How to Improve Sales Rep Performance: 5 Data-Backed Methods
In a world of ever-increasing revenue targets, underperforming sales reps can be disastrous for your company’s bottom line. Company leadership has a responsibility to strategically intervene to improve sales performance and get back on track for established targets.
We examine sales cycle inefficiencies and ways to improve sales rep performance.
Sales Productivity and Its Impact on Team’s Performance
Teams achieve sales productivity by maximizing sales results and minimizing resource expenditure.
While managers expect their sales teams to spend at least half of their time selling, the truth is the average sales rep spends only 39% of their time selling, prospecting, or interfacing with existing customers. For an outside sales team, you can count on this figure to dwindle to a dismal 22%.
Optimizing sales productivity is a guaranteed way to drive growth and crush sales targets. Unfortunately, with increasing amounts of time disappearing into administrative and other manual tasks with more distractions than ever, it’s never been more difficult to effectively tweak sales performance.
Main Causes of Sales Inefficiency for Your Sales Reps
Individuals vary, and so do the root causes of sales inefficiency. However, most sales slumps link back to:
- Inconsistent sales strategies
Well-defined and actionable sales strategies are integral to producing consistent results and improving accountability through systemic measuring of sales productivity.
- Ineffective training or coaching
Without a strong understanding of selling fundamentals, new hires can struggle to gain traction, and veterans may resort to informal strategies that cost your company business.
- Confusing quota or compensation systems
Consider quota and compensation systems two sides of the same coin. The quota enforces a minimum level of performance, while compensation incentives motivate sales reps to increase effort and productivity. If either of these regulatory systems is vague or overly demanding, sales performance may lag.
- High turnover
A costly mainstay of sales positions, high turnover wreaks havoc on team cohesion, creativity, and collaboration. Turnover can lead to significant impacts on employee satisfaction and a decline in performance.
- The wrong hire
Hiring is a more challenging process than many people, even hiring managers, realize. Implicit biases and informal strategies lead to underqualified and underperforming candidates making the cut based on factors irrelevant to performance.
- Negative sales cultures
All of these issues can lead to the development of a negative sales culture when sales staff ‘check out’ due to poor leadership, poor incentives, or negative team influences. If left unchecked, fixing a negative sales culture can become a time-intensive and uphill battle.
These harmful situations can lead to plummeting sales numbers by creating stressed, dissatisfied, and unmotivated sales reps. Recognizing the early stages of these common issues is vital to ensuring the success of your sales team.
The Key Factors of Good Sales Performance
Successful sales teams commit to a variety of strategies and techniques to maintain their edge. These often include:
- Embracing technology
Savvy sales teams take advantage of rapidly advancing tech like machine learning, forecasting software, and CRM tools to keep a leg up on the competition.
- Prioritizing customer experience
- Motivating incentive structures
Strong sales reps always have one thing in common: an incentive to succeed. Organizations fuel sales productivity by recognizing sales incentives as the primary motivator of sales behavior that results in good sales performance.
5 Effective Methods on How to Improve Sales Rep Performance
If you’re unsure how to improve sales reps’ productivity and performance or where to start, consider incorporating these five proven methods for success:
1. Track and Measure Sales Metrics
Tracking sales metrics keeps leadership ‘in the loop.’ The best metric trackers identify and measure multiple success metrics, such as:
- Conversion rates. Conversion rate is the percentage of leads that complete the targeted sales action. Competitive conversion rates vary by industry, and your company has likely already established a targeted and minimum conversion rate for sales reps.
- Average sales per hour. Measuring how much of your sales reps' time is spent making sales is essential for productivity. When calculating this metric, only include the actual selling time available to your reps. As mentioned above, a large portion of a sales rep’s day includes manual and administrative tasks. While we all wish sales teams could devote 100% of their time to closing deals, failing to account for the impact of manual and administrative work will skew the data.
- Mean Percentage Error/ Actual vs Forecasted Sales. Forecasting is an integral part of sales. Track mean percentage error for your sales reps’ targeted and actual sales figures to track which sales reps are consistently surpassing or failing to hit targets. Additionally, a consistent difference between forecasted and actual sales amongst the majority of your sales team can signal that an adjustment to your quota system or sales strategy is in order.
These metrics are tools for evaluating existing or new sales strategies by providing real-time feedback as your sales team implements changes. Access to this data provides opportunities for coaching, allowing managers to identify areas of improvement for sales reps and provide individualized training.
2. Secure High-Quality Hires
Making beneficial hiring decisions is an enduring challenge for businesses. Companies are increasingly turning to cutting-edge predictive analytics like Performance Fingerprints to quantifiably improve their talent acquisition and enjoy higher ROI in human capital.
Without a systemic sales hiring process in place, expect an annual average turnover rate of nearly 20%. On average, employers spend between 1.5-2x the employee’s salary to find a replacement, and that figure can rise significantly if you lose senior and specialized members of your salesforce. So reducing turnover can have an outsized impact on your company's bottom line.
3. Make Decisions With Data
Data-driven solutions are increasingly available for all aspects of business. However, collecting hordes of data without an effective analysis and implementation plan is a recipe for wasted resources.
To effectively utilize data, make sure to deliberately collect relevant data for increasing sales, such as sales team metrics, engagement across marketing channels, and results following hires and new training or sales strategies.
To assess current and pre-hire salespeople, predictive analytics by PerceptionPredict intake organization- and role-specific data to pinpoint psychometric traits that correlate with success.
4. Train Your Trainers
Markets, industries, and customer needs are ever-evolving, and staying up-to-date is critical for success. While many traditional sales strategies and techniques are still relevant, keep sales trainers remain informed and current in their sales approach and best practices for sales in your industry.
Regular sales training is also crucial for transitioning a stellar sales rep to an effective sales manager or team lead. Confidence and sales acumen often ‘trickle-down’ from leadership, so an investment in your trainers represents an investment in your whole team.
5. Automate Administrative Tasks
Administrative and manual tasks are costly time sinks for sales reps. With up to 55% of the average sales reps’ time going towards these tasks, any degree of automation will result in extensive returns in sales performance.
Start by utilizing autoresponders for emails, text messages, and other channels of communication. Using software to automate data entry and analysis, sales logs, route planning, and order processing will free up valuable time for your reps to do what they do best- selling!
How PerceptionPredict Improves Sales Rep Performance
Developed using industry-leading predictive analysis and data-mining, our proprietary Performance Fingerprints measure the ‘sales DNA’ of current sales representatives and candidates for hire.
Performance Fingerprints create a profile of each sales rep with a series of advanced algorithms to predict future sales numbers, length of tenure, personal motivations, and more.
Our Performance Fingerprints have helped drive success for global leaders like Mercedes-Benz and Crowdstrike.
Crowdstrike, a leading cybersecurity and technology firm, used PerceptionPredict’s Performance Fingerprints to build an international network of effective sales teams. This led to a competitive market advantage that helped Crowdstrike successfully IPO in June of 2019, raising over $600,000,000 and boosting company valuation to $6.6-6.8 billion.
Book a demo to learn what PerceptionPredict can do for your company’s salesforce.