Mention the phrase “productivity killer” with a sales manager, and they’ll probably associate it with their sales reps looking at Facebook and Buzzfeed all day. They probably won’t associate it with prospecting, research, and proposal generation – but they should.
Instead of selling – the process of educating, engaging with, and converting prospects into buyers – today’s salespeople indeed find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time prospecting, researching, and most importantly, drafting customized quotes. This results in a huge opportunity cost, where every hour they spend doing administrative tasks is an hour they could have better spent on their next prospect.
Here are 5 things keeping your sales reps away from talking with customers and ways to reduce the time they spend on them.
A typical salesperson will easily spend 10-15 percent of their day generating quotes. This number gets even higher the more complex your products are – where some proposals can take hours to put together. Obviously, if a proposal has to be created from scratch for each opportunity or the information the rep needs to generate an accurate quote isn’t readily available, sales productivity takes a huge hit. It’s therefore critical for companies to implement a CPQ (Configure Price Quote) solution that makes it possible for reps to easily and quickly generate complex quotes and automatically turn them into detailed proposals.
Sales call preparation
For most sales reps, 10 percent of their time every week can be spent planning. Having well put- together sales strategies and being prepared for sales calls is important, but it shouldn’t take that much time away from selling. You need to identify your sales team’s process for planning and organizing new sales to figure out where time is being spent and where time can be saved. A cloud-based CRM like Salesforce.com can help organize your sales team, centralize all of their prospect information, and speed up the process of planning for client interactions.
Staying up to date on the industry and your products/services
In order to sell effectively, reps need to have a complete understanding of the products and services they are selling, as well as what their competitors are up to and industry trends. Unfortunately, this means spending a good portion of their time reading and following industry news. Instead of leaving reps to take time finding this information themselves, you should make the updates they need readily available. Providing your team with sales dashboards that include widgets that highlight marketing, product, and competitor information will keep them in the loop and minimize the time spent out of the field.
Chasing down technical and management approval for quotes
If you sell complex products or services that involve negotiations and/or large discounts, the time it takes to get approval from sales managers and technical teams can become a real bottleneck in the sales process. Sales managers and team members need to easily work together, not slow each other down. Look into your approval process and see who or what is slowing things down and where you can add tools to streamline the process. Rule-based workflows can make it easier and quicker for sales to gain approval for quotes and provide both sales and managing the needed insights to understand the status of opportunities.
Collaborating with channel partners and third-party vendors
To gain the maximum benefit from your sales channels means your partners need to be able to function on their own, as an extension of your team. Yet in many organizations sales reps, pre-sales engineers and/or sales operations teams remain very active in generating sales quotes for partners, canceling out many of the benefits of using channels. Sales collaboration tools can improve the process of working with partners, dramatically reducing the time your team needs to spend helping them do what they should be able to do on their own. You should also open up your CPQ to allow channel partners the ability to generate quotes on their own. The easier you make it on your partners, the more they’ll sell and the more time your sales team will have for their own selling.
Your sales team exists to promote and grow your company. But if they’re not maximizing their time selling, your sales will be impacted. Give your team the tools and resources they need to speed up or eliminate the non-sales tasks that are taking up their valuable time so they can get back to doing what you need them to do… sell.