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How Does Your Sales Team Define Productivity?

How Does Your Sales Team Define Productivity?

One of the most common ways to define productivity among sales teams is wrong, so let’s correct it right away. Being productive in sales does not refer to a salesperson closing deal after deal in quick succession. That’s an outcome. It’s crushing your quota, or boosting your win rate. Amassing a

One of the most common ways to define productivity among sales teams is wrong, so let’s correct it right away.

Being productive in sales does not refer to a salesperson closing deal after deal in quick succession.

That’s an outcome. It’s crushing your quota, or boosting your win rate.

Amassing a large number of sales is a destination. Productivity is a journey.

Here’s another way to put it:

Productivity tends to be a characteristic or trait of successful salespeople. It’s a set of habits or behaviours that allows them to get more done, particularly the tasks that bring them to the point of closing a deal.

Admittedly, recognizing what those habits and behaviours are — and prioritizing them over everything else that might distract a salesperson — makes this definition a little tricky.

Depending on the kind of organization in which you work, for example, what’s important from a productivity perspective could be very different from your peers in other firms.

A rep working in a large enterprise might be completely focused on nurturing their target accounts. In a small to medium-sized business, though, salespeople may have to be more deeply involved in marketing activities, jumping in to address customer service issues or even helping out colleagues in finance and operations.

Other factors that affect sales productivity could include the typical length of the buying cycle in your target market, the experience of a particular rep and, critically, how much of their processes and tasks are enhanced through the use of digital tools.

Here are some definitions of productivity that could work across a variety of sales contexts. Use them to guide how you assess the performance of a team if you’re a manager, or to do a periodic self-evaluation if you’re a rep:

Productivity (n): The ability for a sales rep to gather and manage customer data that identifies new prospects and nurtures existing opportunities.

If you’re still using spreadsheets to keep track of leads or sticky notes as reminders of key account details, you’re probably not feeling super-productive.

In fact, the excess burden placed on sales reps mired from manual processes has often been the catalyst for moving to a CRM in many businesses.

The automation in a CRM not only takes away a lot of work sales reps used to do. It also opens up opportunities to work differently, where they can key in all kinds of information that will ultimately lead to more closed deals.

Make sure you have been fully trained on all the ways a CRM can make you more productive, and then break down the kinds of data that tends to move the needle from possible sale to definite win. The more you gather and manage that data, the better.

Productivity (n): The degree to which a sales rep communicates with customers and prospects in the channel of their preference.

How many calls did you make today? How many cold emails did you write or send out? Those numbers will tell the story of your productivity, but it might not be the full story.

The ease with which customers can order items online has made them expect much greater variety in terms of how they interact with a company.

Instead of speaking live to a rep, they may want to type initial questions into a chatbot on your site — as long as the rep responds quickly.

If they are highly active on social media, a less hard-hitting approach via LinkedIn or Twitter might make more sense to them.

Some customers might just want a text message if a new product or service has launched, or if there is a special promotion or discount that applies to them.

Reps need to be more versatile than ever in their approach, which requires a different kind of productivity than the days when everything closed over the phone, via email or an in-person meeting.

Productivity (n): Post-sale activities a sales rep spends time on that enhances the overall customer experience.

Another reason you can’t simply define productivity in sales by the number of wins is that it limits your analysis to everything that happens up until the purchase.

The best sales reps know they can’t simply disappear once the customer has signed on the dotted line.

They follow up to smooth over any areas that might otherwise go to the customer service team.

They bring insight or advice (even if it’s just sharing content) that could make a customer more successful with the product or service they recently paid for.

More than anything, great sales reps aim to act like trusted advisors, whether a sale is imminent or not. This may mean hours spent on the phone, in a videoconference or in person with a customer to better understand their goals, pain points and opportunities.

These are all tasks that help cement customer loyalty, which in turn helps with metrics like customer satisfaction (CSAT) and reduced churn. It means a rep will be able to spend more of their time increasing the share of wallet with their existing customer base, instead of constantly trying to find completely new customers.


One final way to think about productivity in sales is the value you provide to your customers. People may need your firm’s products or services, but what they really want is help of some kind.

A sales rep that rises above their peers tends to be those who see being helpful — even if it doesn’t always produce sales on the surface — as an essential aspect of their role.

Providing value or being helpful is a pretty broad area, of course, but the better you can articulate what it means in your particular market or among your particular accounts, the more likely you’ll optimize your schedule appropriately. Yes, you’ll produce more sales, but you’ll also make your job much more rewarding.

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