Vice President of Sales at Copper
It's not always easy to increase sales productivity.
Did you know that 79% of all marketing leads never convert into sales? That the average sales cycle has increased by more than 20% over the past 5 years?
Here’s something else that might interest you: according to a study by Inside Sales, sales professionals spend only 37% of their workday talking with prospects.
So, what occupies them for the rest of their day? You guessed it: boring stuff like data entry, writing emails, and scheduling meetings. The usual suspects:
No wonder most salespeople are struggling with sales productivity. They’re spending way too much time performing menial activities.
If you want to succeed in sales, you need to spend more time connecting with your prospects.
That’s not to say you should leave technology behind. In fact, using the right technology—and using it wisely—is key to giving your sales productivity the shot in the arm it needs.
So let’s get to it. Here are five powerful, actionable tips that will give your sales productivity a big boost:
1. Collect and manage your data in one place
We all know the pain of searching for bits and pieces of data in different apps, programs, files, and databases.
Even worse is having to mine through gigabytes of Excel spreadsheets to find what you need (not to mention manually entering the data into those spreadsheets to begin with).
In the world of sales, this can be a huge obstacle when it comes to lead management. How can you build strong relationships with your leads if you don’t have a full picture of their needs, wants, and interactions with your company?
CRMs are the easy solution to the siloed data dilemma.
One way that CRMs do this is by integrating with the tools that you're already using. For example, Copper’s G Suite integration automatically imports lead details from each team member’s Gmail account.
Once leads are in your CRM, details like contact details, rep activity, and email history are tracked in real time:
This way, everything is up-to-date and easily accessible—without extra time wasted on ensuring all that data gets put into the same place.
This helps leads flow smoothly through the sales funnel, from prospect to customer, with key details available to whoever needs them, whenever they need them.
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2. Create and use email templates
Personalized communication is an essential part of nurturing customer relationships.
The problem? Writing personalized emails, especially when you have to correspond with a ton of contacts, can be a huge timesuck.
And as a sales professional, chances are you’re receiving redundant email messages on a regular basis. Even if you’re trying to personalize every email, you’re bound to write the same statements and explanations over and over again.
Thankfully, most email clients and CRMs have an email template feature to help you cut your time writing personalized emails in half (or maybe even more). Template builders let you create dynamic email templates with minimal effort.
Some of these tools offer extra features for further streamlining.
For example, Copper’s template function uses merge fields for more efficient personalization. Merge fields are special tags or dynamic content used in your email templates that assign relevant content such as First Name, Last Name, Company Name, and so on:
As you’re creating a template, you’ll be given the option to name it as well. To avoid confusion, make sure it’s recognizable and relevant to the content you’re going to assign to it, then apply merge fields (basically custom fields) where appropriate before saving your template.
With the email template saved, you can use it to get a head start on your email message—that can be personalized in a click!
Add a few personal touches and you’ll be able to send a personalized email to a prospect or a customer in seconds.
3. Automate your workflows as much as possible
There are a number of workflow inefficiencies that can hurt your sales productivity.
From letting warm leads go cold to letting tasks and actions slip through the cracks, a lot can go wrong from first contact to signing a contract.
And frankly, there’s so much technology at your fingertips that it’s getting harder to justify these small errors turning into big consequences.
You can nip these issues in the bud by automating various steps in your sales cycle.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a CRM.
For example, my team uses Copper’s Workflow Automations to automatically trigger certain actions and events.
Here are some examples of how to create "if/then statements" for your workflow:
- If a new opportunity is created, then create a task to reach out to them.
- If a contact in the “follow-up” stage of your pipeline moves into the “presentation” stage, then create a task to schedule a product demo.
- If a rep closes a $5,000 deal at 5% commission, then automatically calculate a $250 commission to update in the CRM.
To learn more about what parts of your workflow can be automated, check out Copper’s workflow recipes:
When you have “smart” tools that do the busy work for you, you have more time to focus on hard-hitting sales activities, like nurturing leads, optimizing your processes, and building your team’s skills.
4. Optimize your cold calls using this tip
Some say cold calling is dead. We disagree. In fact, cold calling, if done right, can be an effective method in closing sales.
All you need is a little finesse, and some help from technology shouldn’t hurt.
Granted, not many people like being sold to, especially when the interruption comes from a complete stranger who happens to have your phone number.
But cold calling isn’t dead—and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
For starters, there are so many tools and resources you can use these days to research your prospects. Social pages, job listings, LinkedIn, you name it.
By using readily available resources in your prospecting efforts, you can find leads that fit your target audience (or customer persona), giving you a list of people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Most traditional best practices in cold calling should still apply once you have your prospect’s attention.
Create a cold-calling script and rework it until it’s perfect. Stay positive during the call. Focus on your client’s pain points and clearly articulate why your product is the best solution.
And if you want to get your entire team to be more productive, automation technology is your friend.
For starters, you could use a cloud-based program that allows you to make calls over the internet without the need for dedicated hardware and clunky phones.
It’s convenient in a number of ways, too. First off, you can make calls by simply clicking a telephone number on your screen—no more wasting time copy-and-pasting and hand-dialing anymore.
RingCentral, for instance, allows you to do this through its RingOut functionality:
You can also dramatically speed up your outbound calls by using an auto-dialer, a phone functionality that allows your phone system to automatically dial a list of phone numbers.
This way, you can make outbound calls in quick succession with minimal effort.
Most cloud-based phone systems also offer CRM integration, allowing you to pull relevant information about your prospect as soon as the dialer initializes the call.
You could, for instance, connect RingCentral with Copper, which would allow your salespeople to add valuable context to their phone conversations:
This helps you connect with your prospect better, increasing your chances of closing the sale.
5. Schedule meetings without long email chains
Meetings have become an expensive business.
According to a Harvard Business Review survey, unproductive meetings cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars each year—and 71% of senior managers feel meetings are inefficient.
The good news is that meetings can be productive if you’ve got a streamlined process in place.
For example, if you’re regularly scheduling meetings with prospects or one-on-ones with coworkers, then you could eliminate the back-and-forth emails by using a meeting scheduler.
Copper, for instance, has a meeting scheduler that sends a meeting invite straight from the email you’re composing, and the recipient is then given a list of available times (pre-selected by you). Here’s how it looks:
You can even use it to preset different meeting types and choose them directly from your email inbox.
Using this feature does two things:
- it makes the recipient familiar with the type of meeting they’ll be attending (saving a couple of back-and-forth emails), and
- it minimizes confusion about your availability as well.
Another way you can streamline the scheduling process is by adding the meeting to everyone’s calendar.
If everyone uses Google Calendar, then the simplest way to do this is to schedule the meeting from inside the calendar itself. (More GCal productivity hacks here.)
Just log into your calendar, add a new invite, and invite the attendees by mentioning their email addresses.
Google Calendar will pull up their calendar and you’ll be able to choose a time when everyone is available:
Just pick a time and date for the meeting, and it’ll be added to everyone’s schedule.
If you’re able to pull all of this off, you’ll be spending a lot less time organizing meetings and also boost productivity by preparing attendees beforehand.
Bonus tip: Boost efficiency with the Pomodoro Technique
One surefire path to inefficiency is to skip breaks and burn yourself out.
It’s in the research: studies show that regular breaks allow you to maintain sustained focus for long periods of time.
To ensure you and your team are getting adequate “mental downtime,” try the Pomodoro Technique.
Developed by productive consultant Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method where you break up your work in 25 minute blocks (called ‘Pomodoros’) with 5-minute breaks.
After four Pomodoros, you can take a longer break of 10 or 15 minutes. After the long break, you can start another Pomodoro Cycle. Rinse and repeat.
Here are a few Pomodoro timer apps to guide your practice:
Being organized also makes you more productive when selling. So before you do the Pomodoro Technique, create a list of tasks based on order of priority.
Pro-tip: For every 25-minute interval, focus on one task at a time, whether it’s sales prospecting, hunting for qualified leads, or making sales calls.
Ready to up your sales productivity game?
So there you have it: sales productivity tips that will help you keep your sales pipeline full and your bottom line strong.
By reducing the amount of time you spend on non-core selling activities, you’ll be able to focus more on nurturing your relationships with your customers. More importantly, it’ll be easier for you to turn those relationships into sales.