Table of Contents

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about how to improve sales productivity across all sales organizations. Sales reps are often busy at work, but the numbers need to reflect what should be coming from all that activity. Being busy doesn't necessarily mean that sales reps are productive.

Consider that only 39% of a sales rep's time is spent interacting with prospects or nurturing leads. The rest goes into unproductive activities, prospecting and administrative tasks which don't involve direct selling.

Further decreasing productivity are inefficient processes, underdeveloped infrastructure, lack of sales tools, and poor sales habits that don't yield great results. This article looks closely at sales productivity, the factors that affect it, key metrics, and how to increase sales productivity.

What is sales productivity?

Sales productivity measures how an organization utilizes resources, tools and processes to reach important business goals while reducing the time and cost it takes to win new business.

In general, productivity refers to how well you can produce results and reach targets within a given time. For example, if a task takes four hours to complete and you're able to get it done in two, you were twice as productive.

Regarding sales, productivity measures how well the teams utilize processes, resources, tools, and time to meet set business goals while reducing costs and other expended resources. Productivity can be measured across the organization, from individual reps to teams and departments.

Sales productivity at its core

At its core improving sales productivity can be boiled down to four operational principles that govern people and processes. While universal, it's easy to overlook these core principles in the virtual sales environment. They are as follows:

1. Consistency in operation

To set up an environment conducive to productivity, it's essential to set up a firm organizational sales structure. The basic system acts as a framework but still allows individual reps the autonomy to change minor things to adapt to their style. Setting up the schedule and structure for the rep's day and sales practices can go a long way in establishing good sales habits. Lessons learned from it can be applied to others and improve the process.

2. Focus and distraction

Sales reps are only sometimes in their element to perform their best with the prospects throughout the day. To ensure they utilize their best hours, removing distractions and moving unproductive tasks to other parts of the day is important. Anything that interferes with the focus must be dealt with quickly, or productivity can drop quickly.

3. Constant innovation

Sales reps fall into a grove or a pattern after some time and meet their assigned quotas. They will also tell you that things are going well when asked about their job. This is the first sign of stagnation, as bad habits and inefficiencies can quickly creep into the sales process. With the sales industry changing rapidly, it's essential to innovate across multiple sectors, such as the tools used, operations, sales rep training and everything else that can perform better.

4. Work culture

A great work culture can mean the difference between sales productivity and a slump in performance. Sales reps work in a high-stress environment where they have to deal with client rejections and meet sales quotas. While healthy competition and gamification can raise productivity, watching for burns outs is essential. A motivating work culture that maintains high levels of engagement is needed to keep productivity up.

What factors affect sales productivity?

Several factors affect sales performance, such as:

  • Inconsistencies in the sales strategies and poor sales process planning
  • Inefficient sales coaching or poor training leaves knowledge and skill gaps in the reps
  • Excessive pressure to perform and unrealistic expectations
  • Improper scheduling and route planning
  • Lack of communication from the top down or across departments
  • Vaguely established sales activity priorities
  • Resistance to adopting tools or technology or excess use of tools that create chaos
  • Lack of alignment between sales and marketing and poor communication
  • Vaguely established ideal customer profiles (ICP)
  • Changing dynamics within the sales funnel
  • Distractions and inefficient processes that waste reps' time
  • Poor sales culture, the negativity that breeds mistrust and resentment

How can sales leaders measure sales productivity?

Measuring sales activity is important to know how well sales strategy works and how reps and teams perform. When your sales reps are productive, it begins to show across different metrics and key performance indicators. Here is how to measure it:

1. Look at the number and quality of customer interactions

Although your reps might be busy dialing, they may need more meaningful conversations that end in conversions. It's essential to track phone metrics such as the number of dials, chat length (especially with qualified leads), and appointments. A good sales tool or a CRM can track and measure emails and calls and filter out high-quality customer interactions.

2. Observe the pipeline's progress

There needs to be more than a vague idea about the opportunity in the pipeline. Reps need a better resolution on the opportunities at each stage so the revenue can be accurately forecasted for the quarter. The important pipeline metric is how many opportunities prospected are qualified for closure.

3. Measure the forecasted vs actual business

Sales forecasts done with reliable metrics can be fairly accurate. It offers a solid baseline for the reps to follow and test their strategies and skills in closing deals. A good coherence between the two indicates high productivity.

Every generated lead at the top of the funnel won't convert further down. However, the number acts as a baseline to learn how good you are at pushing most of them through the funnel. Measure the quality of the leads, lead conversion rates and industry-specific analysis to determine the team's productivity.

Impact positive sales productivity has on business and reps

Now that we know what sales productivity is and how it works, we'll look at what happens when you improve sales productivity.

1. Impacts the bottom line

The most critical impact productivity has on the bottom line of the company. Increased productivity translates into more significant revenue and, in the long run, the success and survivability of the company. It also ensures predictable and sustainable growth, establishing the organization as a market leader.

2. Stops the loss of money

Considering all the money that is invested into resources and the tech stack, it's a loss of capital if it is not utilized to its fullest extent. For example, reps that use the sales tools given to them fully will see increased productivity. However, poor productivity means the money that goes into the tools is being wasted.

3. Boosts employee satisfaction

When your reps are productive, it translates into greater sales, higher commissions and more incentives. Success also brings a sense of satisfaction and the desire to continue performing well and grow. The overall effect is that sales reps are more engaged, and the sales process improves. In an industry that has one of the highest attrition rates, employee engagement is critical for success.

9 Tips for managers to improve sales productivity

Good sales productivity means consistently and predictably meeting or exceeding sales expectations. Here 9 tips on how to increase sales productivity:

1. Start by building a robust tech stack

Having a reliable tech stack for sales has more benefits than you realize. According to a GetAccept survey, 67% of respondents used between 4 to 10 sales tools, while 97% answered to have used at least one. Having specialized sales tools can automate processes and reduce unproductive administrative work for the sales reps.

AI-based tools can also go a long way in generating highly qualified leads, thus decreasing time spent on prospecting. The must-haves in a sales tech stack are CRM, sales intelligence, email and content management tools and sales compensation tools.

2. Establish an effective onboarding process

Like all other industries, the sales industry continuously evolves to meet customer needs. While face-to-face interactions were the norm earlier, in the digital sales environment, reps must master new skills to survive and perform well in the sales environment.

It's often the case that companies bring in sales reps and expect them to perform as well as they did in the previous organization. However, delivering the desired results is only possible if they're thoroughly onboarded to bring them up to speed.

3. Hire the right talent

While most people can become good at sales with extensive training, some are naturally good at it. These people are highly driven to succeed, competitive, and meticulous at their tasks, making them a great candidates for sales teams.

They quickly make it up to the group's top performers, inspire others to perform better, and strive to reach or exceed expectations. A team full of driven salespeople can increase revenue and bring a lot of positivity to the atmosphere. Of course, it’s not always possible to hire the talent you need locally, and if you’re unable to source the expertise required, it could be worth casting a wider net. Owing in part to the remote working revolution, global employment is far more commonplace (and easier to undertake) than ever before, so don’t be afraid to look further afield should you run into recruitment difficulties.

4. Develop business acumen in sales reps

Your sales reps must understand how the business of your prospects runs. This ensures their pitch is clear and has no gaps that create doubts in the prospects' minds. Trust is a critical component in the sales business, and the reps must show a strong grasp of the target market and how their product is a perfect fit for the clients.

Demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the business and its function quickly builds trust in prospects. For the top performers, it can broaden their knowledge across multiple verticals.

5. Come up with a great sales plan

All businesses aim to increase sales and revenue, and it only works if there's a solid plan to utilize the rep's training and talent. Sales plans should involve essential metrics to measure success and deadlines to meet assigned sales quotas.

By bringing in more structure and defining how success is measured, sales reps can focus on qualified leads and utilize established sales strategies to score high conversion rates. The plan should also involve a feedback loop in which reps are trained and retrained to meet the market's changing needs.

6. Streamline sales and marketing efforts

Pursuing their ends, marketing and sales teams can often fall out of sync, especially with poor communication. Promoting products without adequately consulting the sales can create confusion for the leads. Therefore the two must work together to improve the bottom line. You can start by creating a process for marketing and sales where inputs from both departments go into making a comprehensive action plan.

7. Gamify the sales process

Gamification of the sales process is bringing the design principles of games into non-gaming environments. The idea behind gamifying is to introduce friendly competition for motivation and increase the zest for the task. Gamification can be performed using specialized tools that bring all the reps and teams on the same platform.

The team leads can set the parameters and rewards and display the scores on a common scoreboard for everyone to see. When done right, gamification effectively motivates sales reps and drives engagement.

8. Create an ongoing coaching culture

Regardless of how well the sales reps perform, they can always improve slightly. A culture where sales reps are constantly coached in picking up new skills can be helpful for all. Similar to how it works in all organizations, only the top 20% of reps are the high performers, while the rest can use plenty of coaching and motivation to perform better.

Coaching sessions are typically scheduled for the underperformers once or twice a year. However, promoting a culture where managers perform coaching frequently and encouraging peer-to-peer coaching can be highly beneficial.

9. Embrace automation

Automation across various tasks can give a significant efficiency boost to the sales process. Automated tools for lead generation can cut down prospecting times significantly and even assign the most qualified leads to the right sales reps. Sales and conversational intelligence tools can track and monitor interaction with prospects to glean essential insights that can help reps nudge them through the sales funnel.

Automation can also free up sales reps from administrative tasks and save time by sending emails, scheduling meetings and offering suggestions for the right sales approach to increase close rates.

6 Tips for a salesperson to improve sales productivity

Now that we've looked into improving productivity from the managers, we'll go over how sales reps can increase their productivity.

1. Start with the right mindset & be organized

Great sales productivity begins at the individual level, and that means starting with a positive mindset and a plan to stay organized. Sales can sometimes become a highly demotivating task because of the rejections from the prospects and the general challenge associated with the role. Staying optimistic is the key to getting past rejections and staying motivated.

Being organized also becomes essential as there's a tendency for all people to get distracted from work. Sales reps are only sometimes at their peak throughout the day. So the organization is important to ride this wave and close deals.

2. Set daily targets and goals

Sales is a role that often attracts ambitious professionals who always strive to shatter their expectations. However, it's important to distinguish between goals and dreams. While setting high and ambitious targets is great, it's important to ensure the goals are realistic. To stay productive, write down your specific goals and define metrics to track the progress.

Handle your most challenging prospects the first thing when your energy levels are high, and ideas flow freely. Know your limits and set daily targets accordingly so you won't miss any and pile up work.

3. Come up with a personal development plan

To stay on top of your game in sales, you need to learn and grow with your job at every stage. Creating a personal development plan might help to streamline your growth trajectory. It is a dynamic plan which defines the skill you need to learn and the time frame to achieve it.

To start with, you can create a monthly plan to learn one skill and record your progress. You can also add more skills depending on how quickly you can learn and master them. When you're in doubt, you can always talk to your manager for input on the skill they think you need to learn.

4. Learn from a sales coach or mentor

A mentor or sales coach can help you hone your skills throughout your journey as a sales rep. While you may have picked up a lot of skills on the job and working with your peers, a mentor can give you précis insights into your strengths and weakness and help you work on them.

This assistance is not something your manager or friend at work can provide. Additionally, a mentor can offer an excellent outside perspective on the situation that might be helpful at work.

5. Track your progress

It's essential to track your progress both qualitatively and quantitatively. By keeping tabs on the numbers and listening to your intuition on how you're performing, it's possible to maintain a check on your progress.

Writing it down in your development plan every week and every month gives a definitive guide to your progress so you can get a precise understanding of where you stand. Share your thoughts with your manager and mentor and get their input on where you can perform better or get their help in developing better metrics.

6. Get creative with your approach

One of the things that both managers and clients highly appreciate is creative approaches to sales. While you must abide by the playbook to achieve good performance, sometimes you can throw your ideas into the mix to surprise your prospects.

Interesting sales pitches or unconventional approaches are always refreshing and help you stand out. However, to experiment with something quirky, you must have the experience and background to pull it off and the courage to take risks.

How to maintain productivity during a crisis?

Whether it is a crisis in the organization, in the industry or global-as it was with the pandemic, every sales organization will inevitably find itself in a state of crisis at some point. The question for leadership then goes from how to increase sales productivity to how to maintain it. Here are some tips:

1. Prioritize your existing customers

According to one survey, you have already observed that most of your sales come from your existing customers, 65% to be more precise. Your existing customers are also the most likely to buy from you again. Therefore your crisis strategy must incorporate changes that favour your existing customers.

2. Avoid hemorrhaging funds

Depending on the nature of the crisis, you can slash costs everywhere to ensure you don't bleed too many funds. In sales, you can cancel subscriptions to tools and services that are the least used or the ones that are not too important. Instead, focus your attention on what gives the most bang for the buck.

3. Reframe your pitch according to the situation

A global crisis would mean everyone goes into a hunker-down mode to minimize losses and maintain their margins. Rethink your offering to your clients and modify your pitch to highlight the benefits of using your product during the global upheaval. You can also change your offering to cater to your most valued clients during times of crisis.

4. Maximize digital communication

During the covid pandemic, digital mediums truly had their moment to shine as the world went into a lockdown. Change your pitch and approach to suit the digital methods and make them more appealing to existing and new customers. Use popular digital channels and platforms to communicate with your clients, so it becomes easier for them to communicate with you.

5. Focus on building relationships

While business ties can sever during a crisis, relationships always endure. Instead of calling your prospects or customers solely to book the next meeting, get in touch with them to ask how they are doing. Even if the call is brief, send them a thank-you note and links to resources they find helpful.

6. Get creative in your approach

Sometimes you have to go off the script as the situation demands to stand out and make an impression on your clients. Instead of cold calling them about a deal, you could also include other people in the sales call- take them on a quick tour of the office to meet the rest of the team if they have the time.

7. Don't stop prospecting

Unless it is counterproductive to do so, you should only prospect during a crisis. While you keep the revenue stream running from existing clients, you must compensate for the deficit with new ones.

8. Remain optimistic

It's important to remember from the works of Martin Seligman- the father of modern psychology, that optimism breeds success. From his research, he stated that optimistic salespeople sold 37% more than their pessimistic counterparts and their sales production was also 88% higher. During times of crisis, optimism is something everybody can use more of.


It's essential to understand that to increase sales productivity; managers need to start from the level of the individual sales rep. By building good sales habits, a positive mindset, and an attitude that is ever open to learning, sales reps can increasingly become better at their work. The focus can then be shifted to improving the teams by adopting enablers such as sales tools and processes that instruct good sales behaviours.

Unlock the Biggest Secret of Engagement to Retain your Top Performers.
Learn how

Xoxoday Compass Team