Earlier this week Tibor Shanto wrote a great piece for our blog. The net/net was that a focused effort around increasing productivity could save a significant investment in headcount. I would like to expand on his thought process but to start; here's the excerpt that sets the stage:
A few years back, in a piece in the Harvard Business Review, it was stated that an 8% improvement in the productivity of your existing sales team will result in the same sales growth as if you were to add 27% more reps. I am sure the numbers may have changed a in the three years since it was published, the underlying reality has not. In fact what has changed is the ability of organizations and managers to add headcount, in the post-Lehman Brothers-era, cost restraint is the overriding mantra. So with the added stress and demands on the average sales rep and team, the question becomes how to achieve this productivity without distracting the team or breaking the camel's back.
So, here are 8 things that Sales Leaders can do to ensure that they get that 8% uplift:
- Look at your go-to-market strategy, look at it again then look at it one more time.
If you have implemented the same strategy in the last three companies you have worked for, you might want to take some time to lift up your head and check out what has changed. LOTS has and you want to be sure you are pushing the edge of the envelope with your sales and marketing strategy.
- Get creative with the roles and responsibilities of your team.
Just because you have 8 field or inside sales reps it doesn't mean they all have to do the same job. Figure out what your market dictates and how you can best serve your buyers then build your implementation around their requirements. Focus your resources where they will have the most impact.
- Bond with marketing. Marketing is the new black.
There has never been a better time to be a Marketing Executive (oh wait, maybe in the days of the internet bubble when the fish jumped into the boat but other than that, now is good!) Marketing is smarter, more communicative and better armed with knowledge and technology than ever before. Make your Marketing counterpart your "work husband/wife" and spend as much time with them as you do with your team. It will pay off!
- Pay attention to what is important and not just what is urgent.
You got the job because you are smart, know the market and can sell the heck out of the product. Share your knowledge! Don't be holed up in your office pushing metrics around for your next board meeting. Get out there and coach your team. If you haven't walked in their shoes lately then you can't bitch about how fast they walk.
- Invest in technology intelligently.
Technology will not solve your problems. Only a great process that is executed flawlessly can solve your problems. So before you buy that next shiny new thing make sure you have defined, documented and communicated your sales process. Then after you have done that, make sure that the technology you already have is being used to its utmost. OK, now you can look at the shiny new thing.
- Do a better job at hiring.
Is your hiring process impeccable? Would you consider your hiring process a science or an art? Do you keep hiring people that you "feel good" about and then get frustrated when they don't perform? Hiring is the most important thing you can do. Where does it fall on your priority list? Is it a burden or a joy? The answer to that question tells the tale.
- Invest in success.
OK so you hired great people. Don't assume they can figure out how to be successful. Every driver needs a roadmap when they begin a new trip. Look at your existing sales tools and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. If you are a 7 or below - invest! How much time is wasted with Reps creating their own tools today?
- Ask and ye shall receive. Don't be afraid to ask your team what they need to be more productive.
They know and they will tell you. Don't pay attention to the one-offs, but do pay attention when you see consistency. If they need tools, give them tools. If they need training, get them training. Don't be the roadblock to productivity - be the road to success!
So get out there and achieve your 8% uptick in productivity. You can do it! Please share your thoughts.
(Photo credit: mixergirl)