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Sales Tips: 3 Sales Productivity Traps to Avoid

By Lisa Cook, Chief Operating Officer, Cien

While selling has never been easy, it hasn’t become harder either. Selling has become a more refined process where efficiency is key. Increasing sales productivity requires operational awareness of the quality of leads generated from marketing as well as the productivity of individual salespeople.

With artificial intelligence (AI), your business can understand the deeper dynamics of the sales process and make it possible to see the incremental value created by sales and marketing activities. You can then better allocate time and resources to unlock the productivity gains within your organization. There are pitfalls to avoid, however. Here are three of the biggest, and what to do about them.

Sales Productivity

#1: Misallocating Sales Resources

One of the biggest productivity traps that organizations fall into is not understanding sales’ contribution to the revenue generation process and failing to allocate resources accordingly. This comes from recognizing the true revenue contribution of each salesperson and understanding the actual role that marketing and sales develop activities play in generating quality leads and opportunities. A mistake that many firms make is assuming that the people generating the revenue are the same ones who are closing the sales. This is not always the case.

The best sales person on the team isn’t necessarily the one who has signed the most contracts. Instead, it’s the one who has added the most value to the leads and opportunities received by the marketing and sales development teams. It may appear that sales professionals sell more because they’ve received more valuable leads from marketing, or they work a territory that has greater demand than another representative. An external market factor, such as a local competitor leaving the market, can also distort the picture of sales person’s performance.

#2: Assigning the Wrong Leads to the Wrong Salesperson

Many firms have inadequate awareness of the true dynamics of the sales process, because they don’t understand which sales professionals are actually producing the most value. This skewed assessment leads to many firms assigning some of the best leads to salespeople who are less likely to convert them into won deals.

With a better understanding of sales performance, organizations can optimize sales productivity by allocating the best leads to the most productive sales professionals or those who can maximize the sales volume for a lead. This is accomplished by having the best product knowledge or closing effectiveness, generating incremental sales value without increasing marketing expenses or sales headcount.

#3: Inefficient Training for Your Sales Staff

As counter-intuitive as it seems, sales professionals can actually destroy value when marketing activities have produced a quality lead. Negative sales value often arises when a rep has insufficient product knowledge, a low work ethic or inadequate closing skills. Having the right operational intelligence, makes it easy to train the right sales professionals on the right skill.

With better awareness of the true contribution of each sales professional, implementing spot training for those who need it can have a huge impact on overall sales productivity.

Avoiding Productivity Traps

While improving sales productivity requires better operational intelligence, most firms do not have the time, skills or resources to analyze their sales data comprehensively enough to generate this insight.

The good news is that advances in statistical science, machine learning, natural language processing and AI now allow businesses to analyze their sales and CRM data for new levels of understanding that were not possible before.

For a deeper look at improving your company’s sales productivity, check out Cien’s  Guide to Solving Sales Productivity Traps.

Lisa CookAbout the Author

Lisa Cook is Chief Operating Officer at Cien, a new AI-powered sales productivity app for B2B sales teams. Cien gives sales leaders an immediate edge by using the power of artificial intelligence to increase the productivity of their teams. The mobile app automatically detects problems, predicts outcomes and recommends the shortest path to success. For more information visit

Sales Tips: 4 Foolproof Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

By Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo

Stressed SalespersonWith quotas and long term goals constantly at the forefront of our minds, sales professionals are under constant pressure to perform. With this in mind, it’s no wonder 65% of B2B companies say sales productivity is the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis.

Many organizations increase sales hiring as the only means to reach the goals they have set for themselves. Yet, many hesitate to make changes to their actual sales strategies. To truly boost sales productivity for the long haul, managers must examine every part of their sales process.

If you struggle to increase sales productivity, keep reading. We’ve compiled the top four ways you can increase your sales productivity today.

1. Provide ongoing sales training.

Sales training is an expensive process, both financially and in terms of the time it takes. However, an extensive sales training program is integral to your sales productivity in the long run.

Studies show that 84% of all sales training content is forgotten after 90 days. To remedy this problem, place an added focus on sales coaching and ongoing training:

Sales Training WorkshopsBy investing a small amount of each month on ongoing sales coaching, managers can ensure that their sales reps are always learning and absorbing best practices – and that will have a lasting impact on productivity.

To learn more about the many merits of sales training, check out these articles:

2. Invest in technology to automate non-selling tasks.

Did you know the average sales rep spends only one-third of their day talking to prospects? It’s true: the majority of a salesperson’s day is spent on administrative tasks like reading and writing emails, attending meetings, scheduling calls and conducting research. With so many tasks to juggle, it’s no wonder so many companies struggle with sales productivity.

Not only do administrative tasks cut down on selling time, but they actually damage your overall performance. Multitasking is often considered a desirable trait in sales reps, but research shows that juggling tasks can actually hurt the quality of your work.

The solution – automate these tedious tasks. By crafting the perfect sales technology stack, businesses can cut down on the busywork and ensure that more time is spent selling.

3. Prioritize sales and marketing alignment.

One of the biggest inhibitors of sales productivity is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing departments. And unfortunately, studies show that only 8% of companies have tight sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and Marketing Working TogetherSales reps waste valuable time when they aren’t on the same page as their marketing counterparts. To start, both departments should establish an agreed upon definition of a qualified lead.  This is because,61% of marketers send their leads directly to the sales department, but only 27% of those leads are qualified. Not only does this waste time, but it strains the relationship between the two departments and leads to further roadblocks.

Your sales and marketing departments must operate using the same goals and data. By doing so, you will see massive improvements to both your sales productivity and overall business performance:

For a deeper look at sales and marketing alignment, check out the following articles:

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break.

That’s right – one of the most overlooked ways to increase productivity is to step away from your desk once in a while.

76% of all people report the top two causes of stress in the US are job pressure and money. Because sales is often commission-based and money-driven, stress and pressure run rampant in this profession.

While taking a break may seem counterintuitive, psychological studies say that taking breaks throughout the day dramatically improves your mental performance. Rather than thinking of a break as a waste of time, think of it as a necessary step to keep yourself at peak performance.

Final Thoughts

Given the high-pressure nature of the industry, productivity will always be a top concern for sales professionals. Looking for a single, quick solution will rarely make a long-term impact on your team’s productivity. Instead, take a step back and look at every aspect of your sales process, from big picture strategies to day-to-day practices.

Sales productivity must be top of mind at all times and, therefore, integrated into your daily sales processes. Consider talking with your team members to determine their biggest inhibitors and motivators. Then, test new strategies and tactics.

Contact CustomerCentric Selling® today, to learn more about sales productivity.

Contributed by Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B sales intelligence to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve lead generation efforts. Visit for more information.

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