The past 12 months have been transformational for the sales profession, with sales reps and leaders adapting overnight to find new ways of selling and engaging their customers. 

While things are starting to return to normal, sales leaders are still looking for ways to make their businesses resilient and set their teams up for success. To help with this journey, we’ve created an ebook full of tips and strategies that can improve productivity and increase efficiency

To celebrate its launch, Justine Gribble, Regional Sales Director at Salesforce, shares her insights on how sales leaders can continue to prioritise productivity while staying agile enough to operate in challenging times and adapt to change as it comes.

Keeping connections in a virtual world

Staying meaningfully connected with stakeholders when you can’t be in a room together has presented a real challenge over the last eighteen months. We have had to find ways to cut through ‘Zoom fatigue’ to keep customers engaged and sales teams productive.

As leaders, this means being able to ‘read the room’ even when we’re not in the room. Listen carefully, watch for signals, stay curious and respond quickly. In our team meetings, for example, I ask everyone to do a show of hands to indicate where their energy level is on a scale of one to 10. On a Monday morning in the second week of another lockdown, that level is unsurprisingly low! So I need to adapt to that and lean in to lifting people up or shifting how I deliver my message. 

Being flexible enough to respond to these continuing challenges in how we connect with our teams and customers is crucial to maintaining productivity in the new normal.

Leveraging the productivity trifecta of time, trust and accountability

I always encourage my team to invest their time where they’re going to get the greatest output and to plan their days to that end. 

The sales world can be very noisy and it’s easy to get sidetracked or distracted, so time management becomes critical to productivity. Winging it just doesn’t work in this environment. And working really long hours isn’t a good indicator of productivity. 

Rather, it’s about figuring out what’s important and building your day around that. When someone doesn’t have a plan, you can see it in the numbers as they just aren’t as productive as when they block time for each priority. And one of those priorities can be a walk with the dog or a timeout somewhere calm – those elements are just as important to maintaining productivity as the hours spent on prospecting or client relationships. 

With so many of us now working from home all or some of the time, trust has taken on new importance when it comes to creating productive sales teams. I’m a big believer in doing the right thing when no one is watching and instil that value in my team. I trust them to run their business and they know they’re accountable for their work. And it is about the work – not about the hours spent. If you’re having a bad day, take the afternoon off. Do what you need to do and come back to the work later.

Powering productivity with digital technologies

The right technologies have been critical to building productivity over the challenging months of the pandemic, and sales leaders are recognising this imperative: 80% of ANZ sales professionals say their company’s digital transformation has accelerated

CRM, automation and AI-powered tools have all played powerful roles in that acceleration. 

A CRM that’s integrated across the organisation can eliminate the disruption and inefficiencies caused by poorly aligned departments and siloed data to create a single, 360 degree view of the customer and deliver seamless customer experiences. 

Communication platforms like Slack have proved critical to achieving alignment between departments and leveraging collaboration opportunities across and between organisations.

Automating time-consuming tasks frees up sales reps to spend time doing what they do best and allows them to better plan their days. Tools that sync with your CRM to record and analyse customer interactions in more detail, unlock legacy data, integrate playbooks for speedy reference, and capture updates across multiple platforms in real time, mean your sales reps can work smarter and deliver better customer experiences. 

Indeed, the most recent State of Sales report shows high-performing sales teams are 2.7x more likely than underperforming teams to automate determining next actions, 2.4x more likely to automate lead prioritisation and 1.9 x more likely to automate admin tasks. 

AI-fuelled predictive analytics means I can take a deep dive into my pipeline and forecasting, see what’s working and what’s not and identify opportunities. Concurrent with the rise in virtual selling is the increasing importance of data-driven insights. Sometimes those insights tell me something I don’t especially want to hear but need to know so I can act on. 

It makes me stop and rethink and challenge the business and share it back with my team. “This is what our Einstein analytics is forecasting against my commit. How can we fix this? What are the remediation plans?” With AI, you can be better prepared to adapt, and that makes your business more resilient at a time when resilience is more valuable than ever.

Reskilling for more powerful connections

The phenomenon of everyone online all the time is one that offers exciting opportunities to sales teams but it also comes with challenges. How do we engage our customers and capture their interest in an environment overloaded with others trying to do the same? There’s a lot of noise to cut through and only a brief chance to make your message heard. 

So an essential part of reskilling or upskilling to meet those challenges, is about exploring how to connect with our customers - how do we make the first line of an email, the first ten seconds of a zoom call or the first minute of a webinar have enough impact that they’ll stay on the line? One element of achieving success is about being succinct. But another aspect is to do with how we make our customers feel. Customers not only demand a personalised experience, they also expect one that demonstrates empathy. Meeting that need is something we must all keep working toward. 

 

For more insights into how to supercharge sales productivity, download the Boost Sales Productivity: How to lead your sales teams back to growth ebook.