For years I used to think that sales productivity was simply the intersection of efficiency (how much activity) and effectiveness (how well the activity is executed). But after 25+ years managing high tech sales organizations I’ve learned it's not that simple...
The Elements of Productivity
Let's take a look at ALL the elements that I think about when I think about sales productivity (and there are undoubtedly more).
Success in sales begins with a plan - what am I committing to doing. This requires strategic thinking, an examination of what works and what doesn't and causes the sales rep to take ownership of their business.
Sales reps who set goals for themselves are more successful than those who don't, it's really that simple. Setting goals provides feedback on performance, motivation for attainment, confidence, and autonomy. A key to staying motivated with a big, longer term goal (like closing a deal) is to break it into smaller chunks to see meaningful progress every day.
While the right plan is no doubt important possessing the necessary skills is equally, if not more, important. Sales people must be constantly honing their selling skills.
A great 1st line manager is one of the most critical roles in any sales organization. They hire, direct, inspire, motivate, and coach everyday. A manager who is truly a coach is invaluable.
Having a plan is great but if you never compare your actual performance against your plan you're missing the opportunity zero in on areas for improvement and course correct before it's too late.
Best Practice Sharing
I like to think of this as learning from the best - "I wanna be like Mike" (if you remember basketball great Michael Jordan). Knowing who those selling skill and activity leaders are and having them share their secrets helps others emulate their selling behaviors and activities.
It's invaluable. Ensuring you're in the right frame of mind for the variety of sales activities required of a sales person (prospecting, presenting, negotiating) is critical.
Health & Wellness
I learned this one the hard way, thinking more time at my desk would surely deliver better results. I was wrong! A clear head and a healthy body, I found, were absolutely a necessary part of my productivity equation.