fast
This will not only make sure things get done, but it will also give you greater visibility so you know what your team are doing at any given time. You can be confident your team are focusing their time on the highest priority actions (and if not, you can jump in and proactively manage and adjust workloads to suit your most important goals).
This simple tool can help each individual salesperson prioritize their workload each week. One simple clarification of tasks at the start of the week can save so much time in each salesperson’s day-to-day activity. They could even tick off or color tasks out once they’re complete, giving them that sense of achievement.
Weekly planning example:
|Prospecting B||Emails||Travel||Travel||Prospecting A|
|RFP MVL||Scheduling||Meeting AOL||Pitch RF||Prospecting A|
|RFP MVL||Flush Pipeline 3||Meeting Prep||Pitch RF||Prospecting A|
|KPI Tracking||Expenses||Meeting MS||Meeting SN||Wrap Up|
2. Block Meetings
In the weekly schedule above, notice that meetings only occur for this salesperson on the Wednesday and Thursday.
Combine travel time into a batch of one or two days a week.
You can avoid so many hours of potentially wasted time. Instead of travelling to one meeting at a time (many of which might not convert) - try to plan meetings in the same region at the same time.
It’s good for some organisations to encourage meetings, and you may find more occur when there’s portioned time for it - if anything, you could use the saved time to test what impact more face to face time has on conversion. Or you can even get more emailing, cold calling or closing time back.
A triple win, this tactic will:
- Reduce the concentration killer of multi-tasking and recalculating between tasks
- Enable clarity and regularity for team schedules and meetings
- Encourage team members to get the most out of dedicated meeting days
3. Military Meetings
How do you make meetings more productive?
Take some bootcamp inspiration.
You need decision-oriented meetings with a focus on discussing deals succinctly. Start developing a habit of ending the meeting with the question ‘how can we progress this deal?’
Direct actions in response to this question are by far the most productive.
Don’t fall into the trap of that regular meeting that drags on into all kinds of debate.
Set the tone!
Why not call it the ‘20 minute meeting’ when scheduling in everyone’s diary to clearly manage expectations?
Follow a simple structure each week, like:
- Last week’s wins
- Outstanding deals
- Team member goal tracking
- Reiterate action points
Give people the chance to voice any topic, but within a culture that frowns upon wasting colleagues times unnecessarily.
If a topic isn’t relevant to the team, offer to take it ‘offline’.
Being available for one-on-one discussions make for a good leader, as does working smarter and setting a positive, assertive tone.
4. Equip and Enable Your Sales Team with Time-Saving Content
Reserve your sales team brain power for going the extra mile to close deals. Why not make their lives as easy as possible with basic enablement.
You might be fortunate enough to have a marketing department that provide informed, useful sales enablement content. But that’s usually reserved for larger corporations.
This content doesn’t have to have Oscar-worthy production value. It can be as simple as providing some shared lists or assets just to help reduce the typing and retyping of info by salespeople that’s just not needed.
Your Miniature Sales Enablement Content Checklist
- Reusable and customizable email templates
- Meeting proposition
- Post pitch, why us / why not survey
- Prospecting questionnaire (not as prescriptive as a ‘script’, more of a guide - think BANT)
- Meeting preparation checklist
- The 2 sentence ‘one sheeter’
- Who the company is
- Solutions (2 sentences with hyperlinks to assets)
- What makes you different to the competition
- Industry case studies (2 sentences with hyperlinks to assets)
You get the idea. Why make salespeople spend their time trying to think of new (and not as good ways) to describe offerings and positioning against the competition if that’s a problem that’s already been solved?
Teams often use different assets every day with no idea what their fellow team members are using. A few enablement hours could save them days of collective wasted time each sales cycle.
5. Make Extra Time During More Productive Hours
Put simply some sales leaders find more time to generate productivity.
It’s not for everyone, but one way to get ahead of the competition could be starting your team's day an hour earlier. An additional hour every day from a team of three could be an extra 720 hours spent selling annually. How could that translate into revenue? Could it be game-changing for your business?
If you think this decision could tank morale levels - find a strategic middle ground. Add the hour to your team’s Tuesday afternoon and allow the team to slash an hour off their least productive day (probably a Friday afternoon).
Our report on Sales Productivity Around The World gives some interesting insights about the impact of lunch breaks on closing rates. You might find your team performs better when focusing their effort at different times of the day.
6. Develop Back-to-Front Goals
Keeping team members focused can be a challenge.
KPIs and daily, monthly and annual sales goals can help to give your team direction. OR they can cause stress, confusion and pressure.
Your goals absolutely cannot be unrealistic and unachievable.
Unstretchable ‘stretch’ goals can obliterate morale and motivation amongst your team.
The best way to help manage and schedule time to put sales goals within reach?
Understand the specific individual tasks it takes to achieve a sale.
Pipedrive’s founders and sales following have seen results by focusing on the things you CAN control - actions.
Speaking to 20 prospects a day seems achievable.
Earning $1000 a day feels more abstract.
You can work back from previous sales to understand the average actions it takes to close and schedule team tasks by time from there. Read more in ‘how to set sales goals for double digit growth’.
7. Get Skills-Smart by Creating Specialized Roles
You can turbo charge productivity by reducing confusion amongst your sales team and offering clear delineation of roles.
It’s a good manager’s job to develop clean and relevant skill divisions, allowing specialists to perfect their area of expertise.
Find out what each individual excels in and play to their strengths. The added responsibility of owning their own patch will spur them on to greater success (and allow them to fine tune their specific skill and drop other time-sucking aspects of their day-to-day).
Possible sales specialisms:
- Hunters (new customers)
- Farmers (existing customers)
- Products (tangible)
- Services (intangible)
KPMG recommends sales segmentation strategies as a way to better understand your sales and business data. More defined roles can create a greater sense of ownership and increase overall performance.
Of course, it also just makes sense that if someone is doing one thing most of the time they will become more experienced and proficient in that specific role..
8. Seek New Value
There’s no denying it, your sales team are a finite resource. While some initiatives can be sales lead - your team might not be best placed to take on other business projects.
Market intelligence and new technology initiatives will allow salespeople to make the best use of their busy schedule, but it might not make sense for your sales team to lead or manage these projects.
If your company are serious about growth, sales has to be enabled to achieve it.
The good thing about a sales culture is that it can be top-down.
Senior management can encourage growth by assigning non-sales specific enablement projects to other teams and people within the business.
Keep your sales team’s purpose simple.
Their job is to sell.
Anything they need to help them sell can be managed by another resource.
Some things your team might not have time to do amidst trying to reach existing targets:
- Market analysis
- Customer and partner relationship management
- Pricing expertise / consultancy (revenue driver)
- Proposal services
- Technological transformation
- Order management
Other scheduling winners like focusing on the 20% of your customers who bring you 80% of your revenue, automating administration with technology and completely eliminating unnecessary tasks are logical ways to spend your valuable time.
However, we might be crossing over into business strategy territory… so let’s leave that for another day - or the Managing Director ;)
One more really important timesaver for your entire sales team
A simple, sales-specific CRM will help you better organize and optimize your time. This is the type of technology that helps your sales team focus their time on selling rather than wasting their time on complicated admin procedures.
The right CRM can save you from drowning in administration.
The best software acts as a three-pronged asset for your team:
- An assistant for your salespeople
- A guided process to help focus and prioritize the salesperson’s efforts
- A champion to support and empower your sales staff
Here’s just a slither of the ways Pipedrive can help you slash the hours and hours you and your team waste on repeatable manual tasks:
- Access to intelligence anywhere, anytime via the mobile app
- Contact timelines for a quick sequential view of contact interactions
- See what was said, and when via emails synced by contact and deal
- Multiple visual pipeline views so you can track progress from one place
- We could go on...